For my birthday last week my brother Doug bought me Ms. Marvel and Spider UK from the latest wave of Marvel Legends. Each of them came with a piece of a build-a-figure Sandman so, between them and the Shocker, Green Goblin and Spider-Man 2099 I recently purchased for myself, I’m only one leg away from a completed Flint Marko. That means I’ll be on the lookout for the Jackal, which is not a figure I would have bought otherwise but, since I need it to complete Sandman Hasbro is gonna get another thirty bucks out of me. Damn them and their clever ploys.
After acquiring 2099 and Shocker I was tempted to skip the rest of this wave. I love the Green Goblin as a character but I don’t like the new Legends figure, I know nothing of Ms. Marvel and I’m not interested in learning, I never liked the Jackal because he looks idiotic, Symbiote Spider-Man is rather bland and I’ve bought multiple variations of it in the past, and Spider UK is arguably just another Spider-Man figure.
However, when it comes to action figures my resolve is weak. I caved on Goblin right away because it’s likely the only Goblin we’ll get for the foreseeable future. It’s really only the face I don’t like and it may grow on me in time. When Doug asked what I wanted for my b-day I informed him that Ms. Marvel would be suitable choice. It saved me from spending my own money on her and prevented me from missing out on her entirely. She seems to be a popular character these days so I was worried if I didn’t get her now she may be hard to find later. It was less about her and more about the crucial Sandman piece she came with (the torso). I also told him Spider UK would make a decent gift. He’s a good dude so he got me both of them.
If Spider Uk was just Peter Parker in a fancy outfit for adventures abroad I would not have wanted it. But Spider UK is actually a completely different character. He comes from an alternate universe much like Spider-Gwen or Spider-Man 2099. His name is Billy Braddock and he’s a member of the multi-verse spanning Captain Britain Corps. Really he’s as much Captain Britain as he is Spider-Man. He supposedly has the powers of both men (minus Peter’s spider sense) which would mean he has superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes, and the ability to fly at supersonic speeds.
In 2014 there was a storyline published by Marvel Comics called Spider-Verse which saw the Spider-Men (and women) from every alternate reality team-up to battle against a group of vampire-like villains called the Inheritors. That was the storyline that introduced a bunch of new Spider-Man variations including Billy here. He was the leader of the group of misfit spider people until the one-true Spider-Man took charge. The group proved popular enough to get their own series called Web Warriors after Spider-Verse ended. Sadly the book sucked so it was cancelled after only one year.
To the untrained eye this might look like just another Spider-Man figure but there a few key difference which set him apart. When compared to the default Peter Parker: Spider-Man Marvel Legends action figure you’ll notice that UK is quite a bit buffer. I believe this is a brand new body sculpt and it’s a great base for future tough guys. Clearly Billy hits the gym more than Peter does. Also of note, the blue and red are darker shades, the web pattern is different, UK has smaller eyes, lacks red gloves and boots, has no spider emblem on his chest, and features a Union Jack pattern in his costume akin to Captain Britain. I wish he had a more CB like helmet as opposed to a standard Spidey mask to further differentiate him but there are enough differences regardless that I don’t feel like I’ve been duped into buying the same toy over again.
I probably shouldn’t like this figure as much as I do because it is so similar to the dozens of other Spider-Man toys I have but knowing there’s a unique character under the mask makes him much cooler than he would be if this were just an alternate costume. If I were a kid I would want to play out the Spider-Verse storyline and this figure would be essential. This is a solid figure with crisp paint apps and plenty of articulation. 8 out of 10.
p.s. I apologize for the extra crappy photos today. My camera refused to agree with me.
Way back in 1992 Marvel decided to launch a comic book series about a future Spider-Man set in the year 2099. They also launched 2099 books focusing on the Punisher, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and others. Spider-Man 2099 was the only one I was interested in so I never read any of the other titles. Though years later, long after it was cancelled, I was drawn into collecting Ghost Rider 2099. I may have given the other 2099 books a chance back in the day had I actually liked Spidey 2099 but unfortunatley I didn’t. I really liked the concept of a future Spider-Man facing off against future versions of his greatest villains, there was lots of potential there, but I found it poorly executed. Peter David co-created the character with artist Rick Leonardi and he wrote 44 of the 46 issues. I appreciate that Spider-Man 2099 was David’s creation but I feel another writer could have made the stories more interesting so I wish someone else had gotten the opportunity to take a stab at it. I don’t say that lightly as Peter David has written some amazing comics, including the first Spider-Man comic I ever bought (Spectacular Spider-Man 119) that featured Black Cat vs Sabertooth which I still love to this very day.
