#2721: Hawkman

HAWKMAN

FIRST APPEARANCE (DC DIRECT)

“Archaeologist Carter Hall discovered that he was the reincarnation of ancient Egyptian Prince Khufu in 1940’s Flash Comics #1!Using an experimental antigravity metal, Hall took flight as Hawkman!”

In the Golden Age, comic books were still very much periodicals in the vain of the pulp magazines that inspired them, with multiple features in each book.  For the most part, the earliest appearances of the heavy hitters only got one notable stand out per book; no one’s really talking much about the characters that were backing up Superman and Batman in Action and Detective.  However, there were a few instances, especially as they get into that slightly lower tier selection, where multiple characters might share their first appearance.  For instance, while Jay Garrick’s The Flash headlined the first issue of Flash Comics, also debuting in that same issue was fellow JSA member, Hawkman, who I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hawkman was part of the second series of DC Direct’s First Appearance line.  We’d gotten just one Hawkman from DCD previously at this point, and he was specifically the Silver Age version of the character (albeit one that happened to included a second, Golden Age-inspired helmet), as had all prior versions of the character in toy form.  The figure is approximately 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  Like Alan, he got to keep those extra wrist joints that the Series 1 figures had been lacking, plus he had the extra added joints of the wings.  Hawkman’s sculpt was technically all-new to him, though I’ve actually looked at a lot of it previously, when it was re-used for the ReActivated! Hawkman.  Of course, that being a review from my first month of reviewing, I didn’t actually, you know, really review it.  It’s a rather nice sculpt. It’s got nice, balanced proportions, and does a respectable job of capturing Dennis Neville’s illustrations of the character from the interiors.  The head and wings are the notable changes between the two releases of the mold.  This one’s been designed to include a removable helmet, which is quite nicely handled.  Both the helmet and the underlying head work well together, with neither being too oddly scaled.  Additionally, the wings on this version are designed for more easy removal, and to also more resemble the original intent, where they were more of a glider set-up.  As such, they’re a little flatter, lack the more overt feather detailing, and have a connection via pegs, rather than the ball joint set-up of later figures.  It’s not going to be getting many killer poses or anything, but it does mean you can have a much more dressed down Carter Hall.  Following in Flash’s footsteps from the first series, Hawkman is the one figure in his set that doesn’t feature any cloth parts, mostly because, exactly what would you use them for?  He’s not exactly overly clothed.  Hawkman’s paint work is bright, colorful, and clean, and he’s got some nice variation, especially on the yellows and reds, which have two differing sheens, depending on where they are.  Hawkman’s definitely the best accessorized of the line up to this point, with the previously mentioned removable helmet and wings, as well as a dagger, shield, stand, and reprint of his portion of Flash Comics #1.  Compared to the others, his assortment definitely feels more all-inclusive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

At this point in my collecting, my dad and I were still kind of sharing a DC Direct collection, so we’d usually split any given assortment of figures.  When Series 2 was released, we got a full set, but Hawkman wasn’t one of the two I got out of that.  I wound up getting one of my own later down the line, under the same circumstances as the Flash figure I looked at earlier this month.  I actually do quite like this figure, even if Hawkman himself has never really been one of my favorites.

#2714: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

FIRST APPEARANCE (DC DIRECT)

“Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, first shined his emerald light in 1940’s All-American Comics #16.”

