Unfortunately, Banks' contribution to the book ends with the cover, and the interior art is penciled by Marc Campos and inked by Dan Davis and it is not a good-looking, easy-to-read book. I had forgotten how much many DC superhero books of the era attempted to do Image Comics styles with various degrees of success, just as I had forgotten how, well, nasty and mean-spirited writer Beau Smith's Warrior book could be, a mixture that had made the few issues I had read pretty unpleasant experiences, even if the premise of the book was a solid one.
Now, I never much liked Guy Gardner as a character; he does have his charms, but it takes the right writer to make him into an asshole with a heart of gold, rather than just an asshole.
At this point, he was no longer a Lantern, and was no longer slinging Sinestro's ring, but had discovered his body contained ancient alien DNA. Activated by a drink from a magic chalice, it gave him dumb and gross-looking powers: He was covered with primary colored tattoos and could morph weapons directly out of his body, turning his hands into big guns or blades or whatever (It wasn't a terrible idea for powers, but, because of the era, the weapons were generally ugly-looking in their design, and usually accompanied with some body horror like crawling of flesh). Also, he pretty much stopped ever wearing a shirt.
Not too far into the series, however, Smith had Guy Gardner open a superhero-themed bar, Warrior's, in New York City. That was, as I said, a pretty solid premise, and it allowed Smith to bring back a mess of obscure or too-little-used DC superheroes as employees or patrons. In this particular issue, Warrior's seems a bit like the Planet Krypton restaurant from Kingdom Come without the commitment to the theme, while Wildcat, Lead from the Metal Men, a machinegun-toting Lady Blackhawk and Arisa are on duty as bouncers.
In issue #36, a silhouette we're meant to think is the old Guy Gardner shows up, blows a hole in the wall and enters, revealing himself as the guy on the cover in a splash panel that distills everything wrong with the art, from the way the character is drawn, with a coloring effect covering his entire right arm so it's unclear what his weapon is a or how it works (I eventually pieced together that it somehow makes ring constructs?), to the exaggerated flaring of his collar covering up his anti-Lantern symbol, to the bizarre anatomy of the a waitress in the foreground, in which she seems to be all breast, her head, torso and tiny baby-hands looking like they belong to someone else. The rest of the panel is just a mess of people and objects one might find in a bar.
Then some villains attack, fresh off their deal with Neron: There's Cheetah, someone calling himself "Blackguard--The Human Killing Spree" and The Earthworm, who has a whole series of odd powers, including the ability to jump into the ground and tunnel like Bugs Bunny and command armies of "vermin" which here includes rats, snakes and, for some reason, alligators. The bouncer, the villains and the Guyborg all fight for the remainder of the issue, and I lost count of how many bar patrons died during the course of the issue. I'm going to guess maybe all of them...?
The issue ends with the villains defeated and the evil Guy being lead to a black candle by Neron's voice; he lights it and disappears.
You know, a 16-page superhero bar brawl might sound like a lot of visceral fun, but because of the way the book is drawn, it consists mostly of the characters tossing around childish insults while Campos puts them in seemingly random poses, and the reader is left to figure out what was meant to be happening. I...am glad I didn't waste $1.75 on this in 1995, and feel a little bad about wasting about $2 on it now.
In the second half of the book, jut as Guy's cutting his hair with a giant knife that grew out of the palm of his hand, Neron appears to him and offers him a cold beer. Neron tempts him by making his every wish come true, laying it on incredibly thick: He'll restore Coast City, bring back dead loved ones like Ice and so on. And all he wants Guy to do is kill John Stewart who is, at this point, a Darkstar himself. Neron even makes killing John seem like no big deal, saying that John was supposed to have died already, but because of Extant's messing around with time during Zero Hour, John was spared, and the result of that was a bunch of the bad things that happened in Guy's life.
Claw's claw speaks to him in a thick, bold balloon with a jagged outline, colored purple to match the color of the claw itself, I guess.
This issue is from about halfway through the book's 53-issue run. Steel's co-creator Louise Simonson is still writing, and the book is now being drawn by pencil artist Paul Gosier and inker Rich Faber.
Steel is flying around his hometown of Washington, D.C. doing regular superhero stuff like stopping looters and rescuing people from fires when he's attacked by the new and improved Superman villain, Metallo. Steel knocks Metallo's head off of his body, which is the usual way to stop Metallo, but it seems Metallo has a new ability: He is now able to control metal, growing new bodies from whatever is nearby his head.
And, um, that's all there is to it, really. Metallo ultimately makes the mistake of incorporating a bomb into the final body he grows in this issue, only to realize too late that the metal casing of the bomb surrounds plastic explosives, and he detonates himself. In the final pages, Alpha Centurion appears to pick Steel up to participate in a Superman crossover.
Like most of the handful of issues of the series I've picked up from back-issue bins, I found the book disappointing...I like the character of Steel a lot, but outside of a handful of the Christopher Priest-written issues, I haven't really liked any of his solo comics.
Of course, it's perhaps unfair to judge the series by this issue alone, as it really feels like Simonson was writing around the mandates of a crossover tie-in—which were apparently to work in a differently-powered Metallo into this month's issue, whatever else she might have planned. As for the art, it is far more legible than, say, that in Guy Gardner: Warrior, but Gosier seemed to be far more comfortable drawing super-people in action than regular people, as any scenes not featuring the metal guys hitting each other look forced and unnatural.