The Spider-Man of 2099 is Miguel O’Hara, a latino fella who works for a shady mega-corporation called Alchemax. When he tries to quit his job (upon discovering the shadiness) his boss doses him with something which leads to a series of unfortunate events; the end result being Miguel gets spider powers. It’s been 25 years since I read those comics but as I recall Miguel spent the next bunch of issues battling against Alchemax, a robot cowboy, some lame Thor worshipping cult, and crappy future Vulture. The stories never wowed me and Leonardi’s art didn’t help matters (though I’ve really enjoyed some of his other work too). It takes a lot for me to quit collecting a comic (I just quit Spawn after collecting 267 consecutive issues…it also launched in 1992) but I dropped Spider-Man 2099 after only 12 issues. Even though the book didn’t live up to my expectations I always had a fondness for Miguel O’Hara and hoped to see him back someday.
He’s had a few scattered appearances over the years but Spidey 2099 finally got a second shot at his own on-going series in 2014. I added it to my pull-list at Strange Adventures but unfortunately it was still written by Peter David and it was still hella-boring. Regardless, I stuck it out until the series was cancelled a year later. I got back on board when a third series was launched shortly afterwards under Marvel’s “All-New, All-Different!” campaign. The third series featured Miguel wearing a brand new costume but that was about the only new thing about the series. It was still written by David and it continued on with the same boring storylines from volume 2. I bought it for a while but quit a couple of months ago. However, I just recently learned that Mr. David is the writer of a new Scarlet Spider book launching this spring. I haven’t seen anything official but that probably means that a new writer is getting a shot at 2099 or, more likely, 2099 has been cancelled again. In either case I may jump back on board to see how things pan out.
Even though the books have never been very good in my opinion the character has always looked really cool. He wore the same costume from 1992 right up until the All-New, All-Different relaunch in 2015. It consisted of a metallic blue bodysuit with a red skull design and a web cape. Miguel supposedly had the costume in his closet because he wore it to a day of the dead festival once. It wasn’t a particularly spidery outfit but it looked great. I especially loved the mask with the open eye design. I have purchased several Spider-Man 2099 figures over the years in various sizes (12″, 6″, 5″, 3 3/4″) and they’re all sporting that same costume.
I don’t usually like costume changes for the sake of costume changes, it’s almost always a marketing gimmick to get fans to buy more comics and merchandise, but when I saw the All-New, All-Different redesign of Spider-Man 2099 I was sold. I guess I was ready for a change after all these years and I loved the bold contrast of the red, white, and black design. It retains all the best elements of the original, such as the open eyes, the abstract skull logo, and the Batman-esque arm spikes, but it just feels so…new and different. As soon as I saw the promotional art I thought this costume would make a great action figure but I didn’t imagine the book would last long enough to warrent Hasbro actually making it into a toy. As it turns out the book probably is doomed but thank goodness we got this action figure beforehand.
Hasbro has been absolutely killing it with their Marvel Legends figures for the past few years. I went from only owning a handful of them to buying a new bookshelf just to house them in a matter of months. I named 3 of them on my best of list for 2016 but honestly I could’ve filled the whole list with them. I feel that this Spidey I acquired a few days ago is an early shoe-in for my 2017 list.
This figure feature an excellent sculpt. It’s not as slim as the previous Spider-Man 2099 Marvel Legend which is a good thing. The extra bulk makes him look much tougher and I feel Miguel should look more dangerous than Peter Parker: Spider-Man. The articulation is spot on with rocker ankles, double jointed knees and elbows, ball jointed hips, shoulders, and neck, swivel joints at the boots, thighs, wrists, and forearms…what more could you want? The paint apps are beautiful with crisp white paint on the torso, metallic red on the logo, and a few bright blue highlights all on greyish-black base. Everything about this figure is awesome. Some extra hands or an unmasked head might’ve been nice (the only accessory he came with was a build-a-figure Sandman arm) but who needs accessories with a figure this good. 10 out of 10.
P.S. It’s my birthday in an hour so I should have new toys to tell you about soon. 🙂
In publishing, an imprint is a trade name under which work is published. A single publishing company may have multiple imprints for material that appeals to different demographics. In comics, Vertigo is one of the most well-known imprints; it’s where DC publishes its mature reader content. In 2003 Marvel launched a new imprint called Tsunami that was supposed to appeal to fans of Japanese Manga comics which were growing in popularity at the time. The Tsunami line of books mostly featured established Marvel characters, like Venom, presented with an anime inspired twist. The only one that caught my attention initially was Human Torch. I’ve never been a huge Torch fan (the Thing is my Fantastic Four member of choice) but I was intrigued by the concept of a Johnny Storm solo book and the stylized artwork really appealed to me (though it struck me as more graffiti than Manga). The artist, Scottie Young, has since become a huge name in comics. I liked the series but it only lasted 12 issues.
Because I enjoyed the Tsunami take on the Human Torch I figured I should reconsider some of the other books in the line. I read up on them and the one that piqued my interest was a title called Sentinel. It was about a kid named Juston that finds a crashed Sentinel, one of the mutant-hunting giant robots from the X-Men comics, and befriends him. It was essentially a new take on the Iron Giant which is one of my all-time favorite movies. It was a concept with potential but I was still reluctant to buy it because I found the artwork too cutesy. I went to my go-to comic shop Strange Adventures I asked my pal Cal if he’d heard good things. He told me that I could find out for myself and he gave me a reprint that collected the first two issues in a single book. I liked it and continued to collect the book until it was cancelled (none of the Tsunami books lasted very long). Even better than Sentinel though was a series called Runaways, the first two issues of which were also included in that reprint Cal gave me. I likely never would have picked up Runaways on my own because it didn’t look like anything special but it really was a unique and captivating story. The writer/co-creator, Brian K Vaughan, has also become a comic book superstar in the years since Runaways by way of original works like Y-The Last Man and Saga.
Runaways was about a group of teens that didn’t have a whole lot in common with each other than the fact that their parents got together every year and dragged them along. In issue one the kids snoop around while their parents are meeting and they discover that their parents are actually an evil criminal organization called The Pride. The kids freak out and runaway together, hence the title. In time they discover that each of them has inherited their parents supervillain abilities.
My favorite character was the Japanese-American Nico Minoru who inherited magical powers from her wizard parents. Using the “Staff of One” Nico is able to cast spells akin to Harry Potter. However, an interesting twist on Nico’s abilities is that she can cast each spell only once.
After 3 different on-going volumes and a couple of limited series together the Runaways went their separate ways. Nico next appeared in Avengers Arena, a series where various young heroes were abducted by Arcade and forced to fight each other to the death a la The Hunger Games. After that she appeared in Avengers Undercover and nowadays she can be found in the girl power book, A-Force. I have followed Nico through the various titles and I’m pretty stoked to now be getting her in action figure form.
The Runaways all seemed like unlikely candidates to ever be made into toys. They’re super heroes but they don’t have code names or costumes. They just look like normal kids.
Nico’s Gothic attire kind of passes for a costume I suppose which is probably why she’s the first one to make the plunge into plastic. I’m sure Chase Stein and Molly Hayes have just as many loyal fans as Nico but Hasbro probably has doubts that an action figure of a shaggy haired stoner in a t-shirt or a little girl in a bunny hat would fly off the shelves. The rest of the Runaways may work better as a comic-con exclusive set aimed at hard-core comic fans (though I hope that isn’t the case because that would be hella expensive).
I don’t recall Nico having any ties to Doctor Strange so I’m guessing she got thrown into the good Doctor’s Marvel Legends assortment simply because of her magic-based powers. I’m totally fine with that but some Doctor Strange fans may gripe that she’s stealing a slot that should go to a character more relevant to the Doc, like his disciple and girlfriend, Clea.
