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I Surrender + Multiversal Guardian


on October 10, 2016

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:



  • PadThai2

    Good luck with Multiversal Guardian! I hope it works out and will be checking out for updates.

    Read your essay and it sadly matches up with how I’ve been feeling for the past year or so. When there are better alternatives, why even mess with DC? I just wish they would confirm whether Milestone is still going on or not and if they say no I’m done. Apart from Young Animal, a few one shots and OGNs, and Deathstroke by Priest DC Rebirth just seems like a return to the same BS that made me quit reading DC in 2009.

    • Desh Derringer

      Thanks for the support.

      About coming to the same conclusion about DC, I don’t think that’s very surprising because that seems the logical conclusion to come to. I’ve given DC chance after chance, and I may enjoy something for a bit, but it’s always short lived. DC takes it away for a usually dumb or mystifying reason, and then it’s back to being frustrated with them for another set of who knows how many years. I’m done with all of that. As I said elsewhere, being frustrated is not what I’m looking for in my entertainment, so I just don’t see the point in continuing a ‘relationship’ with DC.

      I don’t even know why they do many of the things they do. I saw a lot of the feedback for the recent Cyborg comics, and it looks like they have predictably alienated many of Cyborg’s fans, especially the black ones. DC didn’t have to do that. For years, many people, including myself, have been telling DC what is wrong with Cyborg, and instead of doing what they can to get the most out of the character (I personally believe the character is hugely problematic on a fundamental level, and I wouldn’t use him as a solo focus) they highlight EVERYTHING wrong with him and ignore everything from his previous solo. With a character that has so little content for fans to get into, it’s pretty stupid to negate what little content there is, especially when that content made the character a more desirable hero.

      It then became clear that DC was actually dead set on keeping Cyborg an undesirable freak character, and that the previous writer, David Walker, was likely given the boot for allowing Cyborg to look like a human.

      That was the last straw for me. I’m not even a Cyborg fan, but the mindset of editorial, and how out of touch they are with black characters and black readers became so clear to me. I don’t believe DC knows how to connect with those people, or really what they want. What’s interesting is that black people are not some completely different species. Fundamentally, when it comes to what they want out of fantasy fiction, I don’t think it’s any different from what white people want. They want characters they can relate to who resemble them who are desirable heroes with strong focus and strong roles. Where does DC get off thinking they want a depressed freak trash can!?

      I agree that there are much better alternatives than DC out there if one actually looks. Just for one example, I just randomly stumbled upon a Goldie Vance comic from BOOM and I was like, “Wow, this is so refreshing,” and that’s not even the type of thing I would usually read.

      Concerning Milestone, I don’t know what is going on with that. It would be nice if those involved gave an announcement about something. As I’ve just shown with this article, it’s not hard to put together some teaser art and let people know you have something in the works. Literally, they should be able to do that within a couple of days. That would give fans reassurance. This long silence means one of three things to me, all are bad. Milestone 2.0 either isn’t happening, or those involved are very poorly coordinated, or there’s some huge problem stifling its development, like financial concerns. Or maybe it’s just not a priority for them. I don’t know. At this point, I would assume it’s not happening until further notice.

      • PadThai2

        Apparently Milestone is working on Deathstroke now. Maybe as a favor to Priest since he used to write for them.

  • Corey A Lee

    I was waiting for you to talk about it but you do know that they are doing a JLpower rangers crossover with John as the main GL right?

    • Steve Rogers

      I’m more than sure that Desh knows about it. But I’m assuming (just assuming here) that it won’t get his excitement back towards DC, because it’s not part of DC continuity.

      As for me I will be purchasing the crossover when it releases. Mainly because of John Stewart and Batman being together in the team.

    • Desh Derringer

      Yeah, I’m aware of that project. It looks interesting, but I won’t be buying it or reading it. I’ve actually gotten out of Green Lantern, DC Comics, and related media, and I don’t really have any intention of going back or any interest in it. I think little things like Power Rangers crossovers are just little crumbs to keep John fans around in an overall toxic environment. Though more power to the people who want to buy it and read it. I hope they enjoy it. I’m not even sure I’d read a new John Stewart series by DC Comics.

      What effect all of that will have on this website, I’m honestly not sure. We’ll just have to see how that plays out.

      • Steve Rogers

        Glad that you responded, Desh. But what worries me a lot is that this beautiful website will no longer be a place where John fans will hang around and look for new news with John Stewart. I understand your anger towards them (I’m still angry towards DC as well) even to the point that you surrendered to DC Comics on their mistreatment for John Stewart. Which was probably a better solution for you to do, because you have other things to accomplish than to keep getting stressed out over and over with their inexcusable behavior with their treatment with John. This site from what I’ve seen on other forums is quite popular to the point that even some writers lurks around here.

        Where would us John fans go from now on and communicate? I certainly don’t want to go to facebook.com/greenlantern, blogofoa, thegreenlanterncorps. Those are all Hal Jordan territory and we certainly don’t want to hang around there.

