One of the highlights of Comic-Con over the past few years has been the beautiful insanity that is DC Comics' ongoing advertising partnership with KFC — which has given us goofy comics in which Colonel Sanders himself rubs shoulders with DC's finest heroes. Now, this year's issue has taken the Colonel where no fried chicken purveyor has gone before.
Image: DC Comics. Art by Tom Derenick, Trevor Scott, Sean Parsons and Hi-Fi.
Following on from last year's multiversal madness, Green Lantern/Colonel Sanders: Across the Universe — by Tony Bedard, Tom Derenick, Trevor Scott, Sean Parsons and Hi-Fi — sees Harland Sanders a changed man in the wake of his discovery that there's a whole multiverse out there, each including their own reality's versions of both himself and his fast food establishment.
On the surface, you might think an otherwise-ordinary citizen of the DC universe discovering the mind-bending cosmic reaches of existence that the superheroes we read about every week deal with on a regular basis would be an interesting dramatic depth to plunge for a story. How do you even begin to comprehend the existence of the multiverse? What does that do to a mere man, even if that man is simply the head of a global fried chicken empire? What even is fried chicken in the vast, cold starkness of not just our reality, but hundreds and hundreds of realities that exist beneath the fabric of it?
Across the Universe answers none of these questions, because of course it doesn't — Colonel Sanders' soul-stirring realisation after staring into the void of our infinite cosmos is that he must, by any means possible, launch his franchise out into space for the betterment of all realities.
Sanders does this by recruiting the help of Ferris Aerospace and the Green Lantern Corps itself, which is either the grossest use of Oa's power in comic book history or the most important mission the Corps has ever undertaken. Either way, it proves one thing: The Chicken Zinger is fundamentally the most important thing in all of creation, and must be sold to the citizens of not just this universe, but all universes, and delivered piping hot through the power of Green Lantern's light.
Unfortunately, things go wrong very quickly for the Kentucky Fried Cosmic, when it's discovered that said Chicken Zingers — once again, the most important item in all of creation — start going missing instead of being delivered to the multiversal masses. In order to solve the mystery, Hal Jordan temporarily inducts Colonel Sanders into the Lanterns, because of course he does.
It turns out the source of the Zinger disappearance is Orange Lantern Larfleeze, who in any other Green Lantern story is a tragic, solitary figure, isolated in a prison of his own making on the world of Okaara, consumed by the sheer power of his greed and endless hunger afflicted on him by his connection to the Orange power battery.
The dialogue in this comic is solid gold.
But because this is a comic book about chicken sandwiches, Larfleeze is basically just a KFC junkie, who has latched on to the Colonel's 11 herb and spice blend in a way no other fried chicken consumer has before, stealing every Chicken Zinger in the known cosmos for his own and then demanding that Colonel Sanders stay on Okaara so he can make more of them for him for all eternity. Instead, Sanders has another idea... open his first intergalactic KFC franchise and have it staffed by Larfleeze and his lantern constructs — who I feel like I should mention are meant to be recreations of all the beings Larfleeze has murdered in his long, miserable life.
Note: This is a monumentally bad idea for an otherwise savvy businessman like Harland Sanders. Literally the only customer he's going to have on Okaara is Larfleeze, and considering he's staffing the place with constructs of his own greed, I doubt he's going to actually help generate any money. If Colonel Sanders is serious about unleashing fast food fried chicken onto the galaxy like it's Parallax itself, you'd think he'd be smarter than this?
Maybe he is, though, because for helping to contain Larfleeze in his latest obsession, the Guardians of the universe reward Sanders by making him an official honorary Green Lantern. That's kind of a ridiculous power for a man who runs a fried chicken empire to have, considering he's already proven he's most likely going to use it to hock junk food to not just this universe but also every other one in existence rather than wield it in either brightest day or blackest night.