#0889: Absorbing Man




Marvel has something of a tradition of passing foes between their heroes. Kingpin, now Daredevil’s arch enemy, began as Spider-Man foe. Similarly, Sabretooth first appeared in an issue of Iron Fist. Today’s focus character, Crusher Creel, aka the Absorbing Man, made his debut as a foe for Thor, but has spent a pretty sizeable portion of his career menacing the Hulk. He’s also faced off against a few other Marvel heroes, including Spider-Man, which I guess was Hasbro’s justification for having him be part of a Spider-Man themed series of Marvel Legends.


Absorbingman2Absorbing Man is the Build-A-Figure for the fourth series of the Spider-Man Marvel Legends Series line. Absorbing Man has had a few different looks over the years, but for the most part, they’ve all just been slight variations on the same basic theme: a bald, shirtless guy, wearing a pair of pants from a prison. Here, the pants are purple; not the most common color for prison garb, but certainly common for a Marvel character. The figure is just shy of 8 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation. As with most of the Thor-related characters that Hasbro has released, he’s much larger than he’s usually depicted. Creel’s still supposed to be a roughly normal-sized dude, and this figure’s a giant. However, his size is comparable to that of the equally over-sized Wrecking Crew, so he isn’t horribly out of place. Creel is built on the Terrax body, making its second appearance in the last year (it was also used for the SDCC set’s Dormammu). In his “clean” look, the figure uses the Terrax torso, pelvis, hips, and arms. He gets a new head and legs, as well as an add-on piece for his belt. The legs are suitably detailed, and the belt is a very nicely handled piece. The basic head is okay, but I will admit, it’s not my favorite of the two. To simulate his absorbing abilities, Creel has an extra head and arms. The head is similar to the basic one, but the left half now has a rocky texture, and his expression is an open-mouthed scream, which looks a bit better than the regular head’s slack-jawed sneer. The new arms are wooden and stone, respectively, and have some pretty awesome texture work to help sell that. Prior BAFs had some difficulty being taken apart after being assembled, but Absorbing Man goes together and comes apart without too much trouble. The paintwork on the basic parts is pretty straight forward. He’s molded in the appropriate colors where possible, but he’s still got a bit of detailing on the face, pants, and lower right arm. The pants are nice and clean, and the metal detailing on the arm is pretty cool. The face is alright, but the eyes are a bit wonky, which throws the whole head off. The extra pieces make out the best in terms of paint; the texture work of the sculpts for the arms is accented really nicely, and the face is way cleaner and more detailed on the second head. If I had one complaint, it would be that the torso has no marks of any absorbed substances, which makes the extra head a bit jarring. That said, it’s understandable, since the extra pieces necessitated going one way or another. Creel includes his ball and chain. It’s a re-use of Thunderball’s wrecking ball, which isn’t technically accurate (in-universe, it’s actually the ball and chain that Creel had attached to him when he got the powers), but it works reasonably enough that complaining about it seems petty.


If you’re a faithful reader, then you already know where this guy came from: he’s constructed from the pieces included with this series of figures, which my parents picked up for me a few weeks ago. I’m not the world’s biggest Absorbing Man fan or anything, but I do have enough of an appreciation for the character that I wanted to complete him. His size is a bit of an issue, and the normal head looks a bit off, but this figure is actually a pretty great one.


#0888: Spider-Gwen




Death in comics, particularly superhero comics, has long been considered a temporary thing. However, there are few characters that are more or less guaranteed to stay dead. For a long time, the list was Uncle Ben, Bucky, Jason Todd, and Gwen Stacy. Well, Bucky and Jason Todd have both found their way back to the world of the living, so they’re out of the club. Marvel’s pretty much never going to back down on Uncle Ben, and bringing back Gwen would, I guess, be viewed as a mistake. Fortunately, regular universe Gwen being all corpsified and gross doesn’t mean Marvel can’t use a Gwen Stacy. First they brought her back in the Ultimate universe, and more recently, an alternate, spider-powered version was introduced during the “Spider-Verse” event. She’s made a pretty speedy jump to action figure form, getting both a Minimate and a Marvel Legend n fairly short order. Today, I’ll be looking at the latter figure.


SpiderGwen2Spider-Gwen is the second figure in the fourth series of the Spider-Man Marvel Legends Series line. She’s titled “Edge of Spider-Verse” on the front of the box, a name she shares with Ben Reilly Spider-Man (also, she’s named “Marvel’s Spider-Gwen” on the back, which I found a bit silly. Is there another Spider-Gwen that this one might accidentally be confused with?). The figure has a height of 5 ¾ inches and features 29 points of articulation. Gwen makes use of the Spider-Girl body as a base. Proportionally, this is still one of Hasbro’s best, so I’m always happy to see it turn up. It’s a good fit for Gwen’s design, too. She gets a new head and feet, and uses the right hand from the second Spider-Girl figure, as well as having an add-on piece for her hood. The hood has a little bit of trouble staying in place, but aside from that, the pieces are very nicely handled. Gwen’s paintwork is alright, but nowhere near as good as some of the other figures in this series. There are some nice touches, such as the slight pink misting around the eyes, and the overall look isn’t terrible. That said, there are more than a few sloppy lines, and the transitions from white to maroon are incredibly sloppy. Also, after keeping the webbing clean on their last few Spider-Men, it’s kinda slipped up here. There are also some spots with uneven coverage, particularly the black areas on the upper chest, which are a bit distracting. This is the sloppiest paint job I’ve seen from Hasbro in a while. Gwen was packed with an extra, unmasked head, as well as a pulled back hood piece to go with it. They’re both pretty nice, and they swap out fairly easily. I do wish that Gwen’s face was a bit more expressive, though. In addition, Gwen includes Absorbing Man’s ball-and-chain.


Spider-Gwen was definitely at the top of my want list for this series. I haven’t really followed the character’s solo adventures, but she was a lot of fun in “Spider-Verse,” and she’s got a pretty awesome costume design. Plus, she’s on the Spider-Girl body, which has resulted in some pretty awesome figures in the past. The sculpt is great, but the paint leaves a lot to be desired. I had thought this would be my favorite figure in the set, but she ended up being a bit lower on the totem pole. Overall, I enjoy this figure, though, and that’s the important part.


#0887: Morbius




Following Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, which was published to warn the public of the connection between immoral comics and the delinquency of young adults, the comics industry as a whole was forced to make some changes. These changes manifested as the Comics Code Authority. There were fairly strict standards which had to be met in order to acquire the Comics Code Authority seal. While comics could be published without the seal, those without it wouldn’t be carried by newsstands, and therefore had no actual market. Amongst the things forbidden by the code were any sorts of undead monsters or creatures that weren’t directly based on literature. So, while you could have Dracula, or Frankenstein’s Monster, generic vampires or zombies were not allowed. In order to use these sorts of characters, work-arounds had to be created, such as Morbius, the Living Vampire, who wasn’t in violation of Code, because he wasn’t undead. And thus, a classic Spider-Man foe was born. Morbius has had a decent amount of success over the years, which has netted him his fair share of action figures, including a recently released Marvel Legends figure, which I’ll be reviewing today.


Morbius2Morbius is the third figure in the latest series of the Spider-Man Marvel Legends Series line. He is the other half of the “Villains of the Night” title introduced with Jack O’Lantern. This is actually Morbius’ first time as a Marvel Legend, and only his second 6-inch figure, with the first being part of Toy Biz’s Spider-Man line, a whopping 14 years ago. Morbius uses his original, 70s appearance, rather than the more amalgamated look of the prior figure. The figure stands about 6 ¼ inches tall and has 32 points of articulation. He uses the Bucky Cap body as his base, which seems a good fit for a proper classic Morbius. He also makes use of the clawed hands from Spider-Man 2099, as well as brand new pieces for his head and upper torso. The head is a pretty great piece, and a fantastic improvement over the guaranteed-to-deteriorate rubber-face of the last figure. The new upper torso adds his oh-so-70s popped collar, and generally looks pretty sharp. I don’t know if it’s already on the books, but this piece would be a good starting point for a classic Iron Fist, should Hasbro feel like updating that figure. The paint on Morbius is good as a whole, but does have a couple of standout issues. The red/black changeover on the collar is rather sloppy, as is the application of the finger nails. However, I quite like that his skin isn’t a straight white, but rather has a slight bit of grey brushed over it, to simulate some texture. The shiny black of the jumpsuit is also quite striking, especially in contrast to the skin. Morbius includes two different cape pieces: one outstretched, like wings, and the other hanging straight down. Both are nice pieces, but I prefer the straight one; it works for more than one pose. Morbius also includes a second pair of arms for Absorbing Man.


I wasn’t initially sold on Morbius. I don’t dislike the character, but he’s never really been one of my favorites (I blame the horrible figure from the 90s for that). Plus, he wasn’t even a necessity for completing the Build-A-Figure. However, with the whole set available, my completist nature kicked in, so I got Morbius. I’m glad I did, because he’s right up there with Venom in terms of quality and definitiveness. He may very well be the best figure in the set.


#0886: Venom




They say a hero’s greatest foe is in some way a dark reflection of themselves. Generally, this is meant to be more of a metaphorical sort of reflection, but sometimes, it’s taken a bit more literally, resulting in a pretty straight evil counterpart of the main hero. This is the case with the original Venom; his powers were all variations of Spider-Man’s, and Eddie Brock, host of the Venom symbiote, was even a freelance photographer like Peter Parker. However, where Peter gave up the symbiote when it started to lead him down a darker path, Eddie embraced the darkness (at least initially). Venom’s gone on to become one of Spidey’s most popular foes, with all the toys that such a role entails, and amusingly enough has gotten a few “dark reflections” of his own.


Venom2Venom is the third figure in the fourth series of Spider-Man Marvel Legends. After three series of sort of teasing at this guy, Hasbro’s finally gotten around to giving us a proper Eddie Brock Venom. The figure stands about 7 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation. Like Toxin and Anti-Venom before him, Venom is based on the Hyperion body. It’s not a bad base, though it still has a few minor issues (the neck being so far set back is the most major of them). The body’s pretty well-sized for Venom, and that’s really the important thing here. Venom gets not one, but two new head sculpts for this body: with and without the tongue. This way, you can choose between early (no tongue) and late (tongue) appearance Venom. He comes packaged wearing the tongue-less head sculpt, which is a pretty spot-on recreation of his early McFarlane-drawn appearances. It’s a lot smoother and geometric. It sits a bit high on the neck, but in the right pose, that negligible. The second head isn’t just the first one with an added tongue, it’s actually a totally different sculpt. It’s based on Venom’s mid-90s appearances, after his appearance Venom3started to get a bit exaggerated, but before it went too off the rails. This head is much more organic in design, and has a lot more fine detail work. It also sits a bit lower on the neck, and just feels like the stronger of the two sculpts. As far as paint goes, the vast majority of Venom is just molded in black. However, there’s more than a little white detailing. The application’s okay, but not super great. The chest logo in particular has really rough edges. The two heads are both very nicely done, though, to the point of almost seeming like they belong to another figure. In addition to the extra head, Venom is also packed with two sets of hands: fists and clawed. The claws are far more subdued than those of Anti-Venom and Toxin, which suits this figure very well. Venom also includes two different heads for the Build-A-Figure Absorbing Man. There are a lot of heads in the box.


Man, if you’d told me I would be anxiously awaiting an Eddie Brock Venom, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, after getting all the Venom spin-offs over the last year, this guy was a key missing player. In a series of more modern characters and short-lived variants, Venom kinda feels like the natural star of this set, and is a clear, definitive take in the character. His figure isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn good, and certainly a long time coming.


#0885: Beetle




From one legacy to another, I suppose. The subject of today’s review is Beetle, an identity originated by Abner Jenkins. Back in the 90s, Jenkins pulled a heel-face turn and took on the identity of Mach II (later Mach III, Mach IV, and Mach V), leaving the Beetle identity vacant. Recently, Janice Lincoln, daughter of Spidey villain Tombstone, took on the name, and had a prominent role in Spencer and Lieber’s Superior Foes of Spider-Man. She seems to be something of a pet character for Spencer, as she’s most recently found herself with a recurring role in his Ant-Man run. Now she’s got her very first action figure!


BeetleAM2Beetle is figure six in the fourth series of the Spider-Man Marvel Legends Series line. She is the other half of the shared “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” title, which is sensible, given the she’s one of the titular foes. Though she hasn’t been around as long as some of the other characters in this series, Beetle has a few changes to her look. The one presented here is her more streamlined, basic look from Superior Foes. Though her earlier look was a little more interesting, this is the one that fits with the other “Foes” and it also allows for a bit more parts re-use. The figure is just over 6 inches tall and has 33 points of articulation, counting the wings. Beetle is ostensibly built on the mid-sized female body, which has been used for the likes of Hellcat and Wasp. She only actually uses the arms and legs from that particular body, along with the wings from the aforementioned Wasp figure. These pieces are all pretty good, but I did notice a slight bow-leggedness, presumably caused by the packaging. The head, torso, and (as far as I can tell) hands are new pieces. The head is basic, but striking, and hits all the right details. At first glance, I thought the upper torso was Scarlet Witch’s, but a closer look revealed it to be new. It’s a pretty well done piece, but, as with Wasp, I wish the connecting point for the wings weren’t so darn obvious. The lower torso is actually a pretty cool piece, with some fun detail work. Plus, they managed not to make the hip things too silly looking. I do wish it weren’t so flat from the side, though. The hands are hands; they aren’t too big or too small, and that’s what counts. After getting that weird red and silver thing a couple series back, it’s nice to get a Beetle in the proper green and purple. The purple’s a bit too magenta-y for my taste, but other than that, the paint application’s pretty decent. The one area where this figure is somewhat lacking is accessories. All she gets is the Absorbing Man piece (his right leg), which feels really light. An unmasked head would have been cool, since we see her that way several times over the course of Superior Foes.


Okay, so here’s the thing: I like this figure, but it’s not what I wanted. Let me explain: when this figure was first found out about, it was via a list of solicited figures. All we had was the name “Beetle.” As a pretty big fan of Abner, I was hoping for a non-Ultimate version of him. But, we got Janice instead. It makes sense, especially when paired up with Speed Demon. Plus, Janice is a pretty cool character in her own right. The figure isn’t perfect, but she’s still pretty cool, and I’m glad to have her. Now, Overdrive and Shocker can’t be far behind, can they?


#0884: Jack O’Lantern




Legacy isn’t really a thing that Marvel tends to do a whole lot of, but they do have a few prominent examples, though they do have a tendency to be villainous. Perhaps the best known legacy identity they have is the Green Goblin, followed by his knock off, Hobgoblin. However, the two of them have followed Marvel’s more usual trend of reverting back to the identity’s originator. One villainous legacy that hasn’t as of yet taken any steps backwards is Jack O’Lantern, who has had five different incarnations to date. Jack O’Lantern is a minor enough character that he’s been rather sparse in figure form. He’s had three figures, and each has been based on a different incarnation of the character. The third figure is relatively new, and I’ll be reviewing him today.


JackOLantern2Jack O’Lantern is the fourth figure in the fourth series of the Spider-Man Marvel Legends Series line. He is officially titled “Villains of the Night,” which he shares with Morbius. I guess it works alright for him, but it feels like more of a Morbius title. This figure is based on the latest Jack O’Lantern (whose real name has not yet been revealed), who was a recurring foe of Flash Thompson’s Venom. The figure is 7 inches tall (including the flames; he’s 6 ½ inches without them) and has 30 points of articulation. Jack is based on the Ghost body (first used in the SDCC-exclusive Thunderbolts set), which itself re-used the thighs and biceps of the Young Avengers Patriot figure. The body is a little bit awkward, especially at the hips, and a serious pain to pose, but it’s not a bad sculpt. Despite being designed specifically for Ghost, the costume details aren’t too far off from at least one of the depictions of Jack O’Lantern. The only truly “off” part is the collar, which should be more open. Jack gets a new head; it’s an important piece, since it’s his namesake and all, and it’s a pretty strong sculpt, in terms of both its standalone quality and its meshing with the rest of the body. He also gets a new belt piece, to help bring the body more in line with Jack’s costume. The piece is nicely handled, though it certainly doesn’t help the issues with the hip movement. At the very least, it distracts from the somewhat large size of the hips. Jack’s paint is generally pretty strong. He’s a lot more murky and drab than most current Legends figures, but that’s definitely appropriate. The head in particular has some pretty cool shading work, which gives it the effect of being unevenly lit, as a Jack O’Lantern would be. Jack O’Lantern includes a pumpkin bomb (the same one included with the Hobgoblin BAF), a sickle, and a broomstick (the current Jack’s mode of transport). Due to the nature of the pre-existing hands, the broom and the sickle both have knuckle guard to help keep them more securely in place. Admittedly, it looks a little goofy, so I can’t really see myself using either of those parts. The figure also includes the left leg of the BAF Absorbing Man.


Jack O’Lantern was another figure from my parents. I didn’t really expect much from this guy. I’m passingly familiar with some of the prior incarnations of the character, but I don’t know the latest one at all. I find myself liking this guy more than I expected. The body is a little out of date, but not horribly so, and he certainly has a unique design.


#0883: Speed Demon




Though they’re kind of arch-rivals now, the offices of DC and Marvel were once actually quite friendly. Friendly enough that in 1969, the writers of The Avengers and Justice League of America were able to get away with an unofficial cross-over of sorts. While the Avengers knock-off faced by the JLA were ultimately forgettable, the Avengers themselves faced off against the Squadron Sinister, who proved quite popular and even got a more heroically-themed spin-off, the Squadron Supreme, later down the line. In the original story, the Squadron Sinister were created by the Grandmaster specifically to do battle with the Avengers. After the story, they hung around the Marvel universe, and were repurposed into various different roles. Flash knock-off “the Wizzer” traded in his somewhat amusing name for the more imposing “Speed Demon” and became a rather forgettable Spider-Man foe. However, he’s gotten a few focus stories over the years, and was most recently one of the stars of Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber’s The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Now he’s gotten his very first action figure ever! Lucky him!


SpeedDemon2Speed Demon is seventh figure in the latest series of the Spider-Man Marvel Legends Series (this is numerically the fourth series of Spider-Man-related figures that Hasbro has done in this packaging style). Calling back to his most recent appearances, Speed Demon’s official title in this series is “Superior Foes of Spider-Man,” a title he shares with his co-star from the book of the same title, Beetle. Speed Demon’s more or less had the same design since giving up the “Wizzer” identity. This figure is clearly based on the most recent tweaking of that design, which admittedly plays up some of the Flash similarities a bit more. The figure is a little over 6 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation. He’s based on the Pizza Spidey body, which may actually have been a little bit of a misstep. Presumably, they were trying to give him a svelte, runner’s physique, but Speed Demon’s generally been depicted a little on the bulky side, and in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man series, he was depicted as being about the the same build as Boomerang, who’s figure used the Bucky Cap body. Speed Demon got a new head sculpt, which is a pretty nice piece, which definitely takes influence from Lieber’s SpeedDemon6art. It looks just slightly large on this body, making me wonder if Hasbro changed their mind on what body was being used. The figure also has two sets of hands, flat and in fists, which were originally used on last year’s Iron Fist figure. They’re a bit smaller than the Pizza Spidey hands, which at least makes them feel a bit better scaled on Speed Demon.  In an odd turn for a Hasbro figure, Speed Demon’s paint is perhaps his strongest feature. Everything is nice and sharp, and the gold detailing in particular really stands out, and adds some “pop.” There’s no slop or bleed over, and virtually no fuzzy lines, which is really nice to see. In addition to the previously mentioned extra hands, Speed Demon includes the head of Silvermane…on an RC car. This weird little piece is a specific reference to Superior Foes, and is a fantastically outside the box inclusion that’s a whole ton of fun. The actual head is on a fairly standard ball-joint, and the silver matches up pretty closely to the most recent Ultron, allowing fans who want a proper Silvermane a fairly close approximation (plus the Ultron head fits on the car, which is a pretty goofy sight). The car is a totally static piece, but it’s a decent sculpt. The little flag pole can be removed, should you feel so inclined. Speed Demon also includes the torso of the series’ Build-A-Figure, Absorbing Man.


Like Spider-Ben, Speed Demon was purchased for me by my parents, who are just way too supportive. I really loved Superior Foes, so I was definitely looking forward to this guy. The body choice hurts the figure a little, but overall, he’s a pretty decent figure, and he’s got hands down the best accessory for a Marvel Legend since Silver Surfer was packed with Howard the Duck.


#0882: Ben Reilly Spider-Man




In the 90s, Marvel was marred by lots of big, multi-part story arcs, all based on some terrible concept or hook, almost all of which have gone down in infamy. For Spider-Man, it was “The Clone Saga,” a story that actually started off alright, before Marvel decided to capitalize on the vast sales of early installments by extending the story to more than twice its intended length, resulting in…well, let’s be nice and just call them “serious issues.” At about the mid-point of the story, it was revealed that the Peter Parker we’d been following for the last 20 or so years was actually a clone, and the more recently introduced Ben Reilly was in fact the original Parker (this was later reversed, for obvious reasons). This resulted in a major status quo shift, where Peter stepped down from the role of Spider-Man, and Ben took over. Today’s figure hails from that particular era…mostly. I’ll get to that in a little bit.


SpiderBen2Spider-Ben (that’s the shorthand I’m gonna use, just to make my life easier) is the first figure in the latest Spider-Man Marvel Legends Series (seems they’ve dropped the “Infinite.” Does this mean the line is now just finite? Oh no!). Like last series’ Scarlet Spider, Spider-Ben fills the slot of the required Spider-Man variant. The figure’s official title is “Edge of Spider-Verse,” a title he shares with Spider-Gwen. The thing is, Ben didn’t appear in the “Spider-Verse” event, at least not the Ben from the main universe. So, is this perhaps meant to be an alternate universe Ben? Who knows. Regardless of what universe he hails from, this figure wears the costume that Ben was sporting during his stint as the main Spidey during the mid-90s. It’s a slight tweak of the classic Spidey costume, but it’s actually a pretty sharp redesign, and proved popular enough to get re-used for M2’s Spider-Girl. Structurally, Spider-Ben is about 95% re-use from last year’s “Pizza Spidey.” That means he stands just over 6 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation. The Pizza body is by far one of Hasbro’s strongest bodies, with solid SpiderBen3proportions and a pretty decent range of motion. It also makes a lot of sense to re-use it, seeing as Peter and Ben should have the same build (what with one being a clone and all). The only difference between the two sculpts is the addition of web-cartridges to the wrists. I think these are different from the ones used on Scarlet Spider, but it’s had to tell, due to differences in paint. The general paintwork on Spider-Ben is all pretty solid. Aside from one or two small bits of slop, he looks pretty sharp, and does a spot-on job of replicating Ben’s costume design from the comics. Ben includes the same three sets of hands included with Pizza Spidey: web-shooting, fists, and open gesture. They’re just as cool here as they were there, and I’m glad their inclusion has become a standard. Ben also includes the head and hands from Carnage, done up to match this figure’s color scheme. This allows him to be transformed into Spider-Carnage (from when Ben briefly bonded with the Carnage symbiote), which is a really cool extra. Finally, Ben is packed with not one, but two arms from this series’ Build-A-Figure, Absorbing man.


While I was at MAGFest, buying Hellboy figures, my parents were out buying me this newest series of Marvel Legends (okay, it’s not like that’s all they were doing. They were actually having a day out and about). As odd as it seems, this was probably the figure I was most looking forward to in this new series. I love the new Spidey body, and I’ve always had a soft spot for this particular costume. This figure definitely doesn’t disappoint. In fact, he may very well be my favorite Spider-Man yet.