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Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage

Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage #1 and #2 by Howard Chaykin

In addition to the Gosh! half-price sale, Gosh! also collect comics together to sell in a single bag on a bargain shelf. This can range from mini-series, to several issues in a run that form an arc, or as in this example, two issues of a prestige format series – I picked this up for £2.

I have always liked the art (and writing) of Howard Chaykin; at an impressionable age, I got a British comic book magazine from a newsagent that reprinted his revival of The Shadow and the connection was made. I will read books which I wouldn’t normally just because of his art and this was no exception.

The character of Guy Gardner is a perfect choice for Chaykin: as described in the book, ‘Guy is smug, arrogant, sexist, specist, and just plain obnoxious’; and ‘a deeply embittered, self-centred arrogant ass’, who just happens to have one of the most powerful weapons in the universe. It’s a great combination, and it gives ample opportunity for Chaykin to have fun with the dialogue, with Gardner spouting some awful stuff, but done in such a way that you can’t help but laugh at the same time as being appalled at him.

Concerning the plot, it’s something about a war in space between two genocidal species and Gardner being brought in as a neutral arbiter to broker peace talks by G’nort, another Green Lantern, but I can’t say it was particularly engaging; it was just a vehicle for Chaykin to draw Gardner in sharp suits, when he isn’t in the spandex, and large-breasted women. You either like Chaykin’s style (lots of teeth-closed grimaces, legs splayed wide apart while jumping, close-ups of eyes) or you don’t (and I do), but you have to had admire his sense of design – the first five double-page spreads, with two-thirds of the spread as a large shot, then three equal-sized panels on the right with the same visuals of faces, then a wide shot, then a close-up of the face again in the final panel, each spread for five different characters. It’s impressive, as are some of the shots of the Warriors bar, although he doesn’t get G’nort right – G’nort is a canine alien creature, and Chaykin’s version looks quite odd; also, his other aliens look like humans who have been coloured incorrectly.

I wouldn’t call this one of Chaykin’s better works – since his return to drawing comics regularly again, he’s been more prolific but also more relaxed than his younger, more fiery self, having more fun without necessarily making any particular point. It’s well done and fun, but nothing more.

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