TGH: Welcome back, readers, as we begin our death march into a super long crossover and slowly make our way to the eventual end of the series. It will not be without its difficulties, however, as the next stop before we actually get back into the crossover is Guy Gardner: Warrior Annual #1. I guess fighting the Kraggz made Guy fall to pieces, so this issue deals with him being healed yet again. Funny, since not fighting them made him go crazy that one time too, so I guess maybe the Vuldarians are assholes. Guys, I admit we’ve been pretty hard on these comics as we’ve gone, but believe me when I say that this is Not A Good Comic Book. Like, this one almost broke me. Luckily for all of us, this is a really long issue too, so any pain is only amplified.
BW: As we go into the first page, Guy is apparently having a nightmare. Specifically one about his body devolving, all while being observed by various DCU characters.
QP: He may have turned into Rat Fink at some point.
TGH: Why does Militia clearly have a skull for a face under that mask?
QP: Just because there wasn’t enough body horror on this page. Dementor also has razor blade fingernails.
TGH: Also a drill and eye palm. Sledge is in the background, thanking Guy for remembering him enough to include him in his dream.
BW: Lady Blackhawk comments “Ugh, repulsive.” This is an accurate review. And Kyle Rayner is there. Wait – has Kyle even met Guy?
DN: Yes. They had a team-up.
BW: My condolences.
DN: Kyle politely watched Guy murder Major Force.
QP: Buck Wargo is a doctor now and finally puts on a damned shirt.
TGH: This is actually not a bad opening. I’ll give credit where it is due for as long as I can, because this is a great nightmare.
QP: It’s just too bad they kept that aesthetic for the entire issue.
BW: Render all the things!
TGH: It took me almost a minute to be able to read that the title of the story is “Battle From Within,” because damn. And look at all of the people who got stuck on this issue.
QP: That is too many people. Beau Smith decided to fuck off after writing “Guy punches things” for the story, leaving Flint Henry to do pretty much the entire issue.
TGH: Sign number one that we’re in trouble is when Guy wakes up from his dream looking just as horrible as he did during the actual dream. Buck Wargo, who looked like a mad scientist in Guy’s dream, actually just looks like that.
BW: After wrapping his gloved hands (which mysteriously have sigils from his hand on them; don’t ask questions!) on a “stone age Game Boy”, Guy contacts an alien Djinn.
TGH: Since Buck is not an actual licensed doctor for humans and especially aliens, he decides that if Guy uses this thing he got from the aliens that turned him into a psychopath, maybe good things will happen.
BW: Or entertaining things. Buck is, after all, a creepy motherfucker.
QP: Guy’s never noticed the sigils before, but Buck sure has. Buck is a fucking creeper. And/or Guy is highly unaware of his surroundings.
TGH: Shit, Buck, maybe that’s a nuke that only the last son of Vuldar can set off. Didn’t think of that, did you?
QP: Don’t question the shirtless doctor.
BW: Buck dresses like a mad scientist, he’s not ACTUALLY one. Gawd!
TGH: You just know he’s naked under those scrubs.
QP: He’s the opposite of a Never Nude.
TGH: A Never Never Nude. Only once the thing starts glowing does Buck hope that this wasn’t a terrible idea.
QP: Fortunately for Buck, the thing isn’t a bomb, just a hologram machine. I hope it makes Tupac again.
TGH: The Vuldarian from before, Judge Crab Dredd, appears. Guy spoils Aladdin, in case anyone hadn’t seen it yet. If you could see Cardone’s eyes, they’d be rolling as he mentions that Guy needs advice…again.
QP: Unfortunately they’re just shooting lasers, so we don’t get to see the sass.
TGH: But why use words to help Guy when you can just do whatever the shit he does? He assures Guy that he will find all of his questions in another place and time. Fucking helpful.
QP: And then Guy is blasted back to Vuldarian times. I’m sure that’ll help.
DN: Where he is immediately shot at and grabbed out of the sky by some sort of human mushroom hybrid.
QP: Aw, it’s Toad.
BW: Or Mandarr as he’s calling himself here. Or as Guy calls him, Mud-Bar. Either one works for me.
QP: The lady Vuldarian is doing her best Tawny Kitaen impression for the next couple of pages.
TGH: Luckily she has the patience to explain the entire war they’re in the middle of to Guy instead of asking if he has brain damage.
BW: And with the introduction of the Leechun, that’s where you can see the British comics influence.
TGH: We learn that they’re fighting the Leechuns, low-line fluid suckers that still get to have guns. They also kill things because they enjoy it, so we don’t have to worry about who the good guys are here. I can see why Beau Smith might need some help walking the line.
QP: Usually it’s so obvious that the Vudarians are the asshats in the situation. It’s nice for things to be clear for once.
TGH: Guy gets jumped by a Leechun, but please don’t ask me to describe what it actually looks like. Green, with eyes, and some lines?
QP: It looks like someone put a frog and an octopus in a blender.
DN: It’s got like 9 mouths.
TGH: Lady Vuldarian is too busy resting her butt on Guy to help, and Mandarr is just like “MARIOOOO!!!!”
QP: It’s got multiple limbs and tentacles and mouths and drops on Guy and the two Vuldarians from above, but only grabs one of them. And then they kinda do a little punching and a little talking and then some punching again. As per usual, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
TGH: This is kind of the beginning of the end for the art. Once the fighting intensifies there’s no telling what’s what anymore. At least there aren’t any backgrounds yet.
QP: If ever an artist needed to skip detailed backgrounds…
BW: According to Fellena, Guy has not truly embraced his heritage. Though I’m not sure I trust the opinion of someone who is…um…shoving her butt on Mandarr’s upper bicep?
TGH: She holds Toad back so Guy can fend for himself. Man, wouldn’t it be great if he just died right here?
BW: What the hell is going on in this art?
QP: The Leechun or whatever does a really bitchin’ predator face for a second.
TGH: Short story long, Guy rips the thing’s spine (?) out and Fellena and Mandarr get a gut shower.
DN: Guy kills the Leechun but I’d be hard fucking pressed to explain how that went down.
QP: It’s really hard to tell because everything is the same color.
TGH: They decide to run away, but then just a few panels later, more of these assholes show up for the next set piece. Guy and company jump in the fluid (or as we like to call it, “water”) to hide from them.
QP: Guy was having a lot of trouble with just the one, so now that there’s a bunch more of them, I imagine it’ll be an issue, right?
TGH: Luckily he passed the test, so Mandarr handles the heavy lifting for two pages. Is he screaming “VULLDAAAARRRR” or is that the sound of whatever the hell is happening here?
QP: You can kinda tell what’s happening because there’s a pink blob and a some green blobs.
BW: Red and blue and flesh and green. Something got handled, at least. Possibly the colorist, I’m not really sure.
TGH: Fellena does some killing at some point in here and makes a duck face while holding more spines (?).
TGH: Then Guy drowns. The end!
QP: Unfortunately, no.
DN: Whyever would we be that lucky?
QP: He just rips some Leechun apart underwater, where we thankfully don’t have to see it.
TGH: He totally killed one of the dudes. Or he ran away and Guy lied about it.
QP: I’ve got a dollar on the latter.
DN: Not gonna take that action.
TGH: They decide to move to a cave, but I can’t follow why.
QP: Don’t worry, neither can Guy.
TGH: They’re going to call for more people so they don’t have to share the kill? What does that even mean?
BW: I think Mandarr doesn’t want to cook for them?
QP: Then they look up and there are some skeleton pterodactyls flying around, so I guess they eat them?
BW: They might be eating one of the Yazz’s relatives. That’s my head canon at least.
TGH: One can only hope.
QP: I like to read this section imagining that Mandarr is literally saying “chomp” as he eats.
TGH: Mandarr plans to spy on the Leechuns all by himself, so that will probably work out well. No, his plan does not sound wise, Fellena. This is why you’re extinct.
QP: Mandarr tells Fellena to teach Guy the ways of the Vuldarians. The ’70s slap bass and organ music is starting already.
TGH: She grabs his face and places the tip of her tongue on the bridge of Guy’s nose, which is part of the ancient Vuldarian art of seduction.
QP: That is the least sexy panel ever drawn.
TGH: Guy looks fucking terrified in that panel. He just wants to go home to his tiger friend and his weird shirtless mustache man.
QP: And to women like Arisia who are pretty worthless in battle.
TGH: She’s really just dragging his ass into that cave to fuck him.
QP: It’s opposite day in Cavemanland.
TGH: Meanwhile, Mandarr is at some place, and fuck that art, but there’s a ton of words to make up for not being able to comprehend what’s happening, so I guess that’s good at least? When you just cannot show, despite filling an entire page with “art,” at least try to tell I guess.
QP: We finally get to see some Tormocks!
TGH: I think this is the first time we’ve seen a Tormock? I’m using the word “see” loosely here.
DN: I guess?
QP: I think so. I don’t think they were shown in any of the flashback issues.
TGH: Skull head with head wings?
