This time around, we’re going back into space and revisit our favorite team of intergalactic law enforcers. Not just limited to a particular one, we’re checking out many of them in a tale called…
Originally released on June 8, 2011, this film was released nine days before the disappointing live-action Green Lantern film. Like “Batman: Gotham Knight”, this is also an anthology film. Lauren Montgomery makes her sixth directorial outing in the main story and also in a segment to come, Geoff Johns co-wrote the story, Todd Casey co-wrote the screenplay, and Alan Burnett co-wrote for both. How does it fare in brightest day and blackest night? Let’s dive in.
We open in space where a Green Lantern named Ardakian Trawl (voiced by Grey DeLisle-Griffin) is contacted by Kilowog (voiced by Henry Rollins) to go on patrol. Just then, the sun that she passes by has a gateway open up and Shadow Demons start emerging from within. She valiantly tries to defend herself, but they ultimately rip her to shreds and kill her. Her Green Lantern ring then flies back to G.L. headquarters.
Following our title drop, we then cut to the planet Oa where the Guardians have gathered the Green Lantern Corps for an emergency meeting. Head Guardian Ganthet (voiced by radio host Michael Jackson) and his fellow mentors use Ardakian’s ring to project what happened. They say that the Shadow Demons emerged from the same sun that Oa is near and that the gateway leads to the Antimatter Universe. Even worse, the demonic beings are under the control of a gigantic entity named Krona, the same being that created said universe. This was a figure so destructive that all of creation was nearly wiped off the face of existence. He was initially defeated by being turned into disembodied energy and was scattered throughout the universe, but he reformed within his own universe. Because he threatens the planet Oa, all important documents (including the Book of Oa) are being evacuated and every Green Lantern has to charge their rings in order to prepare for the looming threat. Meanwhile, a small group of GLs have used their rings to construct space stations to oversee and await his return.
We then cut to the Central Power Battery (also to be removed from the planet for safety) where Hal Jordan (voiced by Captain Hammer himself, Nathan Fillion) is in line with his trainee Arisia Rrab (voiced by Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss). The impending crisis has interrupted her training, since she’s new to the Corps and doubting her own worth to the team. Hal states that Avra was feeling the same way when he began. Since she hasn’t heard about him yet, he decides to use this time in the line to tell her the tale of “The First Lantern“. (Writers: Michael Green & Mark Guggenheim. Director: Christopher Berkeley)
Our first segment opens in space where the Dominators are going around to each solar system and waging utter destruction. In response, the Guardians used a light source to forge four Green Lantern rings.
Afterwards, they would gather the finest warriors together and give out these rings where each one would choose its particular bearer. One by one, the rings flew out towards an individual of its choosing.
However, the biggest surprise came when it was time for the fourth and final ring to choose its bearer. It ended up taking Avra (voiced by Mitchell Whitfield), a scribe who was recording this moment for the Guardians and also had no prior combat training of any kind.
After some training, we then cut to Avra and his fellow newbies (from left to right) G’Hu (voiced by Steven Blum), Watchet (voiced by Jane Singer) and Blu (voiced by Gwendoline Yeo) as they’re assigned by the Guardians with defeating the ever-growing army of the Dominators. They put up a good fight and manage to score a lot of well-placed hits, but the over-whelming numbers begin to take their toll. Worse, Blu gets knocked down and is killed in a kamikaze attack with G’Hu retrieving her ring shortly following her demise. Ultimately, the remainder of the Corps are forced to retreat.
With the massive Dominator army surrounding the area, they’re forced to hide within an asteroid. While Watchet and G’Hu decide on trying to make a run for it, Avra has a realization. Since the rings were forged through will, it can also be used to help in their survival. His teammates are disbelieving due to the overwhelming odds against them, yet he still decides to go down fighting.
As such, Avra starts blasting away at several Dominator star ships. During the heat of the fight, the enemy warships fire back and catch the little Green Lantern in a continuous firing beam. Only in this dire moment does Avra discover a hidden strength to not only overcome this obstacle, but his own will helped his ring create the very first energy construct: a sword. After Avra strikes back with his newly-formed weapon, his newly-inspired teammates fight back with constructs of their own.
