How People Reacted To A Black Green Lantern, In 1971

Back in 2010, I ran reaction to the trailer to the then-upcoming Green Lantern movie, starring Ryan Reynolds in a role he would later regret taking. With everyone seemingly surprised that Warner Bros. had cast a white man in the role. At the time I pointed out that most normal people who had heard of Green Lantern, thought he was black, because of the Justice League cartoons that had run through the nineties and noughties, which had John Stewart as the Green Lantern member of the team rather than Hal Jordan.

booker22 I could've sworn that he was black in the cartoons… Now they make a movie and turn the green lantern white…

AYOPHOTOGRAPHY I thought the Green Lantern was Black O_o

PhaaatAlbert I love Ryan Renolds, but GREEN LANTERN WAS SUPPOSED TO BE BLACK!

madylove09 So. If I'm not mistaken, isn't The Green Lantern black?

0h_So_LawLess: Green Lantern movie coming out. The have a white guy playing him. Smh, one of the only black superheros and they made him white. Smh.

How People Reacted To A Black Green Lantern, In 1971

That kind of thing. Now the upcoming Green Lantern HBO TV series, which would have also focused on the Green Lantern Corps as a whole, will pull that focus to just John Stewart. Seth Grahame-Smith, who had written an eight-episode season for the show, is out, as is Finn Whitrock who would have played Guy Gardner, and Jeremy Irvine who would have played Alan Scott. The show will roll out later than initially planned, with a smaller budget.

How People Reacted To A Black Green Lantern, In 1971

Will we go through something like the above from the other direction when the trailer eventually runs? Possibly. Right now, social media reaction, what little there is, is pretty positive. But how about we check in with the public reaction to Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams' introduction of the character in Green Arrow/Green Lantern back in 1971? This is how the letters page ran at the time, with selected panels from the pages they are referring to. And they feel rather familiar, positive reaction from people who weren't quite expecting to be so positive. Hand-picked and gatekept of course… but no one shouting all-too-familiar buzzwords, though we do get the occasional dog-whistle…

How People Reacted To A Black Green Lantern, In 1971

A letter-of-comment to Green Lantern/ Green Arrow is no simple chore

Dear Editor: A letter-of-comment to Green Lantern/ Green Arrow is no simple chore—or pleasure, rather—this late in the game. Everything has been said. The "relevance" of the series, which I would rather call "pertinence", has been exclaimed over and praised. The quality of the artwork has been exclaimed over and praised. GL /GA has been exclaimed over and praised time and time again in the dozen issues since the two characters got together. Each new issue in-spires the same general comments: Neal Adams captures reality as no other artist in the field dares, and Denny O'Neil is the best writer in comix (as good in this medium as Norman Mailer is in his—and I'm not pulling a typical Guy Lillian hysterical exaggeration there; I mean it). GL/GA is almost without peer. It has changed the face and dream of comix magazines. And so forth and so on. It has all been said before. Time for another collection of linked superlatives to GL /GA. for its 12th issue this time, "Beware My Power!". Like "Snowbirds Don't Fly", the superb dope story that preceded this unlucky yarn (unlucky because it had to follow "Snowbirds"), I think that the introduction of John Stewart will provoke a mess of inferior imitating work throughout the comfit periphery. This is the usual response of comixdom to an outstanding unique story . . . "relevance" has been shoved down the throat of fandom since GL/GA's success, never with one-tenth the care and maturity of even the least of the Denny O'Neal Adams stories. It is the price we pay for excellence. While there have been super-heroes before, none have talked like black men, none have convinced me for one moment that they were anything more than some quasi-liberal comix writer's guilt-trip on hip pills . . . Stewart did. Thank heaven O'Neil didn't make him a Vietnam vet … most of the 'Nam vets comix have shown us have been black, and what sorry evidence of class consciousness bubbling from what artists' ids is that? No, Stewart is an architect. a nice touch. I've known guys like that. so I can believe Stewart. I surely believe the environment depicted by Adams … no one can depict the real world as well. Splitting the GL/GA team doesn't really sit well with me, though . . . the second story (Green Arrow solo-starring in "What Can One Man Do?") made it with me by artful brevity and style. Elliot Maggin. whoever he is, has done a fine, fine job. And what stylish work by Adams. Special attention should be given to the splash panel (actually page 2 of the story). the close-up portrait of GA in tears and the brilliant 13th page. It is brief, that last page. It is concise. It has no action and yet succeeds in a medium where action is the way of life, and by an artist 'who ranks with Jack Kirby as one of the best actioneers. in the business. It is simple, effective. It moves the reader. –GUY H. LILLIAN III, Kenner, La

How People Reacted To A Black Green Lantern, In 1971

It is a truism of the comic industry that the inclusion of ethnic characters (i.e. Blacks) does not affect sales.

