“In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s Light!”
Unless you’ve made the underside of a rock your sweet and comfy home, some of—if not all of—these words will no doubt tickle your memory. Whether it’s through comics or cartoon movies or the 2011 Ryan Reynolds film-take on the Green Lanterns, I’m constantly amazed at the number of people who recognize the phrase “Green Lantern”. No offense to Ryan Reynolds (whom I profoundly respect), but it was Green Lantern: The Animated Series that made me thoroughly and completely pledge myself to the Green Lantern cause. I consider myself a Marvel girl, passionate and proud…but when it comes to Green Lantern, I will always make an exception. Allow me to show you why.
You know Hal Jordan, of course. The legendary Green Lantern of our very own planet Earth; selfless, fearless—sometimes reckless—and funny to a fault. He’s the leader of this brave new band. (Hal Jordan. A leader. Who'd have thought that, huh?)
You might know Kilowog. Hal’s classmate, colleague, and second-in-command, this Bolovaxian is the Green Lantern equivalent of a brute runaway tank—but don't let that fool you. He’s got a warm heart under that crusty shell and plenty of military-grade smarts to catch you off guard with.
Allow me to introduce the new blood. Razer, Red Lantern from the planet Volkreg. By the time we meet him he is a haunted, tortured soul and one of the newest recruits of the Green Lanterns’ brutal and pitiless nemeses, the Red Lanterns. However, Razer is different from his fellow Reds. He still feels pangs of doubt and even guilt for the cruelties and atrocities committed by the Red Lantern Corps. When Hal apprehends him, he offers him a choice: prison, or the path of turning over a new leaf. The choice Razer makes thrusts him into a strange new crew and---dare he even hope—family.
And last but most definitely not least, Aya. Aya was and still is the nav computer and artificial intelligence of this motley Green Lantern crew’s ship, the Interceptor. And she is also very much the rookie of the group. Over the course of their first few missions, Aya exhibits more curiosity and a genuine desire to be of help than any other of her AI-kind, even going so far as to build herself a body from spare parts and green Will energy to be “more human”. She demonstrates a great deal of compassion and empathy for a mere AI, and she never hesitates to step in in any capacity to be of service to her fellow Lanterns.
This series touts itself as a “kid show”, but it doesn’t shy away from grown-up topics.
Before there were the Green Lanterns, the Guardians of Oa created the mechanical androids called the Manhunters. They were supposed to be the galaxy’s perfect police force: never swayed by emotion, only right and wrong. But before long they began to equate emotions with evil and deemed every emotional being criminal. As a result, the Manhunters spread terror, death and destruction through the sector of space now known as the Forgotten Zone. Although they were ultimately destroyed and discontinued by the Guardians, by that time whole planets and millions of lives had been lost. Fearing that such a monumental failure on their part would destroy all the good they were trying to accomplish, the Guardians silenced all record of the Manhunters and buried the entire terrible tale. But—as they say—truth will out, and this tragedy was the catalyst that created the Green Lanterns’ fiercest enemies, the Red Lanterns. Eventually the Red Lanterns’ rampage through the galaxy brought the truth to light, and the Guardians were forced to face their greatest shame.
Tragedies like this are not uncommon in “kid shows” like Green Lantern, but oftentimes the facts and the tragedy itself is glossed over. The creators of Green Lantern did the opposite by validating the Red Lanterns’ cause—if not their actions—and holding the Guardians accountable for this, their darkest secret. Appa Ali’Apsa himself—leader of the Guardians—eventually acknowledged the whole of the Manhunters’ crimes and the Guardians’ hand in them, and pledged to aid the Forgotten Zone and the Red Lanterns in rebuilding their devastated sector.
Great characters will make any show—even a poor or mediocre show—a good show. But when you couple that with a good story? It’s a combination that cannot lose.
What is supposed to be a standard recon-and-rescue mission for Hal and Kilowog escalates into a great deal more as they clash with the ruthless Red Lantern Corps and are subsequently stranded on the far end of space, cut off from the Guardians and their fellow Lanterns. Green Lantern is the tale of Hal, Kilowog, Razer and Aya as they struggle to find their way home; lending help along way to those in need.
Obviously I can’t give away more than this for spoilery reasons. This show spins together many themes: like redemption, forgiveness, finding oneself, right and wrong and even the grey areas in between, finding and building a family (not necessarily bound by blood), and hope, just to name a few. The vastness and complexity of the Green Lantern universe would do the comics proud, and harks to both Star Wars and Star Trek.
Like many great shows, Green Lantern was canceled after only one season, much to the dismay and despair of those of us who became its fans. But even now—four years later—the fanbase is still strong and growing. To this day I miss and mourn the loss of Green Lantern. It remains one of my favourite shows of all time, and it shall always have a special place in my heart.
Ever seen Green Lantern? Is there anything you like about it?