SUPER POWERS (KENNER)
To fill out Super Powers during its second and third years, Kenner fell back on Jack Kirby’s cast of Fourth World characters as an expansion to the otherwise heavy-hitter focused line. Rather than adapting, say, the Legion of Doom, and continuing the first year’s Super Friends inspiration, the Justice League and their allies faced down Darkside and his forces from Apokolips, which was actually a fairly unique idea at the time (less so these days, I suppose). In addition to bringing the characters into the line, DC and Kenner also brought in the King himself, Jack Kirby, to provide some new designs for the characters. Some of the designs were more minor reworks, but some of them were pretty major. On the “almost entirely different” side of things, we had Mantis, todays focus. Let’s have a look!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Mantis was added to Kenner’s Super Powers line in 1985, as part of the line’s second year. He was one of the six Fourth World characters featured in ’85, and is probably the most minor of them, which is usually Mantis’ lot in life. The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation. Mantis was unique in the line, gaining extra articulation at the wrists, which none of the others got. Why he got these extra joints is anyone’s guess, but they’re cool, and I’m certainly not going to complain. Mantis’s all-new sculpt depicted an all-new design for the time. Rather than the spandex-clad design from his comics appearances, he got a robotic armored design, which also played up his bug-like nature a fair bit more. It’s a more visually interesting appearance, and so drastically different from his usual look that it might as well be an all-new character (something the line would explore a bit further the following year). Whatever the case, it’s a cool design, and it results in a pretty nifty looking figure, with a lot of really fun little design elements worked in. He’s got a very clean, futuristic feel about him. His paint work follows the standard for the line, with bright and bold color work. The green and yellow’s a really appealing set-up, and it works well with the sculpt. Mantis’s action feature is a “Power Action Pincer Thrust.” When his legs are squeezed, his arms move opposite directions, which is kinda nifty.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I’ve never had much of an attachment to Mantis in the comics, and I blame that squarely on this figure. Why? Because in my youth, spending time staring at all the Super Powers figures I didn’t yet own on the Super Powers Archive, I really grew to like this guy. When I really got into reading the Fourth World stuff, I was honestly a little let-down by Mantis’s less unique design. Mantis represents the last Super Powers figure I actively sought out in my youth, before taking a break from the line. I got him at Baltimore Comic Con, as part of a haul that also included a Kenner Aliens Bishop, a ReSaurus Pops Racer, and a Mummies Alive Hunter Jakal. It was a weird haul, but a very me haul. Despite my general lack of care for Mantis himself as a character, I still really like this particular figure, and I think he’s one of the most inventive figures in the line.