JUSTICE LEAGUE (MATTEL)
When assembling the final line-up for the Justice League animated series, the creators were faced with two slight issues. First, the traditional roster of seven members was, apart from one woman and one alien, all white guys, which isn’t particularly diverse. Second, the traditional roster was made up of characters with very set roles in the public eye, which doesn’t necessarily allow for lots of creative freedom in storytelling. They solved both of these problems with a minor line-up tweak. Founding member Aquaman was replaced with the lesser known Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern Hal Jordan was replaced with his less explored successor John Stewart. It proved a success not just for the creators, but also for the two characters chosen. For John Stewart in particular, it took him from being probably the least known of the Earth-based Lanterns to being THE Green Lantern for an generation of DC fans. Sadly, he’s somewhat fallen out of fashion again, but let’s remember back to the times when he was at the top, shall we?
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Green Lantern was part of the first series of Mattel’s Justice League line. Alongside Superman and Batman, he and Flash were definitely the lesser knowns, and as such was the short packs of the lot, which made GL a little hard to track down at first. Fortunately, the popularity of both the show and the character saw this particular figure getting more than a few re-releases over the years. The figure stands just shy of 4 1/2 inches tall (GL was the shortest of the founding 7 members, so this was accurately depicted here), and he has 5 points of articulation. His sculpt was, like all of the Series 1 and 2 figures, done by DC Direct, and then handed over to Mattel when they won the DC license. It’s really just a shrinking down of DCD’s GL Maquette from the time of the show’s premier, but that was a solid rendition of the character, and it still is on this figure. The articulation’s not really good for a whole lot, and was certainly a low count, even at the time. Nevertheless, it was consistent with the prior Kenner/Hasbro animated offerings, and it was really the best that could be hoped for in terms of preserving the aesthetics of the animated design. As far as paintwork went, GL was pretty straightforward. I always felt the main green could have stood to be a little lighter (and, going by its shading on the show, it probably should have been metallic), but it’s ultimately a decent offering. One minor flaw? His eyes have black pupils. In the show, they were green, showing the effects of the power ring. Future figures had this corrected, but this guy just has green irises instead. Green Lantern was packed with a blue stand, which connected with those of the other main League-ers, to spell out the team’s name. Lantern gets “JU” so he’s meant to go at the front. It’s a decent piece, but a bit cumbersome for display purposes. Sadly, that was all he had; no power battery or constructs for this release.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
While I was able to score a Flash figure pretty quickly when these figures first hit, GL proved to be slightly more difficult to find. Fortunately, I was able to get some assistance from my friend Cindy Woods, who tracked down a GL for me in fairly short order. He’s not the greatest John Stewart figure (though he’s certainly a large improvement over the last one I looked at on this site), but he was good for the time, and has remained a favorite of mine.