Apr 16

Cartoon Review – Green Lantern TAS 2nd ½

The CGI Green Lantern series developed by Bruce Timm, Giancarlo Volpe, and Jim Krieg, has wrapped up so it’s time to look back at the second half of the Green Lantern cartoon and see if it’s gotten any better.

After the Red Lantern invasion was stopped Hal Jordon goes back to Earth and sees he’s been replaced by Guy Gardner, the greatest Green Lantern, and finds an even great threat to the galaxy has just awakened. The Manhunters have been reactivated. They’re robots built by the Guardians as a failed attempt to police the galaxy before they made the Green Lantern Corp. The Manhunters went rogue, deeming all life and emotions as the reason for crime so they decided to try and wipe out all sentient life. The Guardians stopped them but some survived in hidden “temples” deactivated. A being called the Anti-Monitor is reactivating the Manhunters and it’s causing havoc.

The Anti-Monitor is a bit of a weak villain as he’s essentially Galactus as a recurring villain, which doesn’t really work. However he’s not the main villain of the story and when that villain shows up things get a lot better. The Manhunters themselves are a bit of an odd duck since they are meant to be this unstoppable force, and it seems that way when they first appear, but as time goes on it seems easy to kill them. They keep talking about how big and powerful they are, but seeing them being constantly ripped up in a few seconds dilutes the ‘powerful foe’ image.

They do ramp up quite a bit, in terms of plot and writing quality, around episode 19 “Loss” and the show is much more intense because of it. It’s still got the same sort of safe and conventional writing but it’s a lot tighter and the story arc is more focused. But it did have the problem of unneeded exposition to explain to the audience what had happened in the previous episode. On it’s own it would be understandable but the show also did “previously on” segments too which made it a bit redundant. After a certain point it seemed like every episode started with an exposition dump about what had happened. Doing one or the other would’ve worked but both together really got in each others way. There’s more of a concrete build-up to the final than the previous story arc. However there was a lot of melodrama which became pivotal to the plot, so even though it was necessary it was forced.

The final was pretty good as a final. It was a bit rushed in parts and some of it could’ve been set-up better throughout the previous episodes, especially with how they ended the Manhunters since that mostly did come out of nowhere. The main plot and resolution however was good for a final.

The characters were about the same from before. Razer and Aya are the most developed and three-dimensional out of the group and Hal and Kilowog got little in the way of characterisation. They all perform well together and bounce off each other well, which makes for a good group dynamic. Though it seems Kilowog is less of a Worf now as he’s not getting beat up as much to show how bad the threat is. That’s a big improvement on his role in the show.

Razer is trying to find purpose in his life now that the Red Lantern threat is over as well as come to terms with his feels for Aya. This is also where the melodrama comes in because of Razer’s reasons for not confessing his love for her. The denial of it is a step backwards since he was outright told he loves her and presented with evidence of this at the end of the last story arc, it was a plot point. But it was needed to make the plot work, I just wish there’d been less forced melodrama involved with it.

What they did with Aya was interesting with her constant learning how to handle these emotions that are new to her. Trying to make sense of her feeling for Razer and why he’s an ass to her at times. Though I did get annoyed at the show’s treatment of artificial life as not actually life, or at least that was how it was presented. Hal didn’t seem to share that point of view but Razer and the show seemed to so it felt off to me.

The animation was of the same quality as before but did manage to introduce a lot of new characters considering the budget restrictions. Because of it being a CGI show there was budget limitations on how many characters could be in an episode, since they’d need to create models for every new character. So it is surprising how many new characters we got to see and that they pulled off a large space battle between the Manhunters and the Green Lantern Corp, which had various different Lanterns which are all different shapes and sizes for the diverse alien races of the Corp. The designs did also get less of a painted on style for the clothes in the new characters.

The best episode of the series was “Steam Lantern” where Hal get’s sent to another universe where he finds a Steampunk planet with its own Lantern hero, who is using Steampunk instead of Green Energy. It’s really fun and a very tight one off episode and even if you don’t watch the show I think you should at least given this episode a try.

Overall this was a marked improvement over the first half and the show did make the leap into above average. While I had problems with the melodrama the show was definitely improved because of the consequences of it. The show stepped up and improved on its initial failings. It is something I’d recommend for a good DC cartoon now and didn’t deserve to get the treatment it did from Cartoon Network and the toy distributers that linked it to the failed Green Lantern movie. It had its problems but was a fun little show that got to the core of the franchise and was building up a great wider universe. While at the beginning its reach seemed to exceed its grasp here I don’t think that happened. I shall miss this great show.