Green Lantern: The Animated Series
“Beware My Power”
Written by Jim Krieg and Ernie Altbacker; directed by Sam Liu and Rick Morales
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
The Cartoon Network’s new Green Lantern series got off to a solid, if unspectacular, start. The series title evokes comparisons to the classic Batman: The Animated Series, but doesn’t quite (yet) live up to those expectations. As the first CGI-animated series based on a DC property, the producers have a lot on the line. Not to mention having to overcome the subpar box office and critical reception of this summer’s live-action Green Lantern.
The animated series goes in a different direction than the feature film, essentially becoming a Hal Jordan (Josh Keaton)/ Kilowog (Kevin Michael Richardson) buddy-cop comedy-drama sans Sinestro and other baggage. The primary villains are the Red Lanterns led by Atrocitus (Jonathan Adams), doing his best Megabyte impersonation (from another landmark CGI series, ReBoot). This is a bit of a risk since the Red Lanterns are a very recent addition to the DC Universe, and they are portrayed very violently in the comics. Some of that violence actually spills into the series, as the first scene depicts an execution (off camera, to be sure, but there is no question about what happened) of a Green Lantern at the hands of Red Lantern Zilius Zox (Tom Kenny), and it’s not hidden by euphemisms—words like “kill” and “die” are heard throughout the episode. Nevertheless, the violence is nothing compared to the gore in the comics, and it’s nice to see something that’s not just for little kids (I’m looking at you, Batman: The Brave and the Bold).
Another plus is that the episode doesn’t repeat Green Lantern’s origin, rather jumping directly into the action without a ton of exposition. It also sets up some interesting mysteries, such as why the Guardians kept the Red Lanterns and the Frontier Green Lanterns secret.
On the down side, the episode is filled with a lot of clichés, such as a train headed towards an earthquake-damaged bridge, spaceship chases through asteroids, and an interstellar spaceship stranded with no way home. The CGI is very stylistic and there is very little texture detail, making some of the characters look like Macy’s balloons.
Whether Green Lantern: The Animated Series lives up to the legacy of Batman: The Animated Series remains to be seen, but it certainly has the potential to be a breakthrough series with Bruce Timm serving as executive producer. I will be tuning in next year when the series resumes.