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23rd January 2017

Green Lantern Corps – No Hope For John Stewart

I am now utilizing Youtube as a means of creating content. My first video discusses the current state of the John Stewart character at DC Comics. You can view it below.

If you’re interested in John Stewart, diversity in comics and media, comics, and science fiction and fantasy in general, please like the video and subscribe to my channel. I have a lot to say about those subjects and I have decided that I will be making videos very regularly. As always, if you like what you see, you can support me on Patreon and follow me on Twitter by clicking the buttons below, and help spread the word!



12th January 2017

John Stewart Confirmed For Green Lantern Corps Film

WB has finally released worthwhile information about the Green Lantern Corps film scheduled to hit theaters in 2020. To cut to the quick, it is confirmed to be a Hal Jordan and John Stewart film, as many expected, described as “Lethal Weapon in space.”

According to Deadline.Com:

“They’ve set David Goyer to write the script with Justin Rhodes for Green Lantern Corps, with Goyer producing and with DC heads Geoff Johns and Jon Berg exec producing.

The focus will be on two characters: Hal Jordan and John Stewart. The latter is an African American Marine sniper before he joined the Lantern Corps and the story very much focuses on his relationship with Jordan and the Corps. The story was conceived by Goyer and Johns.”

Readers may know that my positive feelings toward Green Lantern, John Stewart, and DC Comics in general have dissipated, so the question is does this news reinvigorate my interest in them? The answer is “no,” and I have a couple of reasons why.

First of all, the DC Cinematic Universe (or DCEU as I believe WB likes to call it) is an utter joke that I have no interest in. All of the movies that have been a part of it have been abominable, and I don’t care to see more.

Also, I don’t trust any of the people that have been mentioned to be working on this project. Geoff Johns and David Goyer are the ones who presented Blade the Vampire Hunter as an asexual who steadily got the focus moved off him in favor of white characters, initially Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel in the (terrible) third film, and then some white woman in the Blade TV show. While you can argue that Blade wouldn’t be much without Goyer backing him, and you’d probably even be right, that still doesn’t mean his usage of the character, or the films themselves, are laudable.

Black characters are very, very rarely presented as what I call 100% heroes. They are often one half a hero, three fourths a hero if you’re lucky, and usually much less. What I mean by this is that they rarely get what real heroes in fiction get, which is to be the focus, to save the day, and to get love stories and worthwhile characterization.

I moved away from John Stewart because I realized he will never be a 100% hero, and I’m done settling for less. Goyer and Johns have track records of presenting black heroes as… I’d say 37% heroes at best. Their black characters are frequently overshadowed by white ones, even when the black characters are supposed to be the focus (again, see the Blade TV show). In Geoff Johns’ run of Green Lantern, John Stewart is about a 7% hero. With the presence of Hal Jordan in this upcoming Green Lantern Corps film, things are set up perfectly for John Stewart to yet again be a… oh 40% hero at best. I guarantee he will not be a 100% hero.

I don’t have time for that stuff anymore. I set off to work on my own project, ZATSWAN: MULTIVERSAL GUARDIAN, to make things the way I’d like to see them, because I realized waiting for a bunch of white guys–who have no interest in seeing what I’d like–to make something that would truly satisfy me would just cause me to continually throw my hands in the air in frustration.

I am of the view that a character like John Stewart is a trap, because I will never be satisfied with him, and I will not be going back to him, ever. As Zatswan comes out, and readers can see more of it for themselves, I think my position will make more sense to them. Why bother with John Stewart, a 35% hero at best, when you can have a better character in a better story who is a 100% hero?

That said, if you still want to be into John Stewart, that’s fine. If you’re okay with him being a 35% hero, constantly shoved behind white characters, in a white franchise overcrowded with characters vying for attention, being written and controlled by a bunch of white guys who definitely don’t have his best interest in mind, more power to you. But if I see you on a message board or in a comments section somewhere complaining about the situation, while monetarily supporting it, you will lose credibility in my eyes, because that’s what you signed up for. You would only have yourself to blame for continuously sticking with that arrangement and supporting it.



17th December 2016

Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian 5 Page Preview + Cover and Logo

The logo and first cover for the comic book series Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian are revealed, along with the first five pages.

Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian is a science fantasy adventure featuring fantastic settings, larger than life threats, affecting characters, and cosmic romance. While living an ordinary life in Southern California, A.C. Cooper’s world is turned upside down when he is offered a tesseract; a strange object from the fourth dimension that grants amazing powers. A.C. and a young woman he just met, Marlene Ja lee, are inducted into an organization of cosmic peace keepers called the Zatswan. Utilizing the power of tesseracts, these guardians defend all known realities from the greatest dangers imaginable. A.C.’s loyalty and morality are challenged when his new duty as a Zatswan pits him against a mysterious young lady who is literally the girl of his dreams, with all existence hanging in the balance.

