All of the brou-ha-ha over Green Lantern #25 (2007) has gotten me thinking about the other Green Lantern #25's. After all, there have been a total of four Issue #25's in Green Lantern history!
First, there's this one, from 1948:
Hey, look -- Alan Scott is about to be run over by Dan Patch! (Dan Patch was a famous racehorse, by the way -- a harness racer born in my home state of Indiana.) How does Alan get himself into these situations? Tsk, tsk ...
Next is this one, from 1963, featuring a story in which Hal Jordan and Sonar try to blast the hides off one another with each other's weapons:
During the eras of the 1948 and 1963 issues, DC Comics didn't really make a big deal out of milestone or anniversary issues. So, there's nothing particularly unusual about the 1948 and 1963 versions of Green Lantern #25 -- they're pretty standard Golden Age and Silver Age fare. DC Comics changed their tune by the end of the 1960s, though. From then on, a comic book reaching the #25 count could almost be guaranteed some sort of special treatment, as evident in the next example.
The third Green Lantern #25, from 1992, is a doozy. The story revolves around one big, huge slugfest between two Green Lanterns:
It's one of those extra-large issues with very inconsistent artwork throughout, because several different artists were used to illustrate it (M.D. Bright, Tim Hamilton, Joe Staton, Romeo Tanghal, and Gary Yap). None of the artists have compatible styles, so the transition from section to section is a bit jarring. However, that doesn't stop the issue from being an entertaining read.
The premise is thus: Hal Jordan is returning to Earth from space, after spending a considerable amount of time recruiting new officers for the Green Lantern Corps. The Guardians have given him the go-ahead to resume his post as the Green Lantern in charge of sector 2814 -- and Earth. The problem is, Earth already HAS a Green Lantern in charge -- namely, Guy Gardner.
Hal (of course) has come up with a zillion different rationales as to why he should be the Green Lantern in charge of Earth -- and besides, he's just been appointed leader of the European branch of the Justice League. However, Guy (of course) LIKES being the Green Lantern of Earth. Hal is determined to have a nice, rational talk with Guy, to convince Guy to let Hal take over sector 2814, but you can bet that Guy isn't about to let go of it quietly.
First, Hal checks on the USA headquarters of the Justice League, where Fire and Ice are griping about having to wait on Maxwell Lord hand and foot in order to get new headquarters. Both gals get the beejezus scared out of them when an image of Hal suddenly appears out of thin air, hovering in front of them and demanding to know where Guy is. Ice manages to squeak out that Guy is at his apartment, and Hal vanishes, leaving the girls scrambling to tell Max. Of course, it isn't long before the entire Justice League suspects that a fight is in the making.
Meanwhile, Hal appears on the doorstep of Guy's apartment. Guy immediately tries to slam the door in his face. "Go 'way," Guy tells him. "When I wanna be bored, I'll turn on the PGA Tournament."
Hal forces his way in and doesn't waste time letting Guy know why he's there: "I'm coming to take my sector back."
Guy chokes on his beer.
The two immediately begin arguing over who should be in charge of Earth, each dredging up old arguments (Abin Sur chose to give his ring to Hal only because Hal was closer; Guy has brain damage, and is "uncontrollable and crazy"; blah, blah, blah ...).
THEN, Guy says the absolute worst thing he could possibly say to Hal: He says Hal doesn't have any guts.
(Note: At this point in Hal's history, Hal has those Parallax-induced white streaks in his otherwise brown hair. Ya gotta wonder if, in current continuity, Guy ever looks back on this incident and wonders just how close he came to having Hal get Parallax on his ass.)
Hal gets DANGEROUSLY quiet for a moment. He asks Guy exactly what Guy means. Guy then accuses Hal of always trying to talk his way through things, instead of just fighting. Hal proceeds to do just what Guy accused him of: Talk the situation out.
It should be stated here that Guy Gardner, as a character, really doesn't get enough credit for having brains. Case in point: He proceeds to launch into a brilliant rundown of then-current Green Lantern story continuity problems, for no other reason than to piss off Hal:
"Say, since you know so much, maybe you can answer something that's been bothering me for months," says Guy. "I thought the Tattooed Man died a long time ago, but there he was fightin' us a little while back. How'd he survive?"
"Hell, I don't know," Hal replies, remaining stubbornly committed to his motives (and to the workings of his comic book universe, no matter how silly). "Made a tattoo image of himself when Goldface tried to kill him, maybe. Now listen to me--"
"And why did the Guardians keep saying there were only three GLs left when Ch'P still had his ring?" asks Guy.
