Episode Title: 'Beware My Power'
Writers: Jim Krieg and Ernie Altbacker
Directors: Sam Liu and Rick Morales
Despite the fact that Green Lantern has become one of the best selling DC Comics franchises — thanks in large part to Geoff Johns and his many collaborators — the Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds failed to get much traction last summer. Does this mean that Green Lantern is one of those concepts that only works on the printed page and not onscreen?
If Green Lantern: The Animated Series is any indication, the answer is a resounding "No." Animation legend Bruce Timm and a veteran team from other DC animated properties have returned to give Hal Jordan and company their first TV series. The rest of the DC heroes are basically left out and even a lot of the tenants established in the feature film are ignored or done away with. This isn't an origin story by any stretch.
The first episode finds Hal Jordan (Josh Keaton) on Earth, trying to balance his life as a test pilot for Carol Ferris (Jennifer Hale) with his obligations as Green Lantern. And while Hal shows off some early heroics, he still crashes his jet and makes a dinner date with Carol that he won't be able to keep thanks to a summons from the Guardians of the Universe.
On Oa, Hal is briefly court marshalled for striking a diplomat and we see that he's still the cocky guy that he is in the comic but with less douche than the Ryan Reynolds incarnation. The Guardians also come off poorly when the majority of them don't even care that Jordan was justified in his actions. The only thing that stops the trial is the arrival of a Green Lantern ring from the Frontier of Guardian space, over 18 months away at top speed.
Soon enough, the Guardian known as Ganthet (Ian Abercrombie) surreptitiously shows Jordan and Kilowog (Kevin Michael Richardson) an experimental Guardian starship; whose AI is nicknamed Aya (Grey DeLisle) by Jordan. Naturally, Jordan and Kilowog steal the ship to get to the Frontier against the orders of the Guardians.
At this point, it's clear that the ships and backgrounds on Oa are some of the most amazingly rendered features of the show. However, the characters themselves look and move like they escaped from ReBoot. Hal and the humanoid characters resemble Bruce Timm's style, but so far the characters in Green Lantern don't have the fluidity of movement or the life of the classic DC animated series by Timm. Maybe we've been spoiled by Pixar and DreamWorks, but CG animation on TV is clearly not in the same class as the feature films. I think that this show would have been better served in 2D animation with 3D used for the ships and planets.
Getting back to the main story, Jordan and Kilowog make it out to Frontier space in record time and come across Shyir Rev (Kurtwood Smith), a frontier Lantern under attack by Razer (Jason Spisak) and Zilius Zox (Tom Kenny), a pair of Red Lanterns. Some of the battle movements are a little jerky, but Jordan does get a great sequence in which recites the Lantern oath and recharges his ring while falling towards Lantern-powered Aya's engine.
Surviving the events of the first episode, the second episode finds Hal and Kilowog making contact with the Guardians about the new threat of the Red Lanterns — and naturally, the little blue bastards don't believe them — before Aya's hyperdrive is damaged by a Red Lantern probe, leaving Jordan and Kilowog stuck in Frontier space for the nine months it will take for Aya to repair herself.
In the interim, Jordan and Kilowog take the injured Lantern, Shyir Rev to his world where they meet his wife and child. They also inadvertently lead the Red Lanterns and their leader, Atrocitus (Jonathan Adams) straight to them. The Red Lanterns threaten to destroy the planet if Jordan and his associates don't surrender. And in the ensuing battle, the Green Lanterns fail and the world is obliterated.
It's an incredible scene that I initially assumed was a trick. "They couldn't have just blown up an entire planet on a animated show!" But they did, and Shyir Rev sacrifices his life to give Kilowog the time to save as many people as he could. However, that doesn't mean that he got everybody and it's a pretty huge failure to start out the show. One of the Red Lanterns, Razor is clearly conflicted by the turn of events and the story seems to be setting him up for an eventual Green Lantern turn even though he was complicit in the murder of a Green Lantern at the beginning of the first episode.
The second episode ends with Razor as a prisoner of Jordan and Kilowog, who remain trapped in the Frontier. It's a bold choice to cut Jordan off from not only Earth, but the entire Green Lantern Corps aside from Kilowog. Presumably there may be some other Frontier Green Lanterns out there, but for now it's just the two of them against the entire Red Lantern Corps. That's not a bad way to stack the deck against the heroes.
There's a lot of promise in the first two episodes of Green Lantern: The Animated Series. If some of the animation kinks can be worked out, this has the potential to be just as good as Timm's earlier animated series. It's definitely geared towards an older audience than "Batman: The Brave and The Bold" and it seems like a good companion piece for "Young Justice."
However, there were some incredibly stupid DC interstitials that featured what appears to be MAD claymation skits with five year olds providing the voices of the iconic DC characters. If the skits were funny, I wouldn't have cared. But they played like they written by five year olds too; which kind of undercut a lot of the good will that Green Lantern established.
If only they made a Power ring that can fast forward through commercials… But until then, I guess a remote will have to do.
Crave Online Rating: 8/10