Click on the images below to enlarge them:

For some unknown reason, the fourth dimensional tesseracts are existing in the third dimension. Almost nothing is known about the fourth dimension, but there are signs of intelligence from there, like the tesseracts. 4th dimensional beings do not interact with 3D ones in any way the 3D beings can perceive. Traveling to a higher dimension is a much bigger feat than going to a different universe. The Zatswan are able to go from universe to universe by having their tesseracts envelop them and conceal them within contained 3D space. While inside the tesseracts, they momentarily cross into the 4th dimension, and from there, they are able to access different universes. However, while crossing over into the 4th dimension, they can’t perceive much.

While the tesseracts allow their users incredible powers, the Zatswan and their master, the powerful cosmic being known as Zorb, are not sure if they are using the objects for their intended purpose or not. These mysterious items are sources of unlimited energy, and a weakness of the Zatswan is that they can draw on too much power and burn themselves out.

The Zatswan come in different colors, with some excelling at abilities others don’t, but being weaker in other areas. For instance, yellows are better at certain tasks than reds, but worse at others.

A.C. and Marlene’s service sees them defending various realities against the forces of Expulzar, a being of unfathomable power who desires the destruction of all universes. Why? You’ll have to read and find out, but rest assured, it has nothing to do with satiating some hunger, or doing it just to do it.

Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian features a character of African descent in a leading role, and readers won’t have to hope or wonder if he will be a character worth supporting, nor will they need to make compromises with him the way they would for, say, Cyborg and John Stewart from DC Comics. My full support is behind A.C. Cooper and I have a ton of confidence in him. I understand many black comic fans’ patience is exhausted and I’d like to clarify right now they will not have to deal with things such as the black character being mutilated, asexual, having a ridiculous hero design, being a support player to white characters, or being a stereotype.

I also understand that publishing stories is a marathon and not a sprint, meaning it takes time for a new story to build an audience. Zatswan is a precious project of my own, and I will be making stories about it for as long as I can. Readers will not have to worry about Zatswan being abruptly cancelled the way they would for, say, Cyborg. Because Zatswan is so important to me, I always strive for very high quality writing and artwork. Substandard content, story directions suddenly changing because of behind the scenes editors, or rushed poor fill-in artwork will not be issues here.

Alex Woolfson, author of the comic series The Young Protectors, which is about a team of gay superheroes, is a big inspiration of mine. The success of his series showed me there are under served audiences out there hungry for content in comics. The large publishers like DC do not seem able to reach these people and effectively satisfy them, yet someone like Alex Woolfson, without any corporate might behind him, is.

I believe the problem is with the entire comic industry, from the executives, to the editors, to some of the creators, to the distributor, to the comic shop owners, and to some of the fans. For people who aren’t the demographics mainstream comics cater to, perhaps the best way of addressing the issue is to bypass all of those obstacles altogether by having fans directly support creators who produce content they enjoy without any bureaucracy between them.

If you enjoy Zatswan, you can support it by clicking the Patreon button below and pledging a monthly amount of money you’re comfortable with. Even a dollar is a big help! This will make it easier for me to keep getting you content you like.

Look forward to a new website dedicated to Zatswan in the near future, which will update multiple times a week with new pages!



23rd November 2016

Recent Examples of Why I have Given Up on John Stewart + Zatswan Preview

Let me begin by saying that this isn’t about complaining or rights and wrongs. In my last article, I wrote about how I’ve grown as a person during my time working on this site, and I’ve gotten past that complaining stage of my development. Rather than complain about DC and put expectations on them, I now just recognize them for what they are and they aren’t.

At a reader’s behest, I skimmed the latest goings on in Green Lantern because I heard John finally does some stuff in the most recent issues of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, and what I’m seeing is further assurance that I made the right decision in moving on from the John Stewart character, Green Lantern, and DC as a whole.

John Stewart will always be at most second best, and it’s an aberration if he is actually in front as the main character doing things main characters do. I’ll list more specific reasons why this character is frustrating should one choose to follow and support him, and everything DC has recently done wrong with the character if their goal is to interest his fans.

1. He’s appearing in a book called Hal Jordan.

2. In the first arc of said title, he does nothing. Why the book wasted any pages on him at all, I don’t know. He shows up too late to do anything that matters. John Stewart fans will literally have to wait until eight issues before the character does anything worth anything.

