There is a planet called Oa, that is ostensibly at the center of the universe. It is populated by ancient beings known as the Guardians of the Universe. They have sought, for thousands of years, to preserve order and justice in the cosmos. Their initial attempt to do so, the creation of robots called Manhunters, was a disaster. Their second attempt, the enlisting of beings from thousands of different worlds, granting them each a power ring that could do -- well, just about anything the wearer had the will and the imagination to conceive -- has worked out a little better.
There are, in the universe, 3600 Green Lanterns, each one assigned to a different sector of space. It just so happens that our Green Lantern is also a member of the Justice League.
Here the history between the animated series and the comic book differs. In the comics, Earth's primary Green Lantern is Hal Jordan. Jordan has barely been mentioned in the animated series, and only appeared in a very brief cameo during a sequence where time and space were going a bit nuts. In the comics, Jordan's back-up was John Stewart, who is the main Green Lantern in the animated series. This was, not to sound racist about it, no doubt to make sure there was at least one visible minority on the team, since Stewart is black.
The second back-up in the comics is Guy Gardner, an individual who could politely be described as a little too gung-ho for his own good. He's calmed down a bit in recent years, but for some time, he was almost more trouble than he was worth.
Then we have Kyle Rayner. In the comics, Rayner was chosen by the last surviving Guardian after Hal Jordan went nuts, destroyed most of the Green Lanterns and pretty much laid waste to the planet Oa. Rayner than became the one and only Green Lantern for an extended period of time, and held membership in the Justice League. But, given the flexible nature of history in any comics universe, Jordan is back as a Green Lantern, so are Stewart and Gardner, the planet Oa is doing just fine, the Guardians are back, as are most of the popular offworld Lanterns, and the Green Lantern Corps is being rebuilt. Rayner has internalized the power of Green Lantern and has become a cosmic hero known as Ion.
None of which has all THAT much to do with this figure set, but it helps set the stage, and there is one figure in this second set that this background will help to clarify.
This figure set includes Green Lanterns -- two of which have their names misspelled. The set includes ARKKIS (Spelled Arkis on the package) CHUMMUCK, KATMA TUI, and KYLE RAYNER (Spelled Raynor on the package). Let's consider them individually:
ARKKIS CHUMMUCK: The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe Web Site (www.dcuguide.com - HIGHLY recommended) gives a far greater history to Chummuck in the comic books than I realized the character had. I first encountered him in a three-issue mini-series in the early 80's entitled "Tales of the Green Lantern Corps", in which the Corps fought a pair of villains known as Krona and Nekron. But it seems that Chummuck turned up before this.
According to the Web Site, Arkkis Chummuck first appeared in Green Lantern #130, dated July of 1980. After his homeworld's military expedition to Xanshi was defeated by that world's Green Lantern, archivist Arkkis Chummuck discovered the enemies' weakness.
Arkkis Chummuck falsified records to gain the use of a spaceship to lure the Green Lantern into battle. Wearing yellow power armor, a color against which the Green Lanterns of the time had no defense, he was able to defeat the Green Lantern, unintentionally mortally wounding the Green Lantern. As his death approached, the Green Lantern of Xanshi was obligated to pass on his ring to a worthy successor. The ring had selected Arkkis Chummuck. As a Green Lantern, Arkkis Chummuck returned to his homeworld. Toomey VI's ruler, "The Foremost", offered to forget the lowly clerk's theft of the starship, if he agreed to surrender the power ring. When Chummuck refused, he was ordered killed.
When it became apparant that as a Green Lantern he was invulnerable from their attacks, the leaders attempted to appease him. They offered him the position of general of all the armies. Chummuck refused this. He demanded the Foremost to abdicate his rule. After taking control of his own world, Arkkis Chummuck set out to end the pointless war with Xanshi. A warfleet had already been deployed to attack Xanshi. Chummuck ordered the fleet back home, and went after the missles they had launched.
