Crime Syndicate gives John Stewart a heartbreaking life
The latest issue of Crime Syndicate reveals the origin story of Earth-3’s John Stewart, who became the Emerald Knight.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Crime Syndicate # 4 story “Walls Closing In” by Andy Schmidt, Bryan Hitch, Alex Sinclair and Rob Leigh, on sale now
On the world of Earth-3, the stories and morals of DC’s greatest heroes are twisted, creating dark new incarnations of classic members of the Justice League. The origins of the current Crime Syndicate add a surprising amount of melancholy to these stories, with characters like Owlman and Superwoman becoming more cruel in light of how the world has transformed them and shattered their family lives. This now extends to John Stewart, who is given a reshuffled and truly tragic origin on Earth-3.
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Earth-3’s John Stewart was once a police officer, who ended up becoming one of the new Power Ring bearers. An intergalactic weapon forged by the Overlords of Oa, their Emerald Knights largely fell to Starro before he came to Earth. One of these networks found Stewart five months before the present day, when John Stewart was a police officer in Coast City. He was a surprisingly devoted father to his daughter Liza, who as a teenager used crutches for her legs.
To get him to have the operation, Stewart made a deal with criminals and performed an unknown task: compromising his morals for the sake of his daughter. Stewart tried to bypass it, but the criminal’s son attempted to force Stewart to help him on the streets, prompting an enraged Stewart to beat the man with his baton. To his horror however, John had done it in front of his daughter, breaking her faith in him.
It was then that the Emerald Knights Ring of Power chose him, giving him the chance to bring law and order to the world. The criminal, enraged by Stewart’s actions, lets it slip that he can try to get them killed, including Liza. Sensing his desire to protect his daughter, the Power Ring connected with John and set the criminal on fire with his power. Fearing the chaos that could result from his death, John fully accepts the Ring of Power and becomes an Emerald Knight – taking enough time to create a new, solid build for his daughter before leaving her behind to become a “hero. “in this twisted world.
The additional element of John’s daughter Liza is an interesting deviation for the character, especially given her age. This portrays John as a much older figure in this universe than most of the other members of the team he’s worked with. This adds a real reason why he would want to use the Ring of Power and provides a tragic element to the Emerald Knight, the Ring of Power genuinely helping him try to change his life and that of his daughter. Unfortunately, it’s also evident that the Power Ring will continue to corrupt John.
Even though there were good impulses in his heart, this version of John never learned to control his emotions and overcome the limits the world was trying to place on him. Instead, he seemed like someone trying to help loved ones in a difficult world – and ended up becoming a much more threatening figure for it. While it could be argued that John is so dedicated to protecting his daughter – and by extension, his world – it also means he’s far more ruthless than most versions of John Stewart.
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