Hal concludes the tale by saying that through time, even more rings were forged and the Corps would grow in size. Even Avra’s life would pass on eventually as a quick montage showed every Green Lantern who would inherit his ring as it eventually makes its way towards Hal himself.
We head back to our main story as Hal and Arisia get their rings charged up. Afterwards, she gets introduced to Kilowog who tells her that this impeding crisis won’t be as rough as his boot camp session. As they fly off towards Oa’s sun, Arisia tells her mentor of what she’s heard about him. When Hal tells her that he’s nowhere near demanding as Deegan was, this leads into our next tale “Kilowog”. (Based on “New Blood” by Peter J. Tomasi & Chris Samnee. Writer: Peter J. Tomasi. Director: Lauren Montgomery)
The segment opens with the titular character among several new recruits under the strict watch of Sgt. Deegan (voiced by Wade Williams). While under his regime, Kilowog and his fellow rookies are subjected to brutal survival-of-the-fittest tests and each one requires them to do so without the help of their rings.
From avoiding fierce lava and crumbling cliffs within an active volcano to being dropped off next to a fierce whirlpool, Kilowog and company get all the harsh training they can handle. So much so that he even dives in and saves fellow rookie Tomar-Re (bottom middle and voiced by James Arnold Taylor) from drowning within the fierce riptide.
Finally on one particular evening, Kilowog confronts Deegan on his vicious training regime and for seemingly getting some enjoyment out of their misery. This makes the sergeant retaliate by smacking Kilowog around, causing a brief scuffle to occur as Deegan has little trouble bringing his titanic trainee down. Shortly afterwards, they get contacted and find out that the Khunds are attacking the capitol area of the planet Chiraka. Not only that, but they’re the closest ones to said crisis. As such, the recruits get their rings back and fly off to take care of the situation.
Upon arrival, the Green Lanterns find the Khunds ravaging the native Chirakans. Deegan orders his recruits to help out the innocent bystanders while he takes care of the attacking forces. As such, he forms a barrier around the invading army.
However, the Khunds are able to blast through the green force field. No matter how many walls Deegan constructs, the attacking army continues to fire their way towards him. The battle-hardened sergeant responds by going on the offensive, even when the Khunds strike back with a powerful tank beam. Deegan then forms a drill-like construct and dives into the tank, causing it to explode.
However, the blast causes him to violently crash into the ground and leave him in critical condition. The Khundian army arrives to finish him off, but Kilowog comes to the rescue. He then orders the rest of the Lanterns to protect the Chirankan civilians as he performs a taser sweep. The wide-spread blast wipes out the remaining Khunds as the day is saved. Afterwards, Kilowog revisits Deegan who commends him for his proud effort. After saying that he would never let any of his recruits die on purpose during their training, Deegan uses his excess blood to inscribe the Green Lantern logo on Kilowog’s chest and gives him that honorary title before he succumbs to his injuries and passes on. And so, the segment ends with the newly-promoted Kilowog ordering Tomar-Re and the rest of the recruits to round up and arrest any Khund soldier that survived the blast.
Back in the main story, Hal and Arisia arrive at the outskirts of Oa’s sun. After heading into one of the space station constructs, they meet up with Sinestro (voiced by Jason Isaacs) who tells them that only a few Shadow Demons have popped up but nothing major has occurred yet.
It’s then that fellow Green Lantern Laira (voiced by Lady Deathstrike herself, Kelly Hu) joins their conversation and says that she feels the presence growing more and more from within and that it won’t yield to anything. After Hal states that she’s one of the fellow teammates he’d happily stand alongside with and that she’s really good despite not being in the Corps for very long, this leads into the next segment simply called “Laira”. (Based on “What Price Honor?” by Ruben Diaz & Travis Charest. Writer: Eddie Berganza. Director: Jay Oliva)
The segment opens on the year prior when the Guardians sent her out on her first solo mission to her home planet Jayd. She confronts her current mother Ree’Yu (also voiced by Grey DeLisle-Griffin) about the scattered corpses within the planetary reaches. She then learns that it was the Khunds who have been massacred by Jayd’s main army, the Golden Dragon. Even worse, Laira discovers that the mass slaughter upon the enemy race wasn’t even provoked.
