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.