1940 proved to be a rather jam-packed year for super hero comics.  After the immense success of Superman and Batman in the two years prior, DC (then National Comics Publications) launched more of their own additions to the genre, but were also joined by a good number of competitors.  One who was perhaps less competitor than the others was All-American Publications, whose characters had frequent crossovers with National’s, and who were themselves absorbed into what would become DC before the end of the Golden Age.  Among All-American’s most prominent heroes was the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who arrived in July of 1940 in the 16th issue of All-American’s self-titled periodical.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern was released in the second series of DC Direct’s First Appearance line, which hit not too long after the first.  Like Jay, prior to the release of this figure, Alan’s only prior figure was the slightly less artist-specific one from the JSA line.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  After the stripped down articulation approach they gave to the non-Batman figures in Series 1, DCD was nice enough to change things up ever so slightly for the second round, and actually gave Alan here swivels for his wrists, which is certainly nice to have for a character like GL.  His posing is still somewhat limited, of course, but you can get a respectable range out of him.  The figure’s sculpt is based on Marty Nodell’s interior illustrations for the character.  Nodell’s work was somewhat fluid in it’s exact depiction of the character, so this sculpt tries to get the key most elements of his illustrations, worked into a cleaner overall design.  It’s quite a nice looking sculpt, and probably one of the best to come out of this line-up (really, only Hawkman rivals it).  These figures were mostly pretty light on detailing, but in keeping with Nodell’s tendency to put a lot of smaller detailing into his art, there’s actually quite a bit going on in this figure’s sculpt as well. The pants in particular have some really nice work on the folds and creases, and the billowy shirt even manages to look pretty decent.  The head’s also got a little more character to it than most of the other sculpts in the line, with more detailing in the face and hair, and even the actual band that held his mask in place (consistent in the earliest depictions of the character).  In an effort to keep with the cloth goods set-up for the line, Alan’s cape is a cloth piece.  It’s not one of the line’s finest elements, being rather bulky and a little cumbersome.  It’s got a wire to aid in posing, which is cool, but it has some trouble staying in place, and the yellow band across the front that’s supposed to be the chain is really goofy looking.  Like most of the other figures in the set, Alan’s paint work is bright, clean, and colorful.  There’s some very sharp work on the logo, as well as on the face, especially the eyes.  Alan is packed with the usual stand and reprint of his first appearance, but also gets his actual Lantern power batter as well, which is quite a nice piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always had a somewhat sentimental attachment to Alan Scott, largely due to dressing up as him for Halloween when I was 7, but this was the first Alan Scott figure I actually owned.  I got it from my parents for Christmas the year it was released, and even happened to have it with me when I met Marty Nodell at Baltimore Comic Con the following year, although I didn’t have the forethought to actually get him to sign it, which probably would have been a good idea.  He’s a really cool figure, and probably the best of the First Appearance figures.  I don’t like the cape a ton, but that’s ultimately pretty minor.

#2707: The Flash

THE FLASH

FIRST APPEARANCE (DC DRIECT)

After the success of Superman and Batman, DC created a whole host of additional costumed heroes to join them.  Debuting in Flash Comics #1, Jay Garrick became the first incarnation of the titular character.  When the Golden Age ended, he was replaced by Barry Allen as the Silver Age Flash, but re-appeared just a few short years later in “Flash of Two Worlds,” the story that placed all of the Golden Age heroes on a separate Earth and officially created DC’s Multiverse.  Pretty nifty, huh?  Despite being a rather prominent fixture of the DC ‘verse, Jay’s been light on toys.  Under DC Direct, he got his second figure, amusingly enough, under the First Appearance banner.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Flash was released in the first series of DC Direct’s First Appearance figures, alongside the previously reviewed Batman.  Prior to this one, his only figure was the less style-specific figure from the main JSA line.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  While DCD were willing to spring for extra joints on Batman, they were not similarly inclined for the rest of the assortment, so Jay just got their standard movement of the time.  It’s enough for some decent posing, but is admittedly pretty limiting.  He’s certainly not getting any deep running poses or anything.  Like the rest of the line, this version of Jay is quite strictly based on his first appearance art, in this case, Harry Lampert’s illustrations from the interiors of the book.  He seems to draw the most inspiration from the illustration of Jay that ran alongside the character’s header within the book, right down to his slight pre-posing seeming to line up with the slight running pose of the drawing.  It’s actually not a bad match for the art, though it certainly leaves him looking a bit more polished, and generally just a bit, I don’t know, prettier? He’s a pretty man, I guess, or at least he was in 1940.  Less so later.  I’ll admit, I’m a touch weirded out by a Jay that’s not at least middle-aged, but he wasn’t always, I suppose.  This figure also reflects the minor changes that were present in Jay’s costume earlier on, with the free-floating lighting bolt, the slightly less defined boots, and the bolts on the sides of his legs (presumably to make him go faster?).  Flash was the one figure in the first series to lack any cloth goods pieces, due to his costume’s tighter-clinging nature.  He does, however, get a removeable helmet piece.  It’s not as defined as other versions, but it’s also accurate to the art in that way, so good on them for that, I suppose.  Flash’s paint is quite bright and colorful, which is appropriate for this incarnation, and also makes him fairly eye-catching.  As with Batman, they vary up the finishes a bit on some of the colors, which helps give them a little more pop.  Flash was packed with a display stand (same as Batman’s) and a reprint of his story from Flash Comics #1.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My main focus when this line hit was Batman, so I really didn’t pay this guy much mind when they were new.  Not many people did, honestly, so he would up being way marked down at Cosmic Comix about a year later, which is when I finally picked mine up, because, hey, he was cheap, right?  I also didn’t have another Jay Garrick at the time, so he worked on that front, too.  He’s not a bad figure, though he’s maybe not one of the showier offerings from this line.

#2700: Batman

BATMAN

FIRST APPEARANCE (DC DIRECT)

Adopting a ghastly, bat-like costume designed to inspire fear in the hearts of the “superstitious & cowardly” criminal element of Gotham City, Bruce Wayne burst onto the comics scene as Batman in 1939’s Detective Comics #27!”

2700 reviews.  That’s a nice sort of clean number, easily divisible by 27.  27’s a notable number in the world of comics, what with it being the issue number of the first appearance of Batman, who’s kind of a big deal, I guess.  What a crazy great tie-in for my 2700th review, right?  What great planning, right?  I’m very clever and organized, aren’t I?  ….Are you buying any of this?  Or is it just patently obvious that this was totally a coincidence, and the significance that I picked a First Appearance Batman for my 2700th review only dawned on me when I actually sat down to write the review.  Because, well, that’s what happened.  Thrilling story, I know.  Look, let’s just get to the review, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was released as part of the first series of DC Direct’s First Appearance line in 2004, the 65th anniversary of the character.  Batman got into the first assortment over Superman, despite Superman’s first appearance being, you know, first, but hey, it was early ’00s DCD; if there was a chance at making a Batman, they were making Batman.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  He was by far DCD’s most articulated Batman at the time, possessing movement at both the wrists and the tops of the biceps.  He could almost cross his arms, even.  How quaint.  DCD was beginning its hard turn to artist-specific figures at this point in time, and First Appearance really embraced that.  Batman’s sculpt is very clearly patterned on Bob Kane’s….studio’s illustrations of Batman from the pages of Detective #27.  It’s a simpler style of art by modern standards, but the figure nevertheless stuck to it.  It’s a pretty clean looking sculpt, and it captures the highlights of what made this version of the costume distinctive, as well as doing a pretty alright job of making him work as an actual posable figure.  That’s something DCD historically had a lot of trouble handling, so they did a very respectable job here.  The range of motion on the joints is actually pretty respectable, especially on the neck, which is really the most key.  For the first few assortments, the First Appearance line dabbled in some cloth goods for most of the figures, a rather new venture for DCD at the time.  In accordance with this, Batman’s cape is a cloth piece.  It’s rather thickly constructed, with two sides; on black, one blue.  In order to give Batman’s the wing-like presence it had in the comic, there are some wires running through.  It’s one of those “better in theory than in practice” deals, but it’s not awful, especially for the time.  Batman’s paint work is pretty straightforward, as is to be expected, given its attempts to stick to the source material.  The colors are rather vibrant, and they’ve even done some rather nice work on the black sections, which have a quite impressive glossy sheen to them.  In terms of accessories, DCD was still going rather sparse.  Batman got a display stand and a small reprint of Detective Comics #27.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While only a moderate Batman fan myself, I’ve always really liked his first appearance look, and I used to doodle it a lot on various papers and such as a kid.  This figure was really right up my alley at the time, and I snagged him back when he was new, courtesy of my local haunt, Cosmic Comix.  He’s perhaps not an incredibly impressive figure by today’s standards, but he was quite good for a DCD figure at the time, and he still holds up as a really good recreation of the design from the comics, and a distinctive figure at that.

#0401: Composite Superman

COMPOSITE SUPERMAN

FIRST APPEARENCE

In the 50s and 60s, DC Comics was really king of the absurd idea. Their stories pretty much run on absurdity. When it comes to absurd characters, Composite Superman is definitely up there. Right off the bat, he’s a dude who’s half Superman ad half Batman. But, what’s even wackier is that his origin has nothing to do with Superman or Batman. He’s actually a janitor from the future, granted the powers of all of the members of the Legion of Super Heroes when lightning struck a display of figurines possessing their abilities. So, umm… yeah. On the plus side, the fact that he’s half and half of two of DC’s top characters means he’s gotten not one, but two action figures!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Composite Superman was released in Series 3 of DC Direct’s First Appearance line. The first two series were purely golden age characters, but the diversified a bit starting with Series 3. This is the first of the two Composite Superman figures. The figure is about 6 ½ inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation. In case the name of the line didn’t clue you in, he’s based on the character’s first appearance, drawn by the legendary Curt Swan. Simply put, the sculpt is outstanding. It’s head to toe a perfect recreation of Swan’s art. The two halves are distinct to each character, but still totally in synch with each other. The only downside to this figure is that DC Direct never separated the sculpt out into proper Swan versions of Superman and Batman (though they did release a completely unique Superman sculpt of a similar style in their Showcase line). The paint is fairly straightforward, but that’s not a bad thing. The colors are all nice, bold and distinct, emphasizing the differences between the halves. The boots and glove have also been done in a very nice glossy sheen, which adds a nice amount of depth to the look. Composite Superman included a mini-replica of his first appearance and a gold display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Composite Superman, like so many of my DC Direct figures, was gotten from a friend who works for Diamond Distributors. I’ve always loved the look of the character, and I was thrilled to find out he was getting an action figure. To top that, it’s not just any action figure, it’s a phenomenal action figure. This really was one of DC Direct’s best efforts.