Guy Gardner’s Death References His Most Embarrassing Moment

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Human Target #6, on sale now from DC Comics.

To call Guy Gardner a polarizing character would be an understated way of describing one of the most reviled characters in the DC Universe. Guy has, at times, proven himself to be a courageous and compassionate member of the Green Lantern Corps and earned a small but loyal following amongst comic book fans. But his arrogant and loudmouthed disposition of him has earned Guy a bad reputation amongst both comic fans and within DC’s broader superhero community.

Due to the strong distaste that many DC fans have for Guy, it’s not uncommon for the creators of the comics he appears in to put him in situations where his big mouth gets him into big trouble with his fellow heroes. This often ends with Guy being met with physical reprisal like Daffy Duck in a classic looney tunes cartoon. However, in DC Black Label’s The Human Target #6 (by Tom King, Greg Smallwood, and VC’s Clayton Cowles), Guy’s refusal to accept the growing relationship between Christopher Chance and his on-again/off-again love interest Tora Olafsdotter, aka Ice, results in Green Lantern 2814.2 meeting a thickly end that eerily mirrored his most embarrassing moment.

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While serving as a body-double for Superman’s archnemesis Lex Luthor, the titular Human Target ingested a slow-acting poison that left him with only twelve days left to live. He learned from Doctor Mid-Knight that one of the members of the Justice League International was the culprit behind the assassination attempt and began looking into the various members of the team. Ice joined the investigation early on to prove the innocence of Fire, Chase’s prime suspect. During their time together, Chase and Ice form a mutual attraction that earned Chase the ire of Guy, who began to stalk and harass the couple, making their investigation even more difficult. Finally pushed over the edge after learning that Chase spent the night at Ice’s home, Guy attacked both of them with his Green Lantern ring, only to be frozen solid by Ice. Fed up with Guy’s possessive treatment of Ice, Chase shattered the Green Lantern’s frozen form with one punch.

Chase’s murder of Guy is a grim call back to one of the most humiliating (and hilarious) moments of the Green Lantern’s career. During Keith Giffin and JM DeMatteis’ Justice League series, Guy developed a largely one-sided rivalry with Batman, incessantly bragging about his supposed superiority to the Dark Knight and defying his authority at almost every turn. The tension between them eventually boiled over in Justice League #5 (by Giffen, DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire, Al Gordon, Gene D’Angelo, and Bob Lappan) when Guy challenged Batman for leadership of the League. Although Guy was confident he could win without the power of his ring, Batman knocked him out cold with a single punch to the face, with an immensely satisfied Blue Beetle immortalizing the moment through his exclamation of “One Punch! One Punch!

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Guy’s humiliating defeat has been referenced many times by various writers and artists over the years, with Hal Jordan giving Batman a taste of his own medicine in Green Lantern: Rebirth #6 (by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Mario Alquiza, Mick Gray, Moose Baumann, and Rob Leigh). However, while most of the references to the “One Punch” scene have been comedic scenes that end with no real lasting damage being inflicted on the target, The Human Target #6’s homage to the scene ended with Chase killing Guy in self-defense, with his shattered remains melting into a puddle as a traumatized Chase and Ice try to comfort one another. Although the issue did justify Chase’s actions of him by doubling down on Guy’s unpleasant qualities, to the point where he actively tried to kill Chase and Ice, his death of him is still one of the most brutal scenes to ever appear in a DC comic.

Although Guy’s matured into a much more responsible and empathetic hero in recent years, his unfortunate history of arrogance and debauchery continues to stain his reputation. While Guy did cross a major line in his attack on Chase and Ice, their response from him is almost guaranteed to put both of them in the crosshairs of the remaining members of the JLI. Even in death, Guy can’t stop hurting the people around him.

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