40 years ago - John Stewart is born.
22 years ago - 18-year-old John joins the Marines.
14 years ago - 26-year-old John finishes his tour with the Marines & uses the GI Bill to begin studying architecture.
11 years ago - 29-year-old John is chosen as a new Green Lantern when both Hal Jordan & Guy Gardner are injured during Thaal Sinestro's attack of Earth. he defeats Sinestro, but the Weaponers of Qward stage and assault to free him.
10 years ago - 30-year-old John Stewart is framed for the destruction of the planet Xanshi by the Manhunters, forcing the Guardians of Oa to place him on trial in Citadel court. He proves his innocence, prompting the Manhunters to attack Oa.
9 years ago - 31-year-old John graduates with a degree in architecture.
5 years ago - 35-year-old John is depowered when Hal Jordan destroys the Oan Power Battery, & returns to work as an architect. Yrra Cynril perseus Kyle Rayner, the last surviving Green Lantern, to Earth. He leads her off planet to protect John.
4 years ago - 36-year-old John is hired by Carol Ferris to head up design on the new facilities for Ferris Air. They become friends while she undergoes her long healing process. Yrra Cynril returns to earth with a stolen anti-oan ring to attack him, but he finally is able to convince her of his innocence.
1 years ago - 39-year-old John contacts Yrra Cynril to assist Kyle Rayner to battle Sinestro's forces and restart the Oan Power Battery. His ring is recharged by the reignited Battery, and takes Kyle's place in the Watchtower while he works to rebuild the Green Lantern Corp. His new role complicates his relationship with Carol Ferris.
now - 40-year-old John joins the rest of the Watchtower in space to save Superman from Warworld. He trades positions with Kyle Rayner, taking over the posting on Oa. Carol Ferris chooses to go with him.
A lot of cool things have come out of the DC Animated Universe; Mr. Freeze's enhanced backstory, the expansion of Zatanna's history with Bruce, and of course, Harley Quinn. If you had to name one thing that really stands out as the largest contribution the collection of animated series had on comics in general, it's hard to argue for anything other than the enhanced profile of John Steward as on of the most recognizable characters to serve as the Green Lantern of Earth.
Jon Stewart's Comic History
John Stewart first appeared in 1971; chosen as a replacement for Hal Jordan who had relinquished his role in the Green Lantern Corps. He was created by Neal Adams during a time when he had nearly unprecedented reign in designing the look of the DC Universe. He argued that a black Green Lantern was simply a logical choice when you consider the population of the planet. It was still the seventies, and John was fairly limited in his characterization, but the inclusion of a minority character in such a major role was still a pretty commendable choice.
He served as the protagonist of the comic for several years before he was eventually relegated to supporting character status when Hal returned. He had a role to play, but even among backup Green Lantern characters he was often overshadowed by fan-favorite Guy Gardner. Guy went on to have a large presence in the late 80's, even joining the Justice League, which meant there was even less focus on John. Then, of course, Hal Jordan underwent his fantastic turn to villain, destroying the corp and depowering the survivors. John was now an unpowered background character in the story of the new lone Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. Kyle's years often featured him looking to older more experienced characters for advice. While John was certainly one of them, he simply didn't have the fan appeal to show up very much. More often than not he was seen as a diversity-for-diversity's sake relic of the seventies.
Then came a major turnaround moment for John. During the conception of the animated Justice League there was a debate over whether to use the then-current Lantern Kyle or classic Lantern Hal. The show smartly sidestepped the whole thing by using the relatively obscure John Stewart. He was subtly reimagined as a veteran superhero with military training, someone that brought knowledge and experience to their team. Coupled with a soft-spoken tough-guy attitude and the immeasurable utility of his ring he quickly became a fan favorite. It wasn't long before this characterization was taken up by the comics as well. By they time DC was making their live-action Green Lantern movie a decade later, most kids were so familiar with John Stewart that they couldn't figure out who this Hal Jordan character was.
John was THE Green Lantern for a good long while, serving on the Justice League and generally making everyone else look like chumps. Then DC began a massive push to bring back EVERY dead character, even ones whose deaths had largely defined the DC universe like Jason Todd, Barry Allen and of course, Hal Jordan. John was established as Hal's partner, but was eventually relegated to duty on Oan. he essentially fell into a supporting role for, I'm sorry, a less interesting character.
