Robot 6

Voice of John Stewart speaks out on Green Lantern death decree

john stewart2

Joshua Hale Fialkov’s resignation from Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns was certainly unexpected, but it wasn’t nearly as surprising as the primary reason for the writer’s departure: an editorial edict to kill off John Stewart.

To a generation of fans who came of age watching Cartoon Network’s Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, the character is Green Lantern — forget Hal Jordan, Alan Scott, Kyle Rayner and the rest. In addition, he’s perhaps DC Comics’ most recognizable African-American character, facing competition only from Static and Cyborg, each of whom also appeared on television.

ROBOT 6 reached out to the voice of Stewart himself, veteran actor and comedian Phil LaMarr, for his reaction to DC’s editorial decree.

“This is tricky because it plays on two things in comic books that I feel strongly about,” said the actor, who starred on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited from 2001 to 2006. “I think that for comic book stories to maintain their vibrancy, the artists and writers cannot be slaves to continuity or fanboy conservatism. On the other hand, 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, who also provided the voice of Aquaman and Green Beetle on the recently canceled Young Justice, also expressed disappointment that a character with a history like Stewart’s would be discarded for the sake of publicity.

“Sadly, I have no special insight on this,” he said. “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 Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, be tossed aside for a one-month sales bump. But, we’ll have to just wait and see.”

DC Comics has yet to comment.

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56 Comments

Wow… If THAT is not the death decree of DC Comics…

Will someone kick the butts of the actual editorial’s head and do a clean up to DC Comics??
Will we, readers, continue to support the absurdities of this editorial’s head??

I was proud to buy more than 42 books at the debut of the New 52. Today, I have ZERO title in my monthly pull list. ZERO.

And when I see that the cancellations are made “because of the numbers” without a warning to the readers, I am feared to start a new title collection from DC Comics.

I pay my books. So, I want in return, a respect from the publisher.

THIS is why i can’t fox with DC anymore.

I don’t think DC or Marvel is capable of getting through even one year without resorting to a kill-off of some kind. I think it would make editorial have withdrawal symptoms like a recovering addict.

For most of the 40+ years I’ve been reading comics, I’ve been a die-hard DC fan. I’ve voiced my feelings for “The New 52″ previously, but needless to say, I’m not fond of this new editorial direction.

I said this was DC for a new generation, but the current editorial designs for the company are losing them fans from all sides. If this is the way they wish to go, that’s fine. Let them. I’m sure Marvel and independents are loving this, for every decision DC makes like this one, it just drives more of their former faithful to them.

All this brouhaha is pointless, it is comics, they can just ret-con everything like the new 52 anyways.

I have been an avid comic reader for some time 50 years or more, And while my feelings about the New 52, the ruination of Wonder Woman, and other characters are well known, this is yet another editorial decision that I am strongly against. Killing of a character simply for shock value and a TEMPORARY sales increase. How desperate are they, Another reason why Didio’s reign should be seriously looked at. He has done nothing for the integrity of comics.

i want to weigh in on this topic, but i am still too saddened by the phrase “recently canceled Young Justice.”

it’s still too soon for me.

LOL. “Speaks out” is a bit of a stretch with the headline there. It’s more like “Voice of John Stewart *comments* on Green Lantern death decree.” After all, ROBOT 6 reached to LaMarr for comment . . . it’s not like he felt so strongly that he sought out a forum to voice his opinions.

Considering how often we end up hearing that a writer’s quit due to creative differences with DC editorial, Warner Bros needs to take a good hard look at them and do some housecleaning. It’s just been one PR disaster after another with them for the last few years. They’re constantly changing their minds or chasing away talent and it becomes very public so we can all see how unprofessional and ridiculous they are.

“Another reason why Didio’s reign should be seriously looked at. He has done nothing for the integrity of comics.”

His regime hasn’t done much for the entertainment value of comics either.

I think it’s funny how everybody thinks John Stewart (or any other character that Marvel or DC editorial decides to kill off) will remain deceased. Don’t worry. He’ll be back in one form or another. Fanboy chatter like all of this is why Marvel and DC kill off characters.

