DEATH’S HEAD (2014)
I grew up as a strict Marvel fan. I pretty much only ever bough Marvel books; with maybe 1 or 2 rare exceptions. My brother Doug was the same way. Between the 2 of us we had a pretty strong grasp of what was going on in every corner of the Marvel universe in the 80s. One of the books we collected was “the official handbook of the Marvel Universe” which was not actually a comic book but a multi-volume encyclopedic guide. Each month a new issue would come out featuring about 30 write-ups on various characters, all presented in alphabetical order. The MU handbook educated us on all sorts of characters we’d never been exposed to; like those that appeared in the handful of monthly books we didn’t buy and those featured in stories from before our time.
I can’t say for certain, but I think my first exposure to Death’s Head was probably in the MU handbook. If not that, than some other “non-comic” publication like “Marvel Age” or the “Marvel Requirer”.
I knew very little about him but I know he looked cool as hell. The reason he was so obscure is because he was originally created by writer Simon Furman as a throw away character for the UK Transformers comic. For years after Marvel stopped publishing Transformers comics in America they continued to release them in the United Kingdom. Apparently Furman wrote the character into an issue for a minor role but after seeing how cool Death’s Head looked after the artist rendered him Furman didn’t want to waste him as a background Transformers character. They cleverly snuck Death’s Head into another Marvel book before his scheduled appearance in the Transformers series. This ensured that ownership of the character went to Marvel and not to Hasbro. That way Death’s Head was able to make an impact in the broader Marvel universe rather than simply be confined to the limited universe of the Transformers. Though it is interesting to wonder what might have been had Hasbro taken ownership of Death’s Head. Would he have become a recurring character? Been worked into the Transformers toy line? Possibly ended up in the live-action movies? Who knows.
After his appearance in the UK Transformers book DH got his own spin-off series which unfortunately only lasted 10 issues. They were UK releases only so I didn’t get a chance to read them until they were reprinted in America a few years later. I think the first comic I actually owned with Death’s Head in it was Fantastic Four issue 338 (1990).
In 1992 this Death’s Head got replaced by Death’s Head II. DHII starred in a string of limited series’ in the early 90s and he was very cool in his own right but I wanted more of the original. Death’s Head II was later replaced as well by Death’s Head version III in the pages of Amazing Fantasy. DH III was alright by I tended to like Death’s Head less and less with each redesign.
In recent years the original Death’s Head has finally been showing up in mainstream Marvel books with some regularity. He appeared in an issue of Avenging Spider-Man and was recently featured in an Iron Man story arc.
I never expected to own an action figure of Death’s Head. When it comes to obscure Marvel characters you can’t get much more obscure than this this cybernetic bounty hunter who mostly only appeared in books overseas. It blows my mind that he somehow worked his way into the Marvel Universe line. I was super stoked when I first heard that this figure was planned for release but then the future of the MU line was up in the air for a while and I was pretty sure this figure would never see the light of day. There was a longer than usual wait for this toy to hit shelves but to my surprise he actually got made. yippee!
When BigBadToyStore first started taking pre-orders for this figure they were only taking orders on the full wave of figures. That sucked because most of the figures from that particular wave were re-issues of figures I already owned. The only other one I needed was Red She-Hulk and I found her at Monster’s Comic Lounge a little over a month ago.
I considered buying Death’s Head on ebay at some stupid inflated price but I ultimately decided to be patient and hope that I might happen across him in a Wal-mart someday. I did not expect to find him hanging on a peg at Strange Adventures as was the case last week. I especially didn’t expect to find him at Strange Adventures for $13. These MU figures sell for around $12 at Wal-mart and most specialty shops mark them up to $16 or $17. I fully expected to pay $20 or more for this figure at a comic store because he’s probably short-packed and in-demand by hardcore Marvel nerds like me. $13 was a steal, all things considered. Most of these MU figures are scrawny guys in tights with no accessories so i always feel like I’m overpaying for them but Death’s Head is a bulky figure with a sword, axe, shield, and a removable cape so I feel he was worth every penny.
The torso, arms, and upper legs, are all lifted from the previously released Colossus. That’s fine with me as Colossus was a great figure and the parts work great for DH. He does have new hands and lower legs which I appreciate as he has some unique characteristics such as spikes on his knuckles and boots that could not have been replicated properly with existing pieces. His skirt, cape, and head are all new too. The clothes look great but I wish the cape was a bit shorter so the breast plate would rest flush against his chest. I absolutely love the head sculpt on this figure, mostly because I love the head of this character. He has such a unique and cool look to him. The horns, the Darth Vader-like teeth, the big yellow eyes and best of all the under-bite with the spiked jaw, all come together in the most wonderfully weird way.