March 12, 2016

GREEN LANTERN: THE ANIMATED SERIES

GREEN LANTERN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
(Cartoon Network, November 11, 2011-March 16, 2013)


DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation

MAIN CAST:
Grey DeLisleAya, Queen Aga’Po, Lady Catherine, Amala Rev, Biara Rev, Bleez

The era known as the Golden Age of Comics came to a close in 1950 when public interest in superheroes had steadily waned. They were largely phased out of publishing; replaced by the Western and romance genres with a new focus on the humor stories that originally began the medium. Only DC Comics continued publishing any kind of superhero books throughout the 50s, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Action Comics, Adventure Comics, Detective Comics, Superboy and World’s Finest Comics.

The Flash #123, featuring the Silver Age and Golden Age Flashes.

            In 1956, DC editor Julius Schwartz decided to revive one of the company’s Golden Age characters: the Flash. However, rather than bring back Jay Garrick, who inherited his great speed after inhaling hard water vapors, Schwartz decided to have the Flash reimagined for the modern age. Writers Robert Kanigher and John Broome with artist Carmine Infantino introduced the new Flash in Showcase #4 (1956), making him forensic scientist Barry Allen who gained his speed when lightning struck a shelf of chemicals that splashed him as a result. The new Flash was a success, gaining his own title shortly afterwards, and ushering in the era known as the Silver Age of Comics.

The origin of Alan Scott.

            Schwartz sought to duplicate that success with the reinvention of further Golden Age characters. His next target was the Green Lantern. Created by Martin Nodell (under the name Mart Dellon) in All-American Comics #16 (1940), Alan Scott was a railroad engineer who discovered a magic lantern after a railway crash. He crafted a ring from the lantern that could perform a variety of feats, except against wooden objects, but needed to be recharged by touching the lantern every 24 hours. Popular throughout the 40s, his book was ultimately cancelled with issue #38 in 1949, with his final appearance (at the time) being in 1951’s All-Star Comics #57.

Hal Jordan gets the Power Ring.

            Schwartz tasked Broom and Gil Kane with bringing the Lantern back while infusing him with the science fiction elements that Schwartz was such a fan of. This Lantern became test pilot Hal Jordan who had discovered a downed spaceship with a dying Abin Sur inside. Sur granted Hal his power ring, turning him into his replacement in the Green Lantern Corps: a cosmic police force that patrolled various sectors of known space (Hal’s was 2814). The Corps was overseen by the Guardians of the Universe; emotionless blue immortal beings that initially resembled Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion from a concept developed by Schwartz and Broome in Strange Adventures #22 (1952). Hal debuted in Showcase #22 (1959) along with his love-interest and boss at Ferris Aircraft, Carol Ferris. Unlike his predecessor, the Green Power Ring had a weakness against objects made of yellow instead of wood. Like his predecessor, the ring had to be recharged periodically by holding it up to his assigned lantern and reciting the Green Lantern’s oath:

“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!”
           
            The Lantern proved another hit, and after two more appearances he became a founding member of the Justice League was given his own book. There, readers were introduced to Hal’s family: his two older brothers Jack and Jim. It was rare at this point in time for a superhero to have any sort of family, which helped distinguish it from other books at the time. With issue #17, Gardner Fox joined the creative team as a co-writer and would remain in place until a creative and direction change in the 1970s.

Guy Gardner's current look.

            Three other Earth-based Lanterns were introduced during the title’s run as alternates and replacements for Hal. Guy Gardner was created by Broome and Kane in Green Lantern vol. 2 #59 (1968), named after fan Guy H. Lillian III and Fox. He was Abin Sur’s alternate choice of successor; losing out to Hal only by proximity and becoming his backup. By the 1980s, Steve Englehart and Joe Staton gave Guy the brash macho personality that had become his defining characteristic.

John Stewart's current look.

            When Guy fell into a coma during his Lantern duties, he was replaced with another backup: John Stewart. Debuting in Green Lantern vol. 2 #87 (1971), he was created by the new creative team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. Before the Corps, he was a U.S. Marine and an architect from Detroit; two attributes he applied frequently in tenure as a Lantern. Adams suggested to Schwartz that John should be black because it made sense given the makeup of the world’s population. Schwartz agreed, and John became DC’s first black superhero. He also became the primary Lantern when Hal stepped down for a time.

