Secret Origins #7: Green Lantern Guy Gardner and Sandman

Ryan Daly and guests Shawn Engel and Chad Bokelman review the first part of issue #7 of Secret Origins, which tells the story of the Green Lantern Guy Gardner. Then, Siskoid returns to help Ryan tell the origin of the Golden Age Sandman.

Listen to Episode 7!

Subscribe to Secret Origins Podcast on iTunes!

Sample pages from Secret Origins #7, written Steve Englehart with art by Ernie Colon and Rodin Rodriguez (Guy Gardner), and Roy & Dann Thomas and Michael Bair (Sandman), and a cover by Brian Bolland.

#7cover #7page1 #7page8 #7page15 #7Bpage1 #7Bpage4 #7Bpage10 #7Bpage18

Plus, Guy’s return (sorta) to the Green Lantern Corps during the Crisis in Green Lantern #195, written by Englehart with art by Joe Staton, as well as the cover to New York World’s Fair Comics #1 and sample art from Sandman’s appearances in World’s Fair and Adventure Comics #40 by Bert Christman.

#195page22  NYWFCcover

NYWFCpage1 Ad#40page3

Check out Chad Bokelman on the LanternCast:

Check out Shawn Engel’s Just One of the Guys podcast at Two True Freaks:

Check out Siskoid’s Blog of Geekery at:

“Premonition” (Theme for Secret Origins Podcast) by Neil Daly.

Additional music this episode: “I Need Some Sleep” by The Eels; “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty.

Leave a comment, Secret Admirers!

26 thoughts on “Secret Origins #7: Green Lantern Guy Gardner and Sandman

  1. This is one of those secret origin books that I want to own but I can’t find it anywhere! And mostly it is for the Sandman half of things.

    I can remember reading the entry for the Phantom of the Fair in Who’s Who. And like Ryan, I am a huge HUGE fan of the Vertigo series. I thought there was a darkness and grittiness to that series that worked well as a pulp. And the beautiful ugly art by Guy Davis suited it perfectly. The four issue mystery arcs crackled. And I like how over time, Wagner started to insert more of the DCU into the series, bringing in Blackhawk, etc. And given how I loved the Crimson Avenger episode, I really wanted to read this. Looks like another issue to try to scrounge up at the next Con.

    As for Guy, i forgot about the Phantom Zone torture so it was good to hear that stuff again.

    Gotta love the cover. Bolland can bring it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the cover on this one, but it’s pretty misleading. Not being a fan of Mr. Gardner at the time, I felt like DC pulled a bait and switch by putting Hal so prominently on the cover. Not as bad as that infamous “Superman Salutes the Bicentennial” tabloid Rob always talks about, that was a Superman cover full of Tomahawk reprints…but still pretty shifty.
    Having said that, I had a leg up on this one, as my first GL comic was Green Lantern/Green Arrow #116, where Guy gets sucked into the limbo hell he was in. I got it in one of those weird Whitman 3 packs, where the “DC” in the DC Bullet was replaced with the smiling Whitman logo. I always felt like this one was rushed or truncated too, as it just…ends.
    It took a long time, and the work of Geoff Johns, but I finally came to accept Guy Gardner. I loved him as a butt of jokes in JLI, but outside of that comic, groaned whenever he showed up. I think I was too young and idealistic to like such a jerk. As I grew older and more cynical, I understood his roughly-hewn charm.

    As for Sandman…yeah, this isn’t much of an origin. I’ve always felt that way about this one, and I’m glad I’m not alone. Thomas’ motivations are pretty flimsy here. He put more thought into adding to Batman’s already rock-solid motivations the issue before, than giving Dodds something to fight for here. I can’t recall if the Phantom/Fantom of the Fair actually reappeared in any Thomas’ written comics or not. I do know, that despite lots of histories to the contrary, it wasn’t Simon and Kirby who changed Sandman into a standard super hero with Robin-rip-off sidekick. It was Aquaman creator Paul Norris. The change occurred in Adventure #69, and Norris lasted 3 issues before Simon and Kirby took over, where they stayed involved in the strip for years, barring wartime service. So no wonder everyone attributes the change to them.

    Great show, and great guests! Loved the Lantern tagteam of Shawn and Chad, and the return of Siskoid.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a coinkydink; my intro to Guy Gardner was that same issue, and I’m relatively certain it was a Whitman edition, too!


