Gabe Finally Watches Green Lantern: The Animated Series (2011)

The DC Animated Series that ran from the early ‘90s to well into the ‘00s has to be one of the greatest television achievements in that it was able to take a running list of series and have them all take place in one solid continuity. While literally pages upon pages of backstory exist for nearly every character from Batman, to Superman, to the rest of the Justice League, each series was also able to work on a more focused, episode-by-episode, basis. So when I realized Bruce Timm, one of the creators behind the DC Animated Universe was behind the Green Lantern Animated Series, I figured I’d finally give it a shot.

Green Lantern TAS logo

Although Green Lantern: The Animated Series is technically not considered part of the same universe as the previous DC Animated Series, it definitely has the same feel as them. Getting past the art style of the series (which is essentially a 3D rendering of the 2D art style of past DC Animated Series), it takes similar cues from past DC works in that it drops viewers in the middle of the superhero doing their superhero-ing, summing up the details you’d expect from a hero’s backstory in an offhanded comment without bogging down the flow and general story progression. You’re immediately introduced to Hal Jordan, a noble human that represents the Green Lanterns for that particular sector of the universe, and his daily routine of handling intergalactic space policing with his job as a test pilot on Earth. Soon enough, the plot is kicked into gear when word on the street is that certain somebodies have been killing Green Lanterns across the worlds. Of course Hal, with his distinctly large sense of justice, takes matters into his own hands, resulting in his stealing a Lantern ship to track down the organization behind the killings.

What really makes the first season of the series is its sense of chemistry between Hal and everyone else that finds themselves as part of his crew. Hal is joined by fellow Green Lantern and resident tough-guy Kilowog, ex-Red Lantern and source of tension Razer, and the ship itself in sexy robot girl form, Aya. The cast’s interactions with each other is interesting in that each character actually interacts directly with the other members, rather than one speaking to a general whole as other shows tend to do. Hal not only shares personal dialogue between Kilowog, but also does so on separate occasions with Razer and Aya, and the rest do the same. It’s a simple thing to take note of, yes, but it’s something that really makes you grow attached to each character and is something that I personally missed the most once I got to the second season, which leaned more towards expanding the Lanterns’ world over character building.

Another aspect of the first season’s charm was just how tightly knit the plot was. Since the cast’s ship is limited to how far it can travel, not to mention finding out who the Green Lantern killers are with as little casualties as possible, something of a time stamp is made for the heroes, resulting in episodes that just fly by. It’s not a “popcorn series” by any means, but considering I was able to plow through the entirety of the series in less than a week, it is “popcorn” in the sense that the series isn’t bogged down by slow story-telling or sluggish dialogue.

Now with all this talk focused solely on the first season, you would assume that I would have some contempt for the second and final season of the series. It’s not bad by any means, but the quirky character interactions and all-around fast storytelling did come off as noticeably lacking. I can understand that since the main cast has been established that such interactions don’t need to be made as prominent, but the storytelling at times came off as unforgivably slow, especially when you consider that the stakes have been significantly raised. Later plot developments that tie in loose ends with the first season only further remind me of how I enjoyed those earlier episodes more so than the latter ones. It was just the type of season that took some time to build steam, and even at full speed, something just felt a bit off.

Still, even with the personal complaints I had with the series, Green Lantern: The Animated Series was one of the few American animated series as of late that was well worth it. And with all the flack GL’s gotten after the unanimously horrible live action movie, I say it’s about time things start looking up for him.

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