Kyle Rayner's original costume.

            The fourth Earth Lantern was Kyle Rayner. Created by Ron Marz and Darryl Banks in Green Lantern vol. 3 #48 (1994), Kyle was a struggling freelance artist who was approached by the Guardian Ganthet to don the last ring; the other Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps having been decimated by Hal when he turned on them after the destruction of his hometown Coast City. Kyle was able to harness the power of the entire Corps at one point, adopting the codename Ion, and revitalized the Central Power Battery on Oa along with the other Guardians. These actions and others earned him the title of “The Torch Bearer.”


Warner Bros. had been developing a feature film based on the franchise since the late 90s. It would finally come to be released in 2011 starring Ryan Reynolds in the title role. In what Phil Kent, chairman and CEO of Time Warner’s Turner Networks unit, called “corporate synergy,” they decided to produce an animated series around the character to play off of the movie’s anticipated success and the inevitable toy marketing. However, despite the film’s script being made available to the producers, the two didn’t share a continuity beyond the characters involved.

Promo for the series.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series would be produced by Bruce Timm, known for his work on the original DC Animated Universe from 1992-2004, along with showrunner Giancarlo Volpe and Jim Krieg. The decision was made to animate it using CGI, the first DC-based show to do so, and was initially pitched as “Bruce Timm does CGI.” Timm was reluctant to work outside of the familiar hand drawn style but eventually came around to enjoy and appreciate it. The move also showed an incredible commitment on Warner’s part as using CGI was extremely more expensive than traditional animation. Each set piece had to be created from scratch and in full to allow for a full range of motion and lighting effects, which meant producers had to be prudent with how much they could do in each episode and how many characters they could incorporate at a time.

Guy and Hal finally have more than a passing association.

This would also the first series based entirely around the Lantern franchise. Hal first appeared outside of comics in the rotating “guest” features of Filmation’s Aquaman show in 1967 before joining his fellow Justice Leaguers in some incarnations of Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends franchise. He had a later cameo in Justice League Unlimited and guest appearances on The Batman and Duck Dodgers, along with other Lanterns. Timm’s previous shows introduced two of the other Earth Lanterns to audiences: Kyle Rayner appeared on an episode of Superman: The Animated Series and a later cameo on Justice League Unlimited, and John Stewart was a main character in Justice League/Justice League Unlimited and guest-starred on Static Shock (which starred Stewart’s voice actor Phil LaMarr). Guy Gardner (with some elements of the other Earth Lanterns mixed together) would be used in a failed 1997 pilot for a live-action Justice League of America television series before becoming a recurring guest on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. A future Green Lantern, Kai-ro (Lauren Tom), appeared on Timm’s Batman Beyond.

Hal, Kilowog and Ganthet.

Since the movie was coming out and would feature Hal’s origin, the producers decided to skip that part of the mythos and go right into the meat of Hal’s adventures. Taking advantage of the police-like nature of the Corps, they focused on making it like a buddy cop show by pairing Hal (Josh Keaton) with the gruff Corps trainer Kilowog (Kevin Michael Richardson) as they went to Frontier Space, the outermost edge of the Guardians’ territory a good 18 months away by Power Ring, where Frontier Lanterns are mysteriously being killed. Guardian Ganthet (Ian Abercrombie in his final role before his death) subtlety guided them into “borrowing” The Interceptor; the fastest starship ever created and powered by a Green Lantern Power Battery to allow Corps members to travel great distances without exhausting their own power.

Aya takes human form.

The Guardian Scar (Sarah Douglas) gave the ship an artificial intelligence, which Hal named Aya (Grey DeLisle) after the abbreviation “A.I.”, that was originally intended to be an empathic alternative to the Manhunters (all Keaton); robots that were the precursor to the Corps until a glitch sent them on a murderous frenzy to eliminate all organic life. Scar implanted her onto the ship after wiping her memory when she became too free-willed from being infused with a fragment of the Ion entity that resided within the Central Power Battery on Oa. Initially, she was nothing more than a voice on the ship until she created a body for herself so that she could participate on adventures. Her original programming also began to resurface, making her more human-like as time progressed.

