A few weeks ago, Cartoon Network updated their DC Nation time block on Saturday mornings. They premiered a new season of the popular animated series Young Justice following the series premier of the new Green Lantern animated series.
I’ll be honest. The only reason I started recording DC Nation was to see the new Teen Titan shorts. I love the Teen Titan animated series and was excited to see those characters back, even if only in minute-long bites. Rather than fast forward through the shows to get to the shorts, I decided to give Green Lantern and Young Justice a try.
You have to understand that I know almost nothing about these shows and these characters. I know who Batman, Robin, and Superman are from the movies. I don’t recall ever hearing the words ‘green’ and ‘lantern’ together in a sentence before the Ryan Reynolds movie came out. I haven’t read the comics and I don’t know the history, so I get to see these with the open-minded excitement of a child.
My first impression of Green Lantern was… Wow. The animation is phenomenal. The story is great. They are only five episodes into the series, but I’m invested. I want to know where this goes, if they accomplish what they set out to do. The characters are amazing. They’re rich and flawed and emotional. They aren’t two dimensional, which is what I guess I was expecting from a superhero cartoon.
In the first episode, really in the first five minutes of the first episode, we learn that Hal Jordan, test pilot of fighter jets for the military, is a Green Lantern – a hero whose ring gives him extraordinary powers. When an earthquake takes out a bridge just as a train is speeding toward it, Hal flies to the rescue, making a bridge with the green energy of his ring so the train can cross safely. (We don’t find out until later in the series that the green energy thing is called a construct.) As it always happens, just when he’s about to get to kiss the girl, in this case his boss Carol, his ring starts flashing and he has to take off. Literally. As in into outer space. As long as he is decked out as a Green Lantern, he doesn’t need a space ship or space suit to move through space. He talks to his ring and we find out he’s being called back to the Green Lantern home world, Oa.
That’s a lot of information to process in five minutes, but it doesn’t stop there. It seems that there are Green Lanterns being killed out in the far reaches of the galaxy, referred to as frontier space. The guys in charge of the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians, have known about the deaths for a while, but didn’t bother to tell anyone or try to do anything about it. That doesn’t sit well with Hal and fellow Green Lantern Kilowog. They want to do something about it, at least find out what’s killing them so they can make a plan to stop it.
Unfortunately, it takes a long time to get to frontier space unless you use a really awesome, untested, probably unsafe but super fast prototype ship that runs on the same green energy that powers their rings. The Interceptor is one such ship, built and housed on Oa, but the Guardians would never agree to let Hal and Kilowog test it, let alone use it to track down the killer.
So they steal it.
These are the good guys and they just stole a space ship from the guys in charge. The guys in charge who kept the deaths of their fellow Lanterns a secret. And that’s in the first ten minutes of the first episode.
That is why I like this show. The characters aren’t just “good guys” or “bad guys”. They are people, characters who are both good and bad, who makes decisions based on emotion and experience rather than rational thought and logic. The character of Razor is introduced in the first episode as a bad guy, but by the third episode is fighting at Hal’s side. The people behind this cartoon have done something ridiculously hard and made it look easy: They took alien superheros, totally unbelievable concepts, and made them real.
If you haven’t caught this new series, I highly recommend you check it out. I don’t know if it stays true to the history established in the comics, but I know it’s good all on its own. If you have seen the show, what do you think? Is it what you expected? Let me know in the comments.
I’ll leave you today with a note from my daughter:
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