on July 4, 2013
A man who wrote what is quite possibly the greatest Green Lantern John Stewart story ever told.
A man who wrote what is quite possibly the greatest Green Lantern story ever told.
Gerard Jones is the daring, clever, and brilliant writer of “Green Lantern: Mosaic,” a comic released in the early ’90s starring Green Lantern John Stewart. With that book he tore down all sorts of walls of convention associated with super heroes and took readers on a philosophical and psychological journey, the likes of which have never been done before or since in the pages of Green Lantern comics.
During that time, Gerard Jones was also writing Hal Jordan in the much more typical (and much less interesting) pages of “Green Lantern.” While working on that particular title, he was often battling with editor Kevin Dooley over what to do and where to take the series. However, he was allowed to run wild in Mosaic, and it really showed. Within the pages of Mosaic, readers were bombarded from all angles with unbridled, flowing creativity. Upon reading Mosaic, it is easy to tell the person who wrote it was having a lot of fun doing what they love.
Though he was writing three Green Lantern related books at the time, it was obvious that John Stewart and his Mosaic stories were Gerard’s real babies. His passion and loyalty to them were gushing out of the commentary and responses he’d post in the monthly letter columns (Oa, by the way, I’ve never read a letters page as interesting as Mosaic’s). In an interview with thegreenlanterncorps.com, when asked about his favorite Green Lantern, he states:
“I always thought Hal was potentially the mostly interesting, although I never quite got my head around him. Or maybe never quite got all the way inside him. I’d call him the most compelling but frustrating of them, but John was the one I felt closest to, since I basically reinvented his personality for Mosaic. He felt almost like my creation in that context.”
Gerard Jones writes John Stewart as a Lantern who muses deeply about philosophy, how to build a cohesive society, and also about pop music and movies! But not for nothing! John is often thinking about how the messages within these things apply to the given situation at hand.
One of the things I love about John Stewart is that he’s so flexible. Creators are always making him their own, and this enables them to comfortably tell great stories that flow well as opposed to being beholden to some sort of tired tradition. Gerard Jones takes advantage of this by making John an intellectual philosopher. A world builder. A bridge maker. A problem solver. A real thinker. Some like to criticize the John Stewart character for appearing so different from story to story, but here’s the thing:
Unlike many comic book heroes, John is an evolving character. The courses life has taken him through cause him to change and have different outlooks and reactions. He grows, matures, and never gets reboots or retcons to ‘take him back’. That said, every single take on the character respectfully builds upon previous ones. There is still that “anger” John had in the 1971 O’Neil/Adams story, yet there is still that sense of fun the character had when under Englehart. For instance, in Mosaic, not only is John a philosopher, but also an encyclopedia of pop culture and a pianist. He is undoubtedly the most multi-layered Green Lantern. I guess some people need simpler characters than that.
In fact, issue #5 of Mosaic is partially about how John is a far more eclectic character than Hal Jordan, and John used that advantage to defeat Hal. Going further into that, Gerard did very brassy things in the pages of Mosaic, like have Hal Jordan’s love interest, Rose Hardin, lose interest in him and become John Stewart’s girlfriend. The two Green Lanterns actually had a battle over her and John won. Well, it was also about other pent up tension, but she was the catalyst that pushed everything over the edge. Issue #5 is probably my favorite single issue of any Green Lantern comic, and it’s not because my favorite Lantern overcomes another one. It’s because Gerard showcases his mastery of character drama and incredibly powerful, hard-hitting dialogue.
Gerard Jones also brought us the resurrection of Katma Tui; one of the greatest characters in Green Lantern. Her death and the way it was carried out was an absolute travesty. When asked about what would have happened with Katma Tui had Gerard been able to continue Mosaic the way he would have liked, he says:
“I had some spooky stuff in mind. John himself was going to begin doubting whether it was really her. She would know things the real Katma Tui had no business knowing, and it would emerge that she had a certain connection to Guardian-consciousness, but it was distorted somehow. And that red connection was going to hook into Sinestro, bring him back as a follow-up to that “Something Red” story.”
Unfortunately, Gerard’s relationship with DC began going downhill due to conflict over the editorial direction. Despite being a strong seller, Mosaic was cancelled after a mere 18 issues. Soon after, huge changes took place in the Green Lantern franchise that he would not be a part of. Much of the work he did for Mosaic was more or less swept under the rug and hardly revisited, but that, of course, doesn’t mean it isn’t an absolutely marvelous story in its own right.
We will never, ever forget. Gerard Jones, your work with Green Lantern John Stewart has been held up high for decades, and it will continue to be honored as being quite possibly the greatest Green Lantern story ever told.