By Christian Hoffer
John Stewart receives an interesting new status quo as his journey in the Dark Sector comes to an end… and simultaneously begins anew. John Stewart: The Emerald Knight tries to have its cake and eat it too by both resetting Stewart’s status quo and giving him a bold new universe to explore while also shunting him out of exile from the Dark Sector so he and the other Green Lanterns can be reintegrated into the wider DC Universe. Surprisingly, the creative team finds a way to do both thanks to the use of a well-worn DC concept. Whether this strange status quo sticks remains to be seen, but it does seemingly find a way to separate Stewart from the pack of Earth’s Green Lanterns while celebrating his unique history.
To explain how Stewart arrives at this intriguing status quo, we have to first explain how Stewart transformed from normal Green Lantern to an “Ascended” being able to wield the emotional spectrum. Last year, Geoffrey Thorne and Marco Santucci stranded John Stewart and a group of Green Lanterns in the Dark Sector, cut off from their Green Lantern rings and battling a more godly Esak, a New God with a plot to create artificial versions of the New Gods. After the destruction of the Central Power Battery, it was up to Stewart to power his small army of Green Lanterns using newfound powers that he awakened after a trip through time and a blast from Darkseid’s Soul Cannon. Stewart can now harness a portion of the Source called the Godstorm and has been siphoning that power to other Green Lanterns to power their battle against Esak in the Dark Sector.
John Stewart: The Emerald Knight continues the Dark Sector’s saga by at least temporarily bringing the Green Lantern’s conflict with Esak to a close. After discovering that Esak has been tapping into Hypertime in his attempts to create his own New Gods, Stewart does the same and functionally splits himself into two selves – a “Green Lantern” and an “Emerald Knight.” While the Green Lantern version of Stewart returns to what’s likely the mainstream DC Universe, the Emerald Knight remains behind on a newly created Xanshi to monitor the Dark Sectors with a small team of scions.
From a story perspective, John Stewart: The Emerald Knight allows Thorne and Santucci to continue their throwback Dark Sector run, which feels almost like a continuation of sorts of the weird science seen in the Green Lantern titles in the 1980s and 1990s, while also shunting a slightly de-powered Stewart back into the DC Universe to be used in other DC titles. It relies a bit too heavily on Stewart’s still mostly undefined god-like powers, but it’s one of the more useful ways to utilize Hypertime as a hand-waving plot device to explain away inconsistencies. I also appreciate how the creative team chose to focus on more obscure New Gods and other existing DC characters, which weirdly showcases their powers and abilities in ways that actual New Gods books have failed to do.
Artistically, Santucci’s artwork is dense in lines, layout, and composition. A lot happens in this 40 page comic, with planets blowing up, god-powered armies fighting, and the usual DC cosmic madness. Unfortunately, there are a lot of story beats to follow, so we never get to see Santucci’s artwork really get a spotlight outside of a sole single-page splash early in the issue. I appreciate the hard work that Santucci put into the issue—drawing armies and exploding planets in minute detail must be time consuming—but I feel that the dense panel layouts never allows Santucci to really shine. There’s no single panel that allows Santucci to really wow the reader, and I think that’s a product of the scripting rather than any deficiency by the artist.
It will be interesting to see how John Stewart: The Emerald Knight is continued in the coming months. The various Dark Sector sagas that have dominated DC’s recent cosmic comics have been more miss than hit, but I think that making it Stewart’s playground is an interesting move. Hopefully, we’ll get to see both Stewarts in the DC Universe soon, as I personally love when superhero comics get really weird and have to get incorporated into a wider universe.
Published by DC Comics
On December 27, 2022
Written by Geoffrey Thorne
Art by Marco Santucci
Colors by Michael Atiyah
Letters by Rob Leigh
Cover by Manteus Manhanini
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