3. I don’t think he has been mentioned in a single solicit for this title, whereas every other Earth Lantern featured in it has. Yes, John Stewart fans pay attention to this stuff, and if DC thinks we don’t, or that it doesn’t matter, then that’s just another manifestation of why John Stewart fans are frequently not on the same page as them.

4. He’s not his own character, but some kind of extension of the Green Lantern Corps. This leads us to…

5. Because the writers like to show off the coolness of the alien Lanterns, this more or less makes it so John–the character that is connected with them at all times–is useless. See Cullen Bunn’s Green Lantern: Lost Army, where characters like Mogo, Salaak, B’dg, Guy, and heck, even Krona and Relic, do things to save the Corps from danger, while John doesn’t do anything. The most he did was frequently tell the Green Lanterns to run away, and save Arisia from death in space, which Arisia never even acknowledges.

Also, see the latest issue of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps (issue #9), where Rot Lop Fan saves the day, while John… well, he doesn’t really do anything… again. Compare this to numerous scenes of Hal Jordan heroically kicking Sinestro Corps butt single-handedly, and ask yourself, John Stewart fan, why would you want to read something like that?

6. John Stewart being leader of the Green Lantern Corps is a consolation prize that really doesn’t mean anything, especially when the writers conveniently set it up to where Hal Jordan–the real main character–is never around whenever they want to show John with the Corps doing nothing and being out shined by them. They seem to not want to show Hal Jordan being beta in any form to John Stewart, yet have no problem showcasing the reverse. This leads us to…

7. John Stewart is not even leader of the Green Lantern Corps when he is. When Hal Jordan does happen to be around, John, the supposed leader, takes his ‘rightful place’ as the unimportant, useless stooge. Indeed, this is the solicit to an upcoming Green Lantern/Planet of the Apes crossover:

“When Taylor goes missing, Cornelius investigates and discovers an ancient ring, unlike anything he has ever seen. As its power echoes through the stars, the Guardians of the Universe must reveal to their Lanterns a secret they had hoped would remain buried. With the Green Lantern Corps, led by Hal Jordan, racing to get to the source of this power before Sinestro can get his hands on it, they will discover a truth that will change them forever on…the Planet of the Apes!”

Along with this solicit is a cover image that I’m too lazy/disinterested in posting that shows John Stewart, the not-really-leader of the Corps, in his usual tiny, non-prominent position. I suppose that’s better than dishonestly showing him to be important on the cover when he is a bit player in the actual story.

Again, why would you want to follow this character? DC has made it (probably intentionally) so that he essentially sucks. He’s not a leading character. Even when he’s supposedly the main character, he’s out shined by the characters around him, with them getting all the feats and him essentially doing nothing. Even when he’s supposedly the leader, whenever the white main character is around, John suddenly takes a backseat to him and isn’t even the leader anymore? WTF!?

How much patience do you have to keep putting up with these things and only getting rotten scraps? Personally, I ran out patience, and not even in a “rage-quit” manner, but… just a ‘not interested anymore’ manner.

John Stewart fan, and/or fan of African descent, and/or fan looking for good diverse characters with agency, WHY WOULD YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY ON THIS!?

I’ve said this before, but these stories do not need to happen this way. This marginalizing and botching of black characters that DC does left and right is not necessary, and to prove that point (again), I give you a four page, lettered preview of a project I am currently working on, which is similar to Green Lantern in some ways, but a lot more intelligent, interesting, and better thought out. Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian. You can enlarge the pages by clicking on them.

If you want to see more of this project, stay tuned. There’s a lot of fun stuff on the way. I’m confident you will enjoy it, and you won’t have to worry about all the stress, discomfort, and bother you may get from reading DC Comics.

Speaking of which, I find it weird when I see fans give DC chance after chance after chance, and continue to buy and support their products even when they are never really satisfied with them.

This is going to seem like an extreme analogy, but I hope it will get the point across. To me, continually griping about DC Comics and holding out hope that they will appease you would be like going to the Ku Klux Klan and asking them if there can be at least one, just one, black Grand Wizard.

Not that I’m comparing DC to the KKK (even though I just did), but the point is that if you’re looking for good leading characters of color from DC Comics, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You all have got to realize that by now. That’s just not something that company does well in any capacity. The best they have to offer is Cyborg, and I can and have written entire articles on how lacking and lame that character is. I don’t believe DC has a lot of interest in promoting characters like that, nor do I believe their audience wants to read them. Not that all of DC’s fans are racists, but many of them more or less want the same old stuff they’ve been getting for decades, and that, unfortunately, does not include leading diverse characters.

