“Why Would Anyone Like Green Lantern John Stewart?”
on March 11, 2014
In the wake of all the support John Stewart has gotten from fans desiring his presence in the upcoming Justice League/Man of Steel films, the acclaim of his own comic series —Green Lantern Corps— and praising of DC Comics for finally giving the beloved character attention, and the legions of impassioned people who stood up for John Stewart when the news hit that he was to be killed off last year, some people are honestly astonished that people care about John Stewart, and they can’t seem to understand why.
Seeing as how this whole site is dedicated to the John Stewart character and those who love him, I think it is a good idea to address this question and other surrounding issues to clear things up for some people, and open up the floor for hopefully interesting commentary.
Most fanbases I’ve seen and have been a part of are fractured to some degree, due to something(s). Superman fans argue about what the best era or portrayal of The Man of Steel is. The Legend of Zelda fans sometimes fight about what is better between old-school 2-D Zelda games and the newer 3-D iterations. Power Rangers fans may argue about who the best Ranger is or what season/series is best. Fanbases do that.
However, I have never seen a fanbase as aggressively fractured as Green Lantern’s.
Green Lantern fans are not all friends. Not even remotely. I’m not going to put up a pretense like we are. I’m not saying that the situation is good or bad; it’s just a reality I accept.
We’re not all fans of Green Lantern for the same reasons another fan may be. We may love a certain Green Lantern character and viciously hate another one that someone else loves. Some may believe Geoff Johns’ Emotional Spectrum concept to be incredibly creative and novel, while others think it’s overly cluttered, played-out garbage. Some are offended by certain retcons, while others believe they were necessary to ‘put things right again.’ Some are of the mind that one Green Lantern should represent the franchise in mass media, because it’s the character’s right, while others believe that, since that Green Lantern hasn’t met with success in mass media, it should be another Green Lantern who has met with success. Some value nostalgia and history, yearning for ‘the way it’s always been,’ whereas others push for advancement, progress, and better ways. And so on.
We do not all want the same things!
That’s largely why this site exists. While GreenLantern.Co is here for anyone to enjoy, it’s primarily targeted toward a certain type of Green Lantern fan, and I’m aware that some fans of other types do not like this website, as they’ve let me know. That’s perfectly fine, because I did not make the site for them, or to cater to their interests.
If you love John Stewart and don’t feel like wading through a bunch of content about characters and events you don’t like or care about, this is the site for you! If you’re a totally impartial fan who just loves the Green Lantern concept, there’s probably a lot here you may enjoy, as well.
That said, the sort of Green Lantern fan I typically don’t see eye to eye with is one who is a huge admirer of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern comics. There are a decent number of these people. After all, Geoff Johns had a popular run on Green Lantern that went on for a long time.
When I see comments like, “Why would anyone like John Stewart so much,” I feel the individuals making them are primarily basing their knowledge of the character on Geoff Johns’ comics. Indeed, these comments are frequently followed up by another individual’s, stating something along the lines of, “John Stewart has a big following from the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons.”
That is very true! I do not know why people are surprised that a key hero character on a cartoon show that reaches millions of people, which has been airing on television for about thirteen years, has fans. Sometimes it seems like these people don’t realize that more people watched and still watch Justice League than have read Geoff Johns’ comics. Far more people!
In response to the last comment, the person who made the original comment may say, “Well, John Stewart is dull in the comics.”
That is not a universally held view, though I admit I’m of the mind that John Stewart is dull in comics of the Geoff Johns era of Green Lantern. The writers had no interest in doing anything with the character. Is that the character’s fault? No!
I think Geoff Johns and co. did a great job at portraying John Stewart as a very uninteresting, absent, and unimportant character, and they did so for a long time. However, not everything involving Green Lantern comes from Geoff Johns’ comic books, and not every Green Lantern fan is a fan because of Geoff Johns’ comics.
The Wein/Gibbons and Englehart/Staton runs of Green Lantern –which can be found within the Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Volumes 2 and 3 trade paperbacks– are some of the best Green Lantern comics I’ve ever read, and they star John Stewart. Green Lantern: Mosaic is one of my all-time favorite comic book runs, and it stars an incredibly fascinating John Stewart. Van Jensen’s current run on Green Lantern Corps, which also stars John Stewart, is shaping up to be another favorite.
All that said, my intention isn’t to convince anyone that John Stewart is awesome. Likely, the type of people who say something like, “Why would anyone like John Stewart,” will never like John Stewart, no matter what. However, to not understand why someone would like John Stewart is odd. To think that the very action of liking John Stewart is strange, is… strange.
To address the core question, John Stewart can credit a large amount of his fanbase to the famous Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons, in which he is a founding member of the Justice League who had one of the most (probably even THE MOST) developed character arcs of any character on the show. Fans saw a steadfast man firmly dedicated to his duty, who was also plagued by doubts about the choices he had made in life, and whether or not there was more to him aside from a ring and a title. He had certain loneliness and isolation, in that he did not really have anybody. He felt estranged from the people he lived around and who he was supposed to protect, due to being in space for years, and he tried desperately to cling to what was supposed to be familiar to him, but wasn’t.
Fans saw him develop, as he grew to have a close friendship with the happy-go-lucky Flash, and as he fell in love with the headstrong and brash Hawkgirl. We saw his incredibly messy and tragic break up with the latter, and his attempt to fill the void with Vixen, yet never totally manage to.
John Stewart brought a level of professionalism, class, and discipline to the role of Green Lantern that no other character before him nearly had. He was a strong, dependable leader figure, but despite such strengths, there were weaknesses and flaws, which made him a very 3-dimensional character, who was often at the center of the most captivating storylines, like “Legends,” “Hearts and Minds,” “Secret Society,” “Starcrossed,” and so on. And while those events played out in the cartoons and not the comics, I don’t see what difference that makes. They did happen, and one can make an extremely strong case that television is a more relevant medium than comic books. Furthermore, the character that appears in the cartoons is essentially the same character that is currently appearing in the comics, in background, visual design, and personality.
While some may not care about any of that, to be a Green Lantern fan and be completely ignorant to John Stewart’s role in such a popular cartoon show, and/or not be able to understand how anyone else would care about that, again, strikes me as weird.
Remember folks, not everyone came to Green Lantern the same way you did. Your view on how Green Lantern should be, what character Green Lantern is, and how important some characters are, really isn’t a universal one. It seems more people are realizing this as they discover that John Stewart does actually have a large passionate following.
In keeping with the themes of the above text, I’d like to post an article from the website FanBros.Com titled, “John Stewart was the Real Star of Justice League.”
I’ve discussed with some people who believe John Stewart to be a supporting character on the Justice League cartoons. I have no idea how they came to that conclusion. I know saying such suits an agenda of theirs, but I’m not sure if they actually believe it, because it is factually wrong.
The above article elaborates on just how important John Stewart is to those cartoons. Give it a read!