Thursday, February 04, 2010

Still not reviews: Three from DC Direct!

Like I say every (sort of) review, I don't do a lot of reviews. Partly, because either I like a character to the point that I'd buy their action figure if it was made out of rusty nails and shaving cream; and partly because a lot of stuff I buy is clearance, marked-down, on sale, or some kind of deal that may be cheaper than the suggested retail price. Just because I like a figure I got for three bucks, doesn't mean you're going to want to pay $18.99 plus postage for it.

And this review is going to be either much more or way less half-assed than usual, since I had the photos and half the work done, then switched computers. So, I'm retaking pictures, attaching a couple of scans of the characters in question, and generally redoing the whole damn thing. And in case that wasn't long enough, I picked up a third figure that's going in here just because. From the History of the DC Universe line, (series 1) Manhunter, and (series 2) Creeper; and from Justice League of America series 3, Geo-Force.

For those of you unfamiliar with Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson's Manhunter, Paul Kirk was a big-game hunter turned mystery-man in World War II. After the war, he was killed while on safari; but then resurrected by the super-science of the Council, an organization that had banded together to save the world, then went bad and tried to take it over. To that end, the Council made multiple clones of Kirk, to serve as their assassins. Teaming up with Batman, Kirk would bring down the Council and destroy all of his clones (maybe...) at the cost of his second life.

Manhunter was a back-up feature in Detective Comics, crossing over into the lead for the concluding chapter, "Gotterdammerung." If you can find it, Manhunter: the Special Edition collects the story and a silent story plotted by Goodwin before his death, and left silent by Simonson. Buy it. Now.

Manhunter comes with his trademark bundi daggers, and a base; which gives him three times as many accessories as the average DCD figure: Geo-Force and Creeper both only come with a base. Manhunter also has what I'm going to describe as blue plastic leg thingees, which I thought were for holding his daggers, if he didn't mind leaving stab holes everywhere he went. Honestly? He might not have cared.

Initially, I was staggeringly disappointed that Manhunter didn't come with his Mauser pistol. (At the time, he was one of the relatively few costumed characters using a gun...) My disappointment was compounded by the fact that in the earlier New Frontier line, Blackhawk got a kickass one. Actually trying it, though, I saw that Manhunter is bigger, and Blackhawk's pistol would be too small for his meathooks. Luckily, I had a cheap substitute, purchased from a capsule machine, that will do for me.

The plastic on Manhunter feels like a DC Universe Classic figure, but he's not quite as poseable; but that is pretty standard across the board for DC Direct. Still, he stands pretty well, although the hip articulation seems particularly limited; and that probably applies to these other two as well.

Like the Question, the Creeper is a Steve Ditko creation. And not unlike the Question, Jack Ryder was a reporter that wasn't afraid to piss off his advertisers. Fired from his show, the brash Ryder takes a job as a security investigator. His first case was trying to find Professor Yatz before the Reds did, which dates the hell out of his origin. Following a lead, Ryder plans to crash a mob party, but discovers when he arrives that it's a costume party, so he puts together an outfit of some odds and ends: green wig, yellow makeup, gloves and boots and a "sheepskin rug."

After the break: the rest of the Creeper's origin! More pictures! Oh, yeah, and Geo-Force!

The mobsters have Yatz, and become suspicious of Ryder, who is forced to fight his way to the Professor and is wounded. Not wanting his inventions to fall into the wrong hands, Yatz treats Ryder with both a "instant healing agent" and a "molecular rearranger." Yatz destroys his notes and other equipment, and is promptly shot. Healed and stronger, Ryder fights the mobsters, affecting an insane laugh to unnerve them. In the end, the Creeper is wanted by the mob and the law, and Jack Ryder wonders how long the rearranger will work.

The Creeper's origin is a bit of a mess: later versions would point out the unlikelihood of Yatz having a "double major" in molecular biology and subatomic engineering. In the early stories, Ryder was sane enough, and the Creeper's laugh and mannerisms were all an act; he seems to have gotten progressively crazier every version since. And Ryder had a few different jobs after his origin; but seems to usually appear as a sensationalistic TV host, less of a muckraker than a ratings-hog.

The History line is billed as based on the art of George Perez, but you can see more than a little Ditko in there, probably because George kept some, I guess.

Now, the Creeper doesn't come with any accessories, at least, not a traditional, removeable one. But he does have his red mane-boa-cape thing on his back; what it actually is varies from creator to creator. Sometimes, it's a chunk of sheepskin rug, sometimes it's a furry or feather boa, either of which would make the Creeper the Dennis Rodman of DC's heroes, especially when you consider his costume is otherwise briefs, gloves, and boots. In the recent Steve Niles update, I think it's a spiky mane growing out of him. In his 1997 series, the red things are weird tendrils or psuedopods; the Creeper himself is as surprised as anyone when they untie him from an operating table.

Why am I going on about the Creeper's rug? Because it's flocked! Flocked! Shout it from the hilltops! I don't know if DC Direct had ever done any flocking before, but they didn't flock this one up, they knocked it out of the flocking park. Sorry. I think I appreciate the effort from them more than anything. The rug is a bit of a hindrance to his shoulder articulation, and he should doubtless be a bit more articulated anyway; but even putting aside that I've wanted a figure of him for ever, overall Creeper strikes me as a noble effort, like DCD worked a little harder on him than they had to.

I don't want to say Geo-Force is unpopular, but in his wave, he's the only one to have never gotten a figure: Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash all aren't hurting for plastic representation. And yet, GF is the one I find for 80% off. (To be fair, this Manhunter never had a figure either, the Creeper had one in Batman: the Animated Series.)

Moreover, I don't think I own a single comic with Geo-Force in this costume: while looking for some comic with him in it, I vaguely recalled a DC Digest reprinting a Batman and the Outsiders story with Jim Aparo art and Superman guest-starring. It was issue #19, and while I can only think of one other issue he did with Superman, Jim Aparo's Supes always looked pre-Crisis to me. Damn, Aparo was great...oh, right, Geo-Force: I was thinking of his green outfit with the "GF" logo on it. That's not an iconic image either, but this brown one seems too generic.

So, unlike Manhunter or the Creeper, Geo-Force is a character I have no great affection for. Obviously. So, his figure does not fare as well. That's not really fair: GF only has a couple less points of articulation than Manhunter or the Creeper, with no chest or waist joints. I don't like his hands, though: they look like they're meant for a flying pose, that GF can't do at all, since his neck and ankles can't pull it off.

I don't know if GF is based on the art of Ed Benes, but while it does a good enough job, it's just a little bland. I know he's the prince or king of Markovia, and typically is more of a hothead than his facial sculpt would suggest.

Now, to tie it all in to the opening: Typically, DC Direct figures run maybe $15-19 dollars. I had expected Manhunter and the Creeper to go for a little bit more of a premium, since they were the only characters in their respective waves not to have (comparable) figures before. (That said, I'm not sure if retailers have to buy a whole case to get them, either.) Manhunter was $6.50 on eBay, plus $8 in postage, and I believe I got a deal on the postage as well. The Creeper was $4.80 at a clearance sale for a closing location, while Geo-Force was marked down to a mere $3.40. At those prices, I'm more than glad to have the lot.


Sea-of-Green said...

Mr. Sea has always really, really hated the Creeper. I haven't quite figured out why. I always kinda LIKED the Creeper.

plainwater said...

I fell in love with the Creeper because of the 1997 series. It is a love that has endured.

SallyP said...

That's a rather nice Manhunter figure...and a rather gorgeous Blackhawk figure!

Of course Geo-Force only comes with a base. If he had an accessory, it would make him slightly interesting...and we can't have that sort of thing going on.

DrNightmare said...

NOOOOO! Spoilers! ;_;

*washes eyes out with soap*


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