The first meeting between Lobo and Guy Gardner quickly came to blows and had a long lasting impact on the persona of the Green Lantern.
Since his Creation in 1983 by Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen, the intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo has built a reputation as one of the toughest figures in the DC Universe. He is an ageless alien with super strength and the ability to regenerate new versions of himself from his blood. The interstellar gun for hire’s recent role in the Death Metal event solidified his position as a powerful and impactful character. Throughout his bounty-hunting career, Lobo has had his fair share of run-ins with other heroes, but his battle with Guy Gardner remains one of his most influential encounters.
Guy Gardner’s time in Justice League International is characterized by severe personality changes. After Batman knocked him out with a single punch in 1987’s Justice League #5 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire and Al Gordon – Guy transforms into a polite, calm and thoughtful person. He is suddenly the perfect gentleman. This new Guy Gardner can be found offering to help his Justice League teammates with their problems and even reading. The whole team is pleasantly surprised by this new amiable version of the hot-headed Green Lantern. But a literal collision obliterates Gardner’s agreeable persona.
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Oddly enough, Lobo doesn’t mean to start a fight with Guy. His initial quarrel is with other members of the League. In Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubenstein’s 1988 Justice League International #18, a villain named Lord Manga Khan hires him to kill Big Barda, Martian Manhunter and a few of their compatriots who are chasing him. When Lobo attacks, Barda uses her Mega-Rod to transport him away from them, inadvertently sending him to the Justice League headquarters. Guy Gardner is peacefully reading a collection of poetry by Leonard Nimoy when Lobo crashes through the wall and right into him.
As Gardner picks himself up from the collision, he snarls “I’m Back” and lunges at the bewildered bounty hunter. The following issue begins with the grumpiest Lantern’s return to form as he throws Lobo out of a window. The two exchange blows out on the street and manage to destroy a streetlight and a parked car while terrifying scores of pedestrians. There’s no doubt about it, Gardner’s gentlemanly days are behind him. He hurls insults like “your mother eats Alpo!” at Lobo. The two exchange blows with increasing animosity until Booster Gold uses his force field to separate them.
Eventually, Lord Manga Khan calls off the hit on Big Barda and her cohorts, so Lobo leaves – presumably to go back to the “interstellar junkyard” where he had been lounging and watching cosmic dolphins play when Manga Khan first hired him.
For better or worse, Guy Gardner isn’t able to simply go back to how things were before their encounter. Whether the cause was a bump to his head or the inspiring nature of Lobo’s gruff exterior remains unclear, but one thing was certain: Gardner had returned to his tough-guy ways. No clear winner emerged from the showdown between Guy Gardner and Lobo, but the intergalactic brawl certainly left an impression on Guy Gardner and Justice League International.
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