on December 23, 2013
Moses Rockwell is an insurance salesman from the city of Greenville. He comes from a family of farmers. As the United States became industrialized, it was harder for farmers to survive. Therefore, Moses’ family moved to the city where his father looked for other employment. His father was drafted to fight in World War II and died. His mother remarried, but Moses’ step father was prone to drunken rages and would beat Moses.
When Moses became a teenager, he began associating with a gang of racist White teens and learned about how there is strength in numbers. As he matured, he married a woman named Naomi, took a job selling insurance, and tried to move on from his past feelings of animosity toward minorities and Blacks in particular. Though he tried, he couldn’t, as he watched the government helping the Blacks with systems like affirmative action and welfare, but doing nothing for the White people he viewed as having built America. As Blacks moved into his neighborhood and lowered the standards of living there, he moved his family out. However, the same thing happened in the new neighborhood they moved to.
Finally, he settled in Greenville, in a middle class White neighborhood. He felt he was finally where he wanted to be, but he was mugged by young Black men in his own driveway and left bleeding on the ground.
This drove Moses into a deep depression and he turned to alcohol and considered killing himself. He was brought out of the stupor when a friend of his introduced him to a White men’s fraternity, where White Christian men stood up for each other. This led to Moses Rockwell becoming a full member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Moses Rockwell and the entire city of Greenville were caught in the Mosaic Crisis, when a lone Guardian of the Universe was driven insane from having been separated from his people. He used his vast powers to uproot cities from all the planets he had visited and placed them all next to each other on planet Oa, in the center of the universe.
The mad Guardian was eventually killed and his brothers, the other Guardians of the Universe, appointed an Earthling Green Lantern named John Stewart to look over the Mosaic of cities while the Guardians waited to gain enough power in their Central Power Battery to send the cities home.
Moses Rockwell’s teenage son took living in the new world as a great opportunity. He and his girlfriend walked to the edge of their city and saw aliens across an open field. The two kids decided to greet their new neighbors peacefully, but as they approached, the aliens blasted the kids with cannons, killing them.
This event sparked a war between the humans and the alien race known as the Horde. Moses Rockwell was incensed at the entire situation and he rallied the citizens of Greenville to attack the aliens. As the humans were defeating the Horde, Green Lantern John Stewart appeared and broke up the fight. He sent the humans back to Greenville and placed a barrier of forest between the city and the Horde settlement.
Moses Rockwell continually thought that John Stewart supported the aliens more than he supported the humans.
The Greenville citizens sent out a radio request to all the human settlements on The Mosaic asking for support, as they planned to attack the aliens again. This time, the aliens were ready for them, and blasted many of the humans when they charged. John Stewart arrived again to break up the fight, and set up a large wall between Greenville and the Horde outpost.
Moses Rockwell was very angry at Green Lantern and continued rallying humans against him and the aliens. Moses and many of the humans were filled with such hatred and rage that they attacked other peaceful aliens who were friends of Rose Hardin, a resident of Hope Springs, another human settlement caught in the Mosaic Crisis. This event sparked another war between the humans and the Xudarians, as the noble Xudarian Tomar-Tu was among the aliens attacked by Rockwell and his gang. In response to this conflict, John Stewart erected walls all across the Mosaic, which cut off all the species from one another.
Using a communication device seized from Rose Hardin, Moses Rockwell, organized the aliens of the Mosaic to attack the walls and ultimately try to kill John Stewart in an effort to force the Guardians to send the cities home. They destroyed the walls, and as they did, the aliens all across the Mosaic began warring with each other.
This was stopped by John Stewart and a team of other Green Lanterns, and John Stewart imprisoned Moses Rockwell and the other ringleaders who orchestrated the conflict into Oan sciencells.
At some point, Moses was set free and he returned to Greenville. He never gave up his ambitions of going back home, and decided he had to go about things smarter than before. He realized that the way to get to John Stewart was through his girlfriend, Rose Hardin. Moses teamed up with other aliens to take John down. By invading Rose’s home and holding her hostage, Moses and his team managed to surprise and incapacitate John Stewart. One of the aliens on Moses’ team –a Peeper– was able to manipulate John’s mind and send a transmission for help to various worlds via John’s power ring. Not long after, an armada of ships arrived to rescue the people from the Mosaic and Moses Rockwell, at long last, returned to Earth.
Green Lantern: Mosaic is a fascinating story and Moses has a lot to do with that. It’s so interesting that an ordinary insurance salesman happens to be one of the main antagonists for Green Lantern. What else is interesting is that, in a sense, Moses actually wins! He defeats John Stewart and goes home, which is what he wanted the whole time.
Moses’ motives are totally understandable and not bad at all. The way he goes about things is wrong, but he is still somewhat of a sympathetic villain. He’s involuntarily plucked from his home and put on an alien world. His son dies for peacefully trying to reach out to the aliens. He’s mugged and wounded by Black criminals in the driveway of his own home when all he wanted to do was live peacefully. And the Guardians refuse to send him home, even when they have the power to do so.
Yes, Moses’ actions and sentiments are wrong, but it would be hard for anyone to say they don’t understand why he feels the way he does, or why he does what he does. And that is what makes Moses Rockwell such a fascinating villain.
I’m not sure if there is an intentional correlation between Moses’ name and the title of the series – Mosaic. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is.
Like Rose Hardin, after the Mosaic storyline concluded, Moses Rockwell’s story was finished, and he disappeared from Green Lantern comics. Also like Rose Hardin, despite playing a rather limited role in the overarching Green Lantern mythology, Moses Rockwell winds up being one of the most interesting Green Lantern characters to me.