"I guess because he'd let it run out of power, so they weren't detecting it," Hal says. "NOW, will you--"
Guy keeps at it, until Hal finally snaps:
"DAMN it, Gardner!" Hal yells. "You're turning this into buffoonery! This is IMPORTANT -- and you'll TREAT it that way!"
Guy grins. "Well, now THERE's some guts," he says. He then challenges Hal to a full-scale fight: The winner gets sector 2814, and the loser quits the Green Lantern Corps.
Quite a challenge! When Hal hesitates, recognizing the high stakes, Guy starts hurling insults at him. Finally, Guy says, "Once a whiner, always a whiner," and at long last gets the reaction he wants from Hal:
The fight is on!
While Guy and Hal are busy punching each other through buildings, Superman and both Justice League teams show up -- Guy's team from the USA, and Hal's team from Europe. A cadre of Green Lanterns also arrives, with John Stewart in the lead.
Superman decides he needs to stop the fight before Hal and Guy destroy the whole city, but the Green Lantern known as Brik (who during this time is carrying a HUGE torch for Hal) gets in his way.
"I'm sorry, Justice Leaguer!" she says to Superman. "We won't allow you to support your comrade Guy against Hal!"
Superman looks utterly bewildered. "Support ... Guy?" he says, "What IS this?"
(Note: Guy isn't exactly Mister Popularity among the Justice Leaguers. Ice likes him -- and is in fact dating him -- but that's about it.)
John Stewart then explains the "dispute" between Hal and Guy to Superman and the other Justice Leaguers. Superman expresses concern over Hal engaging in "uncharacteristic" behavior, and Ralph Dibny asks hopefully if the other Green Lanterns are there to make sure Hal wins.
"This is THEIR show," John replies. "Whatever they decide -- we live with it."
Meanwhile, Hal and Guy are still hard at work blasting the hell out of each other:
John finally intervenes:
Guy and Hal continue talking trash to each other. Hal wants to continue the fight in space, but Guy doesn't want to leave the city. Then Guy proposes that they fight without their power rings.
Ah-HA. Guy and Hal fought each other without their rings before, back in Green Lantern #3 (1990). Due to various circumstances, they couldn't finish that fight, but now here's another chance.
Ice begs Guy to reconsider, and Brik begs Hal to reconsider, but both nix the idea. The rings are ignored, and the fight resumes!
Then Hal decks Guy and knocks him flat ...
... and Blue Beetle makes a BIG MISTAKE:
One punch! Shades of the time Batman took out Guy with one punch. Ooooooooooooh, WRONG thing to mention around Guy!
Mad as hell and out of control, Guy subjects Hal to a merciless pummeling, and Hal seems unable to defend himself. Guy even breaks his hand on a brick wall and gets kicked in the face, but nothing slows him down. Hal eventually gets backed up against a wall and covers his face while Guy continues the relentless beating. The onlookers are shocked by the punishment Hal is taking -- even Ice is crying and wishing for Guy to just end it.
"Why doesn't Hal just drop?" John Stewart says. "Why doesn't he ... OH."
It finally becomes evident to the others what's really going on. Hal is pulling a rope-a-dope on Guy -- a boxing term for allowing the opponent to strike repeatedly in hopes of tiring him out and opening up weaknesses to exploit. Sure enough, Guy becomes so tired that he hardly has enough energy to move, let alone defend himself.
When Guy has only "enough stupid anger to stay on his feet," Hal lets him have it.
Guy isn't unconcsious, but he's definitely down. While Ice runs to Guy and puts her arms around him to console him, Hal stands over Guy and holds out his hand.
"Awright, awright," says Guy, reaching up to shake Hal's hand. "You won. I admit. I'll shake yer damn --"
"NO, Guy," says Hal. "The RING."
Poor Guy! Either he forgot about their wager, or he didn't think Hal would really make him quit the Green Lantern Corps. Still, he does honor the agreement. Very reluctantly, Guy pulls off his ring and hands it to Hal, then he gets up and walks away with Ice. While the other onlookers rush to congratulate Hal (including Kilowog, though Kilowog is fond of Guy), Guy vows that he'll be back, one way or another.
Twenty-five issues later, Coast City is destroyed, and Hal is driven mad and becomes Parallax. Guy does indeed find ways to stay active as a superhero, but doesn't become a Green Lantern again until Green Lantern: Rebirth, in 2005.