Hal Jordan is boring. Saint Walker and Kilowog aren’t.
Look: If you have Netflix—and you probably have Netflix—you need to watch Green Lantern: The Animated Series. All 26 episodes are there, in beautiful HD glory, waiting to be appreciated. And trust me here, you will appreciate them. I know Hal Jordan is easily the least interesting of the several characters to wear the Green Lantern title. I know you grew up with John Stewart, the much more interesting and much less generically white Green Lantern, in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. I know that terrible Green Lantern movie with Ryan Reynolds doesn’t help Jordan’s case. But in GL:TAS he’s not only likable, he also has the good grace to get out of the way of his much more interesting supporting cast. Because GL:TAS isn’t really about Hal Jordan. It’s not even about Earth, because the writers here know that a good Green Lantern story really shouldn’t be about Earth (unless Denny O'Neil is writing about him hanging out with Green Arrow). Jordan is one of thousands of members of the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps, only a handful of whom are human, and GL:TAS rightly focuses on those aliens: Jordan’s fellow Green Lantern Kilowog, the rage-fueled Red Lantern Razer, and their ship’s precocious AI Aya. It’s Razer and Aya, both created for the show, who are the real stars here. Both of them spend the series on their own journeys. Razer became a Red Lantern when the loss of his home and, more importantly, his wife filled him with rage, but he turns against the rest of the Red Lanterns because he can’t bring himself to destroy entire planets—he’s angry, but he’s not a bad person. When he tries to provoke Jordan into killing him as penance, Jordan instead takes him prisoner. Aya starts out as their experimental ship’s navigational computer, but as an experiment in artificial intelligence herself she’s driven to learn and grow, even constructing a body for herself so she can join her newfound friends when they leave the ship. She’s the only one of her kind, and she spends the series learning what it is to be a person—and that sometimes it hurts. Though the show is computer animated, longtime DC Comics animation fans will recognize the style of Bruce Timm, known for his work on nearly every DC cartoon from Batman: The Animated Series up through Justice League Unlimited. Some CG TV shows can suffer from the way animation costs are based on the number of new objects created, leaving environments looking sterile and underpopulated, but apart from some of the few Earth scenes GL:TAS manages to avoid that. There’s a new alien landscape in nearly every episode, and space battles are heavily populated by Lanterns and spaceships alike. In 1080p it looks downright breathtaking. Ultimately, Green Lantern: The Animated Series was cancelled by Cartoon Network for the same reason so many other good shows are: It wasn’t selling toys. With all the Green Lantern movie toys still sitting on shelves, they didn’t even try. And that is a terrible shame, because this is an excellent, perfectly written series. So go watch it. Help make it worth Cartoon Network’s while to make shows of this quality and keep them around for their own sake, not just to sell toys.