Urban Legend: Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern from ‘Justice League’

Phil LaMarr_John Stewart_Green LanternAfter animation and production powerhouse Bruce Timm delivered classic television with Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, comic book fans began begging for a program based on DC super hero team, Justice League of America.

In 2001, Timm granted their JLA wishes, debuting Justice League on Cartoon Network. The team was comprised of the usual favorites—Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, and, of course, Green Lantern. There was, however, a twist in the line-up.

The series’ Lantern would not be the Hal Jordan iteration many expected, but John Stewart (voiced to perfection by actor Phil LaMarr).

The Guardians, an extraterrestrial race who watch over the universe, founded the Green Lantern Corps to serve as interstellar law enforcement. Simply stated, they’re the space police. Hal Jordan was Earth’s appointed Green Lantern, with Guy Gardener and Stewart waiting in the wings as back-up. When the time came, Stewart, a United States Marine from Detroit, MI, stepped up to assume the Lantern role.

Stewart’s a hot-temped aggressor with an often serious attitude. He wields the emerald power ring with a no nonsense approach. Teamed with his mighty League associates, Stewart as Green Lantern helped thwart 2 significant alien invasions, uncover a government conspiracy involving enhanced humans, and defeat their villainous rivals, Legion of Doom.

The John Stewart version of the Green Lantern made his comics debut in Green Lantern Vol. 2 #87 in December of 1971. Created by veterans Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams, Stewart was the first black superhero to appear in DC Comics. LaMarr did an excellent job giving Stewart life on the small screen.

No stranger to character or voice acting, LaMarr portrayed Woody on the NBC cartoon Mister T and a number of characters on sketch comedy show, MADtv. While those roles were of a lighter fare, the John Stewart version of Green Lantern required grit and dramatics. LaMarr pulled it off for 5 seasons, helping cement the black Lantern as a legend in urban culture.

—Mr. Joe Walker

Mr. Joe Walker is an urban and pop culture enthusiast. Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, the biographer, author, entertainment and celebrity journalist, and columnist is currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and writer of weekly classic hip-hop reviews for Concrete Magazine’s Concrete615.com. Also co-creator of TheGrooveSpot.com, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. He is also working on a book project with Liquid Arts & Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker, connect with him on Facebook, and also visit his blog MrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.

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