You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. We’ve had to get some experts in though – there’s so much going on that needs to be explained!
Things are getting cosmic now, and we’ve been going through each Green Lantern in turn. This time: John Stewart! Very arguably the best of the bunch. In what can only be described as a thrilling coup, we’ve somehow landed Kensington Chubb to explain all about John. THE! Kensington! Chubb! Kensington, lead on…
Hi Kensington! Something about you feels familiar. What can you tell me about Green Lantern John Stewart? What’s his origin story?
Kensington Chubb: Hello, Stephen! Kensington Chubb here, the most unfamiliar gentleman about comics one could ever hope to meet, and I’m happy to tell you all about John Stewart, better known as The Best Green Lantern of Them All, No, Really, Just Shut Up And Accept It.
John first showed up in 1971’s Green Lantern #87, part of the much ballyhooed “Hard Travelin’ Heroes” arc by Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams that co-starred Green Arrow, and he was an architect with a chip on his shoulder chosen by the Guardians of the Universe to act as Hal Jordan’s back-up in case anything should happen to the Great White Hope. He took it pretty casually, even if he upset Hal by not sticking to the rules. “These aren’t any threads James Brown would wear… but they beat by usual Salvation Army special!” he declared, when given his first Green Lantern uniform. “Only one thing… I won’t wear any mask! This black man lets it all hang out!”
(Denny O’Neill’s heart was in the right place, but John certainly sounds very much like a white man trying to talk Jive at times in that issue.)
After his first appearance, John more or less disappeared for a decade or so, but in the mid-1980s, Hal Jordan finally did the decent thing and quit as GL, giving John the chance to step up and become the main guy in 1984’s Green Lantern #182. Since then, he’s been a Lantern on a pretty regular basis, barring the regular periods where the Corps is No More Because of Drama. He even had his own solo book, Green Lantern: Mosaic, for a very brief period in the 1990s, but I suspect most people familiar with the character know him from his stint as the Green Lantern of the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons, which rewrote his origins so well that they ended up folding the reboot into the comics quietly.
In the cartoon/second comics backstory, Stewart was a former U.S. Marine who as far more humorless and methodical about the whole superhero thing, as well as more likely to use his magic wishing ring to make guns and other practical tools, which is just insanity. Everyone knows a giant glowing green hand is far more useful.
Where does John place within the Green Lanterns in terms of popularity? Also, just wondering, but have you ever written for outlets including Wired, Playboy, and THR?
Chubb: What’s a THR? I’m just a regular English gentleman and hotel reviewer who’s particularly concerned about Al Pacino’s fake tan.
Everyone with the sense they were born with should accept that John is easily the best Green Lantern — he’s the only one to actually become a Guardian, which happened at the end of Mosaic, before being promptly ignored by everyone until being referred to in the new Green Lantern series out of nowhere, after all. He’s also the most interesting one, the one with a tragic backstory that doesn’t involve his girlfriend being stuck in a fridge — he was accidentally responsible for the destruction of an entire planet — and the grown-up surrounded by egotistical jerks and Kyle Rayner.
Unfortunately, only that last one seems to have stuck; John’s position in current Green Lantern comics is traditionally as the responsible adult who gets to order people about and comfort others. He’s wasted in that role, but it seems to be where the majority of fans and creators want to see him, sadly. He’s never been the most popular Lantern, but when it comes to being the best friend who’ll clean up other people’s messes, he’s a hit.
Say hi to Chloe for me, hope the weather in Portland is nice today. What’s John up to in the comics at the moment?
Chubb: Poland, you say? I’ve never been to Poland, but I hear that Warsaw is lovely this time of year.
For those wanting to see more of John Stewart, now’s the time; he’s one of the leads in the Green Lantern series that launched last week, as the leader of the Green Lantern Corps, a position he’s been in more or less since DC had its whole Rebirth thing. See? I told you fans liked it when he’s clearing up other people’s messes. Hal Jordan goes off to launch a gender war and there’s John, dealing with all the paperwork…
At least now he’s in the lead of the new series, he’ll probably get to hang out with G’Nort a lot more.
Thank you…. Kensington….
I believe that you can actually find “Kensington” on Twitter here.