How about *ahem* “Just this Once…EVERYONE LIVES!”

NO ONE thinks they will remain deceased. Knowing of the eventual resurrections make the deaths even MORE gratuitous and stupid. Eventually every character in both universes will have a convoluted death/return arc lodged into their back stories.

Didn’t DC say say at the start of the “New 52″ that death was more permanent? So he might come back but it could be years before he does. At least Damien has clones at the ready. John Stewart hast been one of the main characters in the GL since the reboot(sometimes more than Hal) Would they have propose to kill Kyle, Guy or Hal in the same way?

Jean is the new Bucky.

Remember when the entire GL Corps was killed? By Hal Jordan, who then became a supervillain? And Kyle’s ring was the only one that survived and he was the only Green Lantern forever and ever, except not really?

If a Green Lantern MUST die for DC Editorial to be happy: why not just take out Kyle? He’s had plenty of time in the sun, and with the return of Hal he is now a serious thrid wheel. Or we could always just kill Guy. But killing John would be just as stupid as changing an established character like Alan Scott’s sexuality just for shock value. Oh, wait a minute….they did that too.

Kill a white GL–there are plenty of them. No one would miss one. Killing Stewart is like killing off Marvel’s Black Panther. If they WERE going to kill off Stewart—the time to have done it would’ve been during Cosmic Odyssey. You know, when he got a whole planet killed and was arrogant. Doing it now, after the character has been sucessfully integrated into the minds of pop culture fanboys everywhere as one bad GL, is just a bad move for DC. NEW 52: same old DC.

“Killing off a character simply for shock value and a TEMPORARY sales increase”

I had to laugh out loud at that one…..welcome to comic books. Superman, Batman, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Human Torch, Captain America…….you name the character, and they have all “died,” resulting in a temporary sales increase. And then they come back in some contrived, ret-connish fashion or some-such and all returns to the status quo.

Am I saddened by this news? Not at all, because I have never cared for this character. I did not read the books while he was Green Lantern. But I understand the frustration of his fans. My favorite X-Men character is Jean Grey, so I understand what it feels like to have your favorite character trounced on repeatedly.

But it is comic books…..it is only temporary.

But to blame an editor or a company for a story idea using a plot device that has been used countless times from every comic book company in existence is a little hypocritical. If you hate DC for killing a character, you need to stop buying all comic books from any publisher.

“But to blame an editor or a company for a story idea using a plot device that has been used countless times from every comic book company in existence is a little hypocritical. If you hate DC for killing a character, you need to stop buying all comic books from any publisher.”

Yes, used *countless* times. More accurately, a gazillion times in short succession over an extended period to the point of infuriating absurdity because it has become their go-to gimmick for short-term sales fluffing.

It’s no longer an idea or a device. It’s even gone beyond Marvel and DC’s obsession with the idea that darker is always better every time all the time.

At this point it’s just a god damn crutch.

Stephen Conway

March 22, 2013 at 7:34 am

That is precisely the reason why killing off characters is pointless Christopher, If we know they are going to be brought back in a year or two it negates any real emotional response to the death. It cheapens what should be a momentous event, that should bring closure and finality to a story.

A major recent example would be Peter Parker in Spider-Man. He died in ASM #700 and just three months later he is already back, piggybacking on Doc Ock’s mind.

so all of the killing, today’s killing anyways, is because the big 2 need a bump in sales? wow i cant believe the big 2 are admitting that they do not have the talent to make their stories interesting without killing off important characters. The only ones that have felt ‘sincere’ and thought out, have been damian robin and capt america.

does DC realize that Supes and Bats consistently sold into the millions of books from 1938 until the 90s? maybe even later? thats through 2-4 generations of readers. for the most part they didnt need a death of a major or in some cases, even a 2nd teir, character to ‘bump’ sales.

why has the talented editorial dept of the big 2 fallen on such hard times in terms of creativity?

