I have three problems with D.C.'s line of animated DTV's. First, of the
twelve films (including the showcase compilation), only three haven't
starred or featured Batman and/or Superman. Secondly, the story lines
and art styles are often lifted panel by panel from the comics. Lastly,
the running times for these productions falls somewhere between an hour
and 78 minutes. This is normally too short to tell a full story and way
too short to be taken seriously by anyone but an extremely small, niche
market. Well, I'm glad to say "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" (GL: EK)
remedies most of this.
Superman and Batman are nowhere to be found within this anthology. Even
though he's on the cover, Hal Jordan isn't even the focus. This DTV
instead fleshes out the expanded DCU characters of the Green Lantern
Corp across six chapters.
There is "The First Lantern". Serving as an origin story, of sorts, for
the Corp, we get to see the first time a ring chooses its bearer.
Later, when this first batch of Lantern's is being pummeled, we get to
see Avra, a former scribe, create the first ever energy construct and
save the day. After this is "Kilowog", which is a condensed, cosmic
version of the military boot camp scenarios presented in films like
"Heartbreak Ridge" and "G.I. Jane". It starts with Kilowog as a rookie
dealing with an overbearing drill sergeant named Deegan and how, due to
battlefield conditions, he ultimately becomes THE overbearing drill
sergeant. Next is "Laira", which successfully combines the tone of Xena
with the Green Lantern mythos, and sports some of the best fight scenes
to have graced any animated DTV. Following this chapter is "Mogo
Doesn't Socialize". The short is basically one big setup that leads to
a pretty effective punch-line regarding the size and scope of the
Corp's single, largest member. Narrated by Sinestro, "Abin Sur" is
mostly a sobering discussion between Abin Sur and the warlord Atrocitus
and then between Abin Sur and Sinestro about such heady subjects as
death and destiny. Honestly, it was a bit of a drag. The final entry is
"Emerald Knights" which ties together all the shorts in a grand cosmic
battle where the planet OA is wielded as a mace to knock the big bad
back into the sun.
Of these six stories, "Kilowog", "Laira" and "Mogo Doesn't Socialize"
were lifted from the comic's. Contrarily, "The First Lantern", "Abin
Sur" and "Emerald Knights" were largely original creations. The art
style owes more to the lavish designs of "Green Lantern: First Flight"
(GL: FF) than any comic panel which helps this further distinguish
itself from the source material. I'm also highly grateful for the
increased running time. These DTV's usually feel about ten to twelve
minutes too short. But, at 84 minutes, "Emerald Knights" doesn't feel
even remotely rushed and has enough time to say what it needs to.
Unfortunately, there is some bitter to go with the sweet.
The pink, beach-ball looking G.L. was killed on camera in Laira's story
and his ring then went to her. However, he could clearly be seen at the
end as part of the assault against Krona? Also, GL: EK contradicts or
completely disregards major plot points from GL: FF. A seasoned Hal
Jordan works alongside Sinestro, who's yet to go rogue? Arisia is a new
recruit being mentored by Hal? Boodika and Tomar-Re are still alive?
This makes it so the two films aren't related in any way save for
subject matter. The DTV market may be flexible enough to accommodate
this, but I see it as a wasted opportunity and take issue with it. By
the way, speaking of Tomar-Re, it's a shame his character was so
marginalized—given his role in the comics and the live action film. It
would've been nice to see more on his back-story, even if it was
nothing more than the fact Krypton blew up in his sector and on his
Despite these shortcomings, to any fan of the comics, the movie or
numerous animated series to feature any member of the Corp, GL: EK is
still well worth watching as either a rental or as part of your
collection. While it sports a few dings, Bruce Timm and Lauren
Montgomery have demonstrated a far better grasp of what makes this
property work than the powers behind the lackluster, live-action
production do. One can only hope they're allowed to continue devoting
their talents to the characters of the expanded DCU and not just to a
nerdy bumpkin named Clark and a sad little rich boy named Bruce.
So now, as a blogger, a fan of animation, a reformed comic fanboy and
just cause I can, I'm going to ramble off a list of projects I'd love
to see: Secret Lives/an anthology detailing a day in the life of the
core Justice League's secret I.D.'s; Deathstroke/the sacrifices
Wilson's made to be the most dangerous man in the DCU as he faces his
greatest challenge; The Flash/Wally West's first time connecting with
the speed force; Birds of Prey/showing how the fairer sex of the DCU is
most definitely not the weaker one; Robin/Tim Drake dealing with the
legacy of being Robin as he takes the title out of Batman's shadow;
Suicide Squad/villains unleashed against enemies of the state;
Shazam/Captain Marvel repeatedly being mistaken for an off-world
Superman as he repels an alien invasion; Wonder Woman/a direct sequel
to her outstanding 2009 DTV; Secret Six/bad guys fighting worse guys;
Hit-man/Tommy Monaghan and company shooting their way through a
different side of Gotham City; Booster Gold & Blue Beetle/the duo
falling ass backwards through saving the day; Blue Devil/high
technology mixes with ancient magic, creating a new kind of hero; Green
Arrow/anything by Mike Grell.
If just one of these characters ended up being the subject of an
animated DTV, I might risk breaking my face and actually crack a smile.