Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Recap: Green Lantern: TAS "Beware my Power"

Ah, Green Lantern: the Animated Series. I've been meaning to recap this show for quite some time now, but things kept getting in the way. Like school, writing other Recaps and Reviews, eating food, et cetera. But I don't have to do several of those things any more. Mainly the school thing.

But before we begin, I think a quick introduction to the Green Lantern mythos is in order for the uninitiated. Now, the Green Lantern mythos is almost as complex as the X-Men mythos (which is really saying something) but not as complex as the Hawkman mythos. Although, chemical engineering is less of a challenge to understand than the Hawkman mythos, but I digress.

There are these little blue old guys who have been alive since basically the beginning of time. They're called the Guardians of the Universe, and they're the bosses of the Green Lantern Corps. The Corps members are essentially Space Cops for the universe, and they fly around their assigned space sectors combating evil with their Green Lantern Rings. These rings are powered by willpower and can create weapons, objects, lasers, and more out of green light. A brash test-pilot is the Green Lantern of Earth and the other planets within Sector 2814. Avoid the Ryan Reynolds film.

Well, with that quick primer for the uninitiated, let's begin!

No, seriously, avoid the film. I can't stress that enough.
We begin with the opening theme song. Its melodious tones echo around my ears and create waves of strength that resonate within my being. It's a grand, powerful marching theme and I love it. It's one of those themes that makes you want to go fight some aliens, telling them "Welcome to Erf." Or "Earth," as Will Smith actually pronounces that line from that movie.

We open up on the episode and MY GOD SPACE IS BEAUTIFUL. It's absolutely unrealistic, filled with swirling colors and nebulous clouds, but the detail is utterly beautiful.

Some kind of celestial event. No- no words. No words to describe it.
Poetry! They should have sent a poet. So beautiful. So beautiful...
We soon see a damaged spaceship in the ring of a gas giant with a Green Lantern swooping in to offer assistance. And I just noticed that the spaceship design is basically a scaled-down Klingon Bird-of-Prey. That should be a warning right away. As the Green Lantern attempts to rescue the occupant, he gets sucker punched by the supposed "victim." Although, it's not so much a "punch" as it is a "red energy blast." Red energy envelops the humanoid not-victim, and he seems to be wearing a red version of a Green Lantern uniform.

???: "I am rage. I am vengeance!"

Are you the night? Are you Batman?

???: "I am death!"

The two fight, and the red-guy wins, thanks to his backup. Said backup is a big giant head with two tiny arms and legs who throws up red energy at the Green Lantern. MODOK? What, did you finally leave Red Skull's Cabal?

"Seriously, he got up and started yelling that he was the Iron Skull. Guy was a dork."
After they subdue the Green Lantern these... let's just call them "Red Lanterns" begin to argue. Not-Batman wants to kill the GL, but Red MODOK steals the kill, saying that there will be plenty of kills for everyone later. Red MODOK kills the GL, whose ring flies off to recruit a replacement. (Green Lantern Rings seek out a replacement when the being they're attached to dies.) Red MODOK (whose actual name in the show is Zilius Zox) looks forward to killing that Green Lantern as well.

18 months later, on Earth, test pilot Hal Jordan flies a plane through the desert. Hal Jordan is voiced by... Josh Keaton, aka Peter Parker from The Spectacular Spider-Man? Wow, I'm honestly shocked. His vocal range from the tenor wisecracking of Spidey to the calm baritone of Hal Jordan is astounding. Anyway, he's doing aileron rolls, zigs, zags, and things that his boss, Carol Ferris of Ferris Aircraft, probably does not approve of. Speaking of her, Hal is in radio contact with her as he flies, and he gets a bit alarmed when an earthquake apparently hits the airbase where she is.

You may think that this is the origin story for Hal Jordan. The Green Lantern Ring on his finger would seem to refute that, though. No, this is just a normal, normal, terrestrial California earthquake. No aliens, Mole Men, or even a good old-fashioned earthquake machine.

Carol just writes it off as the normal, everyday, plain jane earthquake that it was, and Hal goes off to save a train that's headed for a bridge that was damaged in said earthquake. I've got to say, the animation as he ejects from the plane and suits up in a green glow is absolutely gorgeous CGI. Hal successfully saves the train, but his plane (what with it having no pilot and all) hits a rock formation and explodes.

