Green Lantern: The Animated Series, vol. 0-3

65-coverThe first four volumes of the Green Lantern: The Animated Series graphic novels present four separate adventures of Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Kilowog as they patrol outer space and fight evil. In True Colors, Hal and Kilowog investigate a strange energy source that appears to be an unattended green power ring. Where is the Green Lantern who should be wielding it? Or is it even what it seems? In Counterfeits, Hal and Kilowog have captured a Red Lantern named Razer, but may be forced to strike an uneasy alliance with him when shadowy enemies attack their ship. The Invisible Destroyer sees the Green Lanterns and Razer fighting side-by-side against an enemy who can absorb their rings’ powers and use them to boost his own attacks. In Bounty Hunter, the three Lanterns and their ship’s computer Aya, who can take a humanoid form, are visiting a populated planet when a mysterious attacker tries to kidnap Razer.

The volumes are not numbered anywhere and all four have the same publication date, but the reading order does make a difference. True Colors is first and begins with a brief description of what Green Lanterns are and do, which is not repeated in the other books. Counterfeits introduces the character Razer, who appears in the other two books. The Invisible Destroyer, which begins with a reference to the end of True Colors, comes third, and Bounty Hunter is fourth. That said, a reader who is at all familiar with Green Lantern could pick up and enjoy any of these books.

These have much in common with the Batman Adventures graphic novels, also set in the continuity of an animated superhero TV series (and also published by Stone Arch Books). Like Batman Adventures, each of these is a sturdy thirty-two-page hardcover, and each contains a section at the end with graphic novel comprehension exercises. These encourage readers to think about how panels, sound effects, facial expressions, and more work to convey a story, and also to consider elements of the Green Lantern stories in particular. They suggest creative activities, like coming up with your own Green Lantern character or inventing your own type of power ring. This section also contains kid-friendly bios of the authors and artists, a short list of vocabulary definitions from the story, and simplified how-to-draw instructions for one character from the book.

The art is bold and colorful, with lots of action. The Green Lanterns’ powers are just as creative and flashy as they should be, given that the rings give them the ability to make anything they can imagine manifest itself in bright, glowing green. Though many are fantastical aliens, the characters have expressive faces and postures. The scenes are all easy to read, even with giant glowing weapons and other objects flying around.

The violence is comparable to that in the Batman Adventures graphic novels, which is to say frequent but neither bloody nor, for the most part, lethal. Being superheroes, the Green Lanterns spend a lot of time fighting, but they’re always the good guys and they protect and rescue civilians. Unlike Batman, though, these aren’t grim, quiet types. The camaraderie between Hal Jordan and Kilowog and the occasional humor in the books keeps things from getting too dark, even when real danger threatens.

I’ve always thought Green Lantern was underrated and I hope these fun, accessible graphic novels, geared toward young readers, will help familiarize more kids with a very cool superhero franchise.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series, vol. 0-3
by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani
Art by Dario Brizuela
True Colors, vol. 0: ISBN 9781434247957
Counterfeits, vol. 1: ISBN 9781434255662
The Invisible Destroyer, vol. 2: ISBN 9781434247964
Bounty Hunter, vol. 3: ISBN 9781434248350
Stone Arch Books, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: Reading Level 3.8