Beauology 101 – Guy Gardner: Behind The Vuldarian Tattoos, part 1

Beau Smith at the Flying Fist Ranch

Beau Smith at the Flying Fist Ranch

by Beau Smith

My name is Beau Smith and I used to write Guy Gardner: Warrior. (Isn’t that how AA meetings start out?)

When I took over Guy Gardner at DC Comics from my good buddy, Chuck Dixon, the book was in transition. Then editor Kevin Dooley, was in the works of handing the book over to his assistant editor, Eddie Berganza. DC was in the midst of getting rid of all other Green Lanterns and turning Hal Jordan over from baby face to heel. I jumped on the horse in midstream. I was all for gutting all those other Green Lanterns. One Green Lantern was great, a few of ’em was fun, double digit Lanterns was interesting, but thousands floating around was like being in the same room with every bad date you ever had… at the wrong time of the month. I was told at DC that Guy was gonna lose the ring… green or yellow… didn’t matter… no jewelry. I said, “You got it!” I never thought it was very manly to wear a bunch of jewelry anyway. (Even Mr. T has quit wearing the gold.)

Guy Gardner Warrior #22 cover

Guy Gardner Warrior #22 cover

DC wanted no relations to the old Green Lantern way. No rings! This was to be a deconstruction site they said. Not a problem with me. I had always thought Guy Gardner was a misunderstood character that was taken to the point of being a one-line joke. He was made into a cardboard character that had only one volume… annoying. He was always shown as a one-note jerk. No balance. Even jerks have other sides to their personality. Chuck had started laying a good foundation to the human side of Guy. I was there to take that and hopefully run with it to the next level.

I was thrilled to be working with Mitch Byrd. The guy is brilliant. No other way to put it into words. Mitch is an art genius. Those of you that know me understand that I do not throw the words brilliant and genius around easily. In my world there are two artists that are under appreciated masters… Mitch Byrd and Flint Henry (GrimJack, Man-Bat). A look into their personal sketchbooks is a quick trip to artistic heaven. These guys are a full tilt drunken binge without the pain and hangover. They make your eyes so happy they hurt.

I had hundreds of stories in my head with Mitch’s art attached. Knowing I was going to work with him made my mind hard to shut off. If it would’ve been physically possible, I would have had Mitch do Guy Gardner weekly. That’s how excited I was.

Buck Wargo and crew bust heads in Guy Gardner Warrior

Buck Wargo and crew bust heads in Guy Gardner Warrior

My plan was to make Guy Gardner an Indiana Jones kinda hero. No super powers. He would depend on his own manly personality and guts. He’s a man that has seen it all and knows how to handle that dangerous situation when it came up. I created Buck Wargo and The Monster Hunters (GGW #22 & #23) to be his support team. Buck Wargo was a kind of cowboy “Doc Savage”. His crew was like Doc’s, all experts in their fields. Guy, Buck, and the gang would be globe trotting adventurers taking on Yetis, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, dinosaur riding Nazis, Mothman, you name it and they would be running up against it.

Well, I had my way for a couple of issues… #22 and #23 and then the event known as Zero Hour crawled up my butt and pitched a tent.

DC was really big into crossover “theme” issues, things that supposedly connected the whole DC Universe. You see, DC hit it big with the Death Of Superman. They thought if that kind of thing worked once… it should work over and over. Marvel was doing the same thing at the time. They would get a character that was hot… The PunisherGhost Rider… and the next thing you know, those two guys are guest starring in every issue of every title. They weren’t beating the dead horse, they were nuking it!

Now, I’m not getting on Marvel and DC… they we’re just doin’ what they thought the fans wanted. ‘Sides… I still need to stay on their sunny side so they’ll continue to give me work.

Guy Gardner Warrior panels

Guy Gardner Warrior panels

Well, Mitch Byrd and I started getting Guy into a groove. We were having a really good time. Then one day Eddie tells me that the higher powers didn’t think that Guy should be without powers. He said that heroes without super powers didn’t sell. I argued the point, but in the end DC owned the ball I was playing with, so I had to come up with something. My idea was that Guy would be the manly version of Superman, the last of his kind.

Guy would find out that there was a reason why he has always been drawn to being a hero, why the blue boys of Oa picked him, why he always insisted he was the only true Green Lantern. The reason was… like salmon do whatever they have to do to get back up stream… Guy had to be a hero. Guy WAS the last of his kind.

