Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Hanging The Green #12 - Black Lantern!
In the eighty-seventh issue of Green Lantern and Green Arrow we meet a brand new Lantern, specifically John Stewart, the first black Green Lantern in the Corps. The first story by the now-regular team of Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano is a stunner.
Aside from Hal Jordan it was necessary for there to be a back-up.
Some years before, Guy Gardner had been selected as the fellow who would step in if Jordan were incapacitated. But as this story begins, Guy is severely injured on a horrible school trip gone wrong when a bus hits him. Since he's sidelined Hal is ordered to pick another and the Guardians insist on John Stewart.
Because of his in-your-face abrasiveness, Hal is reluctant to train the new recruit. But eventually he does.
Stewart, who eschews the mask, joins Jordan in protecting a presidential candidate who has loathsome ideas about race. After much hemming and hawing the duo appear to have failed to stop an assassin, but it turns out that Stewart detected a ruse and uncovered a scheme to make the candidate more popular by staging a mock attack.
Also in this issue is a Green Arrow solo story written by Elliot (Not-Yet-S) Maggin and drawn by Adams and Giordano, in which he debates the best way he can be of use to the most people and begins to question his role as Green Arrow. He is asked to run for mayor by a consortium of well-meaning types but is hesitant.
After getting involved in a race riot and coming to terms with the crisis conditions in the slum areas, he commits to running for mayor.
This is an odd issue. The duo appear in separate stories for the first time. The introduction of John Stewart has proven to be a lasting change in the DC Universe status quo with the hero being the go-to Lantern in many arenas. Making a Green Lantern black was a smart move since there's nothing intrinsic about the character which would preclude it, in fact it invites such a change, as most folks know there are many Lanterns in the Universe.
John Stewart's abrasive attitude is reminiscent of John Shaft and other black heroes of the time. The aggressive and antagonistic approach is a strong break from decades, if not centuries of kowtowing behavior. It comes across a bit over-the-top in terms of pure characterization, but speaks to the themes of the story which speak to the zeitgeist of the times effectively.
As for the Green Arrow running for mayor, it's an interesting idea, but is never mentioned again in the series.
More to come.