Animation nation, early summer edition

Animated-style Justice League
DC's Justice League

In the past few weeks, I’ve caught up on DC’s animated movies, including Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and Superman/Shazam: the Return of Black Adam (as well as Marvel’s Thor: Tales of Asgard).

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is part of an ongoing series of direct-to-video animated adaptations of DC Comics superheroes. Like Green Lantern: First Flight, it features Firefly/Serenity and Castle‘s Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan, the first human to join the interstellar Green Lantern Corps. Unlike First Flight or the recent live-action movie starring Ryan Reynolds, Emerald Knights isn’t an origin story and takes an anthology approach to tales of the corps.

The Korean animators behind DC’s recent cartoons do an excellent job of depicting Green Lantern‘s aliens, exotic worlds, ring constructs, and fight scenes. I was pleased to see stories taken from the print comics, and Andrea Romano has again assembled a strong voice cast, including Harry Potter’s Jason Isaacs as the aptly named Sinestro, Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss as rookie Arisia, musician Henry Rollins as big “poozer” and drill sergeant Kilowog, and The Mummy‘s Arnold Vosloo as Jordan’s predecessor Abin Sur.

Other notable actors include Kelly Hu as martial artist Laira and wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as brawler Bolphunga. I’d compare Emerald Knights, which is rated PG for violence, favorably to Marvel’s recent Thor: Tales of Asgard and give it a B+/A-, 8.5 out of 10, or four out of five stars. There’s also a short preview of Batman: Year One, the next in DC’s video adaptations.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming Green Lantern TV series, which looks like it takes Bruce Timm’s designs from the great Justice League and combines them with the blocky computer animation of Star Wars: Clone Wars. There’s also another Batman TV show in the works, but it’s too soon to say whether it will continue the character’s legacy. In the meantime, I’m waiting for Young Justice‘s return and the final episodes of Batman and the Brave and the Bold.

I also belatedly watched Superman/Shazam: the Return of Black Adam, which compiles the shorts attached to previous cartoons and adds a brawl among the title characters. If you already own the other videos, it’s not worth paying full price for a slightly longer short, but it was decent nonetheless. It’s too bad that The Return of Black Adam didn’t sell well, because I enjoyed these glimpses at other superheroes relatively free of continuity. (As a Green Arrow fan, I was hoping for more of the emerald archer.)