Atrocitus will have his revenge.

A decision was made to keep the show somewhat in line with the current Green Lantern comics, so for the first half of the season the primary foes were the Red Lantern Corps. The Red Lanterns were introduced during Geoff Johns’ acclaimed run on the title and were fueled by rage as the Green Lanterns were by will. They were led by Atrocitus (Jonathan Adams), whose planet was destroyed by the Manhunters in Sector 666 and began a crusade for revenge against the Guardians. Amongst his Corpsmen was his spherical lackey Zillus Zox (Tom Kenny); the winged female warrior Bleez (DeLisle); the one-eyed Veon (Jason Spisak); the hulking Skallox (Richardson); Ragnar (Will Friedle), who killed his planet’s Green Lantern in the hopes to be his replacement (while appearing in the comics, he only became a Red Lantern on the show), but was filled with rage when the ring chose his sister Iolande (Tara Strong) instead; and Cleric Loran (Corey Burton), a slug-like creature who wasn’t a ring bearer but maintained a chapel dedicated to Atrocitus.

Razer has anger issues.

Razer (Spisak) was exclusive to the show and began as a loyal Red Lantern who had lost his family. However, when the Red Lanterns forced him to destroy a colony planet to prove his loyalty, he became guilt-ridden and sought death from the Green Lanterns. Instead, Hal took him prisoner and eventually Razer became their ally; using his newfound rage for Atrocitus. As the series progressed, he began to develop feelings for Aya, whose physical form was modeled after that of his deceased wife Ilana, although he attempted to stave off those emotions.

Carol Ferris is drafted.

Classic Green Lantern frenemies the Star Sapphires made a few appearances. They were a mostly female group that utilized the violet light of love and were based on the planet Zamaron. Carol Ferris (Jennifer Hale) was drafted by the Sapphires, much as she was in the comics, several times in the battle against the Red Lanterns. She would be called on to fight Atrocitus one-on-one to prove that love was stronger than hate.

The Anti-Monitor and the Aya-Monitor.

            The Red Lantern threat was neutralized at the conclusion of the season’s first 13 episodes and the show went on summer break. The next 13 episodes would deal with the threat of the Anti-Monitor (Kenny): a massive all-powerful being created by renegade Guardian Krona, which Krona was then forced to banish to another universe when it turned against him. The Anti-Monitor ripped through the fabric of space to return and reactivated the discarded Manhunters to do its bidding. However, things go further sideways when Aya, whose affections were spurned by Razer, defeats the Anti-Monitor by ripping off its head and using her ability to interface with machinery to take over its body. She sought to eliminate all emotion by traveling back to the creation of the universe and preventing it from happening. Her normal body also took on a darker color reminiscent of the Black Lantern Corps from the comics; a Corps comprised of zombies with power rings who sought to eliminate all life.

The Corps unite against the threat of the Anti/Aya-Monitor.

            For his victory over the Red Lanterns, Hal was promoted to the high-ranking Honor Guard. The second half of the season showcased more Green Lanterns, some who appeared briefly in the prior episodes: the living planet Mogo (Richardson); the multi-armed Salaak (Kenny); the squirrel-like Ch’p; the fin-headed Tomar-Re (Jeff Bennet); the crystalline Chaselon (Kenny); and Ha’s sector replacement Guy Gardner (Diedrich Bader), whom himself was replaced by a mentioned John Stewart when he too was promoted to the Honor Guard. Other colors from the emotional spectrum made appearances as well. The blue light of hope, which was wielded by the Blue Lantern Corps comprised of Stain Walker (Phil Morris) and the elephant-like Brother Warth (Brian George), and the orange light of avarice of the Orange Lantern Corps, which was really the greedy thief Larfleeze (Dee Bradley Baker) and his construct Corpsman Glomulus.

Sinestro: still the greatest Green Lantern. For now.