Besides that, all of DC’s diverse characters are pretty bogus one way or another, including John Stewart. I think it’s wise to stop wishing for what these characters could or should be. DC decides what they are, and all they are is what DC says they are.

What DC really needs are new diverse characters… truly new characters and concepts that can hold their own. And by that, I don’t mean another black Superman, Batman, or Green Lantern. The problem here is that few to no creators are willing to create new things for DC’s main superhero universe because they won’t own the rights, or there are better deals elsewhere, and again, DC’s audience probably doesn’t want to see much new stuff anyway.

I want to stress again that, despite it probably being pretty clear I don’t hold DC in very high esteem, this is not a ‘complaint’ post. I feel that some have written in and asked me to complain on their behalf, and that’s just not something I can do. If they want to continue with that, that’s fine, but I don’t believe they will see many positive results, and will more or less just be blowing steam and spinning their wheels.

DC is what it is, and you’re either cool with that, or it doesn’t appeal to you. I’ve realized that it just doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t feel the need to ask them for anything, or the desire for them to change anything, and I don’t expect anything from them, nor am I upset with them, or about what they do. I’ve just simply decided not to buy and read the comics or follow the characters. I realize things don’t have to be the way DC presents, and I’m content with showing that with Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian. Having skimmed these latest Green Lantern happenings (don’t worry, I didn’t pay for them), I was not interested in seeing anymore, and I was not surprised.



10th October 2016

I Surrender + Multiversal Guardian

I’ve been working on GreenLantern.Co for about three years and I’ve really grown as a person in that time. I’ve realized more and more realities about the situation surrounding characters like John Stewart.

For years now, we John Stewart fans have fought and campaigned in the name of the character we adore so much, and impressively at that. It was Joshua Hale Fialkov’s sacrifice and our outcry that prevented the character from being killed in 2013. Our cause has gotten the support of famous, multi-million dollar actors like The Rock and Tyrese. So many people have let DC and WB know how they feel about John Stewart, and guess what. It doesn’t matter. It never did. None of it was ever going to have any effect worth a damn. A couple covers here, an interrupted limited series there, a worthless cameo in Justice League over yonder. That’s about it.

At the time of Van Jensen’s Green Lantern Corps run back in 2013, I was super excited. At last, Geoff Johns left Green Lantern, and I thought we would finally get a quality comic with John at the center, which would explore and advance his character. I believed that was long overdue after nine years of suffocation. Alas, what we ended up getting was the same old song and dance. Jensen’s run lasted some 27 or so issues and was cancelled. Considering that run in retrospect, it wasn’t quite as good as I remember it being. Not entirely due to Van Jensen and Bernard Chang’s efforts, but largely because of constant interruptions of the story so DC could push crossovers on readers.

Now, with Geoff Johns as president of DC Comics, we’re right back where we were prior to Van Jensen’s run. John Stewart has been ‘put in his place’ as a supporting character in a book called Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, and appearing behind Hal Jordan in some Star Trek team ups that I don’t really keep up with.

What I’ve come to understand is that this was always going to happen. Why?
John Stewart is a black character in white fantasy fiction made by white people, specifically for white people, from a white company with a 75 year history of being such. That answer may make some uncomfortable, or cause a few eye rolls, but I don’t really care, because that is the actual correct answer. With the environment of DC Comics and the fanbase it has nurtured, there was no way John Stewart was ever really going to get ahead. It was a miracle that he got a starring role in the Justice League cartoons, existing in a universe where he wasn’t put behind seven or eight other characters that have the same superhero name as him. Unfortunately, I don’t believe anything like that will ever happen again for this character. Indeed, there are now people in place to stop such a thing.

Bruce Timm’s adaptation of Green Lantern for the Justice League cartoon received a lot of criticism from some comic purists, but the remarkable thing is that it got popular regardless, and in the eyes of many was far superior to what the source had to offer. After that, every time DC and WB tried to adapt Green Lantern to be closer to the source material, it never really worked out, or wasn’t nearly as popular as what Timm did with Justice League.

Regardless of John Stewart receiving such a platform and shooting to all new and impressive heights of popularity, there was still no way he was ever going to get ahead at DC Comics, because, again, John Stewart is a black character in white comics, in a white franchise, made by white people, for white people, and with a 75 year history of being such. Owing to that, there is always going to be a (usually white male) creator, editor, or a team of them, who will aggressively put things back “the way they’re supposed to be.”

