Thursday, January 28, 2021

Back Issue Box: Guy Gardner Warrior #24

 Death Metal has happened and the DCU has been re-written. We are in a Future State. But as far as I can tell, Supergirl didn't have much to do with the victory over the Batman Who Laughs.

It got me thinking about Supergirl's place in other mega-events. Obviously, she played a huge part in Crisis on Infinite Earths. But otherwise? 

In 1994, DC rewrote the timeline again in Zero Hour. This time instead of Kara Zor-El heading into battle, it was Matrix Supergirl. And instead of a major role, this Supergirl was only seen in background shots of the main title. In fact the biggest role she had to play was in Guy Gardner #24, a Zero Hour crossover issue. And even in this, she is but one of many,

And remember, this is an odd time in Guy Gardner's history. He is a true warrior now, with Vulderian shape-shifting powers, making him a living weapon. The issue is written by Beau Smith, the main writer on the title. Art is by a smorgasbord of artists, many of whom are favorites of mine - layouts by Jackson Guice with pencils by Phil Jimenez, Howard Porter, and Mike Parobeck among those listed.

How does Matrix fare in a battle against time despot Extant? Well, let's take a quick good at the extent of her fight against Extant.

The timeline is being shredded and rewritten by Extant, Hank Hall, formerly Hawk and Monarch.

Guy Gardner, formerly a Green Lantern and wielder of Sinestro's ring, has morphed into something new. Garbed in armor that would make Baron Karza blush, Guy can now turn himself into any weapon he can think of. While these transformations cause him great pain, he is still acting the part of the hero. 

And that starts with heading to Coast City where the timeline has made things wonky. Guy doesn't go alone. He brings Steel and Supergirl, two survivors of the destruction of Coast City by the Cyborg Superman. He also takes the time-displaced or perhaps alternate timeline Batgirl, one still up and walking.

This is quite the odd team.

But I am always glad to see the Matrix Supergirl of this time period, out from under the thumb of Lex and acting as a hero.

Remember the trip to Coast City is because things are unstable and that is certainly true.

As this team arrives, time is ripped open and the squad is tossed through the ages. 

But seriously, check out those art credits. Layouts by Guice. Pencils by Mitch Byrd, Phil Jimenez, Howard Porter, and Mike Parobeck. And inked by Dan Davis. Six artists on one book!

I will say, those that draw Supergirl do a fine job. There is definitely a 90s feel to her pages, almost Travis Charest-esque. Part of that might be due to Davis's inks.

The first 'when' they find themselves in is prehistoric times. After sparring with a stampede of brontosaurus, the team finds themselves face to face with Extant.

Supergirl and Steel try to bash him, as do local humans Anthro and Java but to little avail. 

Extant will rule the timeline and then rule the universe. If he can't get the upper hand in this era ...

He'll head to the Old West.

Now the heroes find themselves fighting not only Extant but some locals who somehow Extant is mind-controlling. I didn't know he could do that.

You definitely get the sense of Guice's layouts on these pages. He always made Matrix a leggy center of attraction.

Realizing that perhaps he can end this whole universal threat on his own if he takes out Extant, Guy wills his arms to become two very extreme appearing rifles and blasts away. When Extant just sends those beams into the time stream, Guy hopes that even if the blasts don't take out Extant, maybe they will provide the cover his teammates need to end things.

This page feels very much like a Phil Jimenez page. Certainly, Guy and his weapons have enough of a Perez panache to be Jimenez. Very lovely.

And then the weird Supergirl moment in the book.

Steel asks her if she knows what to do and she says yes.

The following page, we see a 'future' Extant face off against the actual Extant. It turns out to be Matrix shape-shifted into the form of Extant. The real villain shrugs off her psi-blast and blasts her with temporal energy, forcing her back into her true shape.

It feels weird that this is a set stratagem in the Steel/Supergirl playbook. I suppose when dealing with a time-traveling villain, there is a chance this could shake the bad guy briefly. But would she do this move with Brainiac? Or Garguax? Is it so entrenched that Steel knows she'll do it without saying more?

Still, good to see her stand up to this universal threat!

If you had 'show Matrix in purple goo protoplasm' on your Zero Hour bingo card, place a marker.

I suppose it was shorthand to denote that she has taken a lot of damage.

But like a true hero, she dusts herself off.

I really liked this panel where Guy asks her if she is ready to jump into the fray and she says 'count on it!'

As someone who watched this Supergirl suffer through years of being a villain's patsy, this period of her career is pretty awesome. This is character growth.

But that's the last we see of Supergirl and Batgirl.

The time stream opens up and now Guy and Steel find themselves in a more modern Coast City.

Here, Guy sees a younger version of himself wooing Kari Limbo, his girlfriend from the pre-Crisis continuity. But two Guy's in the same time is causing some havoc.

The best thing about these pages is the Parobeck art. It works so well for denoting a 'simpler time'. I mean check out that sleek Hal Jordan.

The timeline shifts again.

Now Guy is in Coast City on the day it exploded. He again sees his old flame. And now we know that she perished in Coast City that day.

But moreover, the destruction of Coast City in this time period seems to coincide with the end of the DCU. The issue ends with 4 blank white pages.

So overall, I have to say I liked this issue more than I thought I would. While I usually quibble about multiple artists on an issue, the jumping time periods made the art jumps less jarring. I also enjoyed seeing Supergirl sort of shine, jumping into action and willing to lay her life on the line.

This also definitely screams 90s comics with Guys power and the Image-y art on most pages. Truly, the art is probably the biggest boon here. While not a 'must have', if you find it in the quarter bin, it is definitely worth it.
And for another take, listen to Siskoid and Bass discuss this issue on their Zero Hour podcast:

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

" Death Metal has happened and the DCU has been re-written."

And who knows what it means. It was said the characters remember "everything" now.

But what does it mean? Superman remembers he grew up during the Great Depression and in 1938 moved to Metropolis and started operating as a superhero? Or he remembers he was sent to Earth when he was three, started operating as Superboy, met his dog and joined the Legion after his teenager cousin? The Phantom Zoners whom he fought Mala, Kizo and U-Ban or Jax-Ur, Dru-Zod and Kru-El or Zod, Ursa and Non? How and when his parents died?

Kara remembers now being dumped into an orphanage, graduating college and constantly changing cities and jobs before getting killed by the Anti-Monitor? Or she remembers being born AFTER Kal, becoming an honorary Amazon and surviving New Krypton's destruction? She remembers being captured by Simon Tycho and fighting the Wordkillers?

"But as far as I can tell, Supergirl didn't have much to do with the victory over the Batman Who Laughs."

She made an appearance, she didn't got Jokerized and she didn't become cannon fodder. Sadly, I have to declare that is an improvement.

"If you had 'show Matrix in purple goo protoplasm' on your Zero Hour bingo card, place a marker."

Bonus points for two COIE #7 references in the issue. The cosmic villain blasting Supergirl through the chest, and Steel holding her in Pietá position.

"This also definitely screams 90s comics with Guys power and the Image-y art on most pages."

Yes, this is too 90's for my tastes.

Martin Gray said...

I did hear the recent podcast, and the is a nice complementary post. I never saw this one, being a Guy Gardner: Warrior avoider.

Had I known it contained the death of Kari Limbo...