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Romat-Ru & Karu-Sil

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

We've had lots of Green Lanterns over the years, but at last, the space-cops' sworn enemy Sinestro is getting some backup, thanks to Mattel's newest online exclusive.

Not much is known of Romat-Ru other than he is one of the most prolific and vile serial killers in the galaxy. While under investigation for a minor infraction, Xudarian police were dispatched to search his home where they made a ghastly discovery. Inside, they found the bones of thousands of children. While being transported to prison, a yellow power ring appeared and he was inducted into the Sinestro Corps.

Brainstorming session! "Hey, now that we have this new Sinestro Corps, we need some creepy aliens to fill it. Best to start small, and just make evil versions of existing aliens, right? Hell, why don't we just cherry-pick some of the weirder ones who are already in the GL Corps! Who should we start with? The broccoli guy? The one who's just a giant head with arms and legs? What's that, Bob? The angry fishman? Great! Okay, now he needs a name. What's the fishguy's name? Tomar? Well, this one's evil, so we'll just flip the first and last letters. Romat. What's the good guy's last name? Re? This one's Ru. Done! Pass the cocaine plate, won't you?"

We make fun, but starting with an evil version of a familiar ally is a good choice. It grounds the Sinestro Corps in the existing DCU, and shows that not every alien from a particular race shares the same personality. Tomar-Re has been around since 1961, so making a serial killer who looks just like him? Definitely unsettling. Romat-Ru is made using the smaller male body, same as Nightwing or Captain Atom. For once, the big plug in his back is nearly invisible, thanks to a healthy coat of yellow paint concealing the edges. The edges between the yellow and black are slightly fuzzy, but not terribly so, and his logos aren't smeared.

The major difference, visually, between Tomar-Re and Romat-Ru is that the bad guy has two black stripes running vertically over his eyes - you know what they say, Xudarians all look alike. [Specieist. --ed.] He has big, pointy ears, a fin on his head, and some sort of beak. Xudar is apparently a planet full of fish-birds. The flaps of skin between the spines of his fin are detailed, much like they were on Despero, and there are very natural wrinkles around the anatomical features of his face. There's even a small tongue resting in his lower jaw.

Because Sinestro himelf was so embarrassingly small (we're all still waiting for an apology about that, Mattel), none of his parts are reused here. That means Romat gets new forearms and shins, since the costume elements are all sculpted, there. He also has new hands: he only has three fingers instead of four, and there are no existing molds that would provide that. Considering the corners Mattel usually cuts, getting seven unique pieces on one figure is shocking.

Unlike the GL Corps, where everyone can design whatever outfit they like, the Sinestro Corps is a totalitarian organization, and everyone wears the same thing (within the limitations of their physical body, of coure). Thus, Romat-Ru's design shows only minor differences from his partner in this two-pack, Karu-Sil.

As a young girl on the primitive, violent jungle world of Graxos III, Karu-Sil was orphaned during an attack on her village. Alone and left to fend for herself, she was adopted by a pack of predatory animals. In order to resemble her new family, Karu-Sil cut off her lips to expose her teeth. Years later, she came across a boy from a nearby village whom she promptly slaughtered to feed her pack. Witnessing the carnage and believing the girl to be in peril, Green Lantern Blish killed the predators and whisked Karu-Sil to Glaxos [sic] IV to be cared for. After murdering one of her caretakers, she was recruited by the Sinestro Corps.

Graxos IV (with an R, not Glaxos with an L) is the homeworld of Hal Jordan's grind buddy Arisia - in fact, Blish, the Green Lantern who "saved" Karu-Sil, was her uncle. Think she holds a grudge?

Karu-Sil uses Mattel's generic female body, but unlike their last two-pack, it works. She's just an average-sized girl, and is wearing a costume rather than parading around naked, so everything that went wrong for Starfire goes right, here. Karu gets new forearms (again, to accommodate the sculpted bands on the uniform) and a silver belt that's glued in place. Her boots are merely painted on, but the star on her shoulders is a fully separate piece, held in place by her head. Her right hand is too small - in that regard, she's a lot like the Sorceress, suggesting perhaps a rare flaw in the Four Horsemen's reliably high standards... or that there was just some minor error with the tooling.

Mazikeen Karu-Sil is a character designed by Ethan Van Scriver before he even began working on Green Lantern with the Rebirth storyline - she was originally his idea for a Ghost Rider villain, but Geoff Johns convinced him to put her in the Corps, and came up with her backstory. The sculpt does a good job with her sawed-off lips, making the edges look raw and jagged. Her hair drapes over half her face, but if you manage to look beneath it, you'll see even worse scars and a large, unsettling eye.

Despite coming in the same two-pack, Karu-Sil and Romat-Ru's yellows are not the same: his is more lemon, while hers is closer to gold. And neither of them really match Sinestro, who was nearly orange by comparison, but that's (yet another) flaw with that figure, not with these two. Karu's neck is a markedly darker shade than any of the rest of her skin, but you'd have to pop her head off to even notice that. Again, the Sinestro Corps symbols on her chest and armband are crisp. When asked to show Hal haunted by "the Parallax Symbol," Van Scriver realized there was no such thing - so he pulled a graphical element off Darryl Banks' superb costume design and used that.

Karu-Sil gets her name from the fact that she constantly uses her ring to re-create the beasts that were her family, and has them circling around her - it's a play on "carousel." It's a nice treat, then, that she gets one of the Fathers Three, as she calls them. Especially when you consider that this set doesn't include any other extras: not even power batteries for the YLs to charge their rings. The monster is molded in translucent yellow plastic, and has a swivel joint at the neck. It's more than 5¼" long, and has really lovely details in the sculpt; details you'll be hard-pressed to appreciate, since translucent plastic tends to swallow that stuff whole.

Really, the only shortcoming with this piece is that there's only one of it: Karu-Sil specifically creates three at all times, so we've been short-changed. Some fans resorted to buying three of these two-packs, just so they could complete the scene appropriately. Me, I use the power of imagination (and Photoshop). It'd be nice if Mattel offered a set of two extra hounds, but considering how badly they handled the Gleek debacle this summer, it would probably end up another one of those "personal friends of the Doosh.net moderators" exclusives.

The DC Universe "Color of Fear" box set is a really nice offering. It gives us two bonus members of the Sinestro Corps just as the Blackest Night story reaches it peak, and more than that, it gives us two Yellow Lanterns who are making their action figure debut: not even DC Direct has made Romat-Ru or Karu-Sil yet, so if you want to give Sinestro someone to boss around, this is the set for you.

-- 12/03/09

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