BATMAN, JOKER, DEATHSTROKE, & BLACK MASK
ARKHAM ORIGINS (DC COLLECTIBLES)
Video game adaptations of comic book characters have a somewhat rocky history. For every — there’s a Superman 64; for every Spider-Man 2, there’s an Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis. The Batman: Arkham series is probably one of the best adaptations out there, though even it hasn’t been totally immune from criticism. Perhaps the most criticized game in the series is Arkham Origins, a prequel game that wasn’t even developed by the same group as the others. Today, I’ll be looking at several figures based on that game.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Batman, Joker, Deathstroke, and Black Mask were all released as a big boxed set as part of DC Collectible’s Batman: Arkham Origins line. They were all also available individually, with Batman, Joker and Black Mask being in Series 1 and Deathstroke being in Series 2. The figures are pretty much identical in both releases.
Batman manages to get a slight tweak to his design for each Arkham game. Oddly, the Arkham Origins design was even more advanced than the Asylum and City designs, despite this design supposedly predating those looks. Maybe looks are deceiving? The figure is about 7 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation, which is quite impressive for a DC Direct/Collectibles figure. The sculpt on this figure is pretty solid. It does a pretty great job of capturing Batman’s Origins look. One of my issues with a lot of the Arkham-based Batman figures is that they all seem to be stuck with pinheads, which this figure manages to mostly avoid. I mean, his head is still smaller than his biceps, but it’s fairly true to the game and, it’s also not as drastic as some of the others. The rest of the sculpt is quite beefy (seriously, this is a beefy, beefy Batman. He has all the beef), but he has very sharp detail work, and just all-around pretty cool looking. I especially appreciate the choice of a straight hanging cape, since Batmen have a tendency to go for absurdly flowy capes. The paintwork on this figure is rather subdued, and very well carried out. Everything is nice and clean, and he’s got some really great accent work, especially on the stubble and the shadows on the grey parts. Batman included a weird gun thing that I feel certain someone more familiar with the game than me could ID. His elbows hinder him from really holding the thingy in any truly believable way, but hey, he’s a cool Batman. Who cares if he can hold some weird gizmo the right way?
Joker serves as a primary antagonist in (most of) the Arkham games. Seeing as he’s Batman’s greatest foe, I guess that’s not too strange a concept. While other Arkham Jokers stuck more closely to the classic Joker design, this one goes for a more subdued “real world” look. Well, for the clothes, anyway. The face is pretty standard, and clearly made to look like a slightly younger version of the guy from the prior games. The figure is about the same height as Batman and has 16 points of articulation. He’s got about half the articulation of Batman, but he’s got even more restricted movement than you’d expect. He’s not going to be doing much more than just stand there. That wouldn’t be terrible, but he’s also got some weird issues, like his arms sticking out at weird angles. Also, while the sculpt looks okay on its own, it doesn’t do a particularly good job of capturing the in-game design. Like, his whole face is just kind of the wrong shape. And his body just feels kind of soft and lumpy, especially when compared to the much sharper Batman sculpt. The paint doesn’t really help matters. The basic work isn’t terribly, but there’s a lot of bleed over. Also, they tried to vary the look of his skin with some grey accents, but it ends up just making him look splotchy and unwell. Joker includes no accessories, making him the only figure in the set not to have any extras.
Do you guys remember when Deathstroke wasn’t over-exposed and annoyingly shoved into tons of stories where he didn’t belong? Because I do. I actually kind of used to like him, even. Somewhere along the way to being overexposed, he also seems to have become inexplicably linked to Batman, which is a little odd, but I guess it isn’t a horrible fit. Deathstroke made his debut Arkham-verse appearance in Arkham Origins, sporting a look that was a pretty decent tactically-based update of his original comics appearance. This figure stands the same height as the other two figures and has 27 points of articulation. His overall movement is comparable to that of Batman, though he does get a different articulation scheme on the hips, which seem a little flimsy by comparison. I think Deathstroke’s sculpt is probably my favorite in the set. Not only is he a great recreation of the in-game look, but the sculpt is also loaded with lots of really cool texture work, which makes him truly look like a battle-worn gun-for-hire. My only real complaint is that the articulation could have probably been worked into the sculpt in a smoother way. The paint on this figure is also pretty solidly handled. He’s by far the most colorful and exciting figure in the lot, and the metallic used for his armored pieces is really sleek. Deathstroke has the most accessories of all the figures in the set, with a katana, a pistol, and a staff.
Oh great. Black Mask. He’s my faaaaaaaaaavrite. Okay, actually I don’t always hate Black Mask, as long as he gets a good story. He just doesn’t tend to get good stories, like, ever. Ah well. So, here’s Black Mask! The figure is 7 inches tall and he has an oh-so-exciting 7 points of articulation. He can like, turn his head and move his elbows less than 45 degrees, and move his legs at the hips, but not at the knees! Awesome, right? Okay, maybe not. This figure’s even worse than Joker on this front, which is just really weak. But his sculpt can still save him, right? Yeah, not so much. The head sculpt is admittedly not bad. I like that he looks like he’s actually wearing a mask, and I like the details of said mask. The rest of the figure is really just lame. The sculpt is incredibly soft and his pinstripes on is suit are so deep that he ends up looking like he’s wearing corduroy or something. Plus, his arms are stuck at a slight enough angle to make the fact that they don’t go back any further incredibly annoying. Black Mask’s paint is mostly off-black and off-white, which could be kind of striking if done right, but…it’s not quite there. I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s also not super interesting. It’s just there. Black Mask includes a pair of pistols, which are oddly chunky. Maybe they’ve been juicing.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I’ve never played any of the Arkham games. I’ve gotten a couple of the figures before, but mostly because I liked the characters the figures represented, which isn’t really the true here. That being case, why would I buy this set? Because its box was damaged and Cosmic Comix was selling it for $20. Deathstroke is definitely the best that the set has to offer, and Batman’s no slouch either. Of course, on the flipside, both Joker and Black Mask are very, very weak figures, with little in the way of redeeming qualities. So, half the set’s great, and half the set’s pretty bad. At full price (which is $60-$70), this set is a pretty terrible value. At $20? Sure, Joker and Black Mask may be a waste of plastic, but Batman and Deathstroke are easily worth $10 each.