DC Comics track record when it comes to animation has been great. They continually blow the competition out of the water, and it goes back a long time. Marvel has had a few successes, but its rare for a Marvel show to last more than 2 seasons, where its rare for a DC show to be canceled before 4. Everybody remembers Super Friends, and Batman: The Animated Series is widely considered to be the definitive Batman series.
So with the new Green Lantern cartoon sharing the title of The Animated Series, it shows a certain confidence by the DC Universe team in their newest show. And it couldn’t happen at a better time. Green Lantern has been reaching new levels of popularity recently, but has never had an animated series devoted strictly to him. When the CG series was announced there was a lot of debate over the animation, but more were cautiously optimistic than negatively opposed. Well, the wait is over.
Green Lantern: The Animated Series premiered on Cartoon Network on Friday with a 1 hour special. It starts off in the far reaches of space, and we witness a trap laid for an unknown Green Lantern by a pair of Red Lanterns. It is a short fight, and despite a lot of mystery behind their actions, its clear they live to destroy Green Lanterns. We then witness the death of this Green Lantern at their hands, and are led to believe this isn’t the first. This sets off the premise of the whole episode, and presumably much of the series.
The story then moves to Earth, where hotshot test pilot Hal Jordan (voiced by Spectacular Spider-Man‘s Josh Keaton) is running the latest plane from Ferris Aircraft through its paces. We are introduced to Carol Ferris (voiced by Jennifer Hale), Hal’s long time love, and soon enough we get to see Earth’s Green Lantern in action. An earthquake destroys a bridge that a train is set to go over, so Hal abandons the jet to save the train, and we get our first look at some constructs. GL saves the day, but at the expense of the billion dollar jet, which he of course gets away with by schmoozing his boss. A well placed call from OA and GL is out of trouble and on his way to the HQ of the Green Lantern Corps.
There we get the general information download; who the Guardians of the Universe are, the details of the Green Lantern Corps, and we get a nice taste of Hal Jordan’s attitude amongst his alien brethren. We meet Kilowog (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) and Salaak, mainstays from the comics series, and learn that a number of GL’s have died on the outskirts of space. Unfortunately, this is so far away that it would take 18 months for the GL’s to make it there.
Unless they happen to have a newly designed space ship that runs on the green power of the rings and is the fastest ever made. Oh, they have a newly designed space ship that runs on the green power of the rings and is the fastest ever made. So one of the Guardians named Ganthet shows Hal and Kilowog the ship, but doesn’t give them any authorization to go investigate the murdered GL’s. If anybody knows Hal Jordan at all, they know he’s about ready to test pilot that ship right to the frontier. Kilowog figures it out, and joins him on the newly christened Aya (after AI, voiced by Grey DeLisle) The guardians attempt to stop him, but Hal kicks the warp to 88 and takes off to the frontier.
And just like that, the show takes on a new focus. This isn’t going to be about GL on earth, or even working with the Corps. With the introduction of Aya this feels oddly like an episode of The Clone Wars, and all pretenses for the direction of the series go out the window. The ship and crew arrive (eventually) in frontier space, where they detect another Green Lantern, who happens to be fighting for his life against the Red Lanterns. Hal and Kilowog intervene, and manage to save Shyir Rev (voiced by
Red Foreman Kurtwood Smith) while learning the identities of the ‘Green Lantern Killers’.
Hal transmits this info to the Guardians, saving himself from a flurry of treason charges, when Aya and the GL’s are scanned by a Red Lantern probe. Hal refuses to let one get away, and destroys the probe, showcasing one of the coolest features of Aya. Hal is able to make constructs with his ring through the ship, in this case a giant drill that allows them to pass through an asteroid unharmed.
Unfortunately, the probe was able to get a couple of shots off, damaging the warp drive and stranding them 18 months away from Oa. Time until repaired? 9 months. Now all of a sudden it’s like we’re watching an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, and the dynamics of the show change once again. Everything I thought this series was going to be has been turned on its head, and this was all in the first half of the 2-part episode.
The remaining half of the show further introduces us to Atrocitus and his Red Lanterns, Zilius Zox (voiced by Spongebob Squarepants himself, Tom Kenny) and Razer (voiced by Jason Spisak), who are on a mission to destroy the Green Lanterns for destroying their world. We learn a bit more about Kilowog and his people, who were also destroyed, and we meet Rev’s race, where Aya and team are waiting while Rev gets medical attention.
Unfortunately, the probe was effective in its mission and planted a tracker on Aya, leading the Red Lantern’s and their huge home base Shard to the planet. The RL’s leave an ultimatum that if the GL’s are not presented to them, they will destroy the planet. The GL’s launch an offensive against Razer, Zilius, and Atrocitus, with Hal leading the attack. As Shard moves away from the planet, Hal follows, intent on catching the Red Lanterns.
This comes at a price, as Kilowog and Rev are unable to stop the machine, although both are able to make the Red Lantern Razer question his loyalties. With no other options, Rev sacrifices himself so Kilowog is able to save his people, and Hal is able to capture and de-ring Raja, holding him captive on Aya. So now we are left with two GL’s, along with Aya vowing to fight the Red Lantern’s in Frontier space, a year and a half away from any back-up. We are left with a final question; what are they going to do with the Red Lantern they captured?
This is a great direction for the show, as its not another dreaded origin story, and it takes the characters into a new and unknown conflict. While I’m sure having GL on Earth would have also been a decent show, I love the fact that pilot Hal Jordan gets his kick ass space ship, with his buddy Kilowog along for the ride as they fight an insurmountable force in the Red Lanterns.
The animation is crisp, and reminiscent of Bruce Timm’s Batman and Superman designs, which makes sense as he is producing the show. The CG offers a lot of cool animations, and Aya is a well-constructed beauty of a ship. One of my main gripes which I’m sure will be resolved in future episodes is the lack of constructs used. We see a few cool examples, but for the most part, especially during fight scenes, they rely on beams of light as opposed to cool constructs. Green Lanterns aren’t cool because they can shoot a beam of light at you, they’re cool because they can turn that beam of light in a giant mech that shoots smaller mechs at you. Well, not quite, but how awesome would that be?
Hal’s faults are evident right away, and his ego takes center stage. The voice acting is pretty good, and any animation fan can attest to the number of big name voice actors. Keaton gives us Hal’s attitude and humor which displays itself immediately, in a very believable way. Kevin Michael Richardson delivers Kilowog’s lines in the way most fans will be accustomed too while offering a viewpoint separate from our more human understanding of things.
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the premiere of Green Lantern: The Animated Series. It surprised me, kept me entertained, and opened the door to a lot of untapped potential. And it wasn’t an origin story! The Green Lantern origin has been done to death lately, so it was nice to hop right into the action.
I give the season premiere an unprecedented (for me) 5 out of 5 Grizzly’s.
It set up the series perfectly while introducing the necessary characters in a fashion that didn’t drag the episode down. So far the series is deserving and representative of the DC Animated Universe we have all come to know and love.
Can’t wait until 2012 when the actual series starts airing!