Never Mind, DC Comics Not Planning to Kill Green Lantern John Stewart
It was reported last week that Joshua Hale Fialkov walked away from his new gig as writer of Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns because of disagreements over an editorial mandate to kill off John Stewart, a popular Green Lantern character and one of DC Comics' most prominent African-American superheroes. It would appear that those plans have changed, as Fialkov's GLC replacement Robert Venditti tweeted on Friday that he and co-writer Van Jensen "have never even contemplated killing John Stewart." The statement was affirmed via retweet by DC Comics Director of Publicity Alex Segura, who added, "John Stewart isn't going anywhere."In a post to his blog, Fialkov confirmed rumors that he had quit the Green Lantern titles before his first issues were even released, citing creative differences. "There were editorial decisions about the direction of the book that conflicted with the story I was hired to tell, and I felt that it was better to let DC tell their story the way they want," he wrote. It was later confirmed independently by CBR and Bleeding Cool that a large aspect of the disagreement was an editorial decision to kill off Green Lantern John Stewart.
One of superhero comics' most prominent black characters, John Stewart has been beloved by DC Comics fans for many years. His commanding presence in Warner Bros. Animation's Justice League and Justice League Unlimited endeared Stewart to generations of viewers, and Stewart has played a major role in DC's Green Lantern mythology since the franchise was revitalized in 2005. As such, news that Stewart might die struck a decidedly negative chord with GL fans last week, partly because of the typically bombastic nature of superhero death story lines in recent years, but mostly because of the timing. The American comics industry has found itself participating in an increasingly robust discussion about diversity and representation of minorities both on and off the page, a conversation that John Stewart is necessarily a part of.
One unhappy fan was Phil LaMarr, the actor who performed John Stewart's voice in the Justice League cartoons. He told Robot 6, "...black characters have a such history of being treated shabbily that my first thought was, 'Watch, John will be the one guy who stays dead!'" LaMarr continued, "Obviously, I have a strong affinity for the character of John Stewart, and I think what Dwayne McDuffie, Bruce Timm and all the other writers on JL/JLU did with the character was a primer on how to remake a minor character into a major hero. I would hate to see their work, as well as that of [John Stewart creators] Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, be tossed aside for a one-month sales bump."
Fortunately, Friday's tweets from Venditti and Segura would seem to indicate whatever consideration may have been given to ending the fictional life of John Stewart has been set aside, and that readers will continue to enjoy his adventures for the foreseeable future.