The two of them then proceed to tussle with one another as their fight ultimately brings Ree’Yu’s ship out of orbit and gets pulled down towards the planet. She’s ultimately bested by Laira as she dismantles the elongated armor arms and knocks out the corrupt second mother.
After being allowed access into her home castle, she gets confronted by her brother Rubyn (voiced by David Kaufman). The hostility that has been laid upon Jayd has also gotten to him as he successful gets some hits onto his sister due to his armor having a cloaking device. Laira fixes this by using her ring and casting its energy throughout the room so that he has nowhere to hide. From there, the two of them get into weapons combat with each other before Rubyn gets defeated.
Laira makes her way to her old bedroom where she finds her father Kentor (voiced by Tony Amendola) and wants to know why Jayd has fallen into cruel times. Even though the Khunds didn’t provoke the Golden Dragon into battle now, they did so in the past.
Back then, they had slaughtered the many citizens of Jayd and the numerous warriors of the Golden Dragon. Even Kentor himself stood little chance of standing up to this murderous onslaught of an armada.
Fortunately, the Green Lantern of this sector Galius Zed (voiced by Bruce Timm in a cameo) manages to come by and turn in a valiant fight. However, the might of the Khundian army proves to be too much for him to handle as their firepower ultimately wears him down. In the end, they beat the Green Lantern to death as his ring flies off upon his demise.
When the ring flies towards him, Kentor sees this as his opportunity to use it to turn the tide of the fight. However, it redirects itself just in time to fly up to the one successor it has chosen: Laira. When her newly-acquired ring, she’s able to summon the Green Lantern Corps to come in and rid the planet of the Khunds.
Despite the victory, it has left Kentor bitter and without personal honor. This is what drove him and the Golden Dragon into becoming vicious as they try to wipe out the opposing Khunds, even if they don’t bother to provoke an attack. He wants Laira to help him continue this dishonorable agenda and hand her ring over to him, to which she rightfully refuses.
As such, Kentor armors up and prepares to fight his own daughter for control of the ring. All of her past training gets put to the test as Laira finds herself in the fight for her life.
Even as past memories are projected, Kentor continues his vicious assault. The fight ultimately makes its way to the throne room where Laira gets pinned to the wall by her father’s spear. He then proceeds to remove his daughter’s ring and places it onto his own hand. Having seen her father’s decent towards madness, Laira’s will allows her ring to relieve Kentor of his armor before she frees herself and beats daddy dearest before it returns to her hand. Defeated and having no other way to regain his honor, Kentor commits the ritual suicide of Seppuku by stabbing himself in the stomach with his own dagger.
A tearful moment ensues as he tells his daughter that she’s the real protector of Jayd and not the Golden Dragon as he succumbs to his wound. And so, the segment ends with Laira meeting up with said army one last time before she flies off towards the Corps.
Back in our main story, Hal and Arisia are told by Kilowog and Tomar-Re that Oa has been completely evacuated. When Hal says that he’s going to take a look around the sun, another Green Lantern named Palaqua (also voiced by Steven Blum) comes along to tell them that he might as well since every member outside of Mogo is starting to fill up the various stations. Arisia is puzzled on who Mogo is, to which Hal brings her along on his patrol to tell her the tale of why exactly “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize”. (Based on story of same name by Alan Moore [unaccredited] and drawn by Dave Gibbons. Writer: Dave Gibbons. Director: Jay Oliva)
The segment opens on Bolphunga The Unrelenting (voiced by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper), a vicious creature who seeks to wipe out the universe’s greatest warriors. Next on his hit list is Kloha Vud (also voiced by Steven Blum), a four-armed magma alien who’s nicknamed “Titan of the Vlidomals”.
After a vicious battle, Bolphunga manages to slice off every last arm from the gigantic beast and best him in combat. Even in defeat, Kloha says that an even-greater warrior named Mogo exists. Not only that, but he’s also a Green Lantern. With a higher prize awaiting him, Bolphunga spares Kloha’s life in order to know where he can locate him.
Despite having no information about his target (due to Green Lantern info being forbidden to outsiders by order of the Guardians), Bolphunga arrives at his destination and sends out his energy probes to track down Mogo. However, he keeps getting false energy readings. His search ultimately lasts for months upon months of being unable to find the elusive Green Lantern.
