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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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for Thursday, September 24, 2009

Green Lantern: First Flight

DC's latest direct-to-DVD animated movie is Green Lantern: First Flight [Warner Home Video; $19.98]. Netflix got it to me within a couple weeks of its release. Which is why they remain my favorite DVD rental outfit.

Green Lantern is big these days. While I like the character and his science-fantasy adventures, my interest wanes when his exploits have little connection with our own planet. Which is the case with this retelling of his origin. The following brief summary of this retelling will be preceded by...


Now then...

The retelling follows the original Silver Age origin for the first handful of scenes. The mortally wounded Abin Sur crash-lands on Earth and he summons test pilot Hal Jordan to his side. Hal gets the power ring and then goes on vacation to practice with it. He's interrupted by a squad of Green Lanterns who attack him for no good reason that I can see and then, in a slightly more friendly manner, take him to Oa so the Guardians can decide if he gets to keep the ring and join the Green Lantern Corps. Once the Lanterns leave Earth, you won't see it again in this feature. Sigh.

It's a time of crisis for the Corps because the villainous Kanjar Ro has acquired a "yellow element" that can overcome even the power of the Green Lantern rings. Sinestro takes Jordan under his wing to train him. Hal, being just slightly smarter than your average child and lots smarter than every one of the Guardians and his fellow Green Lanterns, figures out something ain't right with Sinestro. Because the name wasn't enough.

Sinestro does nasty things. Jordan proves himself. Sinestro puts a big frame on Hal in a plot to seize the yellow element for himself. By the time Hal can prove his innocence, Sinestro has the element and starts slaughtering Green Lanterns at will. When he destroys the power battery, the Guardians have no choice but to surrender to him. Guess who saves the day?


The first third of the movie drags, slowed down by mediocre voice acting across the board. Victor Garber and Tricia Helfer chomp the most scenery, but none of the performers are impressive. The animation is better, as is the scripting, but the movie feels much longer than its 75 minutes.

The second third of the movie picks up. Hal makes with some pretty good ring action when the Lanterns track down Kanjar Ro. Sinestro makes with some pretty decent evildoing.

The conclusion of the movie has some pretty scary scenes of Green Lanterns not doing so well and a decent climatic battle between Hal and Sinestro. It goes on a little too long, but it does lead to a satisfying ending. But, truth be told, with the Earth completely ignored, I didn't feel any connection to the peril threatening the universe.

Viewers who love the alien Green Lantern stuff more than I do will doubtless enjoy Green Lantern: First Flight more than I did. It's not a bad movie. It's just not remotely a great one. It gets a perfectly respectable three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony



Green Lantern 45

"Tony's Back Page" appears in every issue of Comics Buyer's Guide. For the past several months, this mini-feature has switched from sterling tales of my life to extended coverage of comics scheduled to appear in my forthcoming book, 1000 Comic Books You Must Read.

Green Lantern #45

Writer: John Broome

Artists: Gil Kane, Sid Greene

DC (June 1966; © 1966 National Periodical Publications, Inc.)

An alien princess in search of a husband. A brutish suitor. A pair of Green Lanterns and Doiby Dickles, taxi-driving sidekick to the 1940s GL. Who wins the fair princess and why he wins her makes this story a sentimental favorite of mine.

Dickles was one of a veritable legion of super-hero sidekicks from the Golden Age of Comics. He was mostly played for laughs, but the stories of that era revealed his big heart, his courage, and his good old American moxie. Younger readers should ask their grandparents/great-grandparents what "moxie" means.

Broome took the out-of-his-era Dickles and placed him smack-dab in the middle of an intergalactic adventure wherein the modern Green Lantern of the 1960s teamed with the original Green Lantern of the 1940s. What makes the issue so terrific is how well Dickles holds up his end of the heroics, even when forced to play court jester to the perfidious Prince Peril.

One more note. I want to thank Mark Gordon for sending me the scan of this issue when a power outage shut down the Grand Comic-Book Database for a spell. Three cheers and a tiger for you, my friend.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 09/23/2009 | 09/24/2009 | 09/25/2009 >>

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

Please send material you would like me to review to:

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