That’s why I came up with him being part of an alien seed planting process that was put into the work thousands of years before. Guy Gardner was the fruition of the most noble race of galactic warriors ever… The Vuldarians.

They came before the Green Lanterns, before the Dark Stars… before the Space Rangers. They were like a mix of “Braveheart meets the Texas Rangers.” The Vuldarians were the greatest warriors the universe has ever seen, bar none. They were the best fighters ever. Mention the word “Vuldarian” to any crummy galactic crook, and they would fill their pants right then. Bad guys would kiss Batman and call him Mommy rather than face a Vuldarian. They were THAT bad!

Since I’m limited to space, I won’t go into the whole history of The Vuldarians. Check out the back issues of Guy Gardner for that.

I made Guy the last of his kind, part human, part Vuldarian, the greatest warrior of all. Nobody in the DC Universe was a better fighter… not even the sacred cow himself… Batman. I was so tired of Batman being touted as the end all of end alls.

Needless to say, by making Guy the greatest fighter and second to only Superman in strength… well… you know where I was going.

If not, let me refresh your memory… Batman’s one punch knockout of Guy when he was in the JLA.

I wanted my revenge.

To be continued…

Come back on August 7 for the exciting conclusion!

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch

Want Guy Gardner: Warrior back issues? Click here!

USER COMMENTS17 Responses

We'd love to hear from you, feel free to add to the discussion!

  1. Tom K. Mason Says:

    Hey Beau – I hear you on Mitch Byrd. When I worked with him on Dinosaurs For Hire, he brought so much to the page, not just with the action that filled the page, but with the facial expressions and body language of the characters. I loved working with him!

  2. Duskdog Says:

    You had me at “revenge on Batman”.

    Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story. You’re one of only a handful of writers who has ever written Guy Gardner to be as awesome as he really should be.

  3. Jim Harvey Says:

    Beau, I always liked Guy Gardner as Guy Gardner WARRIOR, could never really stomach him as another Green Lantern in a sea of lanterns. I always felt that DC reneged on a great character to return him to the Guy Gardner(just another Green Lantern Guy). It’s always great to hear about the back story on these changes in the status quo of a comic.

  4. Sam Kujava Says:

    A NEW column by the Beau-tastic one!
    I’m there, pard!
    Keep ’em coming; no one unleashes a tall tale of hard
    bitten truth like Beau Smith!

  5. Ed Catto Says:

    Love those Beau stories! Can’t get enough of the manliest man in comics!
    Keep ’em coming!

    Ed Catto
    http://www.CaptainActionNow.com

  6. John Says:

    Guy should have stayed as Warrior. He’s gotten no respect since becoming a GL again.

  7. Brian Thomer Says:

    GUY GARDNER: WARRIOR remains one of my favorite runs in comics, so I love hearing these behind the scenes stories. I’d gladly purchase the whole series as trade collections. Hopefully, Beau gets to return to the character some time soon.

    I’d be all for the Monster Hunters roaming around the DCU Earth looking for all kinds of creepy crawlies as well. Come on. Tiger Man vs a yeti is a must see!

  8. Ken Davis Says:

    Keep the stories coming Beau!

  9. Jason Willey Says:

    Despite being owned by DC, I have always considered Guy “your character” as you always treated him the best. I have a feeling that if not for you making his personality three dimensional back in the 90s there might be three Green Lanterns protecting Earth in the Blackest Night instead of four.

  10. AnthonyF Says:

    Mitch’s art is the bomb! I’m glad your telling the full story behind this title, I really enjoyed the Indiana Jones issues and at the time felt it wasn’t explored enough before the alien-angle/superpowers showed up.

  11. Beau Smith Says:

    Thanks go out to all of you for taking the time to read BEAUOLOGY 101. I really appreciate and hope you enjoy part 2 of Guy Gardner Warriror-Behind the Tattoos.

    Your amigo,

    Beau Smith
    The Flying Fist Ranch

  12. Westfield Comics Blog » Beauology 101: Guy Gardner: Behind The Vuldarian Tattoos part 2 Says:

    […] part 1, Beau told how he came to write Guy Garnder: Warrior and how Guy became part Vuldarian. Now, the […]

  13. Commander T Says:

    I hope you do get to reunite with Mitch Byrd and start drawing and writing some AWESOME stories again.

    Mitch’s artwork is astounding — always has been — and, coupled with your storytelling talents, you guys’re the Dynamic Duo, but only BETTER!

    Keep ’em coming, and don’t hold back!

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