      1. Everyone thinks that. I read about Norris a few years back, and honestly doubted it. Nearly every comic history that touches on it, credits Simon and Kirby with “super-heroing” the strip up. I have to remind myself they DIDN’T initiate the change. So no harm no foul. 🙂



  3. As I said above, my Secret Origin with Guy Gardner was Green Lantern #116; but, had mostly forgotten about him, when he turned up in Crisis (which I picked up towards the tail end of the series, then grabbed the early issues). Legends was my first look at him, in action, since I hadn’t been a regular reader of Green Lantern (a few Mike Grell issues and JLA stories, mostly). I was never big on Guy, except when Batman punched him out (“One punch!” “Bwahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!”). The origin story does a decent (if cursory) job, though, as the son of a teacher, I take a bit of exception to him being a scab.

    One historical point you did leave out was how closely the Silver Age Green Lantern Corps paralleled EE “Doc’ Smith’s Lensman series. Within it, the intergalactic peacekeeping force is the Galactic Patrol, with their top agents, the Lensmen. Each Lensman was bonded to a lens, which amplified his abilities and allowed him to speak to other races. The Lensmen would also influence the Jedi, in Star Wars.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought the Guy/Hal relationship seemed a bit ahead of its time. If DC wanted a gay Green Lantern, they should have re-read this and went with Guy and/or Hal, not Alan Scott.

    I like Ernie Colon’s work; but, superheroes were not his best subject material. He did a mean Richie Rich; and, I particularly enjoyed his Grim Ghost work, at Atlas/Seaboard.

    I thought Giffen and Dematteis were rounding out Guy, a bit, when they had him dating Ice. He was still a jerk; but, it softened some of the edges and you actually kind of rooted for him and Ice to become a real couple. I didn’t read Beau Smith’s run; but, he is definitely a master of writing macho lugs (see Beau La Duke, Real Man, in the pages of Scout).

    My origin with Sandman was JLA #108, which I picked up as a back issue. I had read about the Sandman, and the coloring of his suit; but, hadn’t read a story with him, until then. Apart from the color scheme, I kind of liked the whole pulpy suit and gas mask look. I especially enjoyed when it was borrowed for the Nightshade, on the 90s Flash tv series. I have to agree with previous comments that Matt Wagner did a much better job with the character’s background (and the character, itself, in Sandman Mystery Theater), though I enjoyed much of this story, especially Michael Bair’s art. The ’39 World’s Fair touches are well done and he captures the period fairly well. I’m a sucker for Art Deco and the modernist style of architecture. Bair did some nice work on Infinity, Inc and the revival of the JSA (as inker).

    I just don’t think Roy had enough space to do a lot character development in these stories. Had he been doing this in an ongoing book, rather than an anthology, I think he probably would have developed Wesley Dodd’s motivations more and gave him a more rounded personality.

    I would like to know, though, why Sandman has a shoulder holster, when he doesn’t have a weapon until the end, when Crimson Avenger tosses him the gas gun? I guess he wanted to be prepared in case someone gave him a weapon. or else, nobody told Bair that Sandman wouldn’t have the gas gun until the end of the story and he just assumed he went out with it, until he got the later script pages.

    Personally, I enjoyed the 70s Starman stories and what I have seen of the Simon & Kirby Golden Age ones. It’s not quite the pulpy fun of Matt Wagner; but, they are good swashbuckling adventure.

    This story is a bit weaker for lack of Dian Belmont. Wagner gave them a nice Nick and Nora Charles relationship that might have livened things up, here.

    Another great episode!


    1. I meant 70s Sandman stories; the Simon & Kirby reunion, not Mikaal Tomas (though that wasn’t bad).


    1. That was one of my dogs playing with a squeaky toy directly under the table where I was recording. I tried to mute my microphone when Siskoid was talking so I could grab the toy from her, which, of course, she took as an invitation to play.


      1. I could also blame Michael Bailey. His dog(s) were always making noise in the background of “From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast” and Michael’s a real trendsetter. I’m just following his lead.


  4. So the Green Lantern half… AKA the half I hadn’t heard before…

    I remember being disappointed and mystified that the origin focuses on Guy rather than Hal, not just given the cover, but that Hal wouldn’t get a turn FIRST. And it feels a heck of a lot like we’re picking things up in the middle of things because it IS a middle story in the Green Lantern saga.

    My favored GL? John Stewart, at least in the Mosaic era. I don’t like how they’ve turned him into a military-minded ex-marine in later years, even if I do rate the animated version, which is where the idea came from. But Guy is still better than Hal. Kyle in later years I liked; back in the day, I didn’t really. Didn’t hate him, but didn’t love him. And of course, Kilowog and Salaak and Ch’p and Katma… all pretty much better than Hal. Maybe even G’Nort. (I’ve played two of those characters in role-playing games – John and Salaak – so.)

    In the late 80s and early 90s, I really did like Guy though. In JLI of course, but also in his own book. I loved that when he lost the green ring, he was insistent he needed to find another way to be a superhero. That’s a great RE-origin. The guy addicted to superheroics. I dropped out when he became Warrior.