I think the creativity of the big 2 in the later 50s & early to mid 60s showed their talent to the most benefit: create new characters but also show some kind of tie-in the the past, of which the present is bult-on.

nihilism produces just that: nil

ps also the death of cap amrvel was an awe-inspiring story. did it ‘bump’ sales? no idea, but it was a really good story and art. as long as the stories are good. back then marvel had great sales so i think the motiviation was simply to tell a great story, which starlin achieved.

nuff said.

I really thought they were going to resolve the Alpha Lantern War arc by killing JS. Since they didn’t do it then, there’s no good reason to do so now.

Wow. This story has gotten legs that I didn’t think it would get. After months of losing faith in mainstream comics as a whole, this is a nice shot in the arm. Kudos to everyone that has run the story.

As for anyone saying that “John Stewart” would just come back eventually. I would love for you to do an exercise. Try and find how many Black Male Characters (because that’s what John is) have died in Comics and have come back from the dead. Also…

– Revival within the story arc the death happened doesn’t count.
– Statues where their mortality is in question don’t count.

I’m talking about deaths that stuck. The numbers are ghastly, especially when taken into proportion with their White Male Counterparts.

If you want, you can extend the exercise to Black Females, Asian Males, Asian Females, Hispanic Males, Hispanic Females and whatever Person or Color or Minority you want to list.

Once you take those into account, I’d be shocked if anyone would be so sure of John coming back if he ever died.

People act like they never read comics before.

End the New 52 and use the DC animated universe versions as the starting point for a new continuity featuring simplified, iconic characters with DC’s entire publishing output available as “canon”, depending on what best fits the “simplified, iconic” nature of the story.

James Osterberg

March 22, 2013 at 9:23 am

I have a better idea: Kill Baz

A lame character created with the sole purpose of put more money in the pockets of the ‘Chief Creative Officer’ Geoff Johns (as well the arbitrary collections with his name on the cover).

While there are pockets of brilliance at the Big Two, it’s become increasingly clear the comics they generate as a whole are stagnant, soulless and ridiculously cyclical. There are no high stakes anymore, because it can always be undone. It is, however, nice to see writers and artists standing against this cheap ploy for sales. The saddest thing is it still appears to work, sales-wise… So, is it the company that’s the problem or is it the fans?

I understand the frustrations of many, seeing a black character killed off is particularly sad as there are too few about. However the story has yet to published so how does anyone know that its is going to be gimmicky and or cheap? It could well be powerful like the Executioner’s death in Thor or Cathy’s death in Shade the Changing Man. Further, editorial edicts are part of comics its how most of the characters exist (Hey Bill! Hey Martin! Update that hokey old character we own Green whatshisface). Perhaps we could just wait until the comic is published before passing judgement?

Its nobody’s fault. Fans want to see these things. They want to see event books,big story lines,wolverine in 4 books. Do you think that Marvel or DC would do these things if nobody was reading them. As the owner of my LCS says “The market dictates what it wants” Which is why there was 5 Deadpool books at one point.
I see so many comments on various sites “Why cant we get new characters,Im tired of events,Im tired of new number#1’s” but when i attend con’s and sit in on panels with creators and writers nobody ever says anything. The ppl that complain the loudest are a minority and even though they complain they are still buying the things they complain about. It reminds me of a conversation i heard at the comic shop. A guy was ripping the first Transformer movie,I mean absolutely killing it, and after all that he goes “Yeah.I seen it 3 times”

It’d be nice if they brought back Orpheus. It was a crap way to kill him off.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orpheus_(comics)

“Killing is Good Business”

Because the fact is that modern superhero comics have went to the well far too many times on character kill offs for any of them NOT to feel gimmicky and cheap (and the truth is 99.99 percent of them are).

Besides the simple fact is that there are many ways to write a character out but modern comics go to the same one all the time, every time. There just comes a point where people get friggin tired of seeing their favorite characters killed off or gored or raped or whatever. No matter how much meaning you try to attach to it, it’s gotten beyond tedious and infuriating because it’s happening all the damn time.

The problem is that death itself has become a gimmick and because of that death means nothing other than yet another eye-rolling attempt at being “edgy”. Cheap shock, cheap publicity, and a cheap sales fluff passing for a story.