Our John Stewart Story
We wanted to really allow John to be the awesome character that was formed in the animated series from the very beginning. We don't really take too much from his comic history before the redesigned version of the character appeared, and most of the concepts we DO use are actually from the animated series. For his early life, we primarily focused on his career in the Marines and his later life being trained and certified to work as an architect. He does of course serve a time as a Green Lantern, but only when active Lantern Hal AND his backup Guy Gardner are both injured.
It's after Kyle Rayner restarts the Lantern Corps that John really becomes an important character. Kyle is one of the founding members of the Watchtower, but when he leaves to work in deep space John takes his place. This is when we get to see the amazing job he does as one of the main field tacticians of that group of heroes. This is really the best use of John as a character; Batman might be a genius, but even he was often depicted as not being able to see the battlefield as a whole the way John could. John's powers are also much better suited to altering the entire flow of combat.
Once Oa is reborn, the new Corp is rebuilt much larger, with TWO Lanterns in every sector. With Guy serving as a Corp-wide problem-solver and Hal dead, the two Lanterns of sector 2814 are John and Kyle. Given the need for a permanent Green Lantern on Earth, it makes sense for these two characters to split their duties; one of them working on Earth, and the other taking care of larger problems in their sector. At first, It's John on Earth working with the Watchtower, but when he goes into space to help Superman he and Kyle trade places. Kyle can then be the Green Lantern of the new younger Watchtower while John takes up a post on Oa.
While John's original Comic costume wasn't terrible, it wasn't a particular standout design. Green Lantern has always been one of an entire army of heroes and for a long time their outfits were more or less uniform, with only minor variations between them Johns was all right, but it wasn't really any sort of an improvement.
The costume used in the animated series was actually a pretty standard design for that show's aesthetic. They would regularly remove extraneous details from costumes and chose instead to just use singular fields of color. Kyle Rayner had actually appeared in a single episode of the animated Superman series, and wore essentially the same thing. When it was applied to John Stewart, however, there was a wonderful synergy with his characterization and it become iconic. You could make an argument that this character and this costume are even more identifiable than Hal's classic costume. (Also, as a longtime Star Trek fan, I really enjoy how they basically did the same thing to his costume that Deep Space Nine did to the Next Generation uniform.)
In the transition between the Justice League animated series and Justice League Unlimited John went from having close cropped hair to having a shaved head and goatee. That might not seem like a big deal, but that sort of shift is often hard to pull off in animation and still have a recognizable character. It's very cool that his characterization was so strong that they were able to make that change.
John Stewart's Future
As we leave this timeline, John is just beginning a term of service on Oa. Kyle is back on Earth, serving with the reborn Watchtower along with the many heroes of his generation. So what does that mean for John? The comics featured major upheaval for the Green Lantern Corp after they were rebuilt, but we're more in favor of allowing it to return to it's classic status quo as a galactic institution for the time being. This means that any major intergalactic crisis on the horizon (like the upcoming battle with Lady Stix or the return of the Red Lanterns) will heavily feature the reformed Corp, and John will be at the forefront of that.
Many of the heroes of John's generation are in a transitional period; Superman and Batman are both beginning to give their limelight to younger heroes. John, however, is going to remain as active as ever, and the fact that he is typically considered the master strategist of the DC universe means that his involvement with the newer, younger heroes will almost always put him in a leadership role, which fits him really well.
One idea we want to explore is to create a new romantic relationship for John. The animated series of course featured a relationship between John and Hawkgirl, but we use a different version of her. What we've done is imagine that after the destruction of Ferris airbase by Hal Jordan it makes a lot of sense for John, a professional architect, to work with Carol Ferris to rebuild it. She would of course have a lot of raw feelings regarding the Green Lanterns, but John is a very different person than Hal, and the notion of allowing their friendship to slowly evolve immediately suggests some fantastic story opportunities. When he departs to take up a tour on Oa, the notion that he would ask her to accompany him seems like a huge step in their growing relationship, but It's a story that would be absolutely fascinating.