  5. Ah, #7, my 1st issue of Secret Origins, and therefore my sentimental favorite issue! I’m a big fan of both characters, but at this point I hadn’t warmed up to Guy Gardner. It wasn’t until Green Lantern vol. 3 #9 the 1st of the 4-part Guy & his G’nort, which someone on the episode mentioned, began my conversion to lifelong fan. I loved the Giffen/DeMatteis JLI and their version of the characters, but taken individually, a couple of my faves were exaggerated to the point of being caricatures – Guy being one of those. The ‘Guy & his G’nort’ story was GG’s 1st chance to shine as a solo star, and maybe because he was paired with the insufferable G’nort that Guy came off looking that much better!

    When Guy’s story got into the whole Vuldarian thing, I didn’t exactly love that take on his powers (frankly some of the morphing stuff was downright gross to look at), but it did go a long way toward finishing the rehabilitation of GG’s character from comic relief braggart to fully respected hero with an edge. I second the recommendation of GG: Warrior #s 22-23 (the straight up, Indiana Jones-type v. dinosaur-riding Nazis adventure) as essential reading for the character.

    The Sandman was a different story for me – I’d been introduced to the character in his yellow/purple get-up in All-Star Squadron #50 where he was gassed & blasted into space with the rest of the JSA – but the Sandman in the Secret Origins story with that garish DIY costume – blew my mind. It was this story that made me a lifelong fan. I ate up Sandman Mystery Theatre when it came out, despite the brutal hate crimes being depicted every month. The retelling of the Phantom of the Fair is one of my favorite SMT arc – very different take than the one in SO #7, though the (rather brutal) Crimson Avenger (and a pre-Spectre Jim Corrigan) makes a cameo.

    I don’t think there’s a series I miss more than Sandman Mystery Theatre – let us know, Ryan, if you ever restart that SMT blog!

    P.S. The idea for a Sandman secret origin must have been kicking around with Roy Thomas for a while, as evidenced in this pinup ( ) from All Star Squadron #43 (March ‘85). The caption references a story by Thomas & George Freeman which would have been gorgeous, though I had no problem with the Bair art we got. Did this Freeman story ever see the light of day?


    1. Wow, sweet pinup of the Sandman by Freeman, Mark! Thanks for sharing that.

      The upcoming project that Thomas refers to in the note is undoubtedly SECRET ORIGINS, as by the time All-Star Squadron #43 came out Roy had already released the origin of Starman, which is generally considered the beta test for SO. I’m assuming Freeman was assigned to the Sandman origin for a time, but had to drop out for one reason or another.


      1. I met Joe Staton at a convention, in Atlanta, in 1991; and, I think I’m one of two people who didn’t ask for a Guy Gardner or G’Nort sketch. One fan got an E-man sketch, while I had him do Captain Marvel (I thought his style was perfect for the character). Everybody else wanted Guy and G’Nort or have him sign issues with either of the pair.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s a great house ad, Ryan! I’ve always thought that Guy Gardner was the character Joe Staton was born to draw, so I’m not surprised, Jeff, that Staton spent that day in Atlanta doing GG sketches.


    2. I love that pin-up. I think I actually ripped it out of the comic and hung it on my wall. I did that a lot with pin-ups. That’s why many of my childhood comics are missing pages! That was the first time I realized how inherently cool the original Sandman design was.
      Freeman DOES work for Secret Origins, but for Alan Scott! Freeman also inked Joe Staton on B&B #197 Michael mentions below.
      I loved the Levitz/Staton Huntress series. It was the only reason I bought Wonder Woman in the 80s…and for that I know I’m not alone. That TPB is a gorgeous book.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm, I’ll have to look into the Alan Scott issue of SO – it’s one I don’t have. Yeah, I do love Staton on Huntress, as well (that Who’s Who page – va va va voom). I recently completed my collection of her WW back-ups, and though the quality does dip a tick when Staton and then Levitz leave, it was still an engaging read through the end.


      2. The Huntress was one of the best characters to come out of Bronze Age DC and Crisis did a number on her. She didn’t fare as bad as Power Girl; but, being a mob boss’ daughter wasn’t quite the same as being the daughter of Batman and Catwoman and carrying on the legacy.


  6. I just want to add on to Jeff’s comment about Joe Staton – if I were ever to meet him at a con and asked for a sketch, I think I’d go with the Huntress. I recently read some of those early Huntress stories he did with Paul Levitz and, wow, really fantastic stuff. I’ve always loved Staton’s work and his was the definitive Green Lantern work for me when I was growing up as he was drawing the book when I first discovered the character. I’ve also always loved his absolutely fantastic art on The Brave & The Bold 197, which blew my mind as a kid and remains to this day a personal favorite comic. But discovering his Huntress run recently really blew my mind also. Wonderful art on a really great character. I think Staton is incredibly underrated.

