Review: Green Lantern TAS “Steam Lantern”

Well, after a nearly four-month hiatus (again), DC Nation is back on Cartoon Network! Though we may never know why the one-hour block of animation was pulled unexpectedly after only two episodes in October of last year, we can at least rejoice in the fact that we have the shows back. How long this will last, I know not, but let’s get into the swing of things with Green Lantern.

When last we left our intrepid heroes, Hal, Kilowog and Tomar-Re faced the Anti-Monitor only to have said villain supposedly vaporize Hal out of existence. Turns out, Hal’s just fine as he free falls through a crack in the universe and into the atmosphere of an unknown planet. Waking up in the nick of time, Hal crash lands into a city plucked right out of every picture of Victorian era, working class England. Like all heroes, Hal conveniently comes across trouble as steam-powered robots attack Lady Catherine during her protest against the city’s (and planet’s) lone factory owner, Duke Nigel Fortenberry. Ready to save the day, and the girl, Hal is beaten to the punch – literally – by the Steam Lantern, Gil Broome, Esq. Catherine and Gil have been opposing Fortenberry ever since Gil saved the planet from The Anti-Monitor, punching him so hard that he went clear into another universe. Hal’s universe.

All, however, is not quite as it seems. Gil didn’t actually save the planet at all. He just happened to strike at the same time as Fortenberry blasted The Anti-Monitor into Hal’s universe per his “deal-with-the-Devil” to save the planet from destruction. Instead of being lauded as a hero, Fortenberry became the villain as the planet’s population saw Gil “defeat” the all-powerful robot while the Duke’s efforts to save them resulted in their progression into the Industrial Revolution with all the bells and whistles of wage/slave labor and a robotic police force monitoring their every move. And in yet another twist, the deal made by the Duke only held off the planet’s destruction as their sun begins to deteriorate. Not content to let an entire planet die, Hal intends to save everyone even if it costs him his own life.

What I really enjoyed about this episode is how the story plays with the idea of heroism. When we first meet Lady Catherine, Gil, and The Duke, we automatically assume this is a cut and dry case of hero versus villain. But as the story unfolds, everything becomes muddled in the grey area. Gil may not have defeated The Anti-Monitor, but he’s still an inspirational figure to the people of his planet for opposing Fortenberry along with Catherine. Fortenberry, on the other hand, did what he had to do to save his planet, which might have made him the hero if not for Gil’s “interference.” In his efforts to keep people safe, Fortenberry still comes across as the villain until he realizes that, in his need to prove he’s the true hero, he’s ultimately condemned not only his planet but Hal’s universe as well. It very much reminds me of Brian Azzarello’s Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, a character study of Superman’s greatest foe based entirely on the premise that Luthor believes himself to be the hero and Superman the threat.

The episode also cleverly disguises what is essentially the gimmick of a steampunk planet by making it a crucial plot point in the story arc of The Anti-Monitor and how it ended up in Hal’s universe. In doing this, the creators got to mix genres a bit (and boy do they go to town on the steampunk dialogue) while still minorly progressing the main story. The resolution may be a bit clunky and just a tad cheesy, but it gets the job done of bringing Hal back to his universe and saving the day ’cause he’s a Big Damn Hero.

Nitpicker’s Corner: How did Tomar-Re and Kilowog get away from The Anti-Monitor after Hal was blasted into the other universe?

DC Nation Short: Thunder and Lightning, superpowered daughters of Black Lightning…and that’s about all they show. I mean, that was really short, DC Nation, even for you.

Favorite Moments:

  • Steampunk!!! And Hal’s reaction to it.
  • Gil modeled himself after a Green Lantern who saved the planet once before, “Proper hero, he was. Wore a red shirt and a cape.” Can you say, Alan Scott?!! Of course, Hal being Hal, he’s never heard of him.
  • Hardtofindium…well played Green Lantern, a timely Avatar reference
  • Ever the proper heroes, the planet’s about to die and there’s still time for tea!
  • The sky opening over the steampunk planet is beautiful

About the author

Samantha Cross

Sam is a self-described "sponge for information" soaking up little tidbits here and there that make her the perfect partner on pub trivia night! Hailing from the beautiful Pacific Northwest, she indulges her nerdy and geeky qualities by hanging out at the local comic book shop, reading anything she can find, and voicing her opinion whether you welcome it or not. An archivist and historian, she will research any and all things and will throw down if you want to quote Monty Python, Mel Brooks, or The Simpsons!

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