#1636: Johnny Quick

JOHNNY QUICK

CRIME SYNDICATE (DC DIRECT)

The Crime Syndicate is a fairly simple concept.  They’re just an evil version of the Justice League.  Pretty straight-forward stuff.  That’s probably why, even after multiple attempts by DC to abandon the whole Multiverse concept, this group is always pretty quick to turn back up.  They’re actually a bit less frequent than you might think when it comes to toys, though.  Despite first appearing in 1964, it wasn’t until 2003 that they got their first action figures.  I’ll be looking at the first figure of Flash-equivalent Johnny Quick* today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Johnny Quick was released in the one series Crime Syndicate line from DC Direct.  He’s based on Johnny’s classic design, which is a pretty straight forward take off of the Flash’s design (though not as straight-forward as the *other* evil Flash equivalent, the Reverse Flash, who pre-dated Johnny by a year).  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  Not a lot of movement, and he’s really only good for a basic standing pose, but this was pretty standard for DCD figures of the time.  Johnny pre-dates DCD’s move to artist-specific figures, so he’s instead patterned on DCD’s then current house style.  It’s a style that works especially well with silver age characters like Johnny.  The figure’s sculpt is basic and clean.  He’s not too bulky or too skinny.  Most of his costume details are painted, rather than sculpted, so his head is where most of the important work is.  It’s a decent enough sculpt, but I do wish his expression was a bit less bland.  Johnny was prone to his maniacal laughing and the like, so an evil grin really would have really hit the spot.  The others in this assortment were a bit more emotive, so poor Johnny was just left out in the cold.  The paint work on Johnny is clean, and the colors are bold.  His red/yellow were well-matched to the Flashes that DCD had available at the time, which was a plus.  Nothing particularly notable or exciting beyond that, but hey, passable is still passable.  Johnny’s only accessory was a Crime Syndicate logo-emblazoned display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Acquiring the Crime Syndicate figures was a rather slow process for me, despite my excitement for them when they were announced.  Johnny was the fourth one I picked up, actually a few years after his release.  Despite having long since sold out of their initial quantity, Cosmic Comix had gotten in another of this guy, and I ended up grabbing him during a sale (I think it was for Free Comic Book day, but I could be wrong).  He’s an okay figure.  Not perfect, but he’s definitely a solid offering, especially for the time.

*not to be confused with DC’s heroic speedster, John “Johnny Quick” Chambers, an Earth-2-based hero from the ‘40s.

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#1608: Green Lantern – Kyle Rayner

GREEN LANTERN – KYLE RAYNER

JLA: CLASSIFIED (DC DIRECT)

Despite getting into comics and such in the ‘90s, my first and favorite Green Lantern was *not* the then current holder of the role, Kyle Rayner.  I was aware of Kyle.  I had figures of Kyle (although, my small child brain hadn’t initially processed that he and Hal were not one and the same).  But I didn’t like him much.  At least not originally.  I’ve acquired an appreciation for him in more recent years, and also acquired a few more figures as well.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kyle was released in Series 2 of DC Direct’s JLA: Classified line.  The whole assortment was ‘90s-themed, so Kyle in his classic costume was a perfect fit.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Mobility was never at the forefront on these particular figures, and Kyle’s not really much of an exception.  He’s good for standing there and maybe some slight adjustments to the arms, but not much beyond that.  As with all of the figures in this line, Kyle’s sculpt is based on the style of Ed McGuinness.  I’m not actually sure McGuinness ever drew Kyle in this costume, or even at all, but he does seem to fit MgGuinness’s bolder illustration sensibilities.  I mean, he’s definitely a bit more of a beefcake than Kyle tends to be, but isn’t everyone when illustrated by Ed McGuinness.  He ends up using a lot of the same pieces as the Superman Blue/Red, but does get some unique parts for his head, gloves, and boots.  The head is actually one of my favorites from this subset of figures.  Apart from being perhaps slightly serious in expression for Kyle, it does a solid job of capturing the character, right down to his floppy ‘90s hair, and that goofy crab-mask thing.  Kyle’s paintwork is very clean, and very sharp.  The metallic green is actually a lot better than the sorts of metallic greens that you usually see, being much brighter and thus truer to the comics.  I also dig the slightly pearlescent finish to the white, which contrasts well with the flat black paint on the base body.  Kyle’s only accessory was a JLA: Classified-branded display stand.  A power battery might have been cool, but with the hands both being fists, I guess he couldn’t hold it anyway.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

