Part of the Cartoon Network's DC Nation line up, Green Lantern: The Animated Series was previewed in November of 2011 but didn't technically properly debut on the channel until March of 2012, making this a fairly quick broadcast to DVD transition for the series. Done entirely in computer graphics, the design work may look familiar to long time fans of DC's animated properties because it was developed by Bruce Timm (in addition to Giancarlo Volpe and Jim Krieg), the man behind such popular series' as Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League. Timm's track record with this type of material has been very good so far and thankfully this more recent effort continues that winning streak. While Green Lantern: The Animated Series may be geared towards a younger demographic, it's still very much in the spirit of the comic books that inspired it and a lot of fun to watch.
The series more or less hits the ground running, not bothering with the traditional origin story (it was covered in the animated feature Green Lantern: First Flight which came out in 2009) as it introduces us to Hal Jordan (voiced by Josh Keaton), the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 who, along with his fellow Lantern, an alien named Kilowog (Kevin Michael Richardson), uses the power of the Green Lantern to protect their sector from the ongoing menace of the Red Lanterns, lead by Atrocitus (Jonathan Adams). Hal was the first human being to be appointed a Green Lantern by the Guardians Of The Universe and he is widely regarded as one of the best in the universe. He and Kilowog, an older Green Lantern that has a lot of experience training, make great partners but Kilowog tends to be a stickler for the rule book whereas Hal is more likely to shoot from the hip. Both are quite noble, with Hal obviously a man of great bravery and Kilowog an intelligent and loyal accomplice. When Hal learns that a fellow Lantern was killed in action, he steals a ship called The Interceptor and uses it to help find those responsible for the crime in hopes of bringing them to justice. Along with Kilowog, two other characters, a sentient machine on board named Aya (Grey DeLisle) and a former Red Lantern gone good named Razer (Jason Spisak) round out the core cast of characters.
Like any new series, Green Lantern: The Animated Series takes a couple of episodes to find its stroll but once it does, it runs at a good pace. The series establishes the characters well in the first few episodes and then does a good job of expanding the cast and the series' universe over the episodes that follow. The plots are never overly complicated, this is, after all, geared towards a younger demographic, but the storylines are interesting enough that older viewers will appreciate what the production team pull off here. The characters have enough development and back story to them that more often than not they're quite interesting. Additionally, the voice actors that have been recruited for the series do a great job of bringing the characters to life, particularly Josh Keaton as Hal Jordan and Kevin Michael Richardson as Kilowog. There's a lot of back and forth between these two characters specifically and as such it's of significant importance that the voice actors give their characters the sufficient amount of personality and spirit - thankfully, these two pull it off very effectively.
The thirteen episodes that make up Green Lantern: The Animated Series - Season One, Part One are spread across the two discs in the set as follows:
Beware My Power... Green Lantern's Light: Part One Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern in charge of guarding Earth, hears that other Green Lantern's have been killed. He and his partner, Kilowog, head into space to help out fellow Lantern Shyir.
Beware My Power... Green Lantern's Light: Part Two Picking up where the last episode left off, Hal winds up stranded in the deep reaches of space, too far from the home world of Oa for help, where he has to stop Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns from obliterating an entire space colony.
Razer's Edge After defeating and capturing a Red Lantern named Razer, Hal and Kilowog deliver him to a prison colony on an asteroid. They soon learn that the prisoners are being tortured and so they head back to put a stop to it but are captured with only Razer and Aya available to help.
Into The Abyss With Razer now working alongside Hal and Kilowog, the three head out into space to rescue a ship stuck in a gravitational pull. Though Razer is doing everything Hal had hoped, Kilowog is understandably still suspicious of their former foe.
Heir Apparent Hal becomes interested in an alien princess but in order to be able to have a shot with her, he must find and defeat the malicious alien overlord who rules over her and everyone around her.
Lost Planet Hal and Kilowog take new recruit Razer into space to follow a Green Lantern ring which takes them to a strange planet. Here they try to find the new Green Lantern they were expecting to find but instead meet two strange beings, Mogo and Saint Walker.
Reckoning Razer, now completely cooperative with the Green Lanterns, decides that make up for his past he should find Atrocitus and bring him to justice. He heads out to find his former commander but soon winds up in deep trouble, having bitten off more than he can chew.
Fear Itself Hal and Kilowog are out on what seems like a random expedition but soon find through their travels that they are caught in between a horrible war taking place between two different alien races.
...In Love And War Hal, Kilowog and Razer and the rest of the crew meet up with a group called The Star Sapphires, who have power rings of their own. They are then convinced to visit their home on the planet Zamaron, where Hal runs into old flame Carol Ferris!
Regime Change The queen of the planet Bestrassus, Queen Lolande, becomes concerned when her brother, Ragnar, takes up with the villainous Red Lanterns - before long she's convinced Hal to do whatever he and his team can to make him see the error of his ways.
Flight Club The Red Lanterns have become increasingly more powerful as this episode begins, and have set up a barrier that protects them from the influence of the Guardians Of The Galaxy. Hal and his crew set out to find the code that will allow them to get through that barrier and stop them.
Invasion The Red Lanterns decide to launch a full out assult on Oa, the home planet of the Green Lanterns. Atrocitus and his team are bent on complete and utter destruction while Hal leads as many of the Green Lanterns as he can into battle against them.
Homecoming The battle that began in the last episode spills into this one and the fate of Oa and the Green Lanterns themselves hangs in the balance of the conflict...
In terms of the production values, it might take some viewers a little while to get used to the CGI world and the computer generated denizens that populate it. The visuals definitely improve as the series moves on and soon enough we're pulled into a full developed world and the fact that it's all done with computers is quickly lost and becomes irrelevant. Likewise, while most of the episodes have self contained stories, there is some interesting and fairly rewarding continuity that develops as the series progresses. Characters grow and develop relationships with one another and protagonists deal with increasingly difficult antagonists in decidedly more interesting ways as these relationships develop. There's obviously a lot of thought put into the storytelling here, and interestingly enough for a kid's show, actions have consequences and good doesn't automatically always triumph over evil. This gives the series a bit of maturity that a lot of other animated shows for a younger demographic sometimes lack.
Ultimately, this turns out to be Green Lantern done right. Fans of the comics will obviously have their favorite characters, some of whom haven't appeared in the series yet and some of whom probably never will, but this series definitely captures the comics' sense of adventure. It's portrayal of space as a vast and interesting place plays into some nice science fiction aspects that the show exploits nicely and the whole 'intergalactic police department' angle that the series is based around works well in this context. The introduction of the new characters, Aya and Razer, allows the writers to stretch their wings past the confines of the comic books and tie new adventures and new storylines to the series without doing harm to the established characters like Hal and Kilowog. With this batch of episodes the series is set up nicely and well defined, here's hoping the second set comes along soon and that the series continues in the strong direction that it has started with.
Green Lantern: The Animated Series arrives on DVD in a very nice 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that presents the content, which is created entirely using computer graphics, in very nice, clean, detailed condition. As you'd expect, there are no images with debris or dirt, the image is immaculate in that regard. Colors are nicely reproduced and black levels are strong throughout. Some minor shimmering is evident here and there but it's never particularly distracting. This probably looks about as good as it can on standard definition DVD.
The primary mix here is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround Mix, but a Spanish dubbed track is also provided in the same format and optional subtitles are offered up in both languages. Again, the quality is good - the score in particular has a lot of strength to it while the voice actors who play the various characters in the series sound nice and strong as well. The sound effects are mixed in nicely and pack a bit of a punch but the levels remain consistently balanced so that nobody winds up buried in the mix and the dialogue stays easily discernible throughout the show, even during the more action intensive moments.
Extras are slim on this set, but aside from some very basic menus and episode/chapter selection, we do get a single issue digital comic entitled Green Lantern: The Animated Series Vol. 1, #0. If you dig the series it's worth checking out and they've done a good job bringing it to digital life. A few unrelated trailers are also included.
Green Lantern: The Animated Series - Season One, Part One looks and sounds very good on DVD but there are definitely going to be those who would have rather seen the entire season presented complete and with a Blu-ray option - and understandably so, the show is a good one and is deserving of said treatment. The lack of any substantial extras is also a strike against it, but the quality of the series stands on its own and based on that quality, this set comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.