Hal: "Carol's not going to be happy about this."

And indeed, she's not. Back at base, she's calling in a search and rescue for Hal's crashed jet. Well, not the jet, per se, just Hal. Naturally, Hal chooses this dramatically convenient time to show up in her office, completely unscathed. They embrace in such a way that makes it clear that their relationship goes beyond a professional level, and she slaps him in the face. No, the voices in her head aren't commanding her will. Slapping Hal in the face is her natural reaction to the fact that he let her think he was dead for the hour it took him to walk back to base. This becomes a bit more understandable when you realize that not only does he have a personal forcefield-generating ring, but he can also fly. But Carol doesn't know this, and he gives her the usual lame excuses. Because secret identity, Clark Kenting, etc.

He pacifies her with some smooth talking about how he may be replaceable but she isn't. This gets them as far as kissing, but his ring starts to glow. This apparently means that he has a voicemail, and he goes off to check it under the pretense of getting the black box from the wreckage. He promises her dinner before he rushes off, though. Still, this cools the fire in Carol's loins considerably, and possibly permanently. Because Hal Jordan's off to space. And most of this show takes place in space. Yeah, say goodbye to Carol. Hope you enjoyed her less-than-twenty lines.

Hal gets a priority-one summons, flies to the Green Lantern HQ on planet Oa, at the center of the universe, and heads to a meeting with the Guardians. Because even space cops have to deal with their crappy bosses. Before he enters the big meeting room, he catches up with fellow Green Lanterns Kilowog (A big, piggish alien) and Salaak (a four-armed humanoid). They both basically tell him not to be a brash idiot in there. As this series will show us, that's asking a lot from Hal.

Hal: "What, did I leave the toilet seat up or something?"

Case in point.

The three Lanterns enter the room, and the Guardians begin the inquiry.

Guardian: "Hal Jordan of Earth, Green Lantern of Sector 2814. The viceroy of Dimrak VII claims that when we assigned you to police crucial peace negotiations, you punched him in the face. Is this true?"
Hal: "A-b... no, sir. I punched the viceroy in the stomach. Then I headbutted him in the face. ...sir. The viceroy was a serious dirtbag, using diplomatic immunity to cover up his slave trafficking ring."

"All I did was put peace talks in Jeopardy to beat up a diplomat. What's the deal?"
All in all, I'd say the viceroy got off lightly. If Liam Neeson were the Green Lantern of Sector 2814, then this hearing would be a lot more interesting.

As a couple of the Guardians debate the merits between doing things by the book and being a loose cannon, the ring from the beginning of the episode flies into the room.

Hal: "We can argue about my conduct later. But right now, somewhere out there, there's a dead Green Lantern."

Salaak proceeds to scan the ring's internal memory, brining up an image of the deceased Green Lantern who once wore it. Neither he, nor Hal, nor Kilowog can identify him, though. So one of the guardians decides that it's now backstory time. There are 3200 sectors of space in the galaxy, each one with its own Green Lantern. The Lantern who croaked was a secret "Frontier Lantern." Frontier Lanterns are sent beyond the edges of Guardian space to deliver law and justice to the places beyond the reach of the Guardians. Kind of like the Long Walk from Judge Dredd. If you're not familiar with the Long Walk from Judge Dredd, than it's like the Frontier Lanterns. You're welcome.

Apparently, Frontier Lanterns keep dying, despite their limited backup and limited training. Hal, Salaak, and Kilowog are incredulous over all of this being withheld from the other Green Lanterns, but the head Guardian (or at least the bossiest one), Appa Ali Apsa, makes the point that it takes 18 months at top speed to even reach Frontier Space, so communications and information are limited. He goes on to try and resume the trial against Hal Jordan, but another Guardian named "Ganthet" calls for a coffee break.

"Who's up for Starbucks?"
During said break, Ganthet decides to take a -stroll- float through the main city and heads with Hal and Kilowog to the docking bay for an experimental ship, powered by a giant willpower battery: the Interceptor. It's so fast, the ship needs an artificial intelligence to be able to properly navigate space. Hal offers to fly the thing to Frontier Space, but Ganthet tells him not to do so in such a way that makes it clear that he wants Hal to come back later and steal the darn thing.

