Friday, June 08, 2007

Who is... John Stewart?

There are some barely formed thoughts and ideas in the back of my head which may or may not turn into another John Stewart post, but they have me starting to wonder about something.

What does most of the superhero-reading community think John Stewart is supposed to act like? And what writer and/or media portrayal cemented that idea?

Do me a favor and (whether you have a strongly formed idea or just a general impression) comment with your opinion of what John Stewart the Green Lantern character is supposed to think and act like, and where you got that idea.

Oh, and I mean this John Stewart:

(Just in case there may have been some confusion.)


  1. I've read very little about Stewart in comics - my biggest experience with him has been through the Justice League animated series, as well as in issues of the Justice League Unlimited comics.

    I think of him as tough, experienced, sober, and very focused on the job at hand. He's a soldier, ready to give orders to junior members. He's not especially creative with his ring constructs, and he doesn't joke around during missions much. During downtime he will reveal a dry sense of humor, and warmth.

    He has very clear ideas of honor and loyalty, which can make him judgmental at times. But he is also hard on himself, perfectly willing to accept the blame when he feels he is in the wrong.

    He's attracted to strong women, and attractive to them as well.

    That's all I've got right now. I look forward to reading comments by those who've read him in comics.

  2. According to the cartoon, John Stewart is an angry hilariously cynical person who seems to say "am I SUPPOSED to believe that?" a lot XD

    For a person who lives in a world with Martians and Kryptonians and everything else, he seems to be extremely closed to strange ideas XD

    My sister makes fun of him every time we watch the show :O

    But in the comics he seems like a good character, tho he doesn't seem to be as defined as the others? He's a superhero, he's brave and stuffs, and he does his job? :o

    You can always count on him b/c of that? :o

    I dunno o_o

    He seems like the stable and trustworthy friend every group should have :)

  3. I've only really seen John on the animated series, but I liked him very much. He's serious, determined, honest and is one of the few people who genuinely appreciates Flash (even though John sighs and complains about Flash's general idiocy).

  4. I think of him as the Green Lantern who isn't a douchebag.

    Also, my impression from the old 70s comics was that he'd actually question authority without veering off into completely anti-social Guy Gardner territory.

    But then, I almost never read Green Lantern, so again, I mainly think of him as the Green Lantern that doesn't immediately piss me off or bore me to death.

  5. Wait, I actually have more to say:

    Stewart struck me as a hero who would actually intelligently question the status quo, rather then just accept it or oppose it on general principle like Guy does.

    The thinking man's Green Lantern, if you will.

  6. My version of John will forever be the one from GL: Mosaic. That was one crazy series, but probably too weird or smart for its own good.

    I once saw an article calling John an "Oreo cookie", i.e. black on the outside, white on the inside (the writer was black himself, I seem to remember). Make of the analogy what you will. I think it's more proper to say that John isn't "street", which, sadly, seems to be the main archetype of the black man in comics.

    He's an architect, was chosen for the Corps in great part because of his ordered mind. In Mosaic, he's shown developing towards Guardian-hood! The desire for order is what, in my opinion, carried over to the cartoon despite being totally rewritten (definitely more "street"). Some decried the lack of imagination in his ring constructs, but that was John: Efficient.

  7. Well, put simply, John is simply fabulous. He's the smart one, the solid one, the dependable one. He's probably the least flamboyant however, so he doesn't get as much attention as the others. I've always had the impression that he's one of those people who are slow to anger, but once he DOES get mad, then hooboy, watch out!

    As depicted in Mosaic, John has a lot of facets to his personality. He doesn't just jump into a situation like Hal or Guy, he studies it, and dissects it. His constructs are solid and engineered to work.

    He's a good friend, but he's not afraid to stand up and say you're being an idiot, if indeed you are being an idiot.

    He's far too underused.

  8. I hadn't read a whole lot about John Stewart before he started appearing in the Justice League cartoon, but the only thing in the cartoon that contradicted what I already knew or thought about him was the military career, which I knew was specific to the TV show.

  9. I agree with Christopher, Siskoid, and SallyP: Mosaic (written by Gerard Jones) was the best use of John Stewart. If Hal is Kirk, John is Sisko.

    Steve Englehart probably got the most use out of John. He first used John as the main Green Lantern for the better part of a year, but when Hal came back, John hardly faded into the background.

  10. I don't know a great deal about comics-John; when he's on-panel I tend to view him more or less as cartoon-John, only a little less straight-laced and uptight.

  11. I only know that as long as he doesn't act like he did in Cosmic Odyssey, then everything is fine.

  12. I agree with Christopher, Siskoid, and SallyP: Mosaic (written by Gerard Jones) was the best use of John Stewart. If Hal is Kirk, John is Sisko.