They get away with doing this because of the relatively meager circulation of comic books. The comics are more or less only sold to a small group of elites who are often cut from the same cloth as the creators. Mainstream superhero comics are in a bubble or echo chamber where creators serve people who are just like them and this infrastructure is well established. Their audience is not that big group of people who knows John Stewart from the cartoons. That big group of people is not DC’s clientele. That big group of people is largely oblivious to DC’s machinations because they are largely oblivious to DC’s comic books. It isn’t until DC tries to adapt Green Lantern for that big group of people that those people actually protest, because those adaptations go against what they know and expect to see.

Here is the cold truth about John Stewart, coming from quite possibly his biggest fan. John Stewart is essentially an ancillary character. Having written fiction, I know them when I see them. From his inception, John Stewart was not prepped to be a main character. He does not have an arch nemesis. He does not have an enduring love interest. He does not have an environment that was built specifically around him. When he does get love interests and settings constructed precisely for him, like Rose Hardin and the Mosaic World, they do not last.

The Justice League cartoons challenged this framework and presented John as an attractive leading man. Despite him appearing in an ensemble, he was showcased as a character with his own world and as a team leader capable of successfully driving big stories. The character was not meant to be second fiddle or a temporary replacement. He was THE Green Lantern and treated with the respect that title commands.

To some people’s chagrin and others’ delight, depending on which side of the fence they are on, the editors and writers at DC Comics did not take that cue from the cartoons, and I’m resigned to believing they perhaps never will.

I’ve heard some people suggest that white creators can’t do black characters justice, but I don’t believe that. What tends to happen is that the big companies and the creators who work for them often have little interest in actually developing black characters and making them attractive leads with agency. This is because that is not their escapism, nor is it the escapism of a large portion of the audience they’ve developed over decades. For them, black characters are okay to have around, but they’re generally ancillary.

Cases in point, let’s consider DC’s two biggest black characters, John Stewart and Cyborg. Despite existing for over three decades, Cyborg has no world. He has no Moriarty. He doesn’t have a lot going on in the love interest department, and he barely has his own stories. John Stewart exists in someone else’s world, he, too, has no arch nemesis, and the one enemy that is truly his, Fatality, is actually Kyle Rayner’s, a white character’s.

These are just not leading characters with a lot of depth and development. They don’t have worlds built around them. A character like Static does, however, but look who was behind that. It wasn’t your typical white guys making comics for white guys.

The short of it is that DC Comics is not likely to make comics you will really enjoy if you’re looking for escapist fiction with a good leading black character, meaning John Stewart has likely hit the glass ceiling. And because DC is trying to make its multimedia efforts more in line with its comics, don’t expect much for John in other mediums like film or television.

If you want comics that directly speak to you, it’s probably a good idea to find creators who speak to your tastes and sensibilities. To this end, I have concluded that John Stewart, and DC Comics in general, are more or less a lost cause. John had a chance to become more during and after the Justice League cartoon, but certain people got in power and destructively snuffed that out.

Rather than cheer on this character who will never get ahead, owned by a company that continuously frustrates me, I have decided to put that energy toward creating comics that actually speak to a different sensibility than DC Comics. I present character sketches for what is currently codenamed: Multiversal Guardian:

This is the character A.C. Cooper, standing for Anton Cal Coolidge Cooper. He is everything DC will not allow John Stewart to be and more.

Other characters include…

Marlene Ja Lee.

Lisa Ladybright

Zorb

Mejhid

Expulzar:

I believe John Stewart fans will enjoy this upcoming series, and I am having a blast working on it. I am very determined to see this published and I’m extremely confident it will be. I love making comics, and these characters’ stories need to be told, so I’m definitely in this for the long haul, and I do hope you will be there to support the series. If you’re curious on what my work is like, you can check out my earlier project, Green Lantern: Starlit Crisis, here.

So, to DC Comics, I suppose what I have to say is… I surrender. You win. Take John Stewart, take Green Lantern, and do whatever you want with them. You were always going to do that anyway, and I really don’t care now. Green Lantern is an embarrassing property, anyway, that can’t seem to get a foothold outside of comics, no matter how hard DC/WB tries. It has a glut of characters it can’t facilitate and has morphed into some boring story about people with different colored rings constantly fighting each other. It didn’t have to be that way, but thanks to DC and WB’s mismanagement, there you have it. DC’s recent movies are terrible, and I don’t really care about them, or if John Stewart is even in them.

I have better things to do. Fans of John Stewart and fans looking for something different than the frustrating, oppressive comics coming from DC still deserve fantasy fiction, and fulfilling that desire is where you will find me. Stay tuned for more information on Multiversal Guardian in the near future.

You can support me and my projects on Patreon by clicking the link below, and follow me on Twitter: