#0846: Black Lightning

BLACK LIGHTNING

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

BlackLightingDCUC1

As much as I loved DC Universe Classics, the problems with the line (which were mainly distribution-based) cropped up pretty early in its run. While the first series received fairly even distribution, series 2 and 3 were fairly spotty in coverage (possibly due to slow sales on Series 1). By the time Series 4 came along, it seemed things had mostly been sorted (apart from the odd instance of several variants being easier to find than their regular counterparts). Then came Series 5. See, Walmart is notoriously difficult to work with, especially if you’re a toy maker. In order to carry a line, they’ll frequently demand an exclusive series. Because of this, they did not carry the first four series of the line. To ensure their support of future series, Series 5 was given to Walmart as an exclusive. Walmart under-ordered and ended up sending no more than a single case of figures to many of its stores, with some receiving none at all. The end result was one of the hardest to find series in the line, with individual figures commanding extraordinarily high prices on the aftermarket. Black Lightning, who was having a bit of a career revival at the time, had the misfortune of being one of the figures in this set.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

BlackLightningDCUC2Black Lightning was, as noted in the intro, released in the Walmart-exclusive fifth series of DC Universe Classics. The figure stands 6 ½ inches tall and has 25 points of articulation. Lightning uses his Ed Benes redesign from the relaunch of Justice League of America. It was his current look at the time, and it happens to be far less dated than his original and 90s looks. It also had the added benefit of not requiring much new tooling. He uses the mid-sized male buck, with a unique head sculpt. The buck is a decent match for Black Lightning’s build from the comics and it allows him to fit in seamlessly with the rest of the line. While it was top-notch at the time of its release, it’s starting to show its age a bit, especially at the shoulders. Also, the poor quality of the plastic on this particular series makes Lightning’s body prone to warping, and some tearing at the joints, which is a definite negative. The head sculpt is fairly decent; it does a fairly good job of capturing Lightning. It’s not super distinctive, but neither was Lightning at this point. Unfortunately, it’s got some pretty obvious mold scarring, which is made worse by the fact that he’s bald. He looks like he’s taken some damage. The paint work is okay but not great. The base colors are nice and vibrant, which is good, but some of the lines, particularly the yellow for the belt, are really fuzzy. Also, while the prototype for this figure had clear goggles, allowing his eyes to be seen, their totally opaque on the final figure. Lightning included no accessories of his own, but he did include a piece of the C-n-C for this series, Metallo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had no luck finding any of Series 5 in stores when they were released, so I ended up having to buy this guy second-hand, without his Metallo piece. I was quite enjoying him in Justice League at the time, so I was glad to find him at a semi-reasonable price. The final figure is sadly a bit lacking, mostly due to the lower quality of the materials used for this figure. I’m happy I have him, but his lower quality contributed to me not going out of my way to find any of the others from this series.

#0260: Black Lightning

BLACK LIGHTNING

TOTAL JUSTICE

BlackLightning1

In the 90s, any DC toyline whose title didn’t include “Batman” was a rarity. In fact they were almost non-existent. Even today’s focus line Total Justice was originally called Batman: Total Justice. And this was a line that didn’t even really focus on Batman! I guess Kenner must have come to their sense by the time the line actually saw release, because the packaging dropped Batman’s name from the title.

Anyway, Total Justice was essentially a line based on the Justice League. Years later, the line would even be continued under the name JLA. The line offered many collectors the first chance since Super Powers to actually have a decent line up of DC characters, but it was plagued by silly “Tactical Armor,” a lack of decent articulation, and, most famously, X-Treme! poses. However, it was the only chance at getting those characters for quite some time, so collectors had to grin and bear it. Let’s have a look at one of the line’s more obscure additions, Black Lightning!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

BlackLightning2Black Lightning was released in the third and final series of Total Justice. This series was easily the most daring series of the line, as it lacked any heavy hitters. Black Lightning stands about 5 inches tall and features 5 points of articulation. The figure depicts Lightning in his costume from the time, which deviated a fair bit from his other costumes. It’s not a terrible design, but it’s easily my least favorite look of his, which hurts the figure a bit. Black Lightning featured an all new sculpt, though the arms and legs would be slightly retooled to be used for JLA’s Impulse and Superboy, respectively. The sculpt is actually rather reserved by Total Justice standards. The legs are in a slightly wonky pose, but the arms are actually in a pretty natural stance, and the face is surprisingly calm for this series. The paint work is rather simple, but it’s mostly evenly applied, with no real issues present. Black Lightning included torso and leg armor, as well as a big missile launcher thing. While this series was the first of Total Justice to give figures more sensible accessories, Lightning was not as lucky as his peers, and got stuck with the same usual wacky stuff.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Black Lightning was the Total Justice figure I was always missing. There are other figures from the line I still don’t have, but this one was the only one from the final series, and he was also one of two heroes not to see a re-release in the JLA line (the other was Hawkman. I think it mostly had to do with the dated designs the figures sported.) So, when I finally found him at my local comicbook store a few weeks ago, I was happy to get one. Not thrilled or anything, but content. Sometimes, being content is enough.