Thank You Scott! The perfect character to bring up…Orpheus… Finally a black character was making in roads in the Bat Universe that wasn’t a stereotype. Dies in one of the most gruesome ways possible but was he remembered? Nope. It wasn’t even in a valiant way he died. He’s just an afterthought…

Now with John, he should be more than an afterthought but unless it is to destroy a planet or have a severe moral play, he hasn’t gotten the spotlight. So OF COURSE his first major story will be his death…

What a joke…

John Stewart will be in good company. His good buddy from the JLU, Wally West was also banished by DC.

You could actually form a very good team using just the DC characters recently killed or in limbo. Blue Beetle Ted Kord, Wally West Flash, Rocket Red Gavril, Damien Wayne Robin and now Green Lantern John Stewart.

You’ve been claiming you wanted more diversity and yet you kill the one non-caucasian Green Lantern?! WTF?

Sigh. I really lost interest in the new 52. Despite being a solid DCU fan since the 80s, I was all for it, hoping for a fresher DC. Initially, I loved the Flash, Batman and Aquaman, as well as Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE and even Suicide Squad. I also like Dial H! But otherwise, meh.

I’m all for change and all but the new 52 has been all gimmick and NO substance. I’m not one of the fans who thinks the characters should stay the same forever. I actually love it when they reinvent them for the better (as a long time Avengers fan, I still enjoyed the first two volumes of ULTIMATES.)

Heck, I was hoping they’d just go for a TOTAL reboot and start from scratch. None of that quasi reboot around Batman and GL for example. Or that 5 years in existence confusion.

And as a result I sorely miss the pre-new 52 books they discontinued: Secret Six, Booster Gold, Legion and REBELS were all GREAT! Sigh.

I gave it a shot but the execution has been left wanting.

That said, death really isn’t all that shocking anymore. Modern comic book writers have just overdone it with the deaths and resurrections. Both Marvel and DC have gone to the well far too often.

Does anyone seriously believe someone like, say, Professor X will stay dead?

Ferb Morgendorffer

March 22, 2013 at 10:54 am

@ Mike.T
Keep in mind I have no huge investment in the “Nu52 sucks” debate, I tried all the launch books but only stuck with a few, pretty much like I had pre-reboot. This is just opinion based on observation of the debate and personal experience.

Thing is, while I’d normally agree re ppl on internet complain but still read/watch (see: every debate ever over the quality of the current Doctor Who regime in that fandom), there’s always an exception like 90’s X-Men. The complaints were a harbinger of the line’s slipping sales (which took a while to be noticed thanks to the entire industry experiencing that). It just took a long time for even zombies like me to realize all those brief little glimmers of hope (like Seagle & Kelly’s run) would remain glimmers until we went cold- turkey on our habit and Marvel finally realized the real problem was editorial (which Harras promptly proved when he gave a list of his standard go-to writers for the Ultimate line instead of looking outside the superhero bubble like Jemas asked him to)

Of course to be fair there are cases like Bendis-Avengers & most of Quesada’s post-Jemas reign where the internet really is an echo chamber. Time will tell, it always does.

Take Gardner!

Seriously though, it’s ridiculous. The writers should have 95% creative freedom, the only reason a big two writer should ever be forced in a certain direction should be for continuity purposes. We’d get some really great stories if the writers had creative control with suggestions from the editor. The death of a major character is just too big of a plot point to force on a writer who was probably already thinking several issues or arcs ahead of where their run is up to.

It would be amazing if just once a major character was killed off without the company having “death of” in the title or announcing “a big change of status quo” aka character death. Imagine how much more of an impact there’d be if they killed Peter Parker in #700 without the announcement of a status quo change. It was already announced as the last issue of Amazing (for now) and was the #700th in a big anniversary year for the character. It was going to sell regardless. Point being, character death should only be put in place if it’s what the writer wants after permission from those higher up. And it should get the response it deserves by making the reader just as shocked by the death as the characters in the story.

Oh sure, kill off the best Green Lantern and the only black guy on the whole damn show. He and Shayera Hol were my favorite characters watching that show. Kill all my good memories and make me an enemy for life DC, way to go. Whoever is making these decisions is a total looser.

