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It feels great to have Green Lantern: The Animated Series back on the air after being on hiatus for the summer.  After the epic conclusion in Episode 13, “Homecoming”, the sky is the limit in terms of the direction that the creators can take the series and with the latest episode, “The New Guy”, we see Hal Jordan’s not so triumphant return to Earth and the repercussions of taking up the mantle of Green Lantern has on Hal’s civilian life.  As the quippy title implies, there literally is a new guy in town and with this episode’s debut of Guy Gardner viewers get a Green Lantern of a decidedly different shade of green.
Before we see Hal reunite with Carol Ferris the episode starts with the ominous arrival of the Anti-Monitor on Biot, a planet in the comics that exists in an area of space incapable of sustaining organic life outside of the 3600 sectors of Guardian space – the perfect homeworld for the Manhunters.  While the Manhunters were supposedly shut down there are patrol ships on Biot which unsuccessfully engage the Anti-Monitor, and his show of force is enough in these few seconds to let the viewer know that he is a force unlike any other.  Sending out a signal into space as a means of using the deactivated Manhunters as his army, the Anti-Monitor stakes his claim and the main antagonist for the rest of the season.

Returning to Earth in what we assume is the same scene which closed out the “Homecoming” episode, although the time seems to have shifted to daytime, Hal is confronted by a Carol who is somehow less supportive of Hal despite all they went through in the first thirteen episodes.  It’s perhaps a little jarring to see Carol, who helped return Hal’s memory after he was transported by the Zamorans by using the power battery from his locker, has now packed the same battery in box as she let’s him know he’s unemployed for being unreliable.  It’s a contrast which I think comes off okay given the hiatus, but in having just watched the whole first season is preparation for this episode I found it a little out of character given how she was acting not long before this episode.  However, given that perhaps Carol might have also been affected by her own transport from Zamoran, one which also resulted in a change in eye color, perhaps there’s something more at play here and that notion has me reserving judgement for now.  Any way you look at this, Hal is learning quickly that it’s not easy being green.

Hal finds himself a lantern without a sector and a man without a life

After promising to meet with Carol over dinner to talk about how they can make at least their personal relationship work out, Hal soon discovers that he’s been replaced in more than one way when he arrives on the scene of a construction crane accident.  After taking care of the crane Hal gets a rather rude introduction to his replacement, but soon the Guy Gardner and Hal seemingly find common ground and head off for some hot wings.

Meanwhile an underground tomb that has some long deactivated Manhunters in it is being examined and unfortunately for the poor scientist inside the Anti-Monitor’s signal reaches Earth and brings them to life at the most inopportune moment.  Dining on the rooftop of McDuffie’s, a classy nod to the Dwayne McDuffie who passed away in 2011, Hal confides in Guy and upon some prompting Hal decides to call the Guardians on the carpet for replacing him.  But in Hal’s absence Guy seems to have won over everyone from his adoring public to Salaak and even the Guardians themselves.  This scene in particular is highly amusing as the contrast between how Appa Ali Apsa  treats Guy and  how he treats Hal is played out particularly well.

Alpha dog fight!

Any camaraderie that was felt between the two is quickly thrown out the window as they engage in a battle of will and ego over who will be serving Sector 2814.  The fight is fun to watch as both men bring out constructs to try to get the upper hand on the other, but it ends in a draw when the two see a news report from a rather ubiquitous reporter who is commenting on strange energy seen at the site.  Hal and Guy race to the tomb and the two Green Lantern continue their verbal sparring, which is played for the maximum entertainment value, until they find the newly reactivated Manhunters.

Hal and Guy manage to evade the robots and report the news to Salaak, who warns them of the dire consequences should the Manhunters be allowed to roam free.  Hal and Guy find a way to take out all three of the Manhunters by working together, but the confrontation has made Hal late for his dinner with Carol, who chooses to end their romantic relationship knowing that she will forever be second fiddle to the obligations of him being a Green Lantern.  Hal is summoned to Oa but doesn’t leave until one punching Guy after he implies that perhaps he is the right man for Carol.  When he arrives Hal is given a new assignment, one which will very likely keep him off planet for some time.

The Manhunter pose a formidable and intimidating threat without taking the Anti-Monitor into consideration

For anyone worried about how Guy Gardner might be portrayed there’s certainly no cause for concern.  Diedrich Bader provides absolutely the right vocal quality in his portrayal of Guy and he really bring the character to life.  While Guy is still very much the jerk many may find this version of Guy more palatable that his comic book inspiration.  While Guy’s alpha male personality is a contrast to Hal’s they both have the “right stuff” to wear the ring and any sense of competition is thrown out the window when there’s a job to be done.  Despite their different approaches they have a lot in common and it will be a great deal of fun to see how these two interact going forward.

If you thought that the ring constructs were sparse in the first half of the season, “The New Guy” has a plethora of well thought out character driven choices that do a great job of illustrating the power of a Green Lantern’s imagination.  Another detail that many may overlook is the interesting visualization of the emotions that the Manhunters detect in Hal, Guy and the two reporters.  In that brief sequence each character is displayed as having a unique “emotional signature” that showed varying amounts of color based on the emotional spectrum for each person.  I caught them the first time I watched the episode and found myself pausing those moments in subsequent viewings to really look at them and take note of the amounts of avarice, hope, rage, will and, yes, fear.  I greatly appreciate that there’s been a great deal of thought put into something which may seem so trivial, but then again it may not be a trivial thing as the rest of the season unfolds.

The attention to the subtle details is one of many things to love about this series

As for Hal’s new role as a member of the Honor Guard, I was completely taken off guard, but it makes absolute sense given that the writers can’t have Hal on Earth for the rest of the season and by giving him this new assignment it allows him to go anywhere as he assembles a team to take on the Manhunters.  Luckilly for Hal the Interceptor is available for him to tool around the universe quickly, which means we are very likely to get to see a lot of familiar characters and soon.  In fact, if you’ve seen the DC Nation sizzle reel you already know that we will.  I know I was happy to see Hal at least have something positive happen to him because I was beginning to feel a little sad for the guy!

“The New Guy” is another great episode for the series and a fun way to kick off the show’s return from hiatus.  The creative team behind Green Lantern: The Animated Series continues to put a lot of TLC and thought into crafting the best interpretation of the Green Lantern universe on this side of the printed page.  Five out of five lanterns.

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