TV Review: ‘Green Lantern: The Animated Series – Beware My Power: Part 1’

This past weekend Cartoon Network aired a one-hour special showcasing their next DC animated series, Green Lantern. Cartoon Network has a long history of eclectic and generally fantastic shows based on DC characters, and 2012 looks to be a banner year for Warner’s Super Hero stable.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series begins with this new special, setting up a  plot that sees Hal and Kilowog in deep “frontier space” fighting against the Red Lanterns. The show itself will air regularly in 2012 as a marquee show in Carton Network’s new DC Nation programming. It joins Young Justice and a slew of shorts, news and other fun DC tidbits next year.

The most interesting thing about this series is that for the first time ever a Bruce Timm produced show is animated in full CG. Timm’s artistic style is clearly the inspiration for the designs and despite the full CG animation there is clearly an effort to make this show fit alongside the others in the pantheon of Timm-verse shows.

I was most interested in seeing how the Timm style fit in a CG animated world, would the simple and stylistic approach work in this medium? I think for the most part it actually worked really well, like the Star Wars: Clone Wars series, itself a CG interpretation of an established style, it’s success is born from it’s familiarity. I know what a Timm Hal Jordan or Kilowog should look like, and this show more or less gives you exactly what you expect.

It actually brings a whole new perspective to the Timm style, I never really connected the parallels between his works and The Incredibles, but watching this show makes the comparisons unmistakable. The animation is fluid and the action is top notch, it might take a little getting used to, but having a working appreciation for previous DC Animated Universe projects helps smooth that over.

Aside from the pretty animation, I also really appreciated a Green Lantern tale that wasn’t set on earth and had nothing to do with Sinestro. The main villains here are the Red Lanterns, a bold choice considering their ruthlessness in the comic books. The producers don’t shy away from Atrocitus’ willingness to murder an entire planet worth of people in the name of his revenge. His motivations are well laid out, and his actions make him out to be one of the better villains since the classic Justice League Unlimited days.

There is also a really great side story set up with a Red Lantern who is less willing to murder so many innocents in the name of ‘righteous vengeance.’ Razer is played as a strong, conflicted young man who is hopefully going to play a big role in the rest of the series. It will be very interesting to see a darker character who generally works for good, but isn’t as squeaky clean as the noble Lanterns.

The voice acting in this episode is also a high point, although it usually is with these Timm produced animated shows. Josh Keaton plays Hal Jordan, and I was especially surprised by how much he became Hal. Keaton is best known for playing the lead in another successful comic inspired animated show, The Spectacular Spider-Man. Keaton’s youthful Peter Parker is miles from the cocksure and savy Hal Jordan, but he plays both roles very well.

The always dependable Kevin Micheal Richardson plays a suitably gruff Kilowog and any chance to hear Tom Kenny work beyond his Sponge Bob is a pleasant day. The first episode also has a wonderful supporting role voiced by Kurtwood Smith, which proves again that great actors really bring good animation to the next level as excellent entertainment.

The other main aspect of the show that really helps sell it as an action epic is the score. Usually the score for TV animation is a tough nut to crack. Often the composers have little time and even smaller budgets, so getting a big and grandiose space opera musical sound can be difficult. Frederik Wiedmann has done a tremendous job of crafting a score worthy of the deep space epicness of Green Lantern.

My main issue with the first episode is that it leaves the world of Oa and the many exotic Lanterns too quickly. I really hope the plot of the season doesn’t just keep Hal and Kilowog in the Frontier Space fighting Red Lanterns. It is cool to see, but it seems rather limiting considering how expansive the world of Green Lantern really is. I would love to see this show go deep into the multiple colored corps and the hundreds of different kinds of Lanterns in each corps.

So for now we have a rousing first episode that certainly captures my attention. I certainly hope they don’t spend too much time early on with the misadventures of Hal and Kilowog  and bring the action back to established areas of the Green Lantern, but they have a good ground work laid down. This could end up as one of the most bold and exciting new shows of the next year, you should do yourself a favor and check it out.

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