With half of the first season of Green Lantern: The Animated Series behind us and the next batch of episodes just days away, I thought it was time to look back on all the great moments we have had so far and try to pick out my top ten. With that mission in mind my wife and I spent a block of time this past weekend to view all the episodes in one marathon session and we had an absolute blast reliving it all! And boy was it hard to narrow this list down to ten moments because there were just so darn many of them!
It's really amazing to see how much of the mythology made it into a little over four hours worth of television while not overwhelming the narrative and I've got to praise the creators of the show for embracing and running with it. If you'd told me even two years ago that there would be an animated series and it would include even half of what we've been treated to I would have laughed my head off. Now not only is it a reality but it's exposing the entire mythos to a whole new generation in a way that rewards anyone of any age with engaging storytelling. More than just a good comic book show, Green Lantern: The Animated Series is just plain great entertainment, period. If you missed our interview with series producter Giancarlo Volpe, you can listen to it here.
It's not surprising that nearly half of this list comes from the finale because of way the creators crafted their over-arcing story. From the pilot forward everything was designed to build towards a conclusion that filled the final twenty two minute episode with payoffs for the viewer. I've been wrestling with the list because there are so many great things and it seems a shame not to mention them all. In the end I cut things that I really, really enjoyed but this represents what I consider to be the the cream of the crop. So while scenes like the debut of Aya's physical form and Atrocitus' role in Razer's tragic story certainly deserve mention, these are the moments I've selected as my top ten.
10 - Hal Rescues the Train - Episode 1, "Beware My Power" (Part One)
It was vitally important for the animated series to set the right tone early on and the first time we meet Hal Jordan did a superb job of letting us know what kind of protagonist he was going to be. From the joyful whooping at the bliss of flying to ejecting to rescue the train to the plane subsequently crashing captured the essence of Hal in just a few moments. For everyone disappointed in the film, this was almost enough to make you forget the movie even existed.
9 - Mogo Socializes - Episode 6 - "Lost Planet"
Throughout these first thirteen episodes we've been treated to a fresh take on the Green Lantern mythology and one thing that really delights veteran fans is seeing a classic character brought to life. The "Lost Planet" episode concludes with the debut of a fan favorite member of the Corps that is every bit as cool as "Mogo Doesn't Socialize" and perhaps cooler given the role that Mogo plays with Saint Walker. While many aspects of Green Lantern lore have shown up in the animated series no one has made quite a big an entrance as Mogo.
8 - The Manhunter Legacy - Episode 10 - "Regime Change"
Not only does the Guardians' greatest failure find its way into the animated series, it drives the entire story of the first thirteen episodes. The show's producers have paid serious homage to the mythology of the comics and have included a number of key pieces of history such as Kilowog's tragic past. Here they stay true to the origins of the Red Lanterns and use their backstory to deliver a dramatic moment that causes Kilowog and Hal to question everything they believe in. While the Manhunter assault on Ryutt was first acknowledged in Episode 7 ("Reckoning") it's the admission of their mistake by the Guardians that makes the top ten.
7 - Carol's Transformation - Episode 9 -"In Love and War"
There's one thing that every fan expects to see with Carol Ferris and that's her transformation into Star Sapphire. "In Love and War" features a whole bunch of Star Sapphires and the creators of the series embraced the existence of even more colors of the emotional spectrum. In a departure from comics history Carol is able to give the ring up pretty easily, but not before having an huge impact by showing the Star Sapphires and the audience what love really means. Like so many elements introduced in the first half of the season, the Star Sapphires play a larger role when the Red Lantern invasion is launched. While Carol seems to have put her ring wielding days behind her quickly there's something about her eyes changing color after being transported to Earth that still has me thinking we'll see Carol wearing violet again in the future.