At the time of this figure’s release, I was pretty well invested in DC Universe Classics, so I wasn’t really picking up any DCD figures.  As such, this guy went under my radar.  I’ve not really seen the figure since, but always was interesting in tracking him down at some point.  I ended up finding him loose at House of Fun this past November.  He’s a rather stylized figure, and certainly requires you to like this particular group of figures.  For me, I quite like him, and I’m happy to add another Kyle figure to my collection.

#1599: New Frontier Boxed Set

SUPERMAN, BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, & GREEN LANTERN

DC’s NEW FRONTIER (DC DIRECT)

One of my favorite DC stories is Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier.  It’s a great period piece, with amazing artwork, and a great focus on a few of DC’s lesser followed characters.  It was fortunate enough to get a a whole line of figures focused on it back in the day, which remains one of my favorite products from DC Direct to this day.  I’ll be looking at a few of those figures today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four figures were released as a special boxed set to coincide with the release of the Justice League: New Frontier animated film in 2008.  All four figures had originally seen release in DCD’s New Frontier toyline from 2006, before being re-released (with minor tweaks) here.

SUPERMAN

This figure is essentially unchanged from his single-packed release.  Of course, I never got that one, so he’s new to me.  Cooke’s take on Superman is a nice merging of styles.  He’s the character I think best encapsulates the ‘50s feel of the story, and a lot of that comes from his slightly tweaked version of the classic Superman.  He’s got a definite Fleisher flair to him, which I definitely dig.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Hardly a super-posable figure, but he can get into some decent standing poses.  His sculpt is definitely one of the best in the line.  The details are sharp, and the line work is very clean.  Cooke’s style has been translated very well here, and Clark looks like he’s been lifted right off the page.  The shaping of things like the hair and the cape, and even the wrinkles where his costume has bunched up in a few places, are just perfect matches for the way Cooke drew his take on Superman.  The figure is slightly preposed in nature, but it’s not super awkward or anything.  It is, instead, a slight off-shifted balance of his weight to one side, which provides quite a naturalistic stance.  The paint work on Superman is pretty solid work.  It’s cleanly applied, and the palette nicely matches the more subtle hues of the book’s colors.  The original Superman included a camera and a rather elaborate display stand.  This release only gets a more simple black display stand.

BATMAN

Batman is another figure that was essentially unchanged for this second release.  He is notably distinct from the Designer Series Batman.  That one was based on the ‘40s styled Batman from the first half of the story.  This one goes for the ‘50s styled Batman as he appears in the back half of the book.  I always found this an interesting choice, since a lot of Batman’s role is in that first half, thus making this figure the less prominent design.  The figure is, somewhat frustratingly, taller than Superman.  He’s also a bit bulkier overall, which just looks…strange.  Cooke certainly didn’t draw Batman as the larger of the two, so why DCD went this way is anyone’s guess.  In general, Batman’s sculpt is a bit of a mess.  I mean, there are certainly nice qualities to it.  The head’s pretty strong, and the whole figure still manages to get the style down pretty decently.  The big flaw of this figure is his pre-posed nature.  More specifically, it’s the fact that I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what pose he’s *supposed* to be in.  Absolutely nothing looks natural.  He’s got this sort of a chest-thrust thing going on, but nothing else about him seems to match up with that.  The end result is…less than appealing.  On the plus side, the paint’s pretty decent.  Application is clean, the colors match the comic, and it just generally looks pretty good.  Guess something had to.  As with Superman, Batman’s only accessory is a display stand.

WONDER WOMAN

Darwyn Cooke’s Wonder Woman is my very favorite take on the character, especially in terms of design.  He very deftly merged her classic design with a more battle-ready amazonian look, creating a rather unique design for the character.  All of the important elements remained, of course, and it’s actually a pretty great send-up to the early Wonder Woman illustrations.  This figure marks this set’s first real deviation from the single releases, and it’s perhaps one of the first times that DC Direct ever directly addressed a problem with an initial release.  Wonder Woman gets a new head, which is a slightly more generalized expression, replacing the more intense (and not quite as well implemented) expression of the original figure.  I definitely prefer this one to the original release, though it’s a shame DCD didn’t give another stab at a more intense look.  The rest of the sculpt is straight from the original figure, and it’s actually pretty good.  Like Batman, Wonder Woman goes far more preposed than Superman, but unlike Batman, it doesn’t totally suck.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  The stance is very befitting the battle-happy Wonder Woman of the story.  The details of the sculpt are pretty fantastic, and I especially like the nicks and gashes taken out of her bracelets and shin guards.  Wonder Woman’s paint work is once again pretty decent.  It’s clean, and actually pretty bright, and slightly less subdued than the others in this set, which is appropriate for the character.  The original Wonder Woman release included an extra head, as well as a sword, lasso, and display stand.  This one doesn’t have the extra head, but does still get the sword and lasso, as well as the smaller display stand.

GREEN LANTERN

Hal Jordan is really the closest New Frontier comes to a main character.  You’ll note I said Hal Jordan, and not Green Lantern, since Hal isn’t really GL until the last chapter of the story.  Of course, the costumed look is a bit easier to sell than just Hal in a flight suit, I’d suspect.  This figure is about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 15 points of articulation, the most of any of the figures in the set.  He has my second favorite sculpt in the set, second only to the Superman figure in that regard.  Once again, the line work is simple and clean, and Cooke’s style is expertly recreated here.  The posing to this figure is very subtle, but adds a lot of life to the figure.  I like the friendlier expression seen here, as it definitely fits with Hal’s depiction in the book.  The paint work on GL is the one notable change from the original figure.  The biggest change is giving him the green on his shoulders, meaning this is actually a Hal from later on in his career, presumably sometime after the story.  Technically, this change doesn’t quite match the sculpt, but it’s subtle enough not to really matter too much.  In addition, the green used on this figure has a bit less yellow in it, which makes him look a little cleaner to me.  The original GL figure included an extra unmasked head, as well as his power battery, and the display stand.  This figure only gets a smaller display stand.  It’s a shame his extras got cut.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up a good number of the New Frontier figures when they were originally released, but somehow I managed to miss both Superman and Wonder Woman from the first series.  I remember this set being released, but I passed on it because I already had Batman and GL.  By the time I’d become willing to accept the pair of duplicates, the boxed set and the original releases had both picked up a fairly heft after market value.  As I’ve mentioned a few times in the last few months, Cosmic Comix purchased a rather sizable action figure collection last year.  This set was amongst that purchase, and the guys at CCX were nice enough to sell it to me for quite a markdown from its usual going rate.  I’m happy to finally have Superman and Wonder Woman, and I quite like this variant of GL.  Batman still sucks, but what can you do?

#1554: Red Son Batman

RED SON BATMAN

ELSEWORLDS (DC DIRECT)

“Batman uses a form of radical brain surgery to turn rebels into calm and compliant believers in his party.”

Back in the ‘50s, the writers at DC Comics had a habit of creating stories that didn’t count, dubbed “Imaginary Stories.”  Even within the already fictitious world where there characters resided, these were stories that weren’t real.  You could do radical things, like kill Superman, or give him and Batman fully grown sons.  Eventually, this sort of evolved into full blown alternate universes which, when combined with worlds populated by the Justice Society, the Crime Syndicate, or the Freedom Fighters, formed the DC Multiverse.  The Crisis on Infinite Earths came along and undid all of that.  There was only one universe again.  Of course, that proved restrictive, and slowly those alternate universes started peaking their heads out again.  When the 1989 Gotham By Gaslight proved a notable success, DC founded their Elseworlds imprint, thus allowing a place for these “Imaginary Stories” again, albeit in a format that more resembled Marvel’s What If…?  The imprint was retired in the early ‘00s, but not before spawning a smattering of figures.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of those figures, namely Red Son Batman.  Superman: Red Son, for those unfamiliar, presents the tale of Superman with a slight twist: instead of landing in Kansas, baby Kal-L instead lands on a farm in the USSR.  Where does Batman come into that?  Well, contrary to the bio up top, he’s actually an anti-Superman terrorist, looking to bring down the Russian government.  Fun times.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Son Batman was released in the second series of DC Direct’s Elseworlds line.  Interestingly, the Elsewords line was originally shown as a fully dedicated Red Son line, which would have had Batman in its first series.  When the line was re-fitted, this version of Bats got pushed back to Series 2, where he was one of two Batmen (the other was based on Gotham By Gaslight, fittingly enough).  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 13 points of articulation.  Batman had a totally unique sculpt, based on his rather unique design from the comic.  All of the characters in Red Son got more utilitarian and practical designs than their main universe counterparts (well, apart from Superman himself), and Batman was no exception, though, admittedly, his design didn’t stray too far from his usual look.  The basic elements remain, but are augmented by things that make this design far more “real world” than “superhero.”  There’s no denying that the Red Son take on Batman is certainly a distinctive one, though, and I certainly can appreciate some of the small details that sell him as being a totally different person within this particular story (such as the holstered gun on his belt).  For the figure, the sculpt does an amazing job of translating the gritty and stylized look from the comic into three dimensions.  There’s some fantastic detail work on the sticking of his suit, as well as the fur lining of his cap, and even the stubble on his face.  The figure is slightly pre-posed, but it’s a more purposeful hunched sort of pose, in contrast to some of the “never looked right in any pose” figures that DCD was putting out at the same time.  The figure’s impressive sculpt is topped off by a similarly impressive paint scheme.  The basic work is all cleanly applied, and there’s some solid accent work going on to keep him from looking too squeaky clean.  I particularly like the mud stains on the cape and uniform.  They add a nice bit of character to the figure.  Batman is packed holding the detonator he attempts to use to defeat Superman in the story, but it can be swapped out for a bat-shaped pickaxe.  I prefer the detonator myself.  He also includes a display stand with the Elseworlds logo and his name on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Elseworlds figures hit, I wasn’t immediately familiar with most of the source material.  Given the choice between the two Batmen in Series 2, I went for the Gotham By Gaslight version, since that was the one I knew.  I only read Red Son many years later, and by that point, the figures had mostly picked up a hefty aftermarket value, with Batman being perhaps the highest.  Recently, Cosmic Comix purchased a rather sizable collection of action figures, and this guy was among them.  They offered him to me for a reasonable price, so I went for it.  He was definitely worth picking up.  He makes for quite a cool looking figure!

#1552: The Riddler

THE RIDDLER

BATMAN: HUSH (DC DIRECT)

Batman’s regular foes have always had a pretty easy time with toys.  I suppose that comes with the territory, being a part of the most successful comics franchise in history and all.  That being said, some of them take priority over others.  While there’s never going to be a shortage of Joker figures, some of the second stringers get left out.  Take, for instance, Riddler.  Certainly high on the list of well-known Bat-Rogues, but he goes rather lengthy spans of time without action figures.  It actually took DC Direct a good couple of years before they got to him, and it was really only because he was a pivotal player in a storyline they were doing a full line of figures for.  But hey, beggars can’t be choosers.  Let’s take a look at that figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Riddler was released in the second series of DC Direct’s Batman: Hush toyline, and is based on Jim Lee’s illustrations from the “Hush” storyline.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  “Hush” saw Riddler in the business-suited attire he picked up in the mid-90s.  It’s a decent enough look, and helped to separate Riddler a bit from the legions of spandex-clad characters DCD was producing at the time.  With that being said, it was perhaps not a design that lent itself to a super exciting action figure, especially when it comes to articulation.  I would think that, at the very least, they would have tried to give him some knee joints or something.  Perhaps they wanted to preserve the integrity of the sculpt?  On the plus side of things, the sculpt is actually pretty solid.  He’s very clean and sharp.  The head definitely capture’s Lee’s artwork very well, especially the snide and serious expression,  I also really dig the question mark-shaped spit curl.  The body is really only designed to work in one particular pose, but it’s a decent enough pose, and you do have some options.  The paintwork is all pretty good; par for the era of figures.   The colors are all pretty bright, and the application is really clean.  Lee had removed the question marks from the suit, so the figure’s a little more basic looking that usual, but it’s accurate to the material.  Riddler was packed with his hat and cane, as well as a display stand.  My figure is missing the hat, but it was cool when he had it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I missed out on the first series of Hush figures when they were released, but when I saw the prototypes for Series 2, I knew I wanted to have this guy in my collection.  I got him new, courtesy of my regular store Cosmic Comix.  I remember this series got pushed back a couple of weeks, which was really frustrating, so I was thrilled when they finally arrived.  Riddler is, I think, the figure in this set that’s aged the worst, and he certainly shows his age.  That said, he’s still one of the best Riddlers out there, especially when it comes to depictions of his suited look.

#1510: Apollo

APOLLO

THE AUTHORITY (DC DIRECT)

“Apollo, The Authority’s mightiest member and partner to Midnighter stands ready to turn his super-strength and speed to taking care of the team’s business…no matter what the cost!”

Isn’t it a bit weird when a parody character is owned by the same company that owns the original character?  Because, that’s kind of The Authority.  They’re a dark parody of the Justice League, injecting the more idealistic League with a healthy dose of ‘90s anti-heroism.  To be fair, they weren’t originally owned by DC; they came out of Jim Lee’s Image Comics-borne Wildstorm imprint, which Lee sold to DC when he decided he didn’t want to be a publisher anymore.  The New 52 made them an official part of the main DCU, so now there’s a parody Justice League that exists in the same universe as the actual Justice League.  What a world we live in.  Anyway, today I’m looking at the resident “Superman” of the team, Apollo!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Apollo was released in the first, and only, series of DC Direct’s The Authority line in 2002, alongside his husband Midnighter, team leader Jenny Sparks, and the Engineer.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  His prototype had 11 points of articulation, but somewhere along the way, he lost his wrist joints.  While Apollo obviously draws from Bryan Hitch’s take on the character (since I believe he was still the only artist to draw him at this point), it’s not an artist-specific figure like a lot of DCD’s later stuff would be.  Instead, he’s been interpreted into DCD’s house style of the time.  It gave their earlier offerings a more cohesive look, which I suppose isn’t the worst thing.  He’s just a little blander than Apollo usually tends to be.  The pose is also a bit stiff, but that’s just true of this era of DCD figures.  The figure’s also rather scrawny for Apollo, who should ideally be sporting the same basic build as Superman.  Nevertheless, this figure’s got about half the body mass he should; he almost looks more like Kid Apollo from the Authoriteens.  Apollo’s paint is decent enough for what it is.  He does end up looking a bit washed out, but that’s true of the design from the comics.  It’s a bit tricky to do the creative lighting of the comics in three dimensions.  I suppose they could have made the white pearlescent or something, but they weren’t really doing stuff like that at this point.  I do like that they’ve done some accent work on his hair, and the details on his face are pretty sharp, so it’s hardly like they phoned it in or anything.  Apollo included no accessories, not even one of the display stands DCD were so fond of for a while.  That seems a little light given what he cost, but I don’t really know what you could have given him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, I’ve never actually read any of The Authority or even any non-Authority stories with Apollo in them.  My entire exposure to the character is having seen this particular figure solicited back in 2002, and then reading up on him in preparation for this review.  Why do I own this figure, you ask?  I was at All Time Toys on Small Business Saturday, and I had grabbed a handful of loose figures.  They have a deal on loose figures, where you get a discount if you buy so many.  Long story short, Apollo ended up running me about 50¢.  I can get behind a 50¢ action figure.  Of course, now I’ve got this compulsion to track down the other three Authority members, which is just downright silly, isn’t it?

