This is a character that has been the source of much-ballyhooed debate in nerd circles.
Maybe it was sparked by the colossal fart-and-fall-down moment of Green Lantern: The Movie. Perhaps, it is because of the hamster wheel of rumors (you know, all that movement and nothing goes anywhere) concerning Green Lantern Corps, a movie whose IMDB page is about as naked as a Kardashian in yet another sex tape.
Whatever the reason, the hype and interest in this character is at an all-time high. It could be argued that John Stewart coming to the theaters is more anticipated than Hal Jordan. Why? Because it would be another Hal Jordan. We’ve never experienced a John Stewart. His jump from page to screen will be a celebrated one for kids, for adults, for certain.
Here is today’s Black History Month comic profile:
Name: John Stewart
Creators: Dennis O’Neil (writer), Neal Adams (artist), DC Comics (comic)
1st Appearance: Green Lantern Vol. 2, #87 (1971)
Backstory: An architect from Detroit and former U.S. Marine, John Stewart was recruited by Hal Jordan for Sector 2814 at the behest of the Guardians of the Universe (and Jordan actually didn’t want him because of his attitude). Stewart earned Jordan’s respect through his first assignment of a racist politician. He saved his life, but created embarrassment for the guy in the process. John Stewart was his own man and always would be as the chief trainer for all future Lanterns.
Powers: The power of the Lantern’s ring.
Medium: John Stewart hasn’t made it to the Worlds of DC (yet), but we have been able to get more of his service away from the comics in the Jack Kirby creations Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Sometimes, he has a fade. Other times, he is bald with a goatee. Whatever he will look like in the movies is up for debate and fancasters (although if Idris Elba isn’t John Stewart, there will be a riot).
Impact: He was the second black superhero to ever appear in DC Comics. (We will cover the first soon enough.) He was also more of an idea that would spark debate — a substitute Green Lantern? Artist Neal Adams (a white man) historically told his editor “we ought to have a black Green Lantern, not because we’re liberals, but because it just makes sense.”
If you are familiar with the daring exploits of Stewart, you know sense isn’t the only thing it made. He makes the Green Lantern Corps complete with his leadership, sense of purpose, and dedication to rid the universe of evil. Although his vocal efforts were intimidating to Hal Jordan at first, the guy came around. He saw that strength. He knew he needed it and the Corps needed it. In truth, we all do.
Culture: John Stewart has always been rooted deep within black culture. Did you know his first design was based on Sidney Poitier? (And kids, go look that up please.) Those roots alone should show fans the sociopolitical platform John Stewart will carry in the Worlds of DC. Think about it: He was actually a 3rd stringer–chosen by The Guardians of the Universe to backup Hal Jordan, when Hal’s backup Guy Gardner was seriously injured.
Stewart is a Marine and social activist. He refuses to be kept down, only to stand up. What he will bring to people is something that needs to be seen. His entire chronology in comics have been about the “Woke” process–traveling the universe with Hal Jordan, Green Arrow, and Black Canary. He attempts to rid the galaxy of evil, but also rid the injustice and imbalance in the world from us all. We saw it once in the form of nobility on Wakanda. We will see it again in the form of John Stewart.