Dear Editor. It is a truism of the comic industry that the inclusion of ethnic characters (i.e. Blacks) does not affect sales. Therefore we must assume that when Denny O'Neil introduces a black character named John Stewart in the latest Green Lantern, his motives are altruistic rather than sordidly capitalistic. Unfortunately, it is a sort of half-hearted altruism, of the type which characterizes white America's attitudes towards the Negro. The fact is, that of the more than twenty super-hero comics on the stands today, not one of them features a solo black Protagonist. Black characters, when they are used, are invariably in the shadow of a white mentor. "Beware My Power" is no exception. The Green Lantern of each planet, it seems, must have a stand-by-to take his place if he is incapacitated. Hal Jordan's second is injured. and a new one must be chosen. The choice is John Stewart, a black, out-of-work architect. He is flippant and angry about America's social oppression of his people. By rather torturous and contrived means, writer O'Neil gives Stewart the victory in this morality play of political, racist machinations But the fact remains that he is in Hal Jordan's shadow. And in this, O'Neil echoes the sentiments of white, middle-class Americans. Sure, they say to the black man—we'll let you use our restrooms and eat in our restaurants—we'll even give you your own power ring. But Negroes are not. it seems. to take the limelight as strong characters. This was the message of Fred Hampton's death, and it is reflected in the fact that the John Stewarts of the comix industry, no matter how Young and Angry they are, are never more than incidental, secondary characters. —JUAN COLE, Northwestern U., Evanston, Ill.

How People Reacted To A Black Green Lantern, In 1971

Got the new GL/GA today, and I must say I like it.

Dear Editor Got the new GL/GA today, and I must say I like it. It seems strange to say that, since I thought I'd never like Denny O'Neil's "relevance" kick, but I must say it. Let me be a bit clearer. I get no thrill watching intergalactic trials that are supposed to parallel the worst publicity-spawned aspects of right-here-on-Earth trials. I shed no tears when Green Lantern is asked. "What have you done for the black skins?". His answer should have been, "I've saved the world a couple of dozen times—now flake off!".) And I can only cringe when I see an otherwise excellent editor run a drug story that implies belief in the oft-debunked theory that grass leads to H. But #87? You've pulled it out. I like it. There's no crying for Causes here. There's not a word of preaching. There's no far-fetched situation set up to Make A Point. There is—There is a real situation, one I can sympathize with (I've been hassled by the law a couple of times myself—but I can defend myself by pulling my mild-mannered-reporter's press card and asking the cop his name). More important, there's a man in there I like. GL's snap judgment that he's got a chip on his shoulder may or may not be correct—it depends on whether you like Cop #1 or Cop #2 better. Yes, indeed—I'd go so far as to say that John Stewart is the best character you've ever introduced in the Green Lantern series—and that includes Hal Jordan. Keep him the way he is—don't mess with his head as you go along. Particularly, don't make him another Falcon, but let him keep in mind his parting words — 'Style isn't important … any more than color!" As to Green Arrow—I'm not wild over the idea of making him mayor of Star City, but the thing has its points. Mainly, he's needed a personal life since forever. A stereotyped Bruce Wayne analog isn't it. A character we never practically see outside of that green costume isn't it, even if the character has a girlfriend. With an important position that you can really get into, we just might get an idea who Oliver Queen is. Who is Elliot Maggie? Mike Friedrich? —DONALD D. MARKSTEIN, New Orleans, La.

How People Reacted To A Black Green Lantern, In 1971

How do you give a standing ovation in a letter?

Dear Editor, How do you give a standing ovation in a letter? Well, I guess you'll have to imagine the applause and "Encore!" You'd better watch out, though, You're making even the best of DC's other magazines look mediocre. Incredible is the only word to describe your maintenance of this level of excellence (three Pages of LOC writers can't be wrong). Since it would be hard to start the discussion of issue #87 with the best or worst contribution, I guess I'll have to start at the beginning. "Beware My Power" played in all aspects like a great movie. It is hard again to choose the best part, but in no way trying to diminish the contribution of the illustrious illustrators, I'd say that Mr. Denny O'Neil's script stands out. Starting with the opening sequence of Guy Gardner in the aftermath of the earthquake, the premise is carefully built on all aspects of the past legend. Then we are introduced to John Stewart. His role is in no way obvious from the introduction. Is he hero or anti-hero, wild-eyed or deservedly bitter? He plays with his power at first, misusing it somewhat. again bitter, but in a short time able to think on his feet in the position of a superhero. He seems to be quite fearless—and, boy, is he honest. This is the first time I recall seeing the byline of Elliot Maggin. I hope we see more soon. In this, the first solo Green Arrow story since the new golden age of comix art, the full versatility of Green Arrow has really come alive. Again. I don't wish to give the short end to Neal Adams and Dick Giordano (or you, ye editor. for your contributions). Both were up to their usual standards in layout, action and emotion, and contrast. We've seen their work for many issues. I hope we see it for many more. But on to the script. Amazing! (Notice all the superlatives I'm using.) First, a quick recap for those who missed the Green Arrow change and to make the story complete in itself as a work. A look at the legend; a look at the man. He turns to his friends for advice. (All excellently portrayed, by the way, except for Green Lantern. How odd!). And, after a bit of an ego comedown courtesy those friends, things happen. As happens many times, fate steps in (a little helping hand from Ernest Hemingway never hurts). And the decision is made in another beautiful scene with Oliver and Dinah. And on to the reprint. "Earth's First Green Lantern" really fit in with the rest of the issue—real changes in people's lives. I knew I liked John Broome's work. Of course, GL has changed a lot since then. (Haven't we all?) But the story of Abin Sur and the origin of Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan is one of those not based on current events. Therefore it is not relevant to them, but done as well as done here, an excellent story. Encore! —BOB ABRAHAMS, Rego Park, N.Y –

How People Reacted To A Black Green Lantern, In 1971

Back in the day before a 280-character limit…

How People Reacted To A Black Green Lantern, In 1971

Man, Dennis O'Neill and Neal Adams would have loved this, wouldn't they? Shame to have lost them so soon, and proud that they were both contributors to Bleeding Cool…

How People Reacted To A Black Green Lantern, In 1971

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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