6 - St. Walker's Destiny - Episode 12 - "Invasion"
Saint Walker is arguably the most popular original character Geoff Johns has created in his tenure writing the Green Lantern comics. So fans everywhere had their interest piqued when it was mentioned that their favorite Blue Lantern would be a part of the animated series. From his delightful debut in Episode 6 ("Lost Planet") Saint Walker firmly established himself as the Shaolin Monk of the Green Lantern universe. On the eve of the invasion by the Red Lanterns the crew of the Interceptor would gain a great ally in the coming confrontation. The establishment of the first Blue Lantern created a dramatic arc for both Ganthet and Sayd which will likely play out as the series progresses.
5 - Kilowog's Stand - Episode 13 - "Homecoming"
The top five moments all come from the finale, with the first being the Kilowog's stand against the encroaching Red Lantern armada. After a dramatic goodbye from Hal and Razer, Kilowog prepares for what may well be his last battle, holding his own against overwhelming odds. The confrontation reaches a fever pitch and then the big payoff arrives when Saint Walker arrives with Mogo to turn the tide of battle. While the original sequence would have included Iolande and the Thanagarians and certainly would have been spectacular, their exclusion from the finished product makes the valiant efforts of the smaller team all the more heroic.
4 - Aya's Tear - Episode 13 - "Homecoming"
As an original character Aya provides the writers an opportunity to go anywhere they want with her. Throughout the season we've seen her evolve from a simple AI program to a full fledged member of the crew. While key moments like challenging Hal's flying ability in Episode 12 ("Invasion") and re-writing Razer's oath out of a growing sense of her understanding of humanity in Episode 8 ("Fear Itself") are certainly defining moments in her evolution, this scene where Aya sheds a robotic tear at being used to give the Red Lantern access to Oa is the high water mark for her character so far. With a carefully crafted and well executed character arc it's no wonder that Aya is the favorite character for so many viewers.
3 - Razer's Homing Beacon - Episode 13 - "Homecoming"
Like Aya, Razer has given the writers a wonderful opportunity to explore things with a character they can shape and mold however they see fit. Razer has certainly been through quite a bit since the pilot episode where he could have easilly been viewed as a cookie cutter villain. Cut from the cloth of tragedy his painful past is revealed to have come from the hands of the master he has chosen, and as Razer realizes that his side in this conflict may not be as noble as he first thought he embarks on a superbly crafted journey. He starts down a path of self loathing and learns over time to start finding his place in the universe while also learning to care again. In the finale to the first part of the season Razer's growth since the pilot becomes manifest as his feelings for Aya allow him make it to Oa. With Atrocitus under wraps it will be very interesting to see how Razer chooses to move forward with his life and how he deals with his robotic friend.
2 - Dessert - Episode 13 - "Homecoming"
While the closing moments of the finale might seem understated and not nearly as epic as others, Hal returning to Carol to keep his promise of sharing dessert is a perfect capstone to these first thirteen episodes. Rather than end in a chest pounding back slapping show of bravado and heroism, the story comes to a more subtle conclusion that perfectly captures the relationship between Carol and Hal and how it has evolved from the pilot episode. My wife actually "oooh"'ed when she saw this part - a testament to the ability of good animation to move you. Heck, she still won't let me watch "Iron Giant" when she's in the house because it makes her cry!
1 - Hal vs. Atrocitus - Episode 13 - "Homecoming"
From the first second of the pilot each episode brought us to this moment. The second Salaak opens the dome and Hal floats there ala Superman asking Zod to step outside nearly brought me to my feet. In a show of true character Hal empathizes with Atrocitus and calls for reparations, but the hate which drives the Red Lantern will not rest until he has exacted vengeance in his own way. Facing a superior force Hal simply isn't the kind of man to lay down and die. Even as the Guardians question whether he has the will to stand against Atrocitus the scene when Hal finds the will to stand back up gives me shivers. While I'd have liked the scene to play out a little longer it is the crescendo that every episode has built towards and that makes it my choice for the best moment of the animated series so far.