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EPISODE REVIEWS - "BEWARE MY POWER"

Green Lantern: The Animated Series
"Beware My Power: Green Lantern's Light, Parts 1 - 2"

Original Airdate - November 11th, 2011

Based upon the DC Comics super hero, Green Lantern: The Animated Series follows Earth's Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, who is used to being in dangerous situations — but never anything like this! In the farthest reaches of deep space, Hal patrols the Guardian Frontier, where he must face down invasions from the evil Red Lantern Corps., who have sworn to destroy the Green Lanterns and everything they stand for. With ever-emerging galactic threats, Hal is soon joined by an all-new group of heroes on a mission to protect Guardian Space — and the Green Lantern Corps itself!

In the first part of the two-part series premiere episode, ace test pilot Hal Jordan (voiced by Josh Keaton), who leads a secret life as Earth's guardian Green Lantern, is called back to Oa. Searching for the culprits behind a series of Green Lantern deaths in "Frontier Space", Hal and his gruff fellow Green Lantern Kilowog (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) “commandeer” The Interceptor, a prototype spaceship powered by pure Green Lantern energy and an advanced artificial intelligence system that Hal names Aya (voiced by Grey DeLisle).

In the second half of the two-part series premiere episode, Hal and Kilowog discover that a group of Red Lanterns, including the conflicted Razer (voiced by Jason Spisak) and the vile Zilius Zox (voiced by Tom Kenny) have been targeting and eliminating Green Lanterns in Frontier Space. Along with the help from a surviving Frontier Space Green Lantern Shyir Rev (voiced by Kurtwood Smith), Hal and Kilowog must stop the Red Lantern leader Atrocitus (voiced by Jonathan Adams) from destroying Shyir's home planet of Colony 12.

Written by Jim Krieg, Ernie Altbacker
Directed by Sam Liu, Rick Morales

Review by James Harvey

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Review:
Relax, everyone. Green Lantern: The Animated Series is awesome!

When this series was first announced last year, fans were somewhat worried. Many weren't sold on the CGI factor, the lack of Earth-based adventures, or the buddy-cop premise that would cut back the focus on the Green Lantern Corps to mostly just Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Kilowog. Well, you can all breathe a sigh of relief. The one-hour Green Lantern: The Animated Series "Beware My Power" series opener is completely fantastic, providing a great preview of what looks to be yet another solid DC Comics-based cartoon. Filled with genuine surprises, superb casting, a fun story, and a very cool futuristic-retro design, Green Lantern: The Animated Series is a welcome callback to the original DC Animated Universe cartoons without actually being one. Basically, if you liked those classic DCAU cartoons, you will love this show.

And yes, not like, but love.

After a quick introduction to Jordan on earth - saving a trainful of people after another "famous" Coast City rumbler - we're whisked off to space as he and Kilowog learn about the deaths of multiple Lanterns out on the outskirts of space. Ever the pro-active Lanterns, they hijack an AI space vessel and spacewarp out to investigate. Naturally, they run into a few complications along the way when they discover the existence of the evil Red Lanterns and end up biting off a bit more then they can chew. "Beware My Power" establishes the Red Lanterns as the dominant threat for our heroes, for at least the first half of the season (with the Manhunters appearing down the line), and does so in a pretty convincing fashion. For example, two Red Lanterns off a Green Lantern within the first two minutes, and then continue to cause a considerable amount of mayhem throughout the remainder. These guys are not pushovers, and Jordan and Kilowog will have their hands full with this legitimate menace.

The series kicks-off with Hal Jordan already established as the Green Lantern, though a point is made to fill in some blanks here and there with the occasional smidgen of expository dialogue. It's not gratuitous, and even the characters make a semi-jab about it with Hal quipping "This we already know" during an info-dump scene with the Guardians. But everything we need to know about Hal and partner Kilowog we see in their actions, in their jokes, and the off-handed references and comments made throughout the first two episodes. Green Lantern: The Animated Series knows how to fill in the details without grinding to a halt, which is naturally beneficial in keeping things moving. As a side-comment, there are a couple interesting hints dropped concerning a connection between The Guardians and the Red Lanterns which has me extremely, extremely interested to see how that plays out.