The task was very difficult as he fought against the preprogrammed missles, destroying every last one. He lost consciousness, plummeting to Xanshi. The friction of re-entry woke him for moments. Crashing, he claimed Xanshi by right of conquest. He awoke once again in a shrine sacred to the people of Xanshi. They prayed for their conqueror who had risked everything to save them. When they returned to see the Green Lantern, he was gone. He had been summoned to Oa by the Guardians of the Universe.
On Oa, Green Lantern Malet Dasim charged a tribunal of Green Lanterns to cast out Arkkis Chummuck as a disgrace to the Green Lantern Corps. Dasim argued the defendant had used his power ring as a tool of conquest. Arkkis Chummuck was defended by the deceased Green Lantern's nest- brother. He believed Chummuck's motives were honorable by acting to end the war that afflicted both worlds.
Many Green Lanterns attended the trial, including Chaselon, Stel, and
Tomar-Re. After three hours of consideration, the tribunal reached its'
Arkkis Chummuck had a great deal of respect for Hal Jordan of Earth, and finally met Jordan during the war against Krona and Nekron.
Chummuck does have one custom that probably doesn't endear him to a lot of people. According to his race's custom -- he eats the bodies of those honorable foes he has defeated. Bet he'd be great in mouthwash commercials.
Chummuck has always been portrayed as a fairly large fellow, and the figure is no exception. Although not as massive as, got instance, Kilowog, he's still pretty big. The head, a good animated version of the original comics incarnation, is certainly indicative of Arkkis' -- dietary peculiarities. He has two large teeth protruding from his lower jaw. The Web Site describes Chummuck as looking somewhat like a werewolf, and that's honestly not a bad comparison.
As one would expect, the figure uses a standard body form, which doesn't really allow for a sculpted power ring, but it's still present and accounted for, with a bright green circle around a finger on the right hand. The rest of the costume design is pretty much identical to John Stewart's, established as the standard design for Lanterns in the DC Animated Universe.
KATMA TUI: Here's a character with a lot of history in the DC Universe. She first appeared in 1964. She hails from Korugar, which is the same world from which former Green Lantern, and now one of the Lanterns' worst enemies, Sinestro, comes from. Katma has the same reddish skin, but not the enlarged cranium.
Katma served with great distinction and honor in the Corps, even earning a place in the Green Lantern Honor Guard. She played a key role, off-Earth, in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and was, to make a very long story from the Web Site short, significantly responsible for the training of secondary Green Lantern John Stewart, whom she eventually married.
This carried over into the animated series to a certain degree. During a time when Stewart had lost confidence in his abilities as a Green Lantern, Katma Tui had to retrain him as well as try to keep his mind on the mission. There was no small amount of jealousy on the part of Hawkgirl, who at that point was having romantic inclinations towards Stewart. Amazing that an animated series would go into this sort of emotional depth.
The figure of Katma Tui is interesting from two respects. One -- the figure's skin color isn't quite as it should be. Granted even in the animated series she wasn't portrayed as red as she should've been, but the figure is pretty much the same color brown as John Stewart. Now here's something that my research on the Web Site revealed that I didn't know. Somewhere along the way, during her time on Earth, at least, Katma Tui did alter her skin color to match Stewart's. So perhaps this is a reflection of that.
Oddly enough, though, some movie and TV studios are still reluctant to portray a person as being red. It's still associated on some level with being inherently evil, even satanic. Sinestro can get away with it because he's a bad guy, but a heroine like Katma Tui? To what degree this might've been a factor in the coloration of the character, I really don't know. That's just speculation.
The figure is also interesting with regard to the fact that her uniform is a bit of a departure from the norm. The midriff is bare, as is the collar. They also forgot to paint the ring on the finger, but it's a pretty small hand. They might not have been able to. Not a big deal for some of us, though -- where's my jar of bright green paint and a toothpick?
One other interesting note -- Katma Tui comes with a display stand. Some Justice League figures do have a little trouble standing up at times, and the females can sometimes be worse than the males, so it's nice to see this included.
KYLE RAYNER: We have a serious divergence between the comic and the cartoon here. In the comics, Rayner was essentially randomly selected by the last surviving Guardian, Ganthet, after Hal Jordan, gone insane after the destruction of his hometown of Coast City, took on the identity of Parallax, and trashed Oa and most of the Lanterns.
Rayner eventually caught on to the role, and went on to serve as a Green Lantern and member of the Justice League with distinction, and was involved in a lot of prominent storylines, including "Heaven's Ladder" and "DC One Million", where he pulled off considerable cosmic feats. Rayner's background as a graphic artist gave him a level of imagination and creativity that could be used in the power ring that most Lanterns couldn't manage.
However, there was still a substantial percentage of readers that wanted Hal Jordan back. Killing off Jordan during "The Final Night" didn't silence them. Turning him into The Spectre wasn't good enough. Finally, they brought back Jordan as the primary Green Lantern of Earth.
Which sort of left Rayner up in the air, especially after Stewart and Gardner also resumed their Lantern roles. Stewart had actually resumed his for some time. Right about the same time as the animated series kicked off, Stewart took Rayner's place in the Justice League, after Rayner left Earth for a time. Even when Rayner returned, Stewart stayed with the League.
These days, Rayner is a hero called Ion, with only a moderate connection to the Green Lanterns. So -- what about the animated version of Rayner?
Not much to work with here. He's been mentioned a couple of times, and barely had much more than a cameo as far as I can recall. He's essentially a Lantern in training, under the guidance of Katma Tui, if I remember correctly.
The figure is interesting. It looks more like Hal Jordan than Kyle Rayner. In the comics, Rayner didn't spend too much time in the traditional Green Lantern uniform, and modified it several times over the years to suit his own personal tastes, such as they were. He also had medium length black hair, not Jordan's relatively short brown hair, and one sort of got the impression that he wasn't as tall or as muscularly built as Jordan.
The animated Kyle Rayner looks like Jordan with a bad hair day. This isn't all that surprising. As I said earlier, the animated series never did much with Jordan. John Stewart was the Green Lantern for the series, and that was that. Allowing Rayner to look more than a bit like Jordan was, in a sense, a polite nod to both characters.
As for the uniform, The green "collar" is much larger, tapering much further down the front of the uniform, and the Lantern insignia is entirely different. It's worth mentioning that Rayner's altering of his costume in the comics has led, over the years, to other Lanterns doing likewise, although Rayner was hardly the first. When Guy Gardner became a Lantern in his own right, amidst the chaos of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, he was given a costume that bore no resemblance to any previous Lantern outfit. It soon became fairly typical for Lanterns to create uniforms pretty much along their own lines, as long as they were respectful of the history and color scheme.
The Lanterns in the animated universe are a little more uniform, however, so Rayner's distinctive logo is about as much of a nod to that tendency as we're likely to see.
I'd like to say this about all three of these figures -- they're neatly painted. There's been a little bit of slipshod work on a few other figures in the line here and there, but it's been thankfully infrequent, and I have to say that I am especially pleased to note that all of the painted details on these figures have clearly been properly spray- painted through stencil-masks -- NOT inevitably sloppily hand-painted as has turned up on other companies' figure lines, much to their detriment.
I'd also like to mention that there wasn't any trouble standing any of these figures.Even Katma Tui is able to stand on her own without the display stand. Given past trouble in standing some of the non-knee-jointed figures, I was delighted to see these figures all stand on their own with no trouble.
I've always liked the Green Lantern Corps. I've found it an interesting concept in the comics, and have always been pleased to see the Corps turn up in the Justice League series. Sometimes I wonder if an animated series based on the Corps itself would be workable.
But in any case, I was very pleased to see this second set of Green Lantern figures in the Justice League collection, and if you're any sort of Green Lantern fan, you'll certainly want to add them to your collection, and they definitely have my highest recommendation as such.
Now, let's see some future JLU animation bring in Alan Scott and explain him... :)