Hal Jordon and his ragtag team of Lanterns battle to save the universe in the unfortunately short-lived CG-animated series.
The year 2011 seemed like the year of Green Lantern. Earlier in the year, Ryan Reynolds put on the ring in the live-action film Green Lantern. While it barely broke even at the box office and had little to no critical acclaim, it did spark a general interest in the emerald warrior. The hype surrounding the film is the reason I got into the Green Lantern comics as well as DC comics in general. I started with the Geoff Johns run of the series and got about 6 volumes in before the movie released.
While I didn’t enjoy the movie much, I did continue reading the comic book series. So hearing that there would be an animated series later in the year did catch my eye a bit. But, when the first episode had a pre-screening before its official air date, I was a bit turned off by it, to be honest. The CG looked fine but there wasn’t enough detail at the time to pull me into the aesthetic of the show. And, while I enjoyed other Bruce Timm shows like Batman: The Animated Series when I was younger, getting introduced to anime sort of spoiled me as far as art style was concerned. No longer were the exaggerated features of the DC animated series character appealing to me. So after about three episodes of the series, I put it on the back-burner for about…two years.
Within the last year or so, I slowly started to watch more and more DC animated content, whether it aired on TV or went straight to Blu-ray/DVD. And I noticed that while Marvel owns the silver screen outside of the Batman movies, DC dominates when it comes to quality animated shows and direct-to-video movies, not to mention live-action shows like Arrow. With that in mind, I decided to go back and watch what was left of the Green Lantern series since, unfortunately, it had long been cancelled by this point. And what I saw was pretty amazing.
Maybe I’m a bit out of the loop as far as shows airing on CN are concerned, but it was a welcomed shock to see a show with such a rich story being shown on the channel, even if it was for just one season. We follow Hal Jordan’s journey from turning to the Green Lantern of Earth to his battle against the Red Lantern army and onward to bigger, more personal foes. While there are stand-alone episodes that could serve as filler, there are not enough to cause any boredom, and the ones that exist tie so well to the characters that you don’t mind seeing a side mission from time to time. Events naturally progress to the point where you can look back at any point in the show and really get a scale of how things developed to this point. Yet, the escalation of events keeps you engrossed in the plot and never feels tiring.
Speaking of characters, this is something where the show simply excels. Whether its Hal, Kilowag, Razer, Aya or even Atrocitus, they are really what drives this show. And the interactions between various characters is what gives the show its spark. While you’d think that Hal would be the character who goes through the most change, this actually isn’t the case. He gets used to his role as the Green Lantern, but he pretty much keeps his personality and way of thinking throughout. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since he acts as the rock that centers the group, and the show as a whole. But its the characters around him that really do a lot of the changing, especially Razer. He may be my favorite character considering what he goes through in the series.
I take that back. Razer is awesome but Chaselon is my favorite character in this show. He may not be in the show for more than 2-3 episodes, but you can’t help but want to befriend this crystal ball. Along with the main cast, its the ones like Chaselon or the Star Sapphire Gi’ata who appear in the periphery of the main story line that give the show a depth that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. It feels like a rich universe with billions of people with varying personalities that you only see glimpses of during the Green Lantern’s travels. It’s world building like this that got me into the Green Lantern comics, so I was pleased to discover that this way of storytelling extended to the animated series.
Oh, and remember when I mentioned the CGI and how I felt iffy about it? Yeah, I got over that feeling in about three episodes. You get used to the design of the characters pretty quickly and once you do, the show’s art style really opens up. Every world felt unique and every battle looked and felt intense. Stills do not really do the show justice, but as the show progressed, a lot more detail was given to various elements. Everything just seem to come together perfectly and help elevate the story rather than hinder it with distraction. The team did a fantastic job at visually telling a story.
The Green Lantern: Animated Series stands tall as one of the great examples of superhero shows done right. Even with just one season, it proved that superhero stories are not always black and white or cheesy. Comic book readers already know this, but there aren’t many examples of this on TV. And, as evidenced by both Green Lantern and Young Justice along with others like the recently canned Beware the Bat, good animated superhero shows tend to not last long in this climate. I’m not sure why, but it seems that once a show earns a following, studios decide to pull the plug. Maybe its because cult followers alone do not help pay the bills for production. Or maybe someone higher up just doesn’t like seeing superheros on screen. Who knows? All we can do is enjoy the shows that grab us and help support the ones that have potential.