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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.