Sounds like Phil a comic fan that been follow what is going on last few years. I agree with everything he says except for how comic book stories to maintain their vibrancy. I think exact opposite and that continuity or fanboy conservatism should be important. Cause making most of your books dark and grimy while getting ride of years of history worked so well. I mean comics are selling a million a month again. Oh wait.

Paraphrasing the words of Jay Prescott Sherman:

“If you stop BUYING bad comic books, they’ll stop MAKING bad comic books. If the comic book uses shock value or gimmick/variant covers for sales boosts, just don’t pay attention to it. After volume number 2, give it a rest. If it’s a reboot of a classic, READ THE CLASSIC…….[an hour or so later, with a hoarse voice] tell them you want stories about PEOPLE, not 22 or 28 pages worth of amplified violence, gratuitous and meaningless deaths, and mindless T+A for prices bordering on the $5 mark. People, it’s up to YOU–if the comic book stinks, JUST–DON’T–BUY IT!” [Collapses from exhaustion a la Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.]

perhaps they’re concerned over people thinking of that other “John Stewart, the news show guy” as the latest episode of the GL animated series brillantly commented on when Hal asked Guy Gardner who the new GL of Earth was.

Brian from Canada

March 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Killing John Stewart is a bad idea, but having too many Lanterns is worse.

DC has five Earth Lanterns to deal with, Sinestro and the rest of the corps. And that’s without delving into the rest of the spectrum, or the expelled Lantern running around in Threshold.

Green Lantern’s movie and animated series put Kilowog into focus, and he’s barely shown up in the books. B’dg has had equal panel time, and he’s necessary for Baz’s storyline.

And with Hal in Green Lantern, Kyle the only one that can be in New Guardians, and Guy going red, there’s still too many to fit in the Corps book.

Someone had to go. John Stewart can quit or die — but, in the end, since they’ve already done the depowering storyline so often, it looks like DC will do the death thing… until someone comes up with a reason for John to be an active member of the corps.

(For me, though, the answer was obvious: DON’T MAKE HAL THE LEADER. Make Green Lantern a split book between Hal and Simon to force DC to realize how much of a stupid idea it was to make another Lantern, give Kyle a set team to act as the new Guardians, and turn the corps into Kilowog’s training / Guy’s team / John’s backup alphas.)

there’s a problem with the green lantern mythos and how it is treated as sci-fi space opera in the DC COmics Universe. its a galaxy-wide police force with weaponized power rings built around the colors of the rainbow.

that’s the problem. which rainbow? there are only green,blue, purple ,red, orange,yellow,white, and black lanterns. no grey lanterns ( green lantern retirees) , pink lanterns ( obvious), brown lanterns (controlling the power of digestion)? there are more colors than the human eye can see. so this intergalatic space force is built around the eight primary colors of light only VISIBLE by HUMANS on EARTH. huh? even snakes can see in the infra-red. are there infra-red lanterns that we dont know about?

there are potentially infinite numbers of colors in the universe. ultra-violet, infra-red,etc. the near-omniscient guardians of oa should be able to detect more than the 8 colors that we see. so therefore there can be an infinite variety of power rings, and an infinite variety of lanterns. so theoretically, there should be no limit to the lanterns…..

john stewart is kinda cool. killing off superheroes and resurrecting them 2 years later is getting old. real old. hal jordan was the latest to falling victim to that trend. in fact, the character john stewart was created by neal adams because DC COMICS during the 60s and 70s had too many white guys for superheroes….

the lantern corps is built around the color green. what about sentient beings without eyes? blind people cant join the lanterns? dr. midnite could never join the lanterns? the POWER of the power rings should be built around the WILLPOWER of its owner, not the “color” of their aura. fix that problem, then u can limit the number of lanterns.

Take Baz!

He’ll be gone quicker than Ryan Choi (and look how that turned out these days; a female hispanic Atom). Maybe we’ll get a latina or Terry Berg as the next GL

When drifting to sleep I think of Marvel and DC characters, and every day, I view my actions through a lens of ethics that was ground by comics. But I can’t read new comics at all. Because when you are an adult, you know one thing and know it all too well. Dead people don’t come back.