    I realize I didn’t comment much on the podcast itself, so I’ll try to come back later with some more contents on Guy and Sandman if I can!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know why the Huntress didn’t pop in my head when I ordered a sketch, as I always loved the character. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. I was a big Captain marvel fan and always thought Staton would have been perfect for that book. He’s a supremely nice guy, to boot. I have to admit we both stopped talking and stared as Marina Sirtiss walked by, headed to a Q&A, looking sexier than Next Gen ever let her be, wearing a black mini-dress. She was hilarious, on top of things, which just goes to show how much the producers missed out on by always leaving her on the ship.


  7. I tried finding this issue in my collection, but apropos of the Sandman, I now think my owning it was illusory. The Bolland cover is very familiar and oft-seen in shops, I was a Guy Gardner fan, I own the later Hal Jordan quasi-origin in two formats (floppy & trade,) I read the Fantom of the Fair Who’s Who entry with the Michael Bair art, and also his Doctor Fate origin, which was similarly crappy. I think this collection of vectors convinced me that I had a copy, but the interior pages of the Gardner origin were not at all familiar, nor was the dumb Sandman/Crimson crossover.

    I very much like the cover as is with the dark green, which gives it a little pizzazz over plain black and makes it stand out. I don’t think the image would work in color, especially Sandman’s colors.

    I may need to listen to the Guy Gardner section again, because I missed the bridge from Kari Limbo/exploding battery to the Phantom Zone torture, and only know part of that story. Guy’s most egregious personality defects were retconned away as related to torment by the alien demon thingie Dementor, who was basically and nigh-literally a naked Freddy Krueger on steroids and Rogane. JLI worked for me because its members were not iconic, so that when they were assigned extreme non-heroic comedy personalities, it was an enhancement rather than a gross misrepresentation of their (often barely) established personas. Guy was written as one of the most unpleasant of those characters going back to his reintroduction in Green Lantern, and therefore offered a greater flexibility for humor and storytelling possibilities. While not really an acknowledged favorite at that time, most of the best gags and firmest story motivation came from Guy, and I still view him as the de factor star of the Giffen/DeMatteis and even the Jurgens runs. However, my enjoyment in a team setting didn’t lead me to his appearances in the Jones GL run or his solo projects until I started picking up Warrior for its guest appearances during “Emerald Fallout.” I swiftly fell in love with the Smith/Byrd run, went back and bought most of Guy’s post-Crisis appearances, but ultimately burnt out on him by the sorry necessary end of the Warrior run. I still like Guy, but I think folks went overboard in smoothing out his rough edges so that he’s now just another dully appropriate corpsman. Still, the extended Countdown/Ignition story arc during Crisis is in my opinion an all-time highlight of the GL franchise, and Guy should probably be one of their great sympathetic antagonists rather than a mildly salty alternative to a half-dozen other Earthly Lanterns.

    I completely see the appeal of The Sandman, especially to less-than-athletic fanboys who harbor a secret desire to cosplay as a hero who can wear glasses and not expose their bodies in Lycra. I usually have firm opinions on JSA members in the negative or positive, but with Wesley Dodds I’m only marginally favorable. The premise is alright and I can get past the worst elements of the costumes, but he’s never appeared in a story that wowed me. I’ve read some Mystery Theater stuff, and thought it was alright, but it didn’t win me over like so many others. This origin sounds terrible, and I dislike Thomas shoehorning every eventual super-hero in town into this one World’s Fair celebration. While I generally like how DC dealt with integrating Earths 1 & 2 into a temporal segregation rather than a dimensional one, it’s best not to draw attention to the absence of Superman and Batman by trying to offer relative duds like Dodds or Iron Munro as loudly sucking ineffectual placeholders in the sphere of inspiration/influence. You can Gray Ghost your way around The Shadow’s DNA gift to Batman in a nice little side story, but trying to swap the Dark Knight with Sandman within the entire Golden Age DC canon is going leagues too far out into an ocean of disbelief.


  8. I’ve been aware of Guy Gardner since I first started reading comics in the mid-80s. I’ve never been a fan, though. He’s okay. He certainly did endure a lot of head trauma and endured, so more power to him.

    I think this issue of Secret Origins may have been my introduction to Sandman. I don’t really have an opinion about him either. Any time I see someone wearing a gas mask, I say, “Are you my mummy?” BAM! Doctor Who reference!

    But I loved the episode and the passion you brought to the characters (particularly Sandman). And the homo-erotic implications of Hal and Guy’s firendship was hilarious.


Comments are closed.