Frustrated to the highest degree, Bolphunga has a new set of energy probes spread throughout every single area of the planet and set up explosives in order to draw him out into the open. After a lengthy period of time, the charges are set and begin to blow up.
Bolphunga checks out his computer to see the process happening and awaits for the mighty Green Lantern to emerge. Suddenly, the planet has a green energy wave fly over it and heals itself from the explosives. To his shock, he finds out that the entire planet itself IS Mogo.
Bolphunga finds himself under attack as he tries to retreat. However, Mogo traps his ship in a green light and strips it apart to defeat the “Unrelenting” warrior once and for all. With its perfect survival streak in tact, Mogo drops its GL logo to resemble a normal planet again, bringing an end to this segment.
Shortly after returning to our main story, Hal and Arisia find themselves under attack by the Shadow Demons. Not too long into the fight, Kilowog, Laira, and Sinestro join in to help them out. The battle comes to an end with Sinestro forming a bullet-shaped missile that causes a massive Shadow Demon to explode in a green light, but Arisia finds herself caught in the blast.
After being knocked out for a while, she finally wakes up within the station and sees Sinestro watching over her. He tells her that the rest of the Green Lanterns are out patrolling the sun and that a pressure zone is forming underneath as Krona prepares for his ultimate strike. He even relays a quote that former Green Lantern Abin Sur mentioned in that destiny can be very tricky, leading into our final segment simply called “Abin Sur”. (Based on “Tygers” by Alan Moore [unaccredited] and drawn by Kevin O’Neill. Writer: Geoff Johns. Director: Christopher Berkeley)
We open with a fight in progress as Abin Sur (voiced by Arnold Vosloo) finds himself in dire straights against Atrocitus (voiced by Bruce Thomas). Not only is his ring running dangerously low on power, but the red-tinted foe has his lantern. Without it, he won’t be able to recharge his own ring. Abin Sur tries his best to fight back and reclaim his lantern, but Atrocitus is able to strike back furiously.
Sinestro arrives in time and manages to hold the big red alien, allowing Abin Sur to use his ring and attack with a huge amount of water. However, Atrocitus recovers and starts smashing the lantern on a rock. After enough hits, he then throws it high into the air. If his lantern explodes, it will create a blast that will annihilate the surrounding city and maybe the rest of the planet as well.
As such, Abin Sur flies up to get his bashed beacon and hopefully use it to recharge his ring so that he can contain enough energy to order to overt a deadly detonation. With the danger out of the way, the fully-charged Green Lantern easily catches up to the fleeing Atrocitus and brings his escape to an end.
As they take their captured foe back to his rightful prison, Abin Sur asks about Atrocitius. Sinestro tells him that he’s part of a terrorist group called the Five Inversions and was jailed on the prison planet Ysmault for over seven centuries. He escaped a week earlier after a space ship crashed onto the planet. After he killed the survivors, he made repairs and got out to go kill any Green Lantern that he could find by locking onto their ring’s power signals. The Book of Oa even claims that Atrocitus could make dark prophecies. As they stop to repair a stranded spaceship, Abin Sur talks about how much he believes in destiny. On the other hand, Sinestro doesn’t believe in that and just assumes that it’s all luck and coincidence. After repairing the ship, the two go on their separate ways as Abin Sur heads off to return Atrocitus to his rightful prison.
As Abin Sur arrives on Ysmault and starts fixing the restraints on the cell, Atrocitus tells him that his death will come when his ring fails him in his greatest hour of need. He also tells his prophecy of the Green Lantern Corps getting viciously murdered and the Guardians imprisoned by the Yellow Lanterns as they spread their reign of terror throughout the universe, all under the command of Sinestro. Despite the prophecy, Abin Sur doesn’t believe that his best friend would go down this path of destruction. The segment ends with him locking up Atrocitus within his cell and flying off.
We permanently return to the main story where the big conflict has finally happened with a gateway opening so fierce that it destroys the space station constructs. Krona has made his way back into the main universe and unleashes a massive swarm of Shadow Demons for the Green Lantern Corps to tussle with. Our Emerald Knights try their best to fight back, but nothing seems to slow the massive being down. Even worse, several Green Lanterns are getting killed off. Sinestro commands a retreat in order to regroup.
