The REAL Reason The Justice League Needs John Stewart

Warning: SPOILERS Through Justice League #2.

It has been known for some time that the line-up for Scott Snyder’s Justice League would include John Stewart – the second Earthling to join the Green Lantern Corps. What remained unknown, however, was why the team recruited John Stewart rather than any other Green Lantern. The second issue of Justice League reveals that the team has a specific need of John Stewart’s particular skills, experience and knowledge.

Created by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams for their now legendary run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow, John Stewart was one of several superheroes who helped to diversify DC Comics in the 1970s. A Marine who became an architect after ending his tour of duty, Stewart broke multiple stereotypes as one of the surprisingly few superheroes who had served in the military. Stewart would go on to serve as the acting leader of the Green Lantern Corps in the absence of the Guardians of the Universe in the reality of DC Rebirth and still holds a position of esteem in the The Corps to this day.

Related: Justice League #1 Confirms The DC Universe is Dying

Justice League #2 reveals just how well-regarded John Stewart is by The Guardians, as the issue opens with him in the midst of a secret mission to monitor the decay of the cosmic membrane in the wake of the recent collapse of The Source Wall. Stewart is then contacted through a plant in his ship by Swamp Thing, who relays a message from Batman asking Stewart to return to Earth to help the Justice League deal with a strange cosmic entity that they have dubbed The Totality.

Stewart tries to shrug his way out of the request, saying that Hal Jordan (the first Green Lantern of Earth) could do anything he could do. Batman disagrees, saying that they need Stewart’s aid in particular but not because of Stewart’s extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with cosmic oddities from when he was acting leader of the Green Lantern Corps. Batman says that The Justice League needs an architect instead of a soldier – a man who “uses his knowledge to build things that reach beyond what seems possible.”

Stewart still denies Batman, saying that the John Stewart who was more architect than soldier got a lot of people killed and then inquires as to why Batman is approaching him about joining the team instead of Martian Manhunter. This is a reference to Cosmic Odyssey – a classic DC Comics storyline in which John Stewart’s belief he could tackle a problem alone led to the destruction of the planet Xanshi and a major dressing down by J’onn J’onzz. Given Martian Manhunter’s role of prominence in the new Justice League, this promises some heavy drama between the two heroes in the issues to come. It also confirms that there is much more to John Stewart’s place on the team than merely paying tribute to the classic Justice League Unlimited animated series.

More: The New Legion of Doom Unites DC’s Biggest Villains

Justice League #2 is now available from DC Comics.

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