WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS!
Among the highlights of the 2011 New York Comic Con is the preview my children and I saw of Cartoon Network’s Green Lantern: The Animated Series. It had all of the personal and interpersonal issues that make a story interesting to adult audiences and enough explosions and fight scenes to keep younger audiences from fidgeting in their seats.
The issue that I hope they will continue to pursue in the series is the social inequities between the members of the Green Lantern Corps. The story begins at the edge of the universe. We learn through conversation between characters that those Green Lantern Corps members at the edge of the universe (and furthest from Oa, the Green Lantern home planet) receive less training than other Green Lanterns.
As an educator, this “training” issue immediately resonated with me. I equate it to the inequities in the American school system — zoning restrictions, class size, afterschool programs, universal Pre-K programs – issues directly and indirectly related to Brown v. the Board of Ed.
The Red Lanterns, the villains in this series, begin their attack at the edge of the universe. While the Guardians, the overseers of the Green Lanterns, are aware of these attacks they don’t see an immediate need to send help. It’s the impulsiveness of rookie Lantern, Hal Jordan, Earth’s Green Lantern (just in case you didn’t know yet), that provides a preventative step towards resolving the problem.
Both Hal and the Red Lantern rookie, Razor, are catalysts of change – fresh perspectives asking new questions of old biases and habits. And there is that one “rebel” Guardian who covertly assists Hal with his plans – someone from the current order who also doesn’t believe the status quo is infallible or unchangeable.
In education, this change is called “reform.” It’s also the current media buzzword news personalities use to sound informed about issues impacting education.
But its not just these higher order issues that make the Green Lantern series a good one. It’s the humor and what it reveals about human nature. One scene in particular sticks in my mind. It’s the scene where Green Lanterns Kilowog and Hal have just rescued an “edge of the universe” Green Lantern and are introducing themselves. After Hal introduces himself, Kilowog interjects something to the effect of “Don’t mind the mask. He wears it so no one he knows will recognize him. As if one of his friends would be flying around in outer space.”
It’s best that you watch the show and hear it for yourself. My retelling doesn’t do it justice. Not only can’t I remember the exact lines. I have also taken it out of context and as a result ruined its timing (which is important in comedy).
For those unfamiliar with the Green Lantern, this clip from the Challenge of the Super Friends gives you a quick no frills version of his origin:
Green Lantern: The Animated Series premieres on Cartoon Network this Friday, November 11, 2011.
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