Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Marvel Legends Doctor Doom & She-Hulk

I picked up She-Hulk and Doctor doom from the new Marvel Legends Fantastic Four/Super Skrull BAF Wave when I bout the entire Hobgoblin Wave featured in my last post. I didn't want to shell out for the updated Fantastic Four as I already have the Walgreens FF, but I couldn't pass on these two. We received a classic Doctor Doom from ToyBiz in the 2nd Series of Marvel Legends back in 2002, in the 2007 Walmart Exclusive Ronan Wave, and more recently in the 2012 Epic Heroes Series 3. I never picked up the Walgreens Infamous Iron Man Doctor Doom released last year, but had little incentive as I knew this Classic Doom was on the way.

This wasn't the version of Jen Walters I'd prefer, but rather the post Civil War II Hulk (or She-Hulk) that now turns into a wild, uncontrollable grey Hulk, a result of her trauma from fighting Thanos. I'm unfamiliar with the latest regarding Jen in the comics, but this sounds more Savage She-Hulk than Sensational. But with all the new, very character-specific tooling for this figure, I feel we will get a more conventional green version, perhaps in a retro wave, that may feature a new head sculpt. Still, this is a fantastic figure with some exacting attention to detail in the sculpt and paint.

Below, She-Hulk with another stunning female marvel Legends female in my collection, Angela, the classic Hulk from my 80th Anniversary Hulk/Wolverine 2-Pack, and Thundra from the 2015 Hulkbuster Wave...

Doom seems like next-level Marvel Legends, with near import-like quality, a triumph of the Marvel Legends line and action figures in general. The attention to detail in the sculpt- the rivets, painted armor clasps, the elaborate gold belt buckle, the subtle fabric texture of the cape and tunic, the chain mail texture under the armor... it's fantastic. The armor looks so good! Sure, the pistol is underwhelming in size and rubbery, but the rest of the accessories, including classic and modern portraits are perfect.

Hasbro put Doom's thrusters beneath his cape, which do have small holes at the openings. We didn't any jet fire accessories, but you know some customizer is going to make that. The peg on my onside of his cape doesn't really stay in the hole on Doom's back, but it's of little consequence for my purposes.

Doom's tunic and cape encumber his poseability to a degree, but he has great articulation. I'm glad they didn't break up the torso with an ab-crunch joint- the ball joint at the waist gives adequate tilt all around for this character- perfectly serviceable, and plenty good to battle the ever-lovin', blue-eyed Thing!

And finally, Doom with my Walgreens Exclusive Fantastic Four. While it's tempting to pick up the updated FF from Doom's wave and complete the Super Skrull BAF, I prefer this Walgreens FF. Sure, we get a transforming Human Torch w/Johnny Storm head, but I liked the more traditional uniforms of the Walgreens FF, and Thing's paint deco is better. Maybe if they go on clearance.

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Sunday, January 5, 2020

Marvel Legends Spider-Man Demogoblin BAF Wave

I've only bought a two or three other entire waves of Marvel Legends in my years of collecting, prefering to cherry pick what characters I was interested in, and occasionally buying the BAF on the secondary market if the price was right. This Spider-Man Hobgoblin Wave just too many cool figures to pass on however, even if two or three of the characters were unfamiliar to me, The Shang-Chi is just a cool martial arts figure on his own merit, and White Rabbit to unique to not appreciate. I have the Spider-Man Special Edt. PS4, so the Gamerverse figures were of interest to me, but had not heard of Superior Octopus, whose slick design looks fantastic. All these rounded out with a classic comic-based Vulture, and it's a solid wave in my humble opinion. Check out the video:

Of honorable mention, above: Vulture with my 2016 Spider-Man Homecoming Vulture BAF.
Below: the Demogoblin BAF with my 2015 Hobgoblin BAF...

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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Looking Back: Matt Wagner's Trinity (2003), DC Direct

Matt Wagner wrote Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity seven years before I started this blog, and I've finally gotten around to reading it here at the end of 2019. Lately I've been revisiting some of the DC Direct figures I've had on card in my collection, though I'd sold off many of them in the last three years to downsize my collection, among them three Trinity figures I never opened. Early in my action figure collecting, I was just buying what appealed visually to me, not necessarily related to the sheer volume of books I was consuming in attempt to get up to speed on all I'd missed in the years I wasn't reading comics. I'm unsure why I never bought the Superman from this series, other than I may have already bought enough other Superman figures from other series, or I couldn't get him at a price I found reasonable. At any rate, DC Direct was known for their creator/title inspired series, and they nailed it in 2008 with the release of the Trinity Series. Collectors often lamented the limited number of characters DC Direct offered, Bizarro and Artemis noticeably missing from this series. But if you could only choose four, they offered the four obvious characters, which looked fantastic.