After regrouping, Arisia has a revelation. Since Krona is made of antimatter, striking back with equal or greater matter is the key. She plans on having the whole Corps use their rings and shove the planet Oa into the titanic being. Liking her idea, Hal orders everyone back to base in order to get their one chance of victory into effect.
With Krona in hot pursuit, the Green Lantern Corps manages to return to Oa. Upon arrival, every last one of them takes their place.
With their combined will, every single Green Lantern fires their rings onto the planet and manage to encase it in a giant green energy ball. With Oa covered in the emerald light, they push it towards Krona and begin their attack.
However, the monstrous being retaliates by sending out the biggest swarm of Shadow Demons that he can muster. It manages to slow the Corps’ assault down and even manages to reach the Green Lanterns in order to attack and maim them.
Just when all seems lost, Mogo actually arrives and gives his fellow Green Lanterns the extra firepower that they badly needed. Not only does it wipe out all of the Shadow Demons, its blast of green energy continues towards pushing Oa into their foe. Krona desperately tries to get himself free, but the excessive mass is too much for him to overcome as he crashes into the sun and ends up incinerated shortly afterwards.
Later on, the Guardians have a meeting with the Corps as Ganthet tells them that Mogo will serve as their temporary base until a new planet Oa is made.
Even better, Arisia has gained greater respect among her fellow teammates as her successful master plan is now forever inscribed within the Book of Oa. And so, our film ends with every single Green Lantern heading out into space to go form their new home planet.
My favorite segment goes to “Mogo Doesn’t Socalize”, since I really enjoyed Roddy Piper’s performance as a cocky, over-confident, and ravaging brute. I don’t watch wrestling (not really interested), so my only exposure to Rowdy Roddy heading in was John Carpenter’s 1988 cult classic “They Live”. While the character of John Nada can be taken somewhat seriously due to the situation that takes place in that film, Bolphunga’s bounty hunting skills get shunned when his hot streak comes crashing down. His voice also adds to the comedic feel of this story and seeing him get his comeuppance is priceless. The twist ending was also set up really well, since Mogo isn’t well known and we only have the hear-say of other characters to know what he’s like.
Tied for my second favorite is “The First Lantern” and “Laira”. One is an original story that helps flesh out the beginnings of the Corps itself and even has a new character to give the proud team of intergalactic law enforcers its many notable firsts while the other is one of four comic stories adapted into the segments and helps a lesser known female Green Lantern get some notice into the public eye while discovering her family’s decent into tyranny. Just like in Gotham Knight, there’s something satisfying to me about secondary characters having a chance to show off what they can do. Other than that, the rest of the segments (along with the main story) do their purpose to hold up.
As far as characters go, Nathan Fillion really holds up as Hal Jordan. Even since I came across him in my review of Wonder Woman, this guy has really grown on me. It also helped that I saw him in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” and that the same level of charisma he displayed there was also present here. He’s not the main focus of this film, but he turns in a level of dedication that Earth’s representative to the Corps can bring.
For the second review in a row, a leading lady from “Mad Men” has arrived to take the reigns of leading lady in a DC animated film. Elisabeth Moss does do an admirable job as someone that I can relate to, a newbie wanting to leave a lasting mark. For the most part, Arisia learns about the Green Lantern Corps just like the home audience and serves as our window to that knowledge. In that vein, it works.
Overall, while not my favorite anthology film, it succeeds in painting the big picture of what the Green Lantern mythos stands for. While video and dialogue can be a hair off from each other, it’s not much of a distraction. The story is engaging, the animation looks nice, and the climatic battle has that feeling of an all-or-nothing stakes on life itself. If you’re ever interested on the Green Lantern Corps as a whole, this movie is worth a watch.
Next Time: It’s back to Gotham City for us and it’s time that I chip in to the Dark Knight’s 75th Anniversary by covering the adaptation of a “not-so-humble beginnings” story that has influenced many Batman tales over the years. Now, it’s my turn to toss in my two cents about it. It’ll be Miller Time when I dig into “Batman: Year One“.
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan created by John Broome and Gil Kane) is owned by DC Comics.