Category Archives: Comics

Dear Mattel: Your New DC Figures are Super Ugly

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By Nick Saunders
9/12/13

I still can distinctly recall my glee while reading Toyfare Issue 68 back in 2003, and discovering that Mattel had chosen to leverage the DC license into a line of 6-inch figures to compete with (or in my eyes, complement) Toy Biz’s (now Hasbro’s) Marvel Legends line. I had been an avid collector of Marvel Legends since its inception, and had been dying for a comparable line to be released for DC. Sure, there were DC Direct (now DC Collectibles) figures available of many characters, but their wonky 6.75” scale, minimal articulation, and cherubic, china-doll paintjobs made them stick out like lepers on my otherwise immaculate (and disease-free) shelf of awesomeness.

Then came Mattel’s Batman line in 2003. Recently off their stint with the Masters of the Universe 200X line, the Four Horsemen came in ready to take names and chew bubblegum. This line, while a vast improvement over any major release Batman series to date, still had a way to go in competing with Toy Biz’s quality, articulation and detail.

This soon gave way to Mattel expanding the line into DC Super Heroes in 2005, which is where they truly began to shine. They debuted their S3 sculpt that remained the base template for this line into the following decade. Some of my favorite figures and molds came from this series, including S3 Batman, S3 Superman, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, and Mongul, amongst others.

The branding eventually shifted to DC Universe Classics in 2007, and 20 assortments of figures were released until the line ended at the end of 2012. Some great, some obscure, and some downright awful characters were given life, but the quality was always there, both in sculpt and in manufacture.

For 2013, the line has been re-branded once again as DC Unlimited. Some figures are re-paints of prior DCUC or DCSH figures. However others, namely the abominations being targeted in this article, are all-new molds. The primary catalyst for this catastrophic decline in aesthetic appeal is the cross-marketing with the Injustice: Gods Among Us game produced by Netherrealm Studios. I can barely put into words how abhorrent the figures based on this game look. Batman and Superman in particular are hideous, and nothing that even a paper bag could remedy. This type of cosmetic monstrosity couldn’t even be fixed on The Swan.

Even the New 52 sculpts weren’t immune to this rampant design travesty-in-progress. Please see New 52 Darkseid, aka one ugly duck. I think half of the plastic used on this figure went to the head and shoulders. Especially when compared with the amazingly-crafted DCSH S3 Darkseid, this new figure is nothing but a wet, laughable flatulation after a hearty meal of franks ‘n’ beans.

In case I haven’t quite made my point clear, I am saddened and disappointed that one of my favorite toy lines has deteriorated so badly. I truly do wish that the quality of designs reverts back to previous levels, because at this point I think I would rather display My Little Pony on my toyshelf than a DC Unlimited figure.

Batman and the Daredevil of Hollywoodland (aka Affleck was the Bomb in Phantoms)

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By Nick Saunders
8/28/13

I love being a geek. It allows me to hold dearly onto childhood passions under the guise of being idiosyncratic, fun-loving, intellectual, and different. The truth is I just never grew up, and while most men of my age get all hot and bothered about the latest Callaway driver or the rising value of their diversified stock portfolio, I on the other hand get my jollies from the latest Transformer, Action Figure, or Superhero film to be revealed.

Which brings me to today’s topic, the casting of Ben Affleck as the new Batman. Why are all these people foaming from their collective rabid mouths with such embittered nerd rage? The backlash has been so immense from the fan community that there currently is a petition on Change.org with over 85,000 signatures on it to reverse the casting decision. Something tells me that the individuals who founded this website weren’t considering the protest of superhero movie actors to be the kind of sweeping public policy reform they were hoping to invigorate.

But back to the lecture at hand. From this young G’s perspective, before trashing Affleck we should take an objective gander at his career thus far. Yes, during his meteoric rise to fame he made some awful films whilst firmly nuzzled up to J-Lo. The usual suspects come to mind- Phantoms was garbage, Reindeer Games wack, and Gigli is an everlasting example of the pitfalls encountered when a power couple drinks too much of their own Kool-Aid and believes their hubris alone will translate into cinematic gold.

However, Good Will Hunting was a very good film, one for which his contribution tends to be severely overlooked, despite winning an Oscar and a Golden Globe for co-authoring the screenplay. He was compelling in his portrayal as the embattled Superman actor George Reeves in Hollywoodland. He showed he has directorial chops in Gone Baby Gone. The Town was tight. In Argo he acted and directed his way to a Best Picture Oscar. This guy hasn’t had a misstep in over half a decade.

Even Daredevil catches him an inordinate and unjustified amount of flack. I went back and rewatched it recently, and it is not that bad a film. When I think of terrible superhero movies, I think of Spawn, Ang Lee’s Hulk, Ghost Rider, and Spiderman 3. Daredevil was better than all these stink nuggets combined, which is an empirical fact because I just published it on the interwebs.

Let’s keep an open mind here people. Michael Keaton, who initially appeared to be horribly miscast in Tim Burton’s Batman films, was a surprisingly good fit for the tights. George Clooney, who I initially thought was a perfect choice for the role, almost killed the franchise by coating it in an impenetrable veneer of fail. I figured Val Kilmer would suck as Batman, and I was right. And Christian Bale, well I didn’t know who the heck he was to even have an advance opinion. But he was pretty dang good.

The moral of the story is that social justice should not be intermingled with fanboyism of any sort, and that history dictates that unconventional casting has worked for Batman films in the past.

Quit Hating on Aquaman Before He Impales You

imageBy Nick Saunders
8/10/13

Few superheroes catch as much flack from society at large than Aquaman. Off the top of my head, the only others possibly more derided are Robin and Ace & Gary from the old SNL skits. I have nothing better to do, so I’d like to explore and possibly even challenge the popular view of this venerable mer-man.

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The primary criticism leveled at the character is that his powers suck, where nothing could be further from the truth. He’s DIESEL, and we’re not talking about drag racing and participating in “let’s see who the worst actor is” contests. Since he is able to endure the immense pressure and severe cold of the deep ocean, on land he has developed super strength and is virtually bulletproof. He can telepathically command sea life to do his bidding, and can swim ridiculously fast. Oh, and did I mention he can survive indefinitely under water? When compared to other Justice Leaguers, he can stand toe to toe with almost all of them. Plus, they have released some pretty cool toys of him to boot.

imageimageTo be truthful, I wasn’t always a big fan of Aquaman myself. I always found him and Namor (his Marvel correllary) to be pretty weak sauce, similar to my feelings towards rappers like Soulja Boy, Young Jeezy, and lots of other corny sounding motherlovers. However, when my brother introduced me to the New 52 series that DC had developed this completely changed.

imageThree pages into the first issue and I was mesmerized, both by the artwork and the compelling story. Geoff Johns, now legendary for his skills in reinvigorating stagnant characters, finally found a way to make Aquaman interesting. What I enjoyed best was that Johns embraced the ridicule the real world expresses towards the character, weaving it into Aquaman’s relationship with the surface world in the comic itself. This, combined with the rejection he feels from his Atlantean brethren, provides previously absent character depth via his resulting identity conflict. Plus he has Mera, his straight ride-or-die wifey who is always down to put in work.

imageCharacterization aside, he’s got mad squabbles. Aquaman wrecks fools left and right; they are most definitely pitied by Mr. T and anyone else in the remote vicinity. He impales more busters with his trident than Brick Tamland, and he killed a guy . He has legions of killer sharks on speed dial, making Jaws and Shark Week look like feel-good fare the whole family can enjoy.

imageIf we are going to start mocking JLA members, lets direct our scorn to those deserving of it. I think the guy that just disemboweled 50 hungry-azz Piranha men solo deserves a pass.

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Meet Deadpool: Earth’s Funniest Superhero

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By Nick Saunders
7/27/13

You are quite possibly asking yourself, “Who is Deadpool, and why the hell do I care?” Since you clicked this stinky linky of mine, I will assume your curiosity is piqued enough to stick around and find out.

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Deadpool is a Marvel superhero/antihero created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza as an X-Universe antagonist back in 1991. He is quite literally, along with Cable, the only valuable contribution Rob Liefeld has ever made to the world of comics.

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And if the name Deadpool does ring a bell for you, it might be due to his horrendously botched appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (see my previous rant here). Thank you very little, Gavin Hood. Way to turn a perfect casting choice into an upper decker.

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A product of the same Weapon X program that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton, he possesses a similar healing factor, elevated strength, fighting expertise, and enthusiasm for disembowelment. Oh yeah, and he looks like a burnt up weiner as a result of these enhancements, and is crazier than Amanda Bynes holding a bottle of Tanqueray and some hair clippers.

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I first encountered the character when I was collecting X-Men figures in the early 90’s. I saw the first Deadpool toy and thought, since when did Spiderman become a ninja? Either way I bought it.

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Then, when he got his own ongoing title in 1997, I started reading it and was instantly hooked. I couldn’t tell what I liked more, Ed McGuinness’s pencils or Joe Kelly’s writing. Since then, he has become a cult favorite among comic fans, and has been featured in titles like Cable & Deadpool, Deadpool Corps, Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth, and now the ongoing Marvel NOW title.

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However let’s get back to the point of this post, which is to convey that he is utterly bad-ass. But not in the same vein as, say, the Punisher. He is not your typical brooding, humorless, tormented killing machine. He makes killing supervillians funny. Laugh out loud, cracking up, oops I crapped my pants funny. His head gets blown off repeatedly and he still pops off one-liners. In a more recent issue, he killed a demonically resurrected JFK dressed as Marilyn Monroe and punched Nixon in his zombie balls. He quotes Wu-Tang and references Ice-T. He takes sarcasm and wisecracking to a level Spiderman can’t even touch. Here are a few choice examples of the “Merc With a Mouth” in action:

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Here he is demonstrating a proper Dragon Punch to Kitty Pryde’s face:

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And here accompanying an undead Teddy Roosevelt on a hunting expedition:

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Hopefully this gives you an idea of the kind of character we are dealing with here. If you have never read a Deadpool comic, go pick one up- you won’t be disappointed.

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