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“His busy hands were all over me. All four of them.” – The Green Lantern Corps #215

June 15, 2011

One of the things that I and so many others have always loved about the Green Lantern mythos is the diversity of the Corps. It’s an odd bunch. It’s the Star Wars Cantina set translated into an intergalactic constabulary, and that makes it so wonderfully odd. Anyone familiar with them can reel off their favorites, from Mogo to Rot Lop Fan (though the latter might not even be a real Lantern, now that I think about it). Perhaps the most promising feature of the new film is the fact that they’re going whole hog with the Corps, and not just giving us a “Hal gets his ring on Earth” storyline.

Amongst the nigh-endless roster, I always had the biggest soft spot for Salakk (I know his name is often spelled Salaak, but it’s Salakk in this book, so…). His reedy body, his excess arms, his vaguely equine alien head, and his grim but dutiful personality all fused together into a character that I dug and still dig. His evil-looking but strangely engaging eyes (especially as depicted here) remind me a bit of my feelings about Hulk’s old pal Sym. And hey, in this issue he gets himself a woman, even if the cover makes it look like he’s sucking up her face like an anteater drawing in some dinner.

In “…I Am!” (Steve Englehart/Ian Gibson/Mark Farmer) Salakk is in the year 5711, and he’s just found out that his brain was wiped and the identity he had been operating under, Pol Manning (a venerable alias that dates back to Hal’s earliest Silver Age days), isn’t really his. He’s understandably pissed at the future-lady who furthered the deception (Iona):

Salakk realizes that Iona, who truly believes he’s Pol Manning, is herself suffering from mental problems. He simmers down, but that still leaves an unsolved issue, the one that caused the Solar Council, the rulers of future Earth’s solar system, to call once more on the help of a Green Lantern. B’rks, sentient, highly evolved chipmunks (I think) and relatives of fellow Green Lantern Ch’p (who’s also in the future), have made a claim for Earth, and are threatening war if they don’t get it:

Ooh, I bet the humans are soooooo scared…

An exasperated Salakk realizes that he’s going to need some backup, and interrupts some test pilot macking to get it:

The first Green Lantern cock block?

Hal, who had once held the mantle of Pol Manning himself and had been President of the Solar Council, arrives in the future with gal pal Arisia on his arm. When he’s brought up to speed, the Lanterns and the two sides reconvene at a nice wooded spot. Hal makes a reasonable proposal — why doesn’t the Solar Council give the B’rks a non-Earth planet? He also probably thinks to himself They really had to drag me all this way and interrupt my lady-killing for this shit?

It looks like both sides are receptive, but Doctor Ub’x, Ch’p’s old enemy from his home planet and the one responsible for creating these new B’rks, won’t settle for anything less than Earth. He summons a horde of armed B’rks to do away with the Solar Council and the Lanterns (see, isn’t this great?).  When the Lanterns get into a protective formation, they’re confronted with a stunning betrayal:

No, Ch’p! No!

Ch’p reluctantly sides with his sort-of-kinsmen, and then, to save bloodshed, challenges his fellow Lanterns to two-on-two combat, a doubles version of the old single combat, with himself and Ub’x (who has a powered staff — save the Anthony Weiner jokes, folks) against any two Lanterns, winner take all.

Hal and Salakk meet the challenge with great sadness. And the battle is fought with great goofiness:

Yes, Ch’p just flattened Salakk with a giant fucking acorn.

Ch’p and Ub’x are (surprise) defeated, but Hal is magnanimous. He imposes the terms that he originally proposed. The B’rks get their own world, but not Earth, and Ub’x humbly accepts. But this leaves the little matter of, um, that betrayal stuff. Salakk, being Ch’p’s closest friend in the Corps, takes it especially hard, while Ch’p rends our hearts and saves his ass with a description of his loneliness:

With that (kind of) resolved, the Lanterns take their leave. Iona is all teary about Pol/Salakk departing, but he gives her the “what must be, must be” treatment. Or does he?:

The other three Lanterns return to their conifer-ringed Earth base, and then it’s Ch’p’s turn to say goodbye:

If you take one thing away from this book, it has to be this: One of the primary goals of the Green Lantern Corps is to get its members laid.

Really, how can you not love this stuff? I realize Ch’p is a bit of a joke Lantern — he’s a BUCK-TOOTHED RODENT WITH A POTBELLY THAT WEARS OVERALLS AND A BOW TIE — but his relationship with Salakk and its sad (and temporary) ending in this book make it a worthwhile read. Kudos to Gibson and Farmer for their work on Salakk, especially the profile shots of him. He’s never looked better.

I realize that it’s too much to hope that both Salakk and Ch’p will worm their way into the movie this Friday, and I suppose I should be happy that I’m getting Tomar-Re and Kilowog in all their verdant glory. But is it wrong for me to wish for clear, easily spotted cameos of Salakk and Ch’p? I don’t think so.

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