QP: I feel like I’d remember something that looks like maybe it’s got a Braniac face and Terminator eyes. At least, if I’m understanding that one panel correctly.
TGH: I don’t think the artist was particularly interested in absolutes.
QP: Absolutes are hard when you’re dropping that much acid.
DN: Does he just have one eye?
TGH: He apparently made some kind of device that lets him feel the pain he’s causing others, since he gets off on that. In case you were wondering if he wasn’t even more evil.
QP: That’s insensitive. Sadists are people too.
DN: From the art I can’t even tell if he’s a people.
BW: I think the Leechuns and the Tormocks are trying to one-up each other.
QP: There aren’t even any green blobs in that panel to tell you where the Leechun are.
TGH: The next morning Guy wakes up with severe food poisoning from whatever they ate the night before, but Fellena tells him some shit about his mind and body trying to sync up or whatever. Guy tries his best not to poop.
QP: Guy turns into an actual poop monster. The colorist did well.
BW: No exaggeration, it took a good three minutes of staring at that panel to figure out what I was looking at.
QP: The pink is his mouth. And also his eyes. Guy has Vuldarian conjunctivitis now.
TGH: Fellena goes off to join Mandarr in a fight against an entire army, while Guy curls up in the fetal position and wishes they had invented Pepto.
TGH: Guy actually passes out from the pain, and then crawls to go join the fight, figuring that if someone punches him in the stomach he might at least shart on someone.
QP: Then the timeline gets all fucked up.
TGH: Guy sees a sight that he’ll never forget. I hope he explains it to us one day. I guess Fellena gets killed by that pain machine and changes colors a lot, though I don’t actually know if that was on purpose, frankly.
QP: She’s turning to gold. The Tormocks were Goldface all along, you see.
TGH: The colorist forgets what she looks like for one panel so we get some accidental pornography.
BW: The Leechens are also flesh-colored now. I think?
TGH: Tormock guy explains what a turn-on killing Fellena was, and throws her corpse to the Grokks. There are Grokks now too, by the way.
DN: So now we have like 5 dumb-named alien races.
BW: Because heaven knows I was keeping up with the multiple terribly-named alien races to begin with.
QP: And then the art just goes to hell in a handbasket.
BW: That’s being far, far too generous.
TGH: Guy finally realizes his potential by watching his girlfriend die horribly, and finally does what he was meant to do: the same shit he does every time but with worse art.
DN: So, punching.
BW: And a new suit of clothes.
QP: Yeah, but now he’s in control. You can tell because he says so. Even though it looks exactly like whenever he’s not in control.
TGH: He just starts murdering everyone while spewing stupid one-liners. His dialogue did not get an upgrade.
QP: Well this is what happens when you let the artist write everything.
TGH: Guy and Tormock dude fight for several pages. At least I guess they do, because all I see is just a bunch of messy shit. I guess Guy took care of his food poisoning right here, right now
QP: The colors, Duke! The colors! Seriously, that’s all there is here.
BW: Page 31 — this is the page that ensures you appreciate modern colorists. Jordie Bellaire, I love you.
TGH: Just a two-page spread of more really unidentifiable stuff happening. If there were ever a reason to have a main story and maybe a few side stories by different artists, this issue is it. This fight goes on forever.
QP: The battle for unintelligible supremacy keeps up for several pages.
TGH: And all of it is terrible. TERRIBLE.
QP: I have no idea what’s going on in any of it. And then I guess Guy kills the Tormock?
DN: The artist was experimenting with peyote while on a deadline.
TGH: After literally pages of God-knows-what, Guy finally takes that pain device and murders the Tormock with it.
QP: Is that what happens?
TGH: According to the words, yeah. I literally cannot tell based on the art. 0/10 for art.
QP: If I get a time machine, my first task will be sneaking into the DC offices in 1994 and posting “SHOW NOT TELL” signs everywhere.
TGH: Guy beats the shit out the Tormock, and since he’s hooked up to the machine, the Tormock has a huge boner about it right until he dies. That’s great. So glad you added that part in.
BW: And with that we have the name for your new death metal indie-core band – Harkoon the Death Boner.
QP: Then Cardone show back up and tell Guy that this didn’t really happen to him, because these are Cardone’s own memories. Mandarr was his friend, and Fellena was his girlfriend. Which, a) why were they talking to Guy like he was there the whole time and b) GUY JUST BANGED YOUR GIRLFRIEND, DUDE.
TGH: He just let Guy fuck his girlfriend to teach him a lesson.
DN: That’ll learn ‘im.
BW: I know *I* learned something!
