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Character Sketches #1: Ch’p – DC’s Brightest Star That Burnt Out Too Soon

Written by: Ron Bricker

ImageFrom now until eternity, every Monday, the comics gurus of CC2K will select one obscure character from one of the world of comic's multiple universes and deal with what makes these characters worth checking out. Whether it be for comedy, history, their respective role in their universe, or for a good story you might not ever catch without us here at CC2k giving you that helping nudge.

The DC Universe; a vast multiverse of endless possibilities protected by the mythological legends of our time. Superman. Batman. Wonder Woman. Flash. Ch'p.

Wait, who?

That's right folks, Ch'p, Green Lantern of space sector 1014.

Created by Paul Kupperberg and Don Newton, Ch'p is one of the 7,200 Green Lanterns that police the galaxy within DC universe. This half squirrel, half chipmunk hybrid hails from the planet of H'lven, which he also polices as a member of the corps. It was a pretty easy selection to kick off this "obscure character biographies" with Ch'p, because you really don't get much more obscure than him, plus he is damn cute, which is always helpful when you are putting a stop to intergalactic threats. What is so mind blogging about Ch'p is his cult-like following. I thought I was one of the few that still knew about him when I stumbled upon his entry in a DC Encyclopedia, but truth be told, I am but a single wave in the ocean. People have gone as far as creating online petitions to bring back the character, showing some pretty strong devotion to this beloved mammal.

I guess what really struck me about the character is his history. For being drawn as a cute squirrel/chipmunk, with suspenders and a bow tie, the little guy has been through a lot of shit. His life is actually really damn depressing. Our little hero started off all well and good, marrying his his longtime girlfriend, M'nn'e, and putting stops to his longtime nemesis, Doctor Ub'x. However, along comes Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC's 1985 company-wide maxi-series used as a continuity cleaner, and there goes Ch'p's life. In the massive relaunch, Ch'p's native world of H'lven had been given an new history, one where their champion, Ch'p, had died 15 years prior, prompting M'nn'e to remarry Ch'p's best friend. With Ch'p, the only native of H'lven remembering the real past, forced to abandon his home world in search of a new life due to the heartbreak and stress of living on a world where no one knew him, Ch'p decided to flee is post in sector 1014, instead landing in sector 2814 – Earth – to protect and serve with some of his fellow human Corpsmen.

Ch'p's life on Earth did not ease his pain, finally deciding to move back to H'lven and start over. However, living in a place with no one recalling him, along with the stress of his previous wife being married to his best friend lead Ch'p to depression and a SUICIDE attempt. That's right, this adorable little character actually tried to off himself. Stopped in the nick of time by a fellow Lantern and friend, Salaak, the two traveled back to Oa, Green Lantern's "home base" if you will, to help in the reconstruction of the corps after its destruction at the hands of Parallax. Assigned to Mosaic World, Ch'p traveled to protect the planet along with Earth Green Lantern John Stewart, where they became good friends. However, if his history has told us anything, it's that Ch'p's happiness wouldn't last long, it just wouldn't fit the character. And so, after fighting some standard monsters, a yellow bus comes out of nowhere, and in true squirrel fashion, Ch'p runs the wrong way in his panicked state, thus being turned into the bus' grill accessory. Like I said, really sad, but also really funny when you think about it.

See, for the longest time, Green Lanterns have had a weakness to yellow. Explained as an impurity in the ring's power source, Green Lanterns were then helpless against anything of yellow origin. So not only is he killed by something yellow, a fear all Green Lanterns have, but he was hit by a damn bus, a truly fitting end for a squirrel. When I read this for the first time I died laughing. This little character, probably the most adorable, harmless looking character in all of the DC Universe, was constantly given a shitty hand. If I had to list the top three comic characters constantly being dealt a shitty hand…

1. Matt Murdock (Daredevil)
2. Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern)
3. Ch'p (Green Lantern)

Image ……ouch. The mere fact you can be put next to those guys when it comes to tragedy is painful…just…..damn. Then if you take into account that Ch'p gets nowhere near as much exposure as Daredevil and Kyle Rayner, appearing once for every hundred times for the latter and you have a truly heartbreaking character. Now I know I am exaggerating Ch'p's situation, as most superheroes lives are defined by tragedy, but still, this little rodent has been crapped on so much. His death issue was even titled "Nuts", for an obvious comical gag, a fact you get to on the last page, as you stare at a panel of Ch'p in a pool of his own blood. Therefore it's only right that this little fellow gets some much needed support by seeing everyone go out and pick up a few of the comics that makes him into the unsung hero he is.

However, Ch'p has since appeared in multiple stories with cameo type roles continuing his legacy. Recently appearing in Alex Ross and Jim Krueger's Justice League of America epic, Justice. Seen during the finale, along with the rest of the corps mates, saving planet Earth. Also the inspiration for a gag in DC's first successful weekly comic series, 52, playing the role of a bag of chips for Ambush Bug to munch on, get it….ch'ps actually being chips!! However, if you need the definitive Ch'p experience, why not pick up his alpha and omega, Green Lantern v.2 #148 for his first appearance, and Green Lantern Mosaic #2 for his sad, depressing death.

So if you're like me, learn to love this little guy. He is a great obscure character to name drop if you find yourself in a heated argument with a DC junkie, plus you're guaranteed to get some laughs from his life story.