In case you hadn’t yet heard, there’s a big screen film premiering today called Green Lantern. Yeah, I know. It already sounds kinda weird, but just wait: it’s about an intergalactic police force made up of all sorts of strange looking alien beings, each wielding a green power ring that allows their thoughts to manifest into substantive constructs.
Think Star Wars meets NYPD Blue with maybe a little bit of The Last Starfighter and, of course, the Bible thrown in for good measure. Yeah. It’s that kind of weird.
Green Lantern, in all its strange, science fiction wonder, is a hard sell to an adult audience and early reviews of the film, starring Ryan Reynolds in the title role, have not been kind. But the kids…ah yes, the kids!
Timed perfectly with the release of the film, Warner Brothers has also seen fit to release the direct-to-DVD cartoon, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. And it may yet be the WB’s best offering in their line of quality direct-to-DVD cartoon flicks, quite possibly eclipsing the live action film itself. (Judgement reserved until I see the big screen version of the character.)
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights does a masterful job of weaving together six different stories into the larger tapestry of a galactic threat. Each story highlights a different character, all adding to the mythology of the Green Lantern universe. There are no weak links here – each segment is different from the last, each compelling to the viewer, be they adult or child. The DVD is probably the best primer for anyone interested in getting a better handle on the big screen film or looking to pick up any GL comic books.
There’s real emotional resonance on display here – right from the opening scene, which visualizes the horrible death of a Green Lantern Corps member and the importance the GL ring has on the wearer and the Corps as a whole. The sequence serves to entrench Emerald Knights within the DC Universe and serve as the catalyst for the cartoon film’s big bad. In fact, each of the storylines endears themselves to viewers.
In a story that reminisces Greek and Roman mythology, we learn about the establishment of the Green Lantern Corps and Avra, the first emerald warrior, wherein it’s narrated that “Avra was not the first to wear a ring, but he was the first Green Lantern.” Now that kind of parable-sort-of-storytelling, taken directly from the “Book of Oa” (a kind of historical Bible for the GL Corps), is enticing! In another segment, we are presented with the origin of Kilowog, a hulking beast of a character that looks a lot like a hippopotamus (and one of fandom’s favourite GL’s), voiced by punk rocker Henry Rollins. In it, we learn exactly what it means to be part of this intergalactic police force. Laira, another Corps member, is also on display here in a heart-wrenching tale that sees her go against her war-like family for the responsibility that is a ring-bearer within the Corps.
The Abin Sur segment (another character that fans love) of the cartoon preludes the mythology of the last few years of storytelling within the Green Lantern comic book series – including the famed “Blackest Night” storyline, while the “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize” chapter taps on the funny bone as a ruthless war-monger (voiced to perfection by wrestler-turned-actor, Rowdy Roddy Piper) searches for the Green Lantern named Mogo, perhaps the galaxy’s greatest warrior of them all. This particular story showcases the diversity of the Green Lantern Corps, a message that brings light to the diversity of people and cultures on our own, real life planet earth.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, for all of its inherent weirdness, is a highly recommended fun, fascinating and often thought provoking cartoon for viewers of all ages. The fact that it is available now, leads me to believe that it is, at least, a solid alternative to Green Lantern lore if the big-screen film version doesn’t get it right.
I, at least, know there will be more quality Green Lantern cartoons in the future. It’s written in the Book of Oa, after all.