    So Guy is Janeway...? ;-)

    You really nailed it with the Sisko comparison, Tom. I never realized it before, even though I played an iteration of John in a play-by-mail RPG for a good while, AND modeled my handle on Ben Sisko. But there you have it, I like them because they are the same.

  13. My impression of John Stewart is, lik Siskoid's, heavily imprinted by Mosaic. In a nutshell, I'd call him a thoughtful, troubled problem-solver.

  14. John is probably the Green Lantern I'd be happiest to see coming over the hill, were I under attack by villains or aliens or whatever.

  15. Agreed Brainfreeze :D You would definitely feel safe with him around cuz he doesn't have the strange personality quirks the others seem to have XD

  16. I think John Stewart is very calm, quiet, well-spoken, as well as a peacemaker. I'm sure I got that idea from some GL comics my sister got in the 90s (when he was in a wheelchair), but it was reinforced by the JLU cartoon.

  17. The cartoon John Stewart seems to have the imagination of a coffee cup with regards to using his ring, seeming unable to create anything with his ring other than (a)ray blasts, or (b)force bubbles.

    The comics John Stewart fares much better in this regard. I remember an issue where he sent a green construct of John Shaft to arrest Kyle.

  18. He's the one you wouldn't hate to be around for more than ten minutes.

    I think of him in Cosmic Odyssey/Mosaic terms. It's kind of sad, but the cartoon has done a much, much, much better job of characterizing him than the actual comics, where he seems to now basically be the Guy From The Cartoon--Oh, and Also an Architect.

  19. Before we all get too reverential about John, I'd better show you this:

    flkatpw - the sound made by viewing this while drinking milk.

  20. Scip doesn't make much of a case in that post, but it's the old "Oreo cookie" notion I mentioned before.

    I remember having a debate about it back in the old mIRC days. Does a character's minority status (in the prejudicial sense of the term, since I would include women as a minority even though they're in the majority) have to inform their character. Specifically, can you write a "square" architect and then make him black? Is it "racist" to basically write a black man as white? Is it "racist" in the first place to dismiss a characterization as off-race/gender/etc. as if such people could not exist within the minority group?

    I don't remember that we ever agreed on an answer.

  21. Actually, I'd bet money that's a typo causing Scipio to misread the panel. Put a period in the dialogue:

    "My Mama named me John Stewart, 'Square'.

    John to my friends!"

    He's calling Hal "Square." It makes a lot more sense with O'Neil's dialogue at the time, which was to punctuate everyone's dialogue with vague slang nicknames for the other person; and it makes sense in the context of John's relationship with Hal in that issue.

  22. This is mostly based on his appearances in Green Lantern written by Gerard Jones, the few issues of Mosaic I've read, and the kind of character I really want to see as a member of the GL Corps.

    John Stewart is a builder.

    He became an architect because he wanted to build things. He's not satisfied with just designing buildings, though, he likes to get in and actually be part of the building process. He likes to know that he helped to put the forms together so the foundation could be laid. He likes to be able to point to a wall and say that he put the drywall up. And he likes to visit the places he designed and help build to see them being used by people. He designs offices and superhero headquarters, but his real love is designing something families will live in, whether it's a house or an apartment building, or a tenement.

    After Hal "quit" the Corps, John saw the Corps as a place to build a brotherhood, so to speak. These people weren't quite a family, but they were all united with a cause of protecting the galaxy. Here were, at the time, 3600 people, each a member of different species, who could work together toward a common goal. This was something that John was always looking for.

    Katma Tui was his chance to build a family, the thing he values more than anything else. With her, John could bring new life into the universe and teach that life to value all other life and to bring people together because individuals working as a community are much stronger than individuals working toward their own goals.

    The Mosaic World was where John's values were really put to the test. He built a strong community out of groups whose differences were far more than just skin deep as he rebuilt himself. He proved that he can't allow himself to quit.

    John's the type of man who can't just do something and then move on. He has to see the consequences of his actions and then attempt to fix them, which was why the death of his wife and the destruction of Fatality's home world hit him so hard; he blamed himself and he couldn't see a way to correct his mistakes. He's the kind of man who knows that upkeep is as important as the initial building.

    For those who use the Oreo complaint about John, I have to ask, what is a black man? I don't know. Hell, the only thing I'm sure about white people is that we get sunburns more easily than people with darker colored skin. Please, tell me, what makes an Oreo? What makes John an Oreo?

    And I bet that's a much longer response that Ragnell wanted.