When I first heard about Green Lantern: The Animated Series, I was a bit of a skeptic. On one hand, Green Lantern has had a sketchy past when it comes to it's media adaptions, especially when it comes to the underwhelming live action "film." Add to that fact is that the show aired on Cartoon Network (who have a habit of cancelling the shows that are actually good) and it uses CG animation. On the positive side, Bruce Timm was in the creative process. For those who do not know who Bruce Timm is, he worked on one of the best cartoons of all time, Batman: The Animated Series. Did Green Lantern: The Animated Series rise above expectations?
Just in case some do not know, here is a brief background on Green Lantern... The Green Lantern corp are an intergalactic peace keeping force whom are tasked with the galaxy's most lethal threats and are led by by an ancient race of aliens known as the Guardians of the Universe. The only weapon a Green Lantern typically has is that of a power ring, which has to be charged periodically with a lantern (hence the name.) The power ring is able construct and materialize any shape/object/weapon in their imagination out of pure energy. Each Green Lantern is assigned their own sector of the universe to defend, and at the start of the series, our heroes are being systematically hunted down. This is where we meet our protagonist, Hal Jordan (voiced by Josh Keaton.)
Hal Jordan is a test pilot working for Ferris Aircraft, with his boss/on again off again girlfriend, Carol Ferris (voiced by Jennifer Hale.) One day while flying one of the aircrafts, Hal is unexpectedly summoned to the wreck of an alien ship. When he arrives, he finds that he was summoned by a now deceased Green Lantern. When a Green Lantern dies, law dictates the ring finds a suitable successor with undeniable willpower for the fallen warrior. Hal takes the ring and becomes the Green Lantern for sector 2814, or better known as Earth.
The series picks up 18 months later as Hal is summoned to Planet Oa, the planetary citadel for the Guardians of the Universe and the home base for the Green Lantern Corp, to answer to some questionable actions. Once there, Hal learns there is a plot against the Green Lantern Corp and alongside his friend, Kiliwog (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson), steal a ship called the Inceptor, a prototype that runs on pure Green Lantern energy and that possesses an Artificial Intelligence that Hal names "Aya" (voiced by Grey DeLisle), to investigate the recent murders.
Soon after beginning their investigation, Hal and Kiliwog find who are responsible, the Red Lanterns, led by Atrocitus (voiced by Jonathan Adams) and his right hand, Razer (voiced by Jason Spisak.) Due to his home planets destruction (for which he blames the Guardians), Atrocitus has begun a ruthless crusade to kill all of the Green Lannterns, the Guardians and bring down the Green Lantern Corp. Evtually, Razer sees exactly how evil Atrocitus is and defects to the Inceptor crew and helps on Hal's mission to bring down Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns.
The last 13 are definitely my favorite of the set. This portion of the series has a lot more focus and direction in knowing where the series is going. The back half of the series kicks off with Hal coming back to Earth after his grueling fight with the Red Lanterns to find that he's been fired from his job at Ferris Aircraft and replaced as Earth's Green Lantern with the new hot shot, Guy Gardner, as he's been promoted to Honor Guard (meaning they're not restricted to a single sector like a Lantern is.) Due to this, they learn of the existence of the Anti-Monitor, a threat to every living being and controls an army of robots known as Manhunters, which were created by the Guardians, but decommissioned after a malfunction in their hardware led to them killing humans instead of protecting them, their original purpose. Hal must gather Kiliwog, Razer, Guy and Aya to protect the Earth from his greatest threat.
The first 13 and the last 13 episodes of the series are essentially 2 different shows entirely, while the first half of the show does have a major storyline, it's really there to establish and develop our principal characters. Quite a few of these episodes are self contained with "bad guys of the week" or can even be termed as filler, but even when Green Lantern: The Animated Series strays from it's main plot, it's still a ton of fun.
Something I feel I should touch on is much like other popular Cartoon Network shows like Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham, and Justice League Unlimited, Green Lantern: The Animated Series was cancelled, and LONG before it's time at that. This was an extremely well done show that should have gotten a season 2. So be warned going into this that there are a few things that were set up to lead into Season 2 that are now left unresolved, but for the most part everything wraps up nicely in the finale.
+ The biggest surprise and probably my favorite aspect of the show is Razer. Despite being a brand new character to the Green Lantern franchise, throughout the series he has the most depth and development, including Hal, going from enemy to a trusted ally with a haunting past.
+ Well executed story lines.
+ The principal cast is fantastic.
+ Voice acting was top notch.
+ Even the filler episodes are a ton of fun
+ Green Lantern Squirrel! For those who watched it, you'll know what I'm referring to.
- Some people might take issue with the CG animation, but I feel it fits perfectly with this show.
- Yet another show cancelled way before it's time. Due to this, things that were set up in Season 1 (like Sinestro) to lead into season 2 will never be resolved.
Video and Audio:
The visuals on Green Lantern are beautiful, the series is presented in 1080p High Definition 16X9 and it is stunning. The action scenes are vivid and strong with bold colors, while the characters are overall fantastically detailed. The only problem some might have with the series is the fact that they use CG animation. Once you get a few episodes in, you should be able to get used to it.
The audio is presented in a DTS HD Master track, with English audio and English subtitles only. Overall the cast is fantastic from top to bottom with the standout being Josh Keaton (who is typically known as Spiderman), whom is terrific as Hal. The music never really command the scenes and remain at the appropriate levels whether it's during an action scene or a intimate moment between the characters. There were no signs of dropouts or distortions throughout the set.
- Sadly there are no extras to be seen on this box set. It would have been nice to see some behind the scenes videos, interviews, or even some commentaries, but alas, nothing.
Much like Beware the Batman another recent fantastically done CG cartoon, Green Lantern: The Animated Series was cancelled far before it's time. It was a fantastic show with beautiful animation, great action sequences, character development and nice doses of humor. In all honesty, Green Lantern: The Animated Series was a rare gem that doesn't come along too often, easily one of the best cartoons in the past decade. For any fan of Green Lantern, do yourself a favor and check this show out. Highly recommended