Power Rings for Everybody!
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Green Lantern the Animated Series was a pleasant surprise, and for the most part surprisingly good. It only teased you briefly with a Green Lantern universe cliché before rocketing you away (literally) on a new adventure.
The entire season in an emerald sentence: Outside of Guardian space, there are “frontier” Green Lanterns embroiled in a nasty war with vengeance driven Red Lanterns, although they are too far away to help until a friendly Guardian encourages Hal Jordan and Kilowog to steal an experimental ship run by a female AI who wants to be human (what else) and they arrive, marooned (conveniently) for the length of the season, where they make unlikely allies, encounter multiple shades of power ring, and teach the true meaning of love to an AI, a heartbroken Red Lantern, and the seriously messed-up Star Sapphires.
Aya the AI sounds a lot like this:
Placing the setting in a far-off region helps the producers with one Green Lantern problem. That being the literal army of Green Lanterns ready to jump in and aid our heroes if called upon. That was good, since life and death were on the line in many of the episodes. We give the show props for mature themes and scenarios that included the vengeful death of entire planets, self-sacrifice for family, lost love, …and the rather cruel affection of the Star Sapphires.
One Green Lantern cliché that they did not avoid was the plethora of power rings. We say this out of well-rounded general knowledge of that universe, not out of detailed comic book information. So the Green Lanterns with their green power rings are fighting Red Lanterns with their red power rings. We know that Hal Jordan’s arch enemy, Sinestro uses a yellow power ring. And from a source we cannot even guess, someone becomes a Blue Lantern. Yet there is still one entry to make our kaleidoscope complete.
The Star Sapphires are a dangerously superpowered order of women scorned by men. They are bitter, good-looking shrews with the power to transport over great distances using the power of their misguided notion of love. Oh, and of course they use purple power rings. Hal Jordan’s sometimes angry girlfriend is transported to them and turned into a scornful Star Sapphire. The order apparently believed that love entailed imprisoning their men forever in crystal, and tapping their life energy. Some of you may be able to relate.
The character art direction was un-apologetically stylized and fun, not lacking in any department. Human characters looked sufficiently manly or pretty, many of the humanoid aliens looked sufficiently–er, alien. And even the alien girls looked pretty. Ah, except for Kilowog’s new girlfriend (just imagine a female version of him) who also stupefyingly gets turned into a Star Sapphire.
The art direction for settings, ships, camerawork and special effects was also handled well with no glaring faults. We felt like they showed us a lot in 13 episodes. Jam packed into them were numerous planets, multiple cultures, spaced stations and alien nasties. Oh, and space battles, lots of space battles.
You may ask to what extent a green energy cannon manifestation can damage a ship of metal and energy shields. Issues like that highlight the sometimes amorphous nature of the Green Lantern’s power. It can make the drama harder to frame, so the show occasionally falls back on more solid plot devices like rings running out of power, or areas that block their energy.
A fine climax, played out with impressive visual scale. We would recommend this season. It has action enough for younger viewers, and maturity enough for the rest.