3/26/2013

The Internet exploded last week when Joshua Hale Fialkov, the new writer of Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns, left the job before it even started. The controversial part is that Bleeding Cool reported that Fialkov left because DC wanted to kill off African-American Green Lantern John Stewart. DC has since denied the rumors over Twitter, but in an age when killing off major heroes is rampant, I felt we should explain to DC why they must never even think of killing John Stewart. Ever.

1. DC Needs More Minority Heroes, Not Less - Let's face it, there aren't a lot of minority superheroes in DC to begin with. The ones that do exist are a very small proportion. To take one out just seems unfair.  Every time a minority superhero is taken away, that's like a hundred white superheroes getting killed.  Killing John Stewart would mean one less superhero that minorities can be proud of.

2. John Stewart is One of the Few Successful Minority Superheroes - Stewart is one of the few minority superheroes to achieve mainstream success. He's been around for decades when most minority superheroes don't last a year. An entire generation grew up on John Stewart as Green Lantern in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, where he was THE Green Lantern. To them, he's more representative of the Green Lantern mythology than Hal Jordan. He's also the most prominent black superhero featured regularly on television.

3. John Stewart is the Only One of Two Ethnic Green Lanterns - According to the comics, there are five Green Lanterns on Earth; Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, Simon Baz, Guy Gardner, and John Stewart. Only two of the five are minorities. That's kind of ridiculous when you consider the huge number of minority groups on Earth. The bizarre alien members of the Green Lantern Corps shows its diversity, but John Stewart brings diversity to Earth. John Stewart makes the Corps reflect the reality. Without him, the Corps just gets a lot whiter.
UPDATE: I updated this to acknowledge Simon Baz, the Arabian Green Lantern.

4. John Stewart Isn't a Black Stereotype - John Stewart is one of the few minority superheroes who isn't defined by his race. Unlike the Chinese fireworks power of Jubilee or the strong black power of Luke Cage, John Stewart is just John Stewart. His power is the same as any other Green Lantern. What makes him unique is his character, military background, and conviction.

5. John Stewart's Death Matters - We all know DC will eventually bring Stewart back, but it's the principle of the thing. Stewart is one of the highest (if not the highest) profile superheroes in comics. He was the first black DC superhero. His death would be the first death of a major minority superhero on the level of Superman and Batman, but it would be a negative. Stewart should die as a result of a lack of popularity, not because of an editorial decision.

6. John Stewart Can't Be Replaced - Lots of superheroes are killed off and replaced with another person in the costume. Batman was replaced by Nightwing. Superman was replaced by a cyborg, a kid, and yes, a black man. But Stewart is more than just a Green Lantern; he's the minority Green Lantern. The only thing DC can do to really replace him is create another minority Green Lantern, which would make the death of Stewart even more glaring. Not replacing him with a minority would lead to outrage.

7. DC Will Be Accused of Racism - Whether it's true or not, killing John Stewart will trigger waves of accusations of racism. Of course, this is a double standard. When DC killed off Hal Jordan, there were unhappy fans, but none of them accused DC of prejudice against whites. But there are so few black superheroes that killing even one is a profound statement that DC just shouldn't make.

What do you think? Should DC kill of John Stewart? Does it matter?
[Image Source: DC via World of Black Heroes]

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9 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Number seven is so true...
They shouldn't kill him though.

comicbookandmoviereviews said...

John is a great hero, and if he dies there will be a back-lash (and I'm not talking about the western outlaw).

remo4711 said...

Totally agree - I like John Stewart as Green Lantern - but quibble with #5 - I think Black Lightning was DC's first black superhero.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Thanks, I like him, too. As for BL, Black Lightning first appeared in 1977. John Stewart's first appearance was 1971.

Nigel Mitchell said...

True, CBMR

Pat Dilloway said...

I'm surprised Tony didn't point out that they just introduced an Arab Green Lantern (Simon Baz) this past year so #3 is no longer accurate. DC must be sorely lacking for black heroes because during Black History month they promised to every week have a sale on titles with two black heroes. That only last two weeks. So I guess they only have 4? (They were John Stewart, Steel, Mr. Terrific, and the mid '00s Firestorm reboot.) Of course in comics characters "die" all the time, so it's not like he'd be dead forever.

Tony Laplume said...

True. The newest Green Lantern is very much a minority character. Human Green Lanterns also tend to be male for whatever reason. Jade has so far been the only exception, and that was like when Stephanie Brown was Robin. Remember either one? It should be remembered that John Stewart actually had his own title for a year and a half in the early 1990s, Green Lantern: Mosaic, which absolutely needs to get some loving.


The problem with John's most recent comic book adventures is that he's had to share them with Guy Gardner. There's nothing wrong with Guy, but if anything, John deserves to have his own spotlight, something very much akin to Mosaic. If he doesn't have that, he's just another Green Lantern, whose current legacy continues to be that one time he let a planet be destroyed on his watch. Fans of the Justice League cartoon know about that, too. Ironically, after Mosaic he never had a better run in comics until Kyle Rayner had the ring. John was a Darkstar for a while, but Ron Marz was among the first writers to distinguish him outside of a uniform, revealing his skills as an architect. Then for some reason someone decided he was also ex-military (I think it may have been the cartoon), and so he became a little less distinctive.


Anyway, the problem here isn't that DC wants to kill John (they also wanted to kill Dick Grayson at one point, and that led to far greater prominence for that character), it's that the company hasn't had anything interesting for him to do in years. He's been lost in the shuffle. He's not just another Green Lantern. Maybe this is the point where the company realizes that. It's great that he's seen as a champion for minority characters, but even then, he's more than that. As you say, he was never a stereotype. If anything, we could use a John Stewart: Reborn comic. If killing him off gets us that, then maybe that's something that needs to happen.

remo4711 said...

Really? I had no idea John Stewart had been around that long! I thought he came in during the 80's after Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Guy Gardner debacle.

anonymous said...

This smacks of racism. There. Somebody had to say it. But seriously, from a financial perspective, killing black GL is just tomfoolery.

When I watched JL/JLU, I was surprised to find that I liked John Stewart, Flash and Hawkgirl just as much as Batman and Superman (MM and WW were meh). I really liked that John Stewart's character was treated as respectable and as an equal. [It also didn't hurt that he was a pimp.] It disappoints me that with all of his popularity, DC would try to steal his shine under the pretense of using a GL with 'more history'. Not as recognizable as Hal? Please. If John Stewart isn't as developed as his white GL counterparts it's because he was a victim of the times. How much longer are we going to let him be a victim of the times?

Aside from horrible CGI and bad writing, there's another reason that garbage live-action GL movie bombed and it's the same one that caused The Last Airbender to fail. I just wish these movie directors, and the GOP, would get with the times. The United States of America is a diverse country. They are ready for a diverse cast with 'minority' heroes taking center stage. From a purely financial perspective, it only makes sense, too. I mean, if that's what the people want to see, give them what they want, and then rake in the candy. Win-win solution.

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