This article contains spoilers for Dark Knights: Batman the Merciless, on sale now.
The Dark Knights: Metal event has featured some of the most bonkers scenes since the Silver Age of DC Comics, from the Voltron-esque Justice League robot to the sinister machinations of the Batman Who Laughs. But it’s also the home of no small number of DC Easter eggs, most literally in the form of the sealed Plastic Man egg. Sometimes, though, it’s the little things, the small, understated moments or the appearance of characters long absent that stand out the most. Dark Knights: Batman the Merciless treats Green Lantern fans to one such moment, as an unsung hero returns for a doomed mission to stop a godlike Bruce Wayne from decimating the armies of Earth.
In darkest night, humanity’s leaders look to Tom Kalmaku.
Dropping a Bomb
The forces of Barbatos are extending their reach across the world, and Steve Trevor has assembled mankind’s secret leaders at the A.R.G.U.S. headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Together with General Sam Lane, Father Time, Amanda Waller, DEO Director Bones, Colonel Jonas and Etta Candy, Trevor seeks a plan to thwart the evil Batman. But when Langley itself becomes the target of “Batman the Merciless” — a version of Bruce Wayne who donned the helmet of Ares in a desperate attempt to defeat the god of war when all hope was lost — the order is given to drop a devastating weapon on the base itself.
Launching the missile (codenamed Valhalla) from space, the dreadful deed falls to a team composed of former Star Saphire Jillian “Cowgirl” Pearlman, “Clayface” Cassius Payne, and Hal Jordan’s trusted friend Tom Kalmaku.
Green Lantern’s Pal
Tom has a long history with Hal Jordan, going all the way back to 1960’s Green Lantern #2 by John Broome and Gil Kane. An Inuit engineer at Ferris Aircraft, Tom was better known as “Pieface” before it was generally acknowledged that the nickname was pretty racist. Tom was Hal Jordan’s most trusted friend and confidant, and for much of the Silver Age he was one of the few humans outside the Corps to know that Hal was Green Lantern. He also kept a diary of Hal’s adventures, filling a role a la Dr. John Watson to Sherlock Holmes.
During the Millennium crossover event, Tom gained powers of his own as one of the “Chosen” to make up the dubious New Guardians, endowed with a superhuman ability to bring out the best in people. (There were worse New Guardians…) He eventually made the absolutely correct decision to leave that team behind, though, and in the years following Emerald Twilight was instrumental in reconstructing the planet Oa, in Green Lantern Legacy: The Last Will and Testament of Hal Jordan.
“Great fishhooks,” indeed.
Despite his prominent presence throughout several decades of Hal’s adventures, Tom faded into the background when Kyle Rayner took over the mantle of Earth’s Green Lantern following Jordan’s heel turn in Emerald Twilight, and, with the notable exception of literally rebuilding a planet, hasn’t recaptured his former stature. Even after Hal’s return to life and the side of angels, his role in the Corps has largely had him patrolling space, putting trillions of miles between him and Tom Kalmaku. Until this week’s Dark Knights installment, Tom hadn’t been seen since the very earliest days of the New 52, where he made brief appearances in the Sinestro-led Green Lantern series and Green Lantern: New Guardians (no relation to his former teammates).
Where do things stand now? Well, Hal is still stationed in the stars, making regular guest appearances by his good chum Pie unlikely. More to the point, though, Batman the Merciless casts Tom’s very survival into doubt, as the Valhalla bomb fails to defeat the twisted Olympus-powered Batman.
Even so, it’s nice to catch up with old friends, if only for a moment.
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