SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for – and harsh language found in – Doomsday Clock #9 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, on sale now.
Hal Jordan, John Stewart and the rest of DC's Green Lantern Corps all bear one of the universe's most powerful weapons on their finger (or other suitable appendage): A Green Lantern power ring. Guy Gardner also bears an iconic ring, but historically, he's also been armed with another kind of weapon entirely: His mouth. The trash-talking, wisecracking superhero has frequently been one to preamble into his actions with his words. His annoying, boisterous, chest-thumping words.
In most of DC's mainstream comics, Guy's dialogue has frequently been a little raw, though not as raw as it could be. But in a comic where the villain routinely and shamelessly parades around in the buff, a few curse words don't seem so naughty by comparison. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Doomsday Clock #9, therefore, is just the place for Guy to stretch his vocabulary.
And it's about time.
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Permission to Speak Freely
Guy Gardner, like every single other classic comic book character, was created under the watchful eye of the now-defunct Comics Code Authority. The impotent Code finally crawled away and died several years ago, leaving creators free to tell whatever kinds of stories their mainstream publishers were willing to let them. That is, free from whatever meaningless and symbolic wrist-slapping demerits the CCA would try to levy upon them.
Guy hasn't really had the opportunity to speak his mind since then, though. As a character, he's largely existed in the shadows of the Green Lanterns that preceded him, and even fellow members of the Green Lantern Corps. And comics are full of cocky, boastful superheroes, anyway. Poor Guy Gardner has been long overshadowed by other characters with similar powers – and wittier barbs.
Until now, that is. In Doomsday Clock #9, the assembled DC heroes venture to Mars to confront Doctor Manhattan regarding his intentions since journeying to this universe. The first to query Manhattan is the ever-diplomatic J'onn J'onzz, innocently asking what the extra-dimensional being is doing on his home planet. And as he often does, Doc Manhattan replies with confused, time-jumbled responses and oblique statements.
Enter Guy Gardner: Diplomat.
Tell Us How You Really Feel, Guy
The impulsive Guy has no patience for Manhattan's abstract vagueness. So he proceeds to deliver a testosterone-fueled business case to Doctor Manhattan, citing some of the collective heroes' most notable victories over powerful adversaries. And he does so with some rather … colorful metaphors. "Metaphors" that aren't found in any given issue of the Green Lantern titles.
"We're the biggest group of badasses this side of the Milky Way," Guy warns Manhattan. Well, that's not so naughty, right? Perhaps not – but it gets better. "We've made the ruler of Apokolips lick the shit off our boots," Guy adds... but he's just warming up.
In typical Guy Gardner fashion, he confronts Doctor Manhattan with his mouth first. But not to disappoint, he fittingly is also the one to throw the first punch – for all the good it does against the power of a god. No matter, though – Guy's words have more impact than his wallop, at least on the reader.
Man, That Felt Good
Pop culture is full of colorful language, and Guy's choice of words is nothing new to anyone – except for him. And it feels right.
That's always been the impact of cussing, after all – to surprise. And even in a climate where most everyone seems desensitized to it, a well-placed dirty word or two, from the mouth of the right character, still has the power of head-turning emphasis. And fittingly, Guy Gardner is the perfect choice to deliver it, here. Sure, Supergirl or Mary Marvel's utterance of the same thing would have shocked, but it would have also seemed out-of-character and gratuitous.
Not from Guy, though. Coming from such an over-the-top tough guy, it's neither unnecessary nor superfluous.
Coming from Guy, it's perfect. And long overdue. It feels like savoring every bite of a delicious dessert that's just to decadent to rightfully enjoy – but enjoying it anyway.
Guy Gardner is the ideal choice of character to stand up to a god, trash talk him, and live to brag about it. And he can't do it again soon enough.
Hey DC – let Guy drop more s-bombs. They suit him.