Absent was the yellow light of fear typically wielded by Hal’s arch-nemesis and former partner Thaal Sinestro (Ron Perlman). Sinestro was still a Green Lantern in his sole appearance in the series. The producers were asked not to use him due to his future direction in the comics being in question (he would briefly become a Green Lantern again). His inevitable abandonment of the Corps was hinted at with the appearance of the yellow material that would have been used to make his ring, which also served as a device against the Aya-Monitor.

The Manhunters.

            Green Lantern: The Animated Series was announced at the 2010 New York Comic Con and previewed at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con. It was shown as a sneak preview on Friday, November 11th on Cartoon Network in North America by airing the one-hour first episode, which was broken up into two episodes once the regular series began. It made its official debut on March 3rd, 2012 in the United States (March 23rd in Canada) as part of Cartoon Network’s Saturday morning DC Nation programming block. Although it had a fully-realized intro sequence, to allow for more commercials and the DC Nation content only the title and a brief snippet of series composer Frederik Wiedmann’s theme was heard. The Green Power Rings used the same sound effects from Justice League.

Love spurned.

            Two weeks after the summer break, the entire DC Nation block was replaced on Cartoon Network’s schedule by an hour of DreamWorks Dragons on Saturdays and Johnny Test on Sundays. It was announced later via Facebook and Twitter that the block had been put on hiatus and would return that January. An online petition was begun by fans to bring it back before the end of the year and quickly reached 10,000 signatures. Also, the episodes that were scheduled to air were released on iTunes the day after their intended airdate (those shows became the top two programs of the day) and Amazon on October 16th, as well as seen on air in India in December.

A kiss before cancellation.

            Green Lantern did return in January and aired its remaining episodes until concluding on March 16th, 2013. Ultimately, it was decided not to renew the series for a second season despite its respectable ratings, favorable reviews and being nominated for 3 Annie Awards. The primary reason for its demise was because of the Green Lantern movie, which ended up being a critical and commercial flop. Since the toys from the movie weren’t moving, retailers couldn’t distinguish between them and the planned animated toy line and therefore not interested in investing in similar merchandise. As a result, Mattel abandoned any plans to produce toys based on the series and without that additional revenue there was no reason to continue producing the prohibitively expensive series. Also, Cartoon Network wanted to put a greater focus on shows like the then-upcoming Teen Titans Go!, which dealt heavily in comedy geared towards younger boys and less in storytelling.

The Green Lantern animated comic.

            The same month as the sneak preview, DC Comics released the first issue to the comic version of Green Lantern: The Animated Series. The #0 issue by Art Baltazar and Dario Brizuela garnered decent reviews and sold approximately 13,500 issues. One of the stories featured was included in the DC Nation 2012 Free Comic Book Day comic. Officially beginning in June of 2012, the comic ran for 14 issues featuring additional characters not seen on the series. It was cancelled in September 2013 with the cancellation of the show. DC Direct released three limited edition maquettes from the series in 2012: Hal, Atrocitus, and Saint Walker. La-La Land Records released two volumes of the series’ music by Wiedmann, the first on July 31, 2012 and the second on July 2, 2013. Two volumes of episodes were released to DVD; the first in 2012 and the second in 2013. In 2014, the complete series was released to Blu-ray (and sold out several times) and was made available for streaming on Netflix.

Saint Walker and Brother Warth try to help Razer find inner peace.

            Had the show continued into a second season, there were plans to have Razer become a Blue Lantern, as hinted at in the final episode of the series and confirmed via storyboard artist Jake Castorena’s Twitter, as well as reuniting with Aya. With the movie come and gone, Volpe mentioned in an interview that he felt confident that they’d be allowed to use him more and lead him down the dark path to donning a yellow ring and forming his Sinestro Corps. Volpe also recognized that many fans wanted to see Rayner and Stewart on the series and planned to do so when they were able.

The Interceptor from Green Lantern and Aya in Smallville Season 11.

