Season 1, Episodes 1-2
(double-length series premiere)Airdate:
November 11, 2011
Someone’s killing Green Lanterns beyond the patrolled sectors, so hotshot Hal Jordan and his friend Kilowog steal an experimental spacecraft to check it out. After saving a Green Lantern’s life, they discover that their assailants are two violent Red Lanterns: Razer and Zilius Zox. The three Green Lanterns land their damaged craft on a colony world, but Red Lantern leader Atrocitus demands that they be turned over or he’ll destroy the planet. Hal gets his ass kicked by Atrocitus, but Kilowog manages to evacuate the civilians in time before the planet explodes. Hal then defeats Razer, removes his ring, and captures him. Hal and Kilowog are stuck out on the reaches of space, but plan to end the Red Lantern threat.
And thus, Green Lantern: The Animated Series has begun! Sort of. This was just a special double-length premiere, but the series proper won’t start until the spring of 2012. There’s a lot to love here, which will make waiting for the rest of the episodes all the more difficult.
Let’s talk about the art style first. It’s the classic Bruce Timm animation we all know and love from countless past shows, but rendered in 3D graphics for the first time. It works quite well, and it looks especially snazzy in high definition. You might notice that there’s not much detail to be seen, especially in closeup shots. This was clearly a deliberate aesthetic choice, and it’s for the better. The plasticky, almost Pixar-esque look gives off an air of fun and adventure.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that some design work from Green Lantern: First Flight and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights carried over into this series, such as Kilowog’s armor, the look of the Guardians, and their chamber. It mixes perfectly with the Timm style, as well as the new look for Oa in this series. The buildings and other structures look like something straight out of Tron.
The voice acting was spot-on, with my only nit being Jonathan Adams as Atrocitus. He sounds just a bit too similar to Kevin Michael Richardson’s portrayal of Kilowog. Everyone else did a fantastic job (especially Josh Keaton as Hal), and every character sounded convincing. I find it almost hard to believe that Tom Kenny, the voice of
Red Lantern Pac-Man Zilius Zox, is also the voice of Spongebob Squarepants. (Maybe those two should hang out.)
Hal, our series hero, comes across as arrogant yet likeable. He’s cocky behind the control stick of a jet and when wielding a Green Lantern power ring, but he’s still got a lot to learn. He flew right into battle with the Red Lanterns and nearly got himself killed! When he squared off against Atrocitus, he was lucky to have survived. How many cartoons can you think of where the hero gets his clock cleaned more than once in the premiere episode? Hal’s got very human flaws, and that’s what makes him interesting.
Kilowog seems like a simpleton for mainly making hammers, but he clearly does this because it’s very effective. Look at all the scenes where he beats on Razer and Zilius Zox! He’s the heavy, but his veteran Green Lantern status shines through in everything he does, and he knows Hal’s motives like the back of his hand. Hal and Kilowog make perfect “buddy cops” for this series; all we need is for Kilowog to grumble that he’s getting too old for this shit.
Even the lighthearted moments in “Beware My Power” were great. Hal’s relationship with Carol Ferris was good to see, but the funniest scene was Kilowog and Rev making fun of Hal’s mask and secret identity. Rarely, if ever, do we see alien Lanterns balancing a double life, and it was amusing to see other Corpsmen picking on Hal for such a human eccentricity.
I’m definitely liking the character of Razer, and this is from someone who’s not a big fan of the comic book Red Lanterns. His brooding and guilty conscience makes for some interesting storytelling, and I’m looking forward to seeing his character grow as the series goes forward. Not only that, he’s a rookie Red Lantern, mirroring Hal’s own status within the Green Lantern Corps. As such, it’ll be great fun to see these two compared and contrasted in future episodes. I’m sure at some point we’ll see just how Razer became a Red Lantern; you know me, I love character development!
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Red Lanterns in this series are very different than their comic book counterparts. Sure, they’re still red and angry, but that’s about where the similarities end. Their behavior, motives, and even their rings have seen some heavy changes. The Red Lanterns don’t use constructs, they’re in full possession of their mental faculties, and removing their rings does not kill them. In fact, they’re more like the Sinestro Corps in that they want to overthrow the Green Lanterns and take over the universe. Still, I like how they’re depicted as a genuine threat; Kilowog, Hal, and Rev could barely hold off only two Red Lanterns, and Hal really got the crap kicked out of him by Atrocitus.
I like these changes to the Red Lantern Corps, as they just seem like more interesting villains this way. They’re being changed in the comics, as well, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence. Let’s just hope that the comic transition improves a bit, as it’s been quite shaky in the pages of Red Lanterns.
Atrocitus not only sounds like Kratos from God of War, he also looks a lot like him; they even both have a prominent scar on the right side of their faces! (Kratos is certainly more angry, though.) Atrocitus is shaping up to be a good fit for the series’ main villain. I know, many of you are hoping for another well-known evil ringslinger, but rumor has it that the producers were specifically asked by DC Comics not to feature Sinestro. (I think he’ll show up, regardless; first as a Green Lantern, then as a lone renegade without a Corps.)
There’s a few other things in this premiere that might be off-putting to some hardcore fans; namely, the apparent omission of many classic Green Lantern concepts from the comic books. For example, there is no mention of will or rage being the rings’ power source. How and why power rings create constructs is unexplained. Hal didn’t even get an origin flashback! What gives?!
First of all, try to remember that this is a kids’ show first and foremost. Absolutely everything we love about the Green Lantern Corps is not going to make it in; there’s just too much. That’s not to say that Green Lantern: The Animated Series is dumbed down, but it makes a lot more sense that the powers-that-be will likely introduce other concepts as needed as the series progresses, rather than packing all of the mythos into the premiere episode. This is rare in television (especially in cartoons), but it’s a fine storytelling method, as well as making it easier for younger viewers to follow along.
If “Beware My Power” is any indication, Green Lantern: The Animated Series is off to a fine start. There’s plenty of cool takes on the lore for longtime fans, and kids in particular are really going to love this.