I expected this figure to borrow a lot of parts from other recently released female teens such as Silk and Spider Gwen but there appears to be mostly new parts. Her legs are probably reused but she has these fantastic multiple buckle boots that are original. Both parts of her torso feature sculpted bits of her corset so I think those are new too. Her arms don’t feature any noteworthy sculpting but the paint job is very intricate on her lace sleeves. Her skirt is a separate piece that sits nicely and does not hinder articulation. Lastly there’s her head which is amazing. The paint job is spot on with black lipstick and eerie reflective pink eyes. It’s a very pretty face and the hair, which is a separate rubbery piece also looks great. I’m impressed by how well the sculptors were able to translate Nico’s spikey ‘do from the printed page into three dimensions.
For accessories Nico come with the Staff of One. It’s rather plain looking with no paint apps and it seems shorter than it should be. However there’s a cool translucent purple smoke effect that wraps around the staff and adds some pizzazz. She also comes with with a an alternative left arm that features a translucent effect below the elbow to recreate how she appears in the comics when casting spells.
I have zero complaints. Not only is this a great figure in its own right but it’s also a breath of fresh air after a number of repetitive Marvel Legends waves. Nico look like no one else on your shelf and I think she is a must-have. 10 out of 10.
The last few months have brought a steady stream of new Marvel Legends releases. I just purchased Rogue and Havok from the latest X-Men wave when a week later another Spider-Man wave hits. I still haven’t come across the recent Captain America wave and the Dr. Strange series is right around the corner. Hasbro is relentless with these things and they’ve clearly got their hooks in me because, yet again, I purchased an entire wave in a single outing. Doing so saves me from hunting down individual figures for months but man does it ever hurt the wallet.
The newest Spider-Man wave consists of Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Silk, Hobgoblin, another Spider-Girl, and Electro. Plus they all came with parts to build a Space Knight Venom. It’s a solid wave but I find myself asking “Didn’t I just buy a Spider-Man/Spider-Girl/Hobgoblin/Venom?” Yes. Yes I did. Multiple times.
Since the other characters in the wave are all a little over-exposed I’ve decided to take a look at Electro first.
Electro is a classic Spidey villain who first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man issue issue 9 published in 1964 and he’s been a thorn in Web-Head’s side ever since. Originally he wore a green costume with yellow lighting bolts running up and down the arms and legs and a crazy mask I can only describe as a lightening star. It was the kind of over-the-top design that could only work in comic books. Electro has made some alterations and ditched the mask in recent years but elements of the original costume remain. Electro first shed the mask in a 2009 storyline called “The Gauntlet” in which many of Spidey’s classic villains received power upgrades to make them feel like real threats again since many had been relegated to punchlines for years. Electro’s increased electrical powers came with a newly scarred face; a burn mark with the same star pattern as his mask.
This action figure is the first time that Electro’s modern look has been translated into action figure form. I was dead set against the change at first but the gritty artwork of Paul Azaceta eased me into it. Over the years the bald look has grown on me. As much as I like the original, I must admit that it was hard to take Electro seriously in that mask. The shaved head and scarred face provides a more street-level, less theatrical look that makes Electro more menacing.
I already have Classic Electro figures from the 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe and 5″ 90s Spider-Man toy lines so it’s refreshing to get a new take on the character for this 6″ figure. The head sculpt is very well done and perfectly adapts the comic book look without directly homaging any artist in particular. He’s got a furrowed brow and gritted teeth. He looks pissed off and scary. He has solid metallic blue eyes that reflect light to give the look of beady white pupils. It’s a very effective paint job that make his eyes seem to follow you around the room.
The body is the same one we’ve seen a few times already for characters like Spider-Man. It’s lean and muscular. At first I thought it was a little too lean for Electro but he’s never really been a bulky bad guy so I concluded that it actually works quite well. It’s got loads of articulation that allows for many poses. The paint job is relatively simple but looks crisp and vibrant. The black pants is not something we’re used to seeing but as with the head I’m glad to get something a little more contemporary.