            Aya was created for the show, but she actually appeared in the comics before the preview episode. Geoff Johns incorporated her into Green Lantern vol. 4 #65 (cover date June, 2011) as an A.I. created by Hal and fellow Lantern Stel. The Interceptor also appeared as a ship Hal salvaged and repaired from an Oan junkyard and kept stored in Sector 2000. While Aya didn’t make it past that singular issue in the main continuity, she did make an appearance as a member of the Corps in the second issue of the mini-series Smallville Season 11: Lantern by Bryan Q. Miller and Marcio Takara. In 2014, Volpe posted a comic on his Tumblr about the first focus group testing for Green Lantern.


EPISODE GUIDE:
“Beware My Power” (11/11/11) – To investigate Green Lantern deaths in Frontier Space, Hal and Kilowog “borrow” the Interceptor; a ship controlled by an advanced A.I. Hal names Aya.

“Razer’s Edge” (3/17/12) – Hal and Kilowog are forced to team-up with Red Lantern Razer.

“Into the Abyss” (3/24/12) – Razer becomes a reluctant member of the crew in time to helpsave a merchant ship from a pinhole.

“Heir Apparent” (3/31/12) – Searching for more Green Lanterns to fight against the Green Lanterns ends up putting Hal in a fight for the hand of Queen Iolande.

“Lost Planet” (4/7/12) – The crew follows a Green Lantern ring to a mysterious planet where three castaways see their opportunity to escape from it.

“Reckoning” (4/14/12) – Razer goes to Shard to murder Atrocitus and ends up captured.

“Fear Itself” (4/21/12) – While searching for food on an alien planet, Hal and Kilowog discover yellow crystals full of fear energy amidst two warring alien races.

“…In Love and War” (4/28/12) – The crew is saved by the Star Sapphires who invite them back to their planet Zamaron in a ploy to encase them in crystal and drain their energies.

“Regime Change” (5/5/12) – Iolande’s brother had joined the Red Lantern Corps and usurped her power while Ganthet is exiled from the Guardians.

“Fight Club” (5/12/12) – The crew tries to beat the Red Lanterns to “The Lighthouse” to prevent their next plan of attack.

“Invasion” (5/19/12) – The crew has to protect Guardian Space from the Red Lantern invasion fleet.

“Homecoming” (5/26/12) – Oa is under attack and only Kilowog stands in its defense as Hal takes the long way to Earth and back.

“The New Guy” (9/29/12) – The reactivation of three Manhunter robots forces Hal to work with his sector replacement, Guy Gardner.

“Reboot” (10/6/12) – Hal tries to form a team to help the Honor Guard against the Anti-Monitor.

“Steam Lantern” (1/5/13*) – Anti-Monitor’s blast sends Hal to a Steampunk world.
*Available on iTunes on 10/14/12, Amazon on 10/16/12, and aired on Cartoon Network India 12/23/12.

“Blue Hope” (1/12/13*) – Razer hopes the Blue Lanterns can remove his rage as they come under attack by Manhunters.
*Aired on Cartoon Network India 12/30/12.

“Prisoner of Sinestro” (1/19/13) – Sinestro accidentally unleashes a dangerous creature on the Interceptor.

“Loss” (1/26/13) – The Manhunters threaten the peace between the Red and Green Lanterns when they arrive on Ysmault.

“Cold Fury” (2/2/13) – Aya destroys the Anti-Monitor and attaches herself to his body, but shutting down her emotions leads her to take over the Manhunters to wipe out organic life.

“Babel” (2/9/13) – Hal, Kilowog and Razer end up stranded on a planet inhabited by criminals, and with their rings depowered they can no longer communicate with each other.

“Love is a Battlefield” (2/16/13) – Carol Ferris is summoned to Zamaron to fight for the planet’s survival and to prove love is stronger than hate.

“Larfleeze” (2/23/13) – The crew seeks the Orange Lantern to battle Aya, but it’s under the greedy watch of Larfleeze.

“Scarred” (3/2/13) – The Green Lanterns turn to the fear crystals in an attempt to stop Aya.

“Ranx” (3/9/13) – The crew heads to a planet to find a secret weapon before the Manhunters while Guy leads the Green Lanterns in a frontal assault against her.

“Dark Matter” (3/16/13) – Injuring Razer brings Aya back to her senses, and she ends the Manhunters—and herself—with a potent virus.

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