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Green Lantern: The Animated Series: "Beware My Power"

Written by Christian Hoffer on Monday, November 14 2011 and posted in Reviews

Last Friday, fans got a taste of the new Green Lantern animated cartoon.  How was it?  Click and find out!

To say that I was apprehensive about Green Lantern: The Animated Series would be an understatement.  With its simplistic CGI animation that was more akin to Reboot rather than a Pixar film and supposed sharing of themes with this summer's disaster of a live action movie, there were plenty of things to be apprehensive about.  However, the one hour pilot episode quieted those fears rather convincingly with a fun and surprisingly deep story that should provide a solid foundation upon which the rest of the series can grow.

The show follows Hal Jordan and Kilowag's investigation of the murders of Green Lanterns located in "Frontier Space", a region outside of the Green Lantern Corps' usual jurisdiction.  These Lanterns are lesser-trained and more remote than the usual Green Lanterns, making them easy prey for the Red Lanterns, the antagonists who have been picking the Lanterns off one by one.  Jordan and Kilowag steal a prototype Green Lantern Interceptor, nicknamed Aya by Hal, and set off to hunt down the Lantern killers.  However, not everything goes as smoothly as planned, as the two discover that the Red Lantern threat is much more powerful than anticipated and eventually find themselves stranded in Frontier Space in part because of Jordan's brash behavior.

The pilot episode did a wonderful job of introducing the main players of the series without rehashing origins or convoluted explanations as to the Green Lantern's purpose in space.  Jordan is brash and cocky, Kilowag is loyal and even-keeled and the antagonists are evil and full of purpose.  Both Jordan and Kilowag are given plenty of moments to shine, from Jordan flirting with the Interceptor's AI program to Kilowag's response of "I make hammers" when asked if he could replicate a complicated piece of machinery.  Also, the show made clear that the threats faced by the Green Lanterns were real with the Red Lanterns already amassing a body count of two Green Lanterns and a planet wiped in one episode alone.  Even the Red Lanterns' purpose and motivations are fleshed out in one episode.  Atrocitus's reasons for wanting the Green Lanterns dead are as valid as they come.  However, the best characterization is given to the Red Lantern Razer and the ill-fated Green Lantern Shyir Rev.  Rev's gallows humor and fearlessness actually had me hoping that he'd survive the episode, and Razer's regret for his role in Rev's death and the destruction of Rev's world showed that the antagonists in this series are more than one-dimensional villains who monologue and cackle on demand.   All in all, the show really spotlighted its characters and gave viewers that aren't fans of the Green Lantern mythos a reason to come back for more.

As for the CGI animation, I found that its simplistic style didn't hurt the series at all.  One of my main issues with CGI cartoons, especially those on television, is that the characters can come off as stiff or lifeless.  Green Lantern: The Animated Series combats this by employing a Bruce Timm-inspired look with single-color shading and minimal designs.  While the art has been unfavorably compared to the style used in Pixar's The Incredibles, I felt that it actually worked well and served as less of a distraction than other CGI cartoons such as Iron Man: Armored Adventures or Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Using cartoony designs instead of something more realistic allowed the show to avoid the complications of having your characters look soulless or in a constant state of shock or bemusement, a problem that I feel many CGI cartoons, especially those not made by Pixar, suffer from.  While the animation occasionally looked a little amateurish, especially in those pesky space scenes, I still feel that it lived up to the task and didn't hurt the show at all.

The only drawback to the episode was the Star Trek: Voyager-esque scenario Jordan and Kilowag find themselves in.  With so many rich characters in the Green Lantern Corps, I wonder how long the series can keep Hal and KIlowag separated from Oa and the rest of the Corps.  I hope that the show is able to find a way to resolve the Green Lantern's stranding in Frontier Space in a reasonable time period, or at least find a way to incorporate more established Green Lanterns into the series.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series should prove to be an exciting addition to DC's strong television lineup.  With DC Nation starting next spring, I feel like this show, along with Young Justice, will convert plenty of young viewers into fans of the DC Universe and will entertain both the old and the young.

Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer

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