I found a copy of Trinity for south of six dollars recently, and finally committed to getting it read all these years later. Not my first exposure to Matt Wagner, having read a Grendel book back in the '80s, the author's art style was instantly familiar to me- here, a quasi-Art Deco homage that brought to mind the Fleisher Superman cartoons of the 1940s. There's a great deal of Trinity I liked, while some of it falls short, such as the not-so-subtle fetishization of Wonder Woman in parts, to the murky purpose of Artemis in the book's plot. Wagner carries the entirety of Trinity on his own creative shoulders however, which is impressive from any angle, though the art lacks consistency that other artist's who employ similar simplistic styles employ more efficiently- Bruce Timm and Darwyn Cooke come to mind here. In fact, I'd recommend Cooke's Justice League: The New Frontier over Trinity if you are looking for a retro-styled DC book. That said, Trinity has a lot to offer, and I'm glad I finally read it. This is the second book I've read this year with Ra's Al Ghul, the other being the fantastic Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77. It's been fun getting back to physical comics lately, mostly DC, after reading Marvel Unlimited on my iPad the last couple years- a trend I plan to continue in 2020.

Visit Joe Acevedo's online DC Direct Archive to see all the figures from 1999 to 2012!
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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Justice League of America #242 (1985)

Digging through the discount bins recently in my local comic shop unearthed an issue of Justice League of America with a cover I couldn't ignore. I've read more JLA from recent years, the team not even on my radar in the mid-eighties, though I was still reading comics as a young teenager. The roster interested me, some like Zatanna, Vixen, and J'onn J'onzz now familiar to me, and others such as Gypsy and Dale Gunn not as much. Also of interest was Steel and a pre-New 52 Vibe- neither of which I'd experienced.

Issue #242, "Battle Cry", finds two search parties of the JLA tracking the super-powered android Amazo in the Northwestern Canada. Unbeknownst to our heroes, the adaptive Amazo is the hunter in reality, using the powers of the JLA against them to attack with calamitous results!

Meanwhile, Aquaman searches for Mera, who left weeks ago, the loss of their son devastating the aquatic couple. tearing them apart. Finding her deep in the dark currents of the Atlantic, where they consummated their love years ago, the couple embrace, surfacing to talk out their differences in a tearful, heartfelt reunion...

After recovering from a brutal attack by Amazo earlier, Martian Manhunter and Dale Gunn regroup to pursue the android, certain their teammates would never break ranks and attack without them. They are unaware that Amazo caught the sperate parties by surprise, throwing them into a hole and entombing them with a boulder! You'll have to hunt down issue #243 to see if Aquaman returns to save them!

Of further note regarding this issue, a rather lengthy special preview of Mask is plopped right in the middle of this issue. Of interest to fans of this property most certainly, it left me wishing for more pages of JLA in what I initially thought was a thicker issue. Additioanlly, an advertisement for Crisis On Infinite Earths was tucked into the pages of this issue, which would change the landscape of DC Comics dramatically thereafter. I didn't read Crisis until around 2011, when I got back into comics after starting this blog, and began reading everything I could find in attempt to get back up to speed on what I'd missed in the years before.

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

DC Direct Brightest Day Green Arrow

Continuing from my last post with another DC Direct Brightest Day figure, Series 1 Green Arrow! I've had this figure on card in my collection since the summer of 2011, less than a year into publishing this blog, and obsessed with DC Direct action figures. They were more delicate then the DC Universe Classics I was also buying, but the sculpts were more unique and the paint was more nuanced. DC Direct often designed the characters after their interpretations within particular stories in the comics. While I've yet to read Brightest Day ( I just found all three books at great prices used), I loved the hooded costume of this figure, a somewhat new look for the decades old DC Comics hero at the time, if memory serves me correctly.

I really like that you can display Green Arrow without his hood, and that the loose arrows he comes with can be stowed in the quiver on his back. There have been some really cool Green Arrow figures, but his one may be nearly perfect, due in large part to the comic-accurate portrait. But the remaining sculpt throughout cannot be ignored, from the fabric folds in his tunic, pouches around the utility belt, and darts on the inside of his gauntlets. Ollie also gets points for little details like the painted bow handle and arrows, and real bowstring. I also love the subtle metallic tint of his boots and gauntlets- Exceptional! 