        The bottom line is, you have a lot going for yourself, Desh. This site is very popular and wish you the luck of your Multiversal Guardian comic book project 🙂

        • Desh Derringer

          Thanks. Multiversal Guardian is coming along very well, and there will be a new website dedicated to that launching soon.

          I’m not angry at DC Comics. I’m just not interested in their products and I find myself having lost interest in their universe and characters, aside from previous iterations I enjoyed, like Bruce Timm’s DCAU. But I realize that’s just one interpretation that’s over and done with that’s likely never coming back in a way I’d like to see it. I honestly don’t see myself ever going back to DC again.

          What I’ve realized is that Green Lantern in general is Hal Jordan territory, which is probably why those websites you posted have strong Hal Jordan slants. The stories are designed in a way to where the reader is supposed to think he’s the coolest. He’s usually the one to solve the problem and defeat the antagonists in big events, he’s typically leading the charge, and he’s portrayed overall to be superior and more important than the other characters.

          That is one reason (among others) that I am not interested in Green Lantern, because I have no interest in Hal Jordan, or reading or watching him. What’s funny, is that I’ve noticed a few Hal Jordan fans have a problem with me not being interested in Green Lantern.

          You really can’t win for losing with some people. If you’re there being a Green Lantern fan, they have a problem with you. When you decide you aren’t a fan anymore, they have a problem with you. I suppose what would make some feel better is if I liked Hal Jordan.

          As for John Stewart fans and where they will go, I dunno’. I guess that’s up to them. I don’t have any intention of taking this site down, as it is a good information resource, but I don’t know how much John Stewart news I will be posting, or how often I will update. It just depends on what strikes my fancy.

          I’ll likely still write articles that are generally about John Stewart, like maybe a piece on how worthless DC’s PoC characters are (since basically none of them have worlds and such, which I touch on a bit in this article), or maybe something on everything Green Lantern has done wrong since Geoff Johns started writing it, and why it’s not really especially popular these days. Basically just stuff to speak my mind whenever I get the itch, but I can’t promise how often articles like that will come out. It’s just about whenever I feel like writing them.

          • Steve Rogers

            Good to hear! You really should make articles out there about John Stewart’s treatment. I always thought those guys didn’t want to progress John, due to being an African American character, which is why the other white males got their own minis around when Geoff Johns was writing Green Lantern. Even knowing that John seems to be the main focus on this story arc in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, it’s still Hal’s name on it, which I don’t have any interest in reading it.

            I think Hal fans don’t like the idea of John Stewart fans quitting on Green Lantern, because his book may decline (as it already have, compared to other titles). I never found Hal Jordan interesting and they can’t force a fan to like something that they do not like.

          • Desh Derringer

            I appreciate the interest, but I don’t want to make any promises about that. If I’m feeling like writing something, maybe. And I’m not sure how often I’ll update. It could be once a year or less for all I know. I don’t feel crusading for John Stewart’s sake is a very productive use of time and effort for me. Instead of complaining about things over and again, and bringing out things that are wrong, it’s more beneficial to actually take action and just make fiction that doesn’t have the same plights. DC and its fans likely already know the gist of what I have to say and what John Stewart fans think in general. It’s nothing new.

            As for people worrying about the site or where to go, well, I gave the readers opportunities to help support the site (which didn’t even need to be that much, a dollar here or there), but I didn’t get much from that, so it must not have been THAT important to them. Not that I’m complaining about that, because had I gotten support from that, I’d likely be more inclined to concentrating on building content for this website, and I really don’t think that is the best thing for me to do now.

            However, by the same token, I can’t spend too much concern about where the John Stewart fan will go.

            I figure if I’m going to do these huge “labors of love,” it’s much more sensible and beneficial for me to do them to further my own original ideas, which can actually get me somewhere, and not the properties of a company I do not care for, and a franchise that I have lost interest in, and when looking back, has frustrated me more often than not.

            Also, it’s better for everyone in the long run, because John Stewart is more or less a lost cause, so the best thing to do in light of that is create a new idea that is actually better and explores what a character similar to John Stewart in some ways could be when not hindered at every step. I know people like John Stewart, and yes, he can be awesome, but he’s owned by DC Comics (a company that probably feels John rather not exist), thus, investing in that character is a trap that leads to a mire of stress, misery, and dissatisfaction. We’ve all been down that road.

            Also, just to show that I am doing something, here are three unlettered preview pages of the project I’m working on. You can make the images larger by clicking on them.

            http://greenlantern.co/misc/01-01-unlettered.jpg

            http://greenlantern.co/misc/01-02-flattened.jpg

            http://greenlantern.co/misc/01-03-flattened.jpg

          • PadThai2

            Hey all,
            Just posting here to see how you are holding up after what happened on Election Day. If you are not from the USA, don’t want to impose. Just worried and pissed off all the same. Hope you are all okay wherever you are.