TGH: Cardone is still crying about his girlfriend being dead, but he’s okay with renting her out to assholes who don’t know how their gun bodies work.
QP: I mean, maybe Vuldarians like it really rough and Guy did learn a few horrible things. Or maybe he just had sex with your girlfriend.
TGH: Has anyone on this comic ever interacted with a woman?
BW: I think last issue’s artist. Maybe?
QP: You know he can’t control his gun appendages. What’s to stop his wang from turning into a rocket launcher mid-coitus and blowing her up? I mean, I guess at least then she doesn’t get tortured by Tormocks.
DN: That’s a visual I didn’t need.
TGH: It’s cool, Cardone and Guy are blood relatives so that’s not 1,000 times more gross.
QP: Also, so much “have sex with this woman and learn to be a MAN” subtext here.
TGH: That would’ve been your grandma, Guy. Think about that.
BW: *Immediate family*, Guy.
TGH: The only thing not making this hilarious is that they didn’t find a baby where she died or something, making her actually his relative. Come on, commit!
QP: Guy is his own grandad. This is canon.
TGH: Guy’s right eye glimmers with the light of 1,000 stars at the realization that he is the worst.
QP: Was it like kissing your sister, Guy? Was it?
TGH: Then we end on the 50th Gardner montage. Bonus points for giving Ice a face that is clearly wondering why the fuck she’s still getting dragged into this shit.
BW: Cue Ash’s “I don’t even KNOW these assholes!” speech from Army of Darkness.
QP: It pleases me that G’nort made the cut on the montage shot. That makes this issue 99% less hardcore by osmosis.
TGH: So, with Guy’s grandma sexed up and killed, Guy is now a true Vuldarian hero. God damn it. God damn everything. The end. Having read this shit, I no longer fear this crossover.
QP: Don’t jinx it.
TGH: As long as I can see what the hell is happening, everything will be better than this was.
BW: Next time I’m bringing fresh eyes, a strong heart, and whiskey.
DN: My contact prescription actually changed from reading this issue.
QP: I like that this was a Year One issue. There is no year one here at all.
TGH: It was Cardone’s year one. And Guy’s grandma.
TGH: No letter section this issue, but we do get to glimpse into the mind of world-renowned writer Beau Smith. This concept art is great in that they look like things
QP: Fellena is a murder Barbie.
TGH: Beau makes a point to Godwin the Tormocks, because that’s the only way we can relate to generic murder aliens.
QP: Guy’s original reboot costume design was robocowboy, which is an interesting spin on his other two looks.
TGH: You’re right, Beau, Mitch did have some good ideas. Too bad you pissed him off.
TGH: Guy’s original chest tattoo was of the angry sun from Super Mario Bros. 3.
QP: The drawing of how Guy’s gun-morphing SHOULD work is absolutely not how it’s ever been portrayed on the page.
DN: Someone take Beau to a dungeon; he clearly is not certain what a leather boy is.
QP: That “Leather-Boy” coat is great and they should’ve gone with that. But no, not leather boy at all.
TGH: The descriptions of Buck Wargo and company continue into “original character, do not steal” territory. I certainly look forward to more and more of these design documents being ignored as we move forward.
QP: Where is Sally?
TGH: She fell out of time. Maybe Booster Gold will find her.
DN: We miss you Sally! You were the one light in this otherwise miserable journey!
’90s Ad Showcase:
DN: That Justice League game was not good.
TGH: I like how novel they think it is that two players can be the same character.
DN: You know, the thing you don’t want to do in a 2-player fighting game.
QP: You have to be able to have two players play the same character because your little brother is an asshole and will only ever play Batman.
BW: Hey! Trading cards for Casper the Friendly Ghost! Reminding us of when Christina Ricci was a child.
QP: None of the Casper cards shown feature Devon Sawa and I’m sure the 1996 version of myself would have thought that was a damned shame.
TGH: I’m sure Devon Sawa was the gold holofoil card. Just him and dead Bill Pullman.
BW: Hey, this is interesting. DC was regularly doing appearances by the writers on AOL.
DN: Oh God, how old was Denny O’Neil when they were making him do AOL chat rooms?
TGH: Doug Moench, author of The Big Book of Conspiracies! *crickets* And Batman!
QP: The Big Books are great. The Big Books gave us Quietly in America. Don’t knock ’em.
TGH: Next time, maybe we’ll find out what happened to Arisia. Remember her? Giant rock to the face?
QP: Just a flesh wound.
TGH: Buck Wargo gives her a magic bracelet that contains a hologram that takes her back in time to fuck her grandpa. She goes back into a coma. Tiger-Man continues to cry.