I’ve Been Here Before: “Joe” Gardner
I coined a term years ago that I like to call “nepotistic continuity,” which refers to the way that comic book writers sometimes bring back minor characters that they themselves created in the past as characters in their current work. For instance, Lila Cheney disappeared for years around the turn of the century before popping up again in an issue of X-Treme X-Men, written by her creator, Chris Claremont.
In every installment of this feature, I’ll spotlight an example of a character that did not appear in a comic for at least two years before then showing up in a comic written or drawn by the creator of the character.
Our first featured character is one of my favorite examples of all-time, “Joe” Gardner.
So Chuck Dixon took over Guy Gardner’s book with issue #11. He begins a Guy Gardner: Year One storyline where these aliens abduct Guy and probe his memories. The end result of their plan is introducing an evil clone they made of Guy, complete with Guy’s memories. The clone escapes and heads to Earth where he takes Guy’s place in the JLA. The evil Guy kills a bad guy and the JLA freak out. Then the real Guy finally makes his way back to Earth.
He fights the clone and ends up transporting him far away.
The clone shows up again, having freed itself.
The clone then makes a deal with Neron to make it powerful on its own.
Guy defeats the clone in the final storyline in Guy Gardner: Warrior.
That was early 1996.
In late 1999, in Birds of Prey #9, written by Chuck Dixon, Black Canary is on a mission in Koroscova trying to rescue a political prisoner. As it turns out, the prisoner won’t leave without a fellow prisoner….the clone of Guy Gardner!
He gets the name Joe in the next issue, which explains how he got there…
(As an aside, man, remember when Greg Land actually just drew comic books?)
Joe Gardner becomes a recurring villain for the next few issues (Black Canary fights him and after an intervention by Superman knocks him out of commission, Joe pops up again when a prisoner transport is sent to Apokolips. Joe is one of the supervillains along for the ride. He popped up again during Joker’s Last Laugh as one of the many prisoners affected by Joker’s laughing gas).