Meanwhile, in Frontier Space, Zilius Zox and his Not-Batman companion trick another Frontier Lantern with their Bird-of-Prey, but he barely manages to escape.  Later, at Oa, Hal tries to sneak into the Interceptor hangar by making a fake Ganthet with his ring, but this is detected. Probably because his impression of Ganthet sounded more like Obi-Wan Kenobi. So he goes for Plan B, and breaks in. In the hangar he literally runs straight into Kilowog. But Kilowog's not there to be a snitch; he brought a couple Green Lantern power batteries and is ready to get this show on the road!

They enter the ship, marveling at the giant power battery, and Hal starts to take a liking to the ship, calling it "she." The AI turns on, and Hal dubs it "Aya." Logically, that should be spelled "Ia," but the official spelling is "Aya." It bugs me, and apparently Kilowog, too.

Kilowog: "AI does not spell 'Aya,' it spells 'Ah-ee.'"

Hal flirts with the artificial intelligence, and it accepts the new name.

Hal: "Aya, would you like to play a game?"

Hal, you're an idiot. Never ask an AI if it wants to play a game. Or to open the pod bay doors. Or if it wants to build a snowman. Yeah, artificial intelligences hate Frozen. I was shocked, too.

Wait... Hal Jordan... HAL 9000...  There's an obvious joke to be made. If the show doesn't, I will.

Hal: "The game's called 'Joyride.'"

Didn't they play that on Game Grumps once?

Aya learns quick, though, and the Guardians soon spot the Interceptor flying over their domed meeting room. They fly up and, now get this, knock on the window and motion for Hal to land the thing. Hal responds by teaching Aya about breaking programming. Because that's always a good thing to teach to an artificial lifeform. For every T-800 that ends up learning how to love, there's also a HAL 9000 that refuses to open the pod bay doors, Hal. Thankfully, Aya refrains from killing all the squishy meatbags and does an unauthorized jump to warp drive into Frontier Space. The drive takes them through a technicolor version of the Doctor Who intro, and Aya warns them that they're going to disintegrate soon because, as it turns out, bypassing the safeties is a bad idea.

Don't hit Tom Baker!
Aya converts to manual control, and manages to exit warp by ramming the ship into the side of the wormhole they're in. Apparently, the Star Trek warp drive rule of "Faster than light, no left or right" does not apply in this universe. They emerge into Frontier Space, and they detect the Frontier Lantern from earlier in trouble on a nearby planet.

On the planet's surface, the Lantern isn't doing too well, but our heroes swoop in before one of the Red Lanterns can snuff him. The Green Lanterns fight the red ones, and it becomes apparent that Red Lanterns' light can easily destroy green energy constructs.

Hal's ring runs low on energy, so he goes to distract the two Red Lanterns while Kilowog gets the injured Frontier Lantern back to the ship. After a chase and a lightsaber fight (well, red energy sword and a green energy baseball bat), Hal's ring runs out of energy, having used his last burst to create a decoy of himself. A powerless Hal Jordan then hightails it back to the Interceptor, managing to dodge the Red Lanterns thanks to Kilowog's help. Hal jumps onto the ship, and recites the Green Lantern oath in the fastest way I've ever seen to recharge his ring.

You know, it's funny. In this show, you say the oath to activate the recharge for your ring. In the comic books, saying the oath is basically a timer. Instead of just counting to thirty, or whatever, you say the oath. By the time your finish, your ring is charged. So, yeah, saying the oath a mile a minute? Would not work in the comics. But it does here. And it's an awesome sight to behold, as Hal jumps off a cliff onto the ship's battery chamber, finishing the oath just as he lands.

This evens the odds considerably, and Hal uses the quick power burst straight from the ship's engine to blast the Red Lanterns into space. The effort from this makes him lose consciousness, but he regains it inside the ship. Kilowog updates him on the status of the recovering Frontier Lantern, and Hal vows to tame this final frontier. To explore strange, new worlds. To seek out new life, and new civilizations. To miss his date with his girlfriend that he promised before he left!  ...oops.

Let's review!

2 comments:

  1. "Hey I'm Hal!" "I'm Kilowog!" "AAAAND WEEE'RE THE GAME LANTERNS!"

    Also: really, Hal? Flirting with a computer? Really? REALLY?

    - That One Anon

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    1. Does anyone else remember that episode of Star Trek where Riker got into a relationship with a genderless alien? That's what this reminds me of.

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