My only gripe about this figure is the hands. He has powered-up blue electric hands which would be fine if he had swappable regular gloved hands but he doesn’t. Many poses look odd with the blue tendril fingers. Some Legends figures get up to three pairs of alternate hands so I can’t imagine why Hasbro didn’t provide one extra pair with Electro. Complaints aside the translucent hands are kind of neat looking.
Thankfully he does come with one accessory (besides the build-a-figure Venom piece), an alternative head sporting the star mask. If you want a classic Electro this head gets you pretty close. It’s features a beautiful sculpt and I think it’s sized just right. The smirk looks more mischievous then it does angry and I like that. Ditko-era Electro shouldn’t be too scary. It’s awesome to have the masked option but I’m going to display mine with the modern look. The hands knock this figure down a peg but its still a solid 7 out of 10.
In my last post I reviewed the first ever Jack-O-Lantern figure which was released by Toy Biz in 1998. Today I’m going to review the brand new 2016 Jack-O-Lantern figure produced by Hasbro.
Before I start talking about the actual figure allow me to continue my history lesson on the character. In the last post we left off after Jason Macendale had ceased being Jack-O-Lantern in order to assume the guise of the Hobgoblin after he’d had the Goblin murdered. Things only got more complicated from there.
Macendale sold his soul to a demon in order to gain enhanched powers. As a side effect Macendale began to turn into a demon and go insane. He was later separated from the demon entity which went on to become a Spider-Man villain in it’s own right named Demogoblin. Macendale went back to being a mercenary and he was later cybernetically enhanced by the mad scientist named Gaunt. Despite the enhancements he found himself in prison where he was killed in his cell by the original Hobgoblin who apparently hadn’t been as murdered as Macendale originally thought. End of the line for the original Jack-O-Lantern 😦
His pumpkin headed alter-ego lived on though through a number of confusing resurrections. A second Jack-O-Lantern who looked the exact same as the original first showed up in Captain America issue 396 in 1992. That guy made a handful of appearances before getting his head blown off by the Punisher during the Civil War storyline in 2006. This Jack later returned as a super natural character in the vein of the Headless Horseman but Ghost Rider re-killed him. End of the line for the second Jack-O-Lantern.
In the Spider-Man comics another Jack-O-Lantern showed up in 1996. This version went by the name Mad Jack and used a lot of Mysterio’s illusions because he/she/they had ties to the original Mysterio. I don’t feel like explaining their whole stupid backstory but supposedly they were both killed off panel so we don’t have to worry about them anymore.
Most recently, a brand new Jack-O-Lantern was introduced in the Agent Venom series written by Rick Remender. This guy was a sadistic kid raised by the new Crime Master (another updated version of a classic Spidey villain). The new Jack wore a costume that was significantly different than those worn by his predecessors. He traded in the green spandex for a black costume covered in belts and buckles. He also swapped out the classic bouncing disc for a rocket powered broomstick like the one the Green Goblin flew around on in his early appearances. The new Jack-O-Lantern’s appearance had a creepy Halloween vibe to it that I quite liked. Remender wrote him with personality and it was the first time in a long time that a Jack-O-Lantern received some character development so I actually like him as an individual character and not just as a Macendale knock-off. During an battle in their feud, Venom tossed a grenade into Jack’s pumpkin helmet horribly disfiguring him so that he had a sort-of pumpkiny face even without his mask on. It was a neat idea that further distinguished this version from the others. I hope this version sticks around for a while.
This brand new Jack-O-Lantern figure was included in the latest wave of Marvel Legends; a Spider-Man focused line with an Absorbing Man build-a-figure. As I mentioned in my Spider-Gwen review a couple weeks ago, I scored the entire wave of seven figures from Strange Adventures thanks to my pal, Dave Howlett who manages the place (Sidebar: Dave does a lot of cool stuff online and in print. Check out his comic, Slam-A-Rama, or his podcast, Living Between Wednesdays).
I would’ve preferred a classic 1980s Jason Macendale Jack-O-Lantern Marvel Legends figure but getting this version is pretty great too. The head on this figure is exactly what I wished my 1998 figure looked like. It’s got the small triangle eyes, the big grin with the 4 pointed teeth, and no nose. It looks awesome. The flame effect is really well done too with some translucