SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major revelations about KFC’s Zinger Chicken Sandwich.
Both DC Comics and Marvel have a long history of creating branded comics, from the famous Hostess Fruit Pie shorts to NFL Superpro to a variety of charity and public service announcements featuring the likes of Captain America, Superman and other favorite heroes. These are — almost uniformly — bland, tame affairs, advertising a product or sending a worthy message bolstered by superheroes’ cultural cache. But in recent years, DC’s partnership with KFC has led to a series of promotional comics that are… no, not “finger-licken’ good.” I think the word is “bonkers.”
The KFC Presents comics, written by Tony Bedard and illustrated by Tom Derenick, ascend the heights of absurdity in the service of selling Colonel Sanders’ chicken. In the first issue, “The Colonel of Two Worlds,” released in 2015, the fast food impresario fights an evil version of himself. There is a “pink sludge” gun involved. It is amazing. The sequel, “Colonel Corps,” had Colonels of multiple Earths teaming up. One of them is a chicken.
Before I go any further, I should note that, yes, this article, by describing the events of a promotional comic, is in effect promoting KFC. No, we are not being paid for it. Though we probably should be.
All three issues are free on comiXology.
The latest issue, “Across the Universe,” sees the Colonel teaming up with Hal Jordan to spread the good news about KFC’s Zinger chicken sandwich to all the worlds under the jurisdiction of the Green Lantern Corps. While the Guardians of the Universe famously gave Hal the boot when he used his ring to mourn Coast City’s dead in Emerald Twilight, leading to the rise of Parallax and the destruction of the Corps for a generation, Ganthet deems Operation Zinger of sufficient importance to dedicate the entire Green Lantern Corps to its success.
But when the capsules (!!!) meant to contain the chicken sandwiches arrive on these hungry words empty, Hal and the Colonel must track down the thief responsible. So of course this happens.
While flying through space, Colonel Sanders says he’s going to “slap up some billboards” on the Source Wall, in a scene that made me viscerally angry. Good job, Messrs. Bedard and Derenick.
“I want all the Zingers”
It doesn’t take a ton of detective work to discover that Larfleeze is behind the theft, as of course the Orange Lantern wants all of the Zingers for himself.
A battle ensues. Chicken legs made of crackling green energy are swung about. Larfleeze, being more powerful and experienced with the ring, nearly subdues the Colonel, but then something stays his hand.
Anyone who has ever worked in fast food can relate.
Naturally, this battle ends the only way it can.
SPOILER SPACE BELOW
Colonel Sanders grants Larfleeze a franchise license to open up a KFC on Okaara, so his Orange energy constructs can make him all the Zingers he wants. Is this a plothole? After all, it addresses Larfleeze’s greed — to have an infinite supply of Zingers — but not his covetousness, his need to have all the Zingers. At any rate, Agent Orange goes along with it.
It must be said that this issue was not as shockingly weird as the first two — it’s hard to compete with that initial exposure to a wicked Colonel Sanders recruiting Captain Cold and shooting pink sludge out of a cannon, or a post-apocalyptic chicken Colonel fighting the Anti-Colonel for the fate of fried chicken throughout the multiverse, but there is a respectable number of WTF moments. And then there’s the back cover ad.
Multiversity, Rebirth, etc.
Now that there are three, roughly annual issues of KFC Presents (there was also a romance novel), it is clear that DC/KFC are building a continuity — “Across the Universe” references the events of the previous two issues, and the letter column teases a fourth issue taking place on Darkseid’s home planet of Apokalips. With this in mind, it’s only a matter of time before these comics cross over with (and potentially integrate into) the prime DC Comics Universe.
It’s not too late to reveal that Mr. Oz is in fact a well-dressed southern gentleman known for his 11 herbs and spices.
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