The two-episode opener features more than a few genuine surprises, and actually threw me for a loop once or twice. Things don't always go as planned here, and the consequences of the Green Lantern's actions feel painfully real at times. The second half features more than a few tense moments leading up to a bit of a heart-wrenching finale (even if it is somewhat telegraphed). The opener also throws things a bit off-kilter, no doubt to keep audiences on their toes. Early on we get the sense that this show won't be full of the standard Green Lantern Corp tropes as Jordan and Kilowog quickly find themselves fending for themselves with limited contact with Oa. It's an interesting set-up for the show, I have to admit, and not at all what I expected. It's actually a pleasant surprise, and that is thanks to a great script. It's smart, perfectly-paced, and full of humor and real pathos. It hits all the right marks every step of the way.

Another surprise is Josh Keaton playing the lead role of Hal Jordan. Keaton brings that rogue-ish quality that makes Jordan just a fun, attractive character. He's perfectly matched with Kevin Michael Richardson's Kilowog, who brings great heft and authority to his role. Nearly opposite in every respect, but together? Perfection.

Jordan can be kind of...straight-laced in the comics. Very stiff, very serious, just...well...kind of boring. That has changed over the past couple of years, but it still lingers. But here, thanks to Keaton's acting and snappy dialogue, he's given a bit of a reckless, devil-may-care attitude that fits right in with the Lantern's ability to overcome fear. Jordan is usually cocky, but it comes from him believing that what he's doing is right. He's instantly likeable and the perfect focal point for a series which takes place in the vast reaches of space. Most importantly, he feels like a real character. No matter where the show goes, he's our guide, and viewers will want to follow.

So what have we covered so far? The story is great, the characters and acting are great, and that just leaves the animation. Well, I doubt the final product will calm any of the early rowdy detractors to the show's CGI, but I found nothing wrong with it. The show just looks like Bruce Timm's style...CGIed. And that's all it is. The barrel-chested heroes, sultry women, abstract/deco-ish buildings and landscape is all accounted for. It's now just a little bit updated. But it doesn't look bad. In fact, the show's look seems largely inspired by The Incredibles. All the hallmarks we come to expect from the Timm-heralded cartoon are there. Yes, it's in CGI now, but it's all there, all apparent, and looking pretty sharp.

If I had any complaints about the two part opener, they would be nit-picky at best. I found the run cycles a little bit off once or twice (not exaggerating, it only caught my eye a couple times at most), but that's seriously all that I noticed. Everything else in "Beware My Power" was top-notch. Even with that slight knock on the run cycles, the CGI does open the show up to more inventive action sequences and use of camera movements thanks to the liberating CGI environment (and we see that quite a few times in these two episodes). Once I finished watching the first two episodes, I immediately popped them back in for one more go-through. And then I fished out some Green Lantern comics. That is no exaggeration. This cartoon just brings to life what I enjoy about this character so much and deep-sixes some of his more stiffer qualities. Green Lantern: The Animated Series exudes this sense of confidence that's hard to discount and easily infectious.

I suppose this review is just a long, drawn-out way to say that Green Lantern: The Animated Series just rocks. It's awesome. Seriously, seriously awesome. The directing by Sam Liu and Rick Morales is tight, and scipt work by Jim Krieg and Ernie Altbacker is smart, and the designs are stylish. It feels like a classic DC Animated Universe cartoon with a coat of fancy CGI. I know there might still be sceptics out there, but I'll make this easy:

Do you like Justice League Unlimited? Watch Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Do you like Batman: The Animated Series? Watch Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Do you like Superman: The Animated Series or Young Justice or Batman Beyond, or pretty much any DC Comics-based cartoon? Well, watch Green Lantern: The Animated Series.

It's seriously that simple. And it's simply that good. Don't miss it, folks.

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