MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)
“The leader of the Imperial Guard, Gladiator shoots heat beams from his eyes and commands his forces with formidable strength.”
Artist Dave Cockrum, who helped to re-launch the X-Men in their All-New, All-Different incarnation that would pretty much shape the franchise going forward, found his first prominent comics work in the pages of Legion of Super Heroes. He frequently let some of his Legion work seep into X-Men, and perhaps the most obvious instance of this was the creation of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, a full-fledged homage to the Legion. The team’s resident Superman/Superboy stand-in was the Gladiator, who is also the only member of the team who ever seems to get any action figures.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Gladiator is figure 3 in the Apocalypse Series of Marvel Legends. Previously, he was released as part of 2013’s SDCC-exclusive “Thanos Imperative” boxed-set. He’s the fourth of the figures in the set to get a wider release, following Star-Lord, Medusa, and Black Bolt. There are some slight tweaks to this release, which I’ll touch on when I get to the paint section. The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation. Gladiator is built on the Hyperion body, a sensible choice, given their shared status as Superman knock-offs. His head sculpt and cape are both unique to him. The head is decent enough. It’s well scaled to the body, and has some solid detail work, especially on the mohawk. It’s got a slight case of scowly-Hasbro-face, but it doesn’t bug me nearly as much on Gladiator as it does some of the others. My only real complaint is that it sits just a touch too high on the neck, but the proper pose hides that well enough. The cape is actually one of Hasbro’s finest, truth be told. It sits well on the figure, doesn’t move about too much, and it has a flow that is somewhat dramatic without being too limiting. The SDCC Gladiator made use of a lot of metallic paints, which are perfectly reasonable choices generally, but for a character like Gladiator, they seemed to needlessly muddy his design. This new figure instead goes for a flatter and brighter selection of colors, which makes the figure pop a little bit more, especially when placed with the rest of the very colorful set he’s a part of. If I have one minor nitpick, I’d say I’m a little bummed that this Gladiator is once again without pupils. While it’s not inaccurate for the character, they would have made this a more decidedly classic take on the character. Gladiator has no character-specific accessories (I’m not really sure what you could give him), but he does include the head of Apocalypse.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Back when the Thanos Imperative set was released, I actually tried to get one, because I quite liked a number of the characters included. Gladiator was high on that list, and I was always a little bit bummed I’d missed him. So, I was actually pretty happy to see him get a re-release. This guy ended up being a birthday gift from my Super Awesome Fiancee. While he’s not a perfect figure, and I’ll be glad when the start working the Hyperion body out, there’s a lot I like about this figure. Now, can I please get more of the Imperial Guard? Gladiator needs his team!