Like most of the DC Direct figures of this era, Green Arrow lacks the articulation of a lot of recent action figures, though many critical reviews in his time praised him in this department- DC Direct had made strides forward in this regard, though still behind the DCUC figures at the beginning of the decade. Whatever he lacks in articulation is more than made up for in aesthetics, however, and made Green Arrow a standout among an already beautiful line of action figures that the Brightest Day series was. Most all of them have increased in value, Green Arrow much higher than most on the secondary market, over eight years after his release.

Below, Brightest Day Green Arrow with Blackest Knight Green Lantern Hal Jordan...

Visit Joe Acevedo's online DC Direct Archive to see all the figures from 1999 to 2012!
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Sunday, December 15, 2019

DC Direct Brightest Day Dove, Jade, Firestorm, Martian Manhunter

I had started picking up some of the DC Direct Brightest Day Series figures in 2011, only to leave them all on card- the number of figures I picked up that year was larger than the amount of time I realistically had to photograph/document them in the very systematic fashion I had only recently adopted. In fact, I'd sold my Jade figure just over a year ago, deciding to buy her again while I was buying Firestorm and Dove at such good prices from an eBay seller recently. DC Direct was making some of their most beautiful figures in 2011, the year before they rebranded as DC Collectibles, and while these were designed specifically after the characters in the Brightest Day story, some of the figures from this series were just really nice evergreen versions of the characters that could plug into anyone's 7" collection. You won't get a great deal of dynamic poses out of these, but the sculpts and colors are fantastic, and they come with really nice display stands.

Firestorm had a pretty complicated history prior to the New 52 reboot, and I'm honestly less interested in that than I am as the character as an action figure. I've always loved his outfit, this version executed beautifully, the chest emblem actually sculpted around the torso and swirly crown of translucent fire atop his head. In Brightest Day, both the original Ronnie Raymond and the modern Jason Rusch merge into the Firestorm Matrix, the former having been resurrected.

Below, Brightest Day Firestorm with the DC Universe Classics Firestorm...

Jade is the Daughter of Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern of Earth, and former girlfriend of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. She was not included in the New 52 or Rebirth timeline reboots, so her continuity in DC Comics is in limbo, as I understand it. Regardless, I love the character design and her facial portrait is perfect. The pearlescent white went a long way in making an otherwise simple figure kind of special.

Below, Brightest Day Jade with Blackest Night Green Lantern Hal Jordan...

Probably even less than with Firestorm, I've no real attachment to Dove as a character, having picked her up on her merits as an action figure alone. The character design is simple, but beautifully executed. Even back in 2011, I preferred the female DC Direct figures over the Mattel females, Dove here using the same buck as Jade. I love the colors and her little, winged cape. DC Direct produced a Brightest Day Hawk figure to compliment her, which I do not have. Dove suppresses her partner's rage & violent tendencies, which would be boundless without her. She is hypervigilant and can read how people will react, also possessing enhanced agility, flight and healing powers.

Below, Jade with one of her Wave 3 mates, Brightest Day Aqualad...

Now this Brightest Day Martian Manhunter has been on card in my collection for nearly nine years, so I'm really happy to have opened him. I loved the updated design of this character, having been brought back to life from his death in Final Crisis (DC Comics, 2008-2009). J'onn purportedly has a substantial role in Brightest Day, which I have limited knowledge of, having never read. I know that sounds crazy as I was such a Blackest Night fan, but I must've been consumed by the dozens of other books I was reading at the time, freshly back into comics as an adult. Regardless, J'onn is at one point in the series forced to choose between Earth and Mars, fulfilling a plan for the White Lantern Entity, and defending the Earth against the Dark Avatar as an Elemental.

I actually have a 3" DC Action League version of the Brightest Day J'onn J'onzz...

And finally, because I'm such a Martian Manhunter fanatic, a current lineup of my figures in this scale: DC Collectibles New 52 Martian Manhunter, DC Direct JLA Classified Martian Manhunter, DC Direct Brightest Day Martian Manhunter, DC Direct History of the DC Universe Martian Manhunter, DC Universe Classics Martian Manhunter, DC Direct New Frontier Martian Manhunter...

Visit Joe Acevedo's DC Direct Archive online to see all the figures from 1999 to 2012!
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