#1505: Kryptonite Batman

KRYPTONITE BATMAN

SUPERMAN/BATMAN (DC DIRECT)

“When the Joker got his hands on Batman, he united him with a being of practically pure Kryptonite named Mr. Kryptonite.  Possessed by this other being and bent on destroying Superman, Kryptonite Batman is a deadly foe of the Man of Steel”

In the early ‘00s, DC decided to give a go at reviving their old Batman and Superman team-ups from World’s Finest, under the more minimalist Superman/Batman title.  It started out moderately well, with an at least enjoyable opening arc, followed by a few actually decent ones, before sort of becoming a place where half-formed Superman and Batman stories went to die.  I think the first telltale sign was the story that spawned today’s figure, titled “With A Vengeance.”  I’d give a synopsis of the story, but, as someone who read every issue, I still don’t know what happened.  Anyway, let’s just look at the figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kryptonite Batman was released in Series 4 of DC Direct’s Superman/Batman, which was a whole assortment based on “With A Vengeance.”  This was the main Batman-variant of the assortment, because you gotta have at least one.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  None of these style of figures were particularly amazing when it came to mobility, but the Batman figures were actually some of the worst, because his armoire permanently stuck out.  Seriously, dude looked like Randy from A Christmas Story.  This figure’s sculpt was actually a complete re-use from the basic Batman released in Series 1 of this same line.  Since he was just a palette swap in the comics, it’s not an unreasonable choice.  Like the two JLA: Classified Supermen I looked at a while back, this guy’s based on Ed McGuinness’s rather distinctive style.  In fact, he actually uses the same basic starting point as those two figures, albeit with a variety of more Batman-specific items.  Despite the difficulties with posability, the actual sculpt isn’t half bad, and does a pretty solid job of capturing McGuinness’s Batman in three dimensions.  Paint is the main thing that differentiates this figure from the Series 1 offering, but even on that front, he’s not that different.  He’s got most of the same basic detailing, but with glow in the dark green plastic instead of the grey for his body suit.  It certainly makes for a unique look.  The figure is packed only with a display stand, sporting the Superman/Batman logo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up a number of the “With A Vengeance” figures when they were new.  This one wasn’t among them.  Instead, it took me ten years to finally get around to buying him.  Why did I finally get him?  Mostly because Cosmic Comix was selling him for $7, which was a low enough price to get me to bite.  He’s goofy, and not really for everyone, but I enjoy him.

#1379: Jason Todd

JASON TODD

BATMAN: HUSH (DC DIRECT)

“When the mysterious Hush swoops into Gotham City, Batman is forced to cut a swath through his famed Rogues Gallery with the aid of his closest allies in a desperate search for the masked villain’s true identity!”

No body ever stays dead in comic books.  There used to be exceptions to that rule, but slowly but surely they’re all finding their way back.  One character who managed to stay dead for a decent chunk of time was Jason Todd, the second Robin.  Following his death in 1989’s “Death in the Family,” he was gone for almost two decades.  He was first “brought back” during Geoff Loeb and Jim Lee’s “Hush” storyline, where he was revealed to be the titular villain.  Over the course of that particular story it was revealed that (spoiler) it wasn’t really Jason at all, but instead Clayface masquerading as Batman’s dead partner to mess with Bruce’s head, and that Jason was still deceased.  But, a returned Jason proved to be a popular idea, and so it was retconned that Jason had indeed been brought back during the course of “Hush,” and he’s since taken up the role of Red Hood.  Comics everybody!  He’s had a crap ton of figures since his return, but today I’ll be looking at his very first proper figure….which may actually not be him…or maybe it is?  Ah, heck with it, let’s just look at the freaking figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jason Todd was part of DC Direct’s Batman: Hush line, and was offered as a special ToyFare-exclusive, released just before the first series of the main line.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Not a lot of mobility, but it was pretty good for the time.  He’s based on the Jason-Hush from the comics, depicting him from his fight with Batman, following the dramatic unmasking.  It was a pretty easy way for DCD to get an extra use out of the Hush mold from Series 1, so that’s exactly what they did. The Hush body is actually a pretty nice bit of work, capturing Lee’s design and style very nicely, and offering a crisp, highly detailed sculpt.  It’s really only got the one pose, but you can finesse it a bit, which offers a bit of variety, I suppose.  He gets a new head, which is nicely sized for the body (which is more than can be said for the standard head), and does a respectable job of capturing “Jason” from the story.  I particularly like the slight sneering to the mouth; it adds a lot of Jason’s character to the figure and helps to further separate him from the similar-looking Dick Grayson.  The only one draw back to the figure is his hands.  The Hush figure had guns permanently molded into his hands.  They’re well-sculpted, and work fine for the basic Hush, but Jason never actually has guns during his fight with Bruce.  The figure was originally supposed to have spare hands, but they were dropped somewhere along the way.  The paint on Jason is tight and clean, and very bold.  It’s on par with the rest of the line, and it’s aged a lot better than contemporary figures.  There’s minimal slop, and there’s even some awesome weathering on the jacket and gloves.  The figure’s only accessory is a display stand, which is the same one included with the rest of the line.  It’s a shame he didn’t get anything else; as is, he feels a bit light.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Talk about grail figures.  This guy’s been on my list for a very long time.  I remember very well when he was offered in ToyFare, and I really wanted him.  However, as I’ve noted in my review of Rex Ganon, I only had the money for one of the two, and I ultimately chose Rex.  Since then, I’ve always kept an eye out for Jason, but he’s always been far out of my price range.  Earlier this year, I found someone at a toy show selling a complete set of Hush figures for $400, Jason included, and asked if he might part with just Jason.  He said he would, but quoted me $250 for Jason on his own, which was most definitely not happening.  I came across another Jason just a week later, at Gidget’s Gadgets, a regular stop of mine.  This time he was $70, a far more reasonable price, but still outside of my range.  Have I mentioned before how my family are too good to me?  Because they are.  See, my brother was with me both times I asked about Jason.  He knew I really wanted the figure.  So, being the truly amazing person that he is, he went out and bought me the one that GG was selling.  Have I mentioned I love this guy?  I’m beyond thrilled to have this figure.  I’d reconciled long ago that I’d never own one, but now I do.  And he’s really, really cool.

#1314: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

BATMAN: KNIGHTFALL (DC DIRECT)

“As Batman’s former ward, Nightwing returns to Gotham City to fight crime during the absence of his mentor.”

I’ve touched very briefly on “Knightfall,” the huge cross-over series that introduced Bane, broke Batman’s back, and gave us the new Batman Jean Paul Valley (formerly Azrael).  It’s actually one of the better regarded big cross-over stories of the ‘90s, largely due to DC consciously using common story elements for the time, and addressing some of the issues behind them. The story got some figures as part of the then running Legends of Batman line from Kenner, but no truly devoted line, until 2005, when the story was given a dedicated line of figures, courtesy of DC Direct.  I’ll be looking at one of those figures, Nightwing, today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing was released as one of the five figures in DCD’s Batman: Knightfall series, which, as I noted above, hit comic stores in 2005.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall (he’s from the period where the DCD scale creep was really kicking into overdrive, so he was a good half an inch taller then the two prior Nightwings) and he has 11 points of articulation.  He’s sporting his early ’90s costume, which generally isn’t one of my favorites.  It’s largely to do with the particularly egregious mullet that always accompanied it, but also due to the way he tended to be depicted as super bulky in this outfit.  I really have to commend this figure’s sculpt, because it  makes a lot of those issues less present.  In particular, his build is more svelte and similar to DCD’s prior Nightwings, and they’ve also gone with what’s probably the least dated interpretation of the mullet.  The sculpt isn’t perfect, mind you.  There are some slight oddities to the posing; his feet seem a bit wide spread, and I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with the left hand.  Also, his thighs seem oddly…flat.  Still, it’s remarkably well done, given how badly it could have turned out, depending on the iteration of the source material they followed.  One of the coolest things about this guy is the paint work.  The application is all pretty clean, and the colors just really pop.  I particularly love the metallic blue color that makes up the majority of the bodysuit.  It’s a good base color, and it really helps accentuate the brighter colors that have been placed on top of it.  Nightwing included a little…disc thing?  I guess it’s some sort of throwing weapon or something?  Mine’s missing his, but he could hold it in his right hand.  He also had a circular display stand with the “Knightfall” logo printed on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m hard-pressed to come up with all that much interesting about this guy.  I know I bought him from Cosmic Comix, because that’s where I was getting all of my DC Direct figures at the time, but the exact nature of when or why I got him doesn’t seem to be coming to me.  I know I haven’t traditionally been a fan of this look, but this figure changed my mind on that.  While he’s not my favorite DCD Nightwing, but he’s still a very solid entry.  Also, one of only two figure versions of this particular design, for what it’s worth.

#1304: Hal Jordan – Classic

HAL JORDAN — CLASSIC

GREEN LANTERN CORPS (DC DIRECT)

“Armed with the miraculous Power Ring that makes his every thought a reality, Hal Jordan left behind a heroic legacy that will never be forgotten.”

Every so often, I like to remind my faithful readers that I was, at least at one point in time, a really, really big Green Lantern fan.  It’s rare that you get to be a fan of something both before AND after it was cool, you know?  Amongst Green Lantern fans, everyone’s got their personal favorite Lantern, be they human or alien.  A lot of people rag on Hal Jordan, but he’s still my favorite, which is why I own 54 action figures of him.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of my earlier Jordan figures, who hails from DC Direct’s long run of DC figures!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Classic Hal Jordan was released in the third series of DC Direct’s Green Lantern Corps line, alongside Guy Gardner and…Effigy?  Yeah, okay.  This was the fourth Hal Jordan figure DCD offered, and the first not to just be a straight repaint of the “Hard Traveling Heroes” figure.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation. This figure hit just as DCD started experimenting with articulation.  It’s basic, but it works, and doesn’t impede the quality of the sculpt.  Hal sported an all-new sculpt, based on the artwork of Gil Kane, who designed Hal and drew his very first appearance in Showcase #22, as well as handling the art on 69 of the first 75 issues of Hal’s solo title.  Kane had a rather distinctive take on Hal, and I believe this is the only time we’ve gotten a figure based directly on Kane’s work, in general.  The sculpt does a decent enough job of translating Kane’s renditions of Hal into three dimensions; he’s definitely been cleaned up a little bit, but I like to think of this as a “cover” Hal, as opposed to an “interior” Hal.  The body’s a little stiff, but thankfully predates DCD’s move to odd pre-posing, so it’s pretty exceptible.  The head sports some really nice work, and I like that they really nailed the shape of Hal’s hair.  It’s all flippy in the front, just as it should be.  Hal’s paint is pretty decent.  It’s pretty simple, but that’s appropriate for this style of figure.  The application’s all pretty clean, and I particularly like that they got the appropriate version of his insignia, as it was a bit different when Kane was drawing him.  When Kane drew him, Hal was frequently shown with visible pupils, which aren’t seen here.  Admittedly, it’s hard to get the pupils to not look really goofy, and it was about 50/50 as to whether they’d be there or not, so it’s hardly like they’re inaccurate.  Maybe an extra head would have been cool, but that was hardly a common-place idea when this figure was released.  Hal was packed with his lantern-shaped Power Battery, which, like his insignia, replicates the more unique shaping seen in Kane’s illustrations.  Also, here’s a fun fact: Hal was released during the brief period of time that DCD was doing their resealable clamshell packaging idea.  I always really liked it, but I guess it wasn’t cost effective, since it was worked out by the end of 2003.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This Hal hit during a time when getting any Green Lantern at all was a pretty big deal, so I was pretty pumped for his release.  He’s I think my second or third proper Hal Jordan GL.  I got him from Phoenix Comics, which was a really neat little comic store that I’m not even sure is still around.  He was still a relatively new figure at the time and they were even selling him for a little below the going rate for DCD figures at the time.  He’s a pretty solid figure, even 14 years after his release, and a really great recreation of the early Hal Jordan appearances.