There is a rational part of me that understands the vast difference between fiction and reality, who knows what Phil LaMarr really sounds like and can separate the idea of “actor” and “character”.

Then, there’s the part of me that read his comments in John Stewart’s voice and thought of a character I grew up with doing an interview about his own upcoming death.

Guess which part is responsible for the tears?

It’s okay, though, Lantern Crossover deaths are some of the most rapidly undone in comics. Remember when they killed off Kyle Rayner in Blackest Night (G.L. Corps #42) and then brough him back a few weeks later in #43 all so Guy would have an excuse to wear the red ring? John Stewart will return before too long, maybe even with his own book.

Baz is growing on me, but while the mask has got to go, I’m starting to like the costume. I want him to stick around but not at the cost of John Stewart. I mean let’s lay it on the table, what’s the size of the space sector to a Green Lantern? We know already that 2813 had Krypton and its destruction is visible now so it’s roughly 28 light years away. If we can know anything in the editorial circlejerk that is DC right now.

I like John Stewart, but I admit it was JL/U that did it. I didn’t like him much through Mosaic (I stuck with that for the art, but I liked that it stemmed out of Cosmic Odessy which I was a big fan of), I didn’t like the wheelchair thing being psychosomatic from a long buried memory, I tolerated him as a supporting character to Kyle Rayner. If this had been a call before Justice League, I’d have only weighed the issue of diversity instead of character. So much like DC’s inability to make Harley Quinn any fun unless it’s Dini or Kesel, I’m blaming DC for trying to get rid of a character they have no ability to grasp because otherwise it would become obvious it isn’t the characters that aren’t fun anymore, it’s them.

I would also like to see the character worked out more. I rewrote that part to be more concise, and lost a couple points, but I do think DC chumped out on a muslim character when they ignored Nightrunner after the switchover. There’s the guy in Demon Knights but he’s clearly dying off soon, if the book even continues.

Green Beetle?

If they kill him I am dumping DC
I am very serious

And more of why I walked out when DC opened the door with the “New 52″.

@Clay.. There is a Green Lantern that comes from a water planet who actually doesn’t “see” colors and his ring is sound operated. His profile was in a green lantern who’s who feature around the time of the Sinestro Corps War

Kill off Stewart or Shayera. You notice very little talk about her. Those two have a very appealing line…

The saddest part about comics is they don’t really teach the lessons that made them so rich and so beautiful 30, 40, 50 years ago. Enough with the “realism” angle. If people wanted realism you’re not gonna find it in comics. Put more time in making super bad-ass villains. Make villains with a purpose or a goal. Villains that have a twisted agenda and a purpose. Make good stories.

The good guys always win. Bring back those days. Stop killing off our characters. Canceling good cartoons and shoving crap down our throats. If you create really good stuff, people will buy it. Make something that makes people actually think and you’ll be surprised and the outcome.

The way that DC has blatantly tried to sabotage John Stewart would be difficult for anyone to deny. They sabotaged his solo series Mosaic, sidelined him, and have attempted to kill him and when that didn’t work, they have tried to replace him with one of the most offensive Muslim parodies possible — a tattooed carjacker wearing a balaclava (ski mask) and wielding a handgun!

People have consistently said that out of all of the Green Lanterns he is the only one that was interesting even before he got the ring. Here you have Hal Jordan: test pilot; Kyle Rayner: artist; and John Stewart: US marine and architect!

Granted, he doesn’t have the history Hal has but that’s only because of the blatant bias DC has against John Stewart. You have a character that was depicted incredibly well on the JL/JLU animated series — arguably the series’ most well developed character and biggest star. You have an opportunity here DC!

People like him and want him and yes — many many people prefer him to Hal Jordan. DC can talk all they want about diversity and such but if they are serious about it, they’ll do the right thing and give their most credible minority superhero the limelight he so richly deserves.

Here’s to hoping to see more of John Stewart in the future.

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