Later, when Englehart took over the series and John got activated as the center, he didn't have much of a supporting cast. He was briefly involved with Tawny Young, a black female reporter who spilled his identity on national television. I recall she felt guilty afterwards. The story was just plain annoying, because it retconned a piece of John's character away. In his first appearance he'd thrown the mask away, saying he had no reason to hide. It was one of those actions that establish personality. John was honest and forthright. For that storyline, he had to hide his origins and his name until he was forced to go public.
After that came Katma. The love of his life was an alien woman from Korugar. Katma was assigned as trainer (there seems to be some sort of 1417-2814 exchange program going on in the Corps) after John complained he hadn't been properly trained by his predecessor. The two clicked. Katma made a considerably better trainer than Hal. Hal's one of those people who's very physically-minded, who automatically focuses and concentrates without much thought into the process. A "Just do it like I do" teacher, which works for basics but it incomplete in the end. Katma was more cerebral and trained by explaining how the energy worked.
And in return for teaching him about Lanterning (for lack of a better word), John taught her about human culture. Especially mating rituals.
They were evenly matched, and complimented each other. After Crisis on Infinite Earths they turned into one of those annoying couples who wear matching outfits and are never seen separately.
Katma's death was followed by a focus on Hal and apparently a long dry spell for John until Mosaic. Mosaic was when a Guardian set up a zoo on Oa with populations from planets across the universe. John was the lucky guy who got the job of keeping them from killing each other. The population from Earth contained Rose Hardin, an ex-love interest of Hal's. The relationship with Rose seemed to be mainly about providing a father figure for Rose's son and winning a power struggle with Hal. He turned her over the second something better
When Kyle took the lead in the mainbook, the end of Mosaic seemed to be soft-retconned away. John resurfaced as a member of the Darkstars. The editorial direction in Green Lantern at the time was something of a "Scorched Oa" policy, and just sending John off to space wasn't enough for them. I haven't read the issue (though it has to be Kyle's fault somehow), but in a fight John was paralyzed from the waist down. He returns to Earth with his brand new girlfriend from the Darkstars, Merayn.
The less said about Merayn the better. She was a pretty blue girl with no substance whatsoever. The relationship consisted of John brooding and her hanging on his shoulder. She didn't seem particularly restless on Earth until John got the use of his legs back. When Kyle left Earth and John got re-activated as the Earth Green Lantern, Merayn left him.
He hasn't had a love interest in the comic books since.
In the JLU TV show, John dated one alien woman (Hawkwoman) and one human woman (Vixen).
There's an interested pattern here. The first two, the girl who got left halfway through the night and Tawney Young, were the only black women John ever dated. Neither were substantial relationships.
Katma and Merayn both seemed to be coded white to me. There might be some argument with Katma being coded differently in the 80s, though.
Rose, a white woman, was the only substantial human relationship John was in and he turned her over for Katma in a heartbeat at the end of Mosaic.
I always wonder about this pattern. John didn't get a proper supporting cast when Engelhart wrote Vol 2 in the 80s. Tawney was introduced like a tailored Lois-Lane-style-love-interest and then established as untrustworthy. Much of the book was still dedicated to following Hal and Carol around while he was active, and the points with John had him interacting with the GLC and Hal's supporting cast.
The next time John took the spotlight in Volume 3 and in Green Lantern: Mosaic, he was surrounded by aliens. The local human settlement was a small town mostly populated by white people.
When Winick was writing Vol 3 a few years ago, and John got the Earth job he was still the supporting cast. Most of the paneltime was on KYLE'S ADVENTURES IN OUTER SPAAACE, John got a single issue (where Merayn left him) and some Meanwhile... paneltime. The rest of his time was spent in the JLA. Not a great place to build a character base and a supporting cast all his own.
I love Katma to death (and to resurrection if anyone at DC is reading), but something is really off about this pattern. It seems like John is uncomfortable with anyone but superheroes and aliens anymore. And while there's been backstory mentioned in narration, no one from his pre-superhero days (living in a majority-black neighborhood in Detroit) has popped up.
Do they worry when John even only half gets the spotlight, that they'd make the book too black if they bring his family in?
Do they think they'll offend people by giving him a black girlfriend? I can see some reader's eyes bugging out at this thought, but I've heard this complaint when a writer creates a love interest of the same race of a hero who's not white, like that because he's [race X] and has a girlfriend who is [race X]. Never comes up when a white hero gets a white love interest, but for some reason a lot of fans are suddenly worried about the lack of interracial couples in comics if the hero isn't white. It's possible the writers and editors think that way.
But then, if John gets a white girlfriend and a white supporting cast, it becomes really obvious they're white-washing him. So John gets alien girlfriends.
Which is pretty depressing.
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