Race and Representations presented in “Relevant comics”Green Lantern/Green Arrow

This post will be looking at race and representation. These theories and concepts will be analysed and applied to the 1970s “Relevant comics” of Green Lantern/Green Arrow created by comic writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams.

Starting with Green Lantern/Green Arrow vol. 2 #76, writer Denny O’Neil introduce racism, something that was still politically relevant in the decade of the 70s. “In his work, Cone acknowledges that racism harms whites yet he emphasizes that the need to recognize the difference between the hurt oppressors feel and the pain of the oppressed”. (Hooks 1992, p 9) In the issue an old African-American explains how he’s read that Hal has helped several different races and species in outer space, but how he’s forgotten to help the black skinned race. This revolutionised the character of Hal Jordan because Denny O’Neil highlighted that racism should be seen and talked about by the young generation of readers that were growing up in a racially divided America.


In issue’s epilogue, Green Arrow advises Hal to not be a puppet of the guardians of Oa and to remember America for the beautiful country that it is. He details somewhat of a history lesson to both Hal and the readers as he explains how both Martin Luther King Jr and President JFK, where both good men of their respected races and how they both fell. The art of this panel, beautifully illustrated the haunting message, that Denny O’Neil wanted readers to take to heart.


Vol. 2 #87, saw the introduction of John Steward; who would become a fan favourite through the Justice League animated cartoons (2001-2006).“The oppositional black culture that emerged in the context of apartheid and segregation has been one of the few locations that has provided a space for the kind of decolonization that makes loving blackness possible” (Hooks 1992, p 9). With the creation of John Stewart, O’Neil chose to represent him coming from the state of Detroit Michigan. The reason for this is prior to the 70s, Detroit suffered major problems which included; job losses, unemployment, increased crime and riots.Throughout the issue both Hal and John have conflicts with each other, with their opposing racial ideologies. It is in the last page of the issue where Hal’s bigotries about John is proven wrong. Both Hal and the readers are shown that black people are not defined by the their backgrounds or the negative representations the media has of them.


With #79, O’Neil touched upon Native American culture and rights, “often it is only in the realm of fiction that this reality can be acknowledged, that the unspeakable can be named”, (Hooks 1992, p 12).The issue represents how Native Americans, are trying to keep and preserve their land from the “colonizing force” (Hooks 1992, p 12) of the white people who are trying to drive them out and take it from them. It is throughout the actions of both Green Lantern and Green Arrow, where they were helping “erase the horrors that white racists, had perpetrated against the red people” (Hooks 1992, p 12). O’Neil once gain presents a history lesson, by highlighting and detailing the struggles Native American’s were facing in the 70s.




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