Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Netflix Nonsense - Green Lantern: The Animated Series

Welcome back to Netflix Nonsense, where I sit and blog about what I just caught on Netflix.  Gotta get my $8/month worth, after all!  Now that I am Netflix-enabled, I guess that means it's time I indulge in that proud Netflix tradition of binging on an entire TV series.  And what better way to star than with Green Lantern: The Animated Series.

Premiering in the fall of 2011 to help launch the Cartoon Network's DC Nation block, and with DC animation legend Bruce Timm at the helm, Green Lantern: The Animated Series aimed to do for Green Lantern what Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series did.  On top of that, it was to be DC's first computer animated TV series.  Needless to say, computer animation was the way to go for all this outer space action.

Sadly, with such great talent behind it, Green Lantern only lasted one season of 26 episodes.  Hoping to springboard off the live action Ryan Reynolds movie, but a so-so reception to the movie resulted in so-so merchandise sales, leading the brass at the Cartoon Network to write off the series as being so-so.  Which is a shame, because the series is pretty damn good.

The series follows the adventures of Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of Sector 2814, as he leads his crack team across the galaxy fighting all manner of threats.  The series was highly serialized, and over the 26 episodes, was divided into 2, 13-episode story arcs.  Story arc number had Hal and his team fighting the growing ranks of the evil Red Lanterns, as they've declared war on the Green Lanterns and their leaders, the Guardians of the Universe.  Story arc 2 featured the DC villain the Anti-Monitor, re-imagined into a Galactus-like devourer of worlds, as he takes command of the Manhunters (an army of evil androids) and gets about devouring worlds. 

So who's on Hal's team?  First up, we have Killowog, everyone's second-favourite Green Lantern.  The pig-like drill sergeant of the Green Lantern Corp, who gets to break in and train the new recruits. 

In order to help them in their battle, Hal and Killowog are given the experimental spacecraft the Interceptor, which introduces us to the next member of the team:  the ship's sentient AI, whom Hal quickly dubs Aya.  Aya goes through all your sentient AI tropes, such as developing emotions and learning about humanity.  She eventually builds herself an android body so she can leave the ship and fully join our heroes as a member of the team.  And the voice given to her by veteran voice actress Grey DeLisle is sexy in an odd sort of way...kind of a heroic version of the Borg Queen's voice. 

Rounding out the team is Razer, a Red Lantern.  For those who don't know their Green Lantern comics, a few years back they introduced the concept of "the emotional spectrum," and there's a Lantern Corp for all 7 colours of the rainbow.  The emotion that fuels our Green heroes is willpower.  Red Lanterns are fueled by rage.  As such, Razer fills the "superhero team" trope of the angry loner.  When we first meet him at the start of the series, he's already questioning leading a life dedicated to rage and vengeance.  When he's unable to follow orders and carry out a planetary genocide, he finds himself the prisoner, and soon ally, of our heroes. 

Razer and Aya form our two main character arcs for the series.  Razer seeks to quell the rage that gives him his powers and seek a better path in life.  And Aya, as I said, is on the quest to become more human.  And of course, in their mutual personal journeys, they wind up falling in love.  But their relationship is complicated.  After a peek at Razer's memories thanks to an incident with mind-control technology, Aya subconsciously designed her android body to resemble Razer's dead wife.  So Razer's unsure if he loves Aya or if it's just because she looks like his dead wife.  Throw into that mix that Razer feels that loving again would be betraying his wife's memory, and that leads us to the big plot twist halfway through the second story arc.

The big plot twist is, as Aya is dying from the Anti-Monitor's blast, Razer finally admits his love for her.  But she lives.  And she's back, Razer is all, "Uhh...I don't know if it's you I love, or if it's because of the memories of my dead wife so...I take it back."  Unable to process this whole "I love you/No I don't" thing, Aya deletes all her emotions, goes full Terminator, kills the Anti-Monitor, and takes his place as devourer of worlds and commander of a soulless android army.  And she becomes the villain for the remainder of the series. 

As cool as that was, it also kind of frustrated me.  I mean, we know it's written that Hell hath no fury like a woman scored, but I tire of watching women turn to super-villainy because of a broken heart. 

As our heroes go on their outer space adventures, they encounter all manner of other galactic threats.  We meet some of the other Lantern Corps, such as witnessing the creation of the Blue Lanterns (hope is their emotion), the lone Orange Lantern (orange is the colour of greed, so there's only one Orange Lantern because he won't share the power), and the Star Sapphires (their colour is violet; their emotion is love). 

Speaking of the Star Sapphires, yes, Hal Jordan's longtime girlfriend Carol Ferris puts in a few appearances and becomes Star Sapphire.  We also get to see such other favourite Green Lanterns as Sinestro, Tomar Re, Ch'p, and Guy Gardner. 

It's too bad that the failure of the Ryan Reynolds movie tainted this series, because this series succeeds where the movie failed.  Everyone agrees that the movie is its best in the scenes on Oa, the Green Lantern homeworld, and that they wanted more of the outer space action instead of Hal Jordan moping about on Earth.  This delivers the outer space action in spades.  There is no mopey Hal, just the great, confident, cocky, Green Lantern we all know and love. 

I'm kind of sad that it only lasted 26 episodes, but thanks to its serialized storylines, the whole thing does give us a rather satisfying end.  I greatly enjoyed it. 

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