Green Lantern: The Animated Series Review

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Dreams do come true.

             The stage was set, and in 2010, history was made at the New York Comic Con.  The Green Lantern was finally going to get a new animated series.  I was on board the moment I saw Hal and Kilowog fighting manhunters.  Then, Bruce Timm made the announcement that he was going to be producing the show, and I was pumped.  Well, technically I was on board at the mere mention of the project, but Bruce’s involvement sealed the deal.  A few years later, and we were watching one of the finest shows on Cartoon Network.  Coupled with Young Justice, and things were finally looking up for DC on the channel.  We only got two seasons of quality before they were cut from the channel for still unclear reasons.  But this isn’t a rant of anger for the unjust cancellation of a well liked show, it is a review, so let’s get down to that.

 Green Lantern The Animated Series Cartoon Network artwork

Season One:

           The premier was well received.  The series started with brewing trouble as frontier lanterns were disappearing, their rings returning to Oa.  The Guardians were doing what they do best, being huge jerks and impeding the hero.  Ganthet saw that a solution was needed, and Hal was the man for the job, and he allowed Hal Jordan to take the Interceptor to investigate.  Kilowog, the training instructor for new recruits, tags along with Hal to keep him out of trouble.  They discover that the ship has an AI, whom Hal names Aya.  Hal and his new crew head off to Frontier Space to see what the problem is, where they come face to face with the Red Lanterns.  This is where the show really starts.  They meet one of the most important character, Razer, a Red Lantern who eventually joins the team.  He is shown to be conflicted over Atrocitus’ methods, even trying to goad Hal into killing him in battle to atone for his crimes.  He is captured, and given a second chance.

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As fine a crew as there ever could be.

     Through the rest of the season you see them all grow together as allies and later into friends.  A love relationship begins to bloom between Aya and Razer, as she constructs a physical body that resembles his dead lover.  At this point, she considers herself a Green Lantern, and starts helping on missions.  You find out as things progress that Aya is a very curious AI, and very much alive.  The rest of the season is a well paced scramble to keep the Red Lantern’s leader Atrocitus from destroying Oa.  We even meet Saint Walker, the first Blue Lantern.  This was a great development for the series, because the writers were using the current mythos to expand the show.  It worked well, and helped blend things together in a memorable way.  He overcame Atrocitus through willpower alone, securing peace for the galaxy.  At the conclusion of season one, Hal was promoted to Honor Guard.  This never happened in the comics, but worked for the show.  All in all, season one was well written, well acted, and well animated.

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Season Two:
The season kicks off with Hal returning home to find himself replaced by Guy Gardner.  The banter between the two was comical and well written.  It showed what could happen to any hero while they are off saving the universe.  This is a concept not normally addressed, and was a welcome edition into the story.  Here enters the manunters!  They were the Guardian’s precursor to the GLC, and were recommissioned after destroying sector 666.  After getting the band back together, Hal once again heads out to battle for the survival of the galaxy.  Tomar-Re tags along for the first few episodes, helping the team battle the manhunters and later confirms their return to the council.  We even get a brief appearance by Sinestro, voiced by Ron Pearlman.  It set some interesting things in motion for later episodes that would never make it on air.  Amongst the chaos, the relationship between Razer and Aya deepens.  This also seems to complicate the whole situation.

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            The emotional conflict soon comes to a head when the Anti-Monitor is discovered.  We find out that this giant machine is controlling the manhunters and seeks to consume the galaxy.  After their initial confrontation Hal is blasted into an alternate steam punk reality, which was very well done.  The guardian known only as “Scar” informs the team that the Anti-Monitor was the creation of a rogue member of the council long ago.  During a battle with it soon after, Aya seemingly dies saving Razer, the drama getting pretty heavy.   Of course she later returns and is rejected by Razer for unclear reasons.  This leads her to shutting her emotions off and eventually becoming the Anti-Monitor after removing it’s head in a battle.  The final few episodes are set as Anti-Aya seeks to remake the universe without emotions so no one can be hurt by them.  A note should be made to never piss off and reject the hyper advanced AI girl while in an emotionally vulnerable state.

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            The season concludes with an epic battle against Aya and her manhunters.  The team gets through to her, and Razer finally fully confesses his love as she slips into nothingness.  She sacrafices herself to end the threat, redeeming herself and healing Razer’s wounded heart at the same time.  As Razer won’t stop believing Aya might still be out there somewhere, and is followed by a blue ring as he flies out of sight.  The power of his love giving rise to a hope so profound that it has finally overcome the rage in his heart.

The Conclusion:

            First off, if you haven’t seen this show, go do it RIGHT NOW.  You are missing out on yet another great example of a network killing something before it truly became something amazing.  In my humble opinion, Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series should take their place beside Firefly in the realm of wasted potential.  That said, Josh Keaton is now my number two pick for voicing Hal next to Nathan Fillion.  Aside from the cameos by familiar characters, ones the fans have come to love, everyone seems to fit.  There was never a time when I felt the series was off or needed to be rewritten.  The voice acting was wonderful, and the show kept me tuned in for every episode.

             I personally got the feeling that the show was centered around the love story between Aya and Razer.  It was just told from Hal’s perspective, illustrated by the fact that some of the most pivotal moments centered around the two.  Whether this is true or not, I very much liked how the Star Saphires played a relatively key role.  Even Larfleeze was introduced for an episode.  The inclusion of the other corps was a welcome sight, and I hope to see more of this in the future.

            Sadly though, the show was canceled and is now gone forever.  I hope CN really takes a look at what they are doing with their programming.  If they keep canceling quality shows they will end up with a hate following like Fox after they axed Firefly.  That aside, the show was great, loyal to the source material, and memorable.  A step in the right direction for any aspiring writer, director, or artist to follow.  I can only hope that someone will re-evaluate this in the future and maybe give GLtAS another chance.  I loved seeing characters I have grown to care about show up, but was saddened to see the project go.  For this I have only one piece of advice.  Watch the show and read the comics, you will not be disappointed.

OXIDIZATION LEVEL: 5/5

Green Lantern and all images used are property of Cartoon Network, DC Comics, and Warner Brothers Entertainment.