DVD REVIEW: Green Lantern The Animated Series - Rise of the Red Lanterns
Cartoon Network Show Takes Hal Jordan On All New Adventures...
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Everyone knows that Green Lantern is awesome. Various incarnations of the Emerald Warriors have fared pretty well in cartoons from some fun storylines in Super Friends to cool appearances in more recent projects like Superman The Animated Series and The Batman, and of course Justice League/Unlimited and the DC animated films. But now, after all these years, Green Lantern finally gets his due with a show all his own, a CG series from Warner Bros. appearing on Cartoon Network. While ostensibly aimed at kids it’s got plenty for older fans to enjoy as well from great characters to unique designs, tons of references, and much more. And now you can enjoy the action at home whenever you want when the show’s first storyline (part 1 of season 1) comes out on DVD this week: Green Lantern the Animated Series - Rise of the Red Lanterns!
Green Lantern The Animated Series brings to life not just Hal Jordan, but the whole Green Lantern Corps and its place in the larger DC Comics universe. Right from the very beginning it’s obvious that this show is going to delve much farther into the Lantern mythology than we’ve ever seen before outside of the two GL animated films. Notably, there isn’t a re-telling of Hal Jordan getting his ring; he’s already a full-fledged Green Lantern in a Corps populated by familiar faces. Also on the scene are Red Lanterns (harnessing the power of Rage), appearing for the first time outside of the comic books. They will be the main antagonists of the show, eliminating the Green Lanterns in Frontier Space to take over and make their way back to Oa. To combat the threat, impulsive veterans Hal and Kilowog steal the prototype FTL ship Interceptor and set off to save the universe.
Hal is pretty much dead on accurate to the character we’ve come to know and love from the comics, brave and confident... and also reckless and arrogant. There are plenty of jokes about his interest in women and distrust of authority, though the show includes his permanent love interest Carol Ferris. Kilowog, on the other hand, doesn’t quite fare as well in the character department. Perhaps in a move to make the show more accessible to kids, it falls into the too-easy trap of making ‘Wog the big lumbering brute. In the comics, of course, the GL drill instructor’s monstrous appearance belies his brilliant intellect. New to the show are Aya, the “female” android and avatar of the Interceptor, and Razer, a humanoid Red Lantern who allies with the GLs against his brethren. Throughout the first story arc (the 13 episodes included in the Rise of the Red Lanterns DVD set), our intrepid heroes encounter an entire panoply of characters, both heroic and villainous, while on their adventures in Frontier Space. As a comic book fan I loved seeing everyone from GLs Iolande and Mogo to Saint Walker, Thanagarians, Star Sapphires and Zamarons, and of course Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns!
With a nice mix of action, humor, intrigue, and genuine puzzle solving, Green Lantern is one of those rare shows that really do work well for audiences of both kids and adults. The first 13 episodes tackle some pretty hardcore issues like genocide, the destruction of planets, rage and its causes, love, inter-galactic travel, and universal war. But at the same time, the show is bright and colorful with big and bold characters, and not infrequent silly humor. DC and Warner Bros picked a unique CG style for the show, distinct and unique from anything else on TV. Truth be told, for fans of DC cartoons in more traditional animation styles (like Young Justice), it can take a little bit of acclimating to get used to GL. But, it does happen quickly and before you know it you’ll be familiar with the style of characters. And while other CG shows are forced to rely on obviously re-used models in different colors and textures, Green Lantern introduces new aliens, planets, and ships all the time, never feeling cheap.
Voice acting in Green Lantern is top notch with plenty of cartoon veterans. Headlining the show is Josh Keaton as Hal Jordan and Kevin Michael Richardson as Kilowog. Rounding out the main cast are Grey DeLisle as Aya and Jason Spisak as Razer. Special guests include the late great Ian Abercrombie as Ganthet, Jonathan Adams as Atrocitus, Clancy Brown as General Zartok, John DiMaggio as Kothack, Robert Englund as Myglom, Tom Kenny as a variety of characters, Wayne Knight as Captain Goray, Juliet Landau as Drusa, Phil Morris as Saint Walker, Kurtwood Smith as Shyir Rev, and more.
When Rise of the Red Lanterns is released this week you’ll be able to spot it on store shelves by the CG image of Hal and the others flying toward you. Atrocitus lurks in the background, and the show’s logo appears at the top-left corner. The back of the box has a brief description of the series and a breakdown of the included episodes along with more character images. The two discs themselves feature hand-drawn characters: Hal on disc one and Atrocitus on disc two. Special features include multiple language tracks, a digital version of the Green Lantern The Animated Series Vol. 1, #0 comic book, and trailers for various cartoons and video games.
Rise of the Lanterns is available everywhere starting on August 28th. And stay tuned for upcoming episodes including Guy Gardner, Manhunters, and the Anti-Monitor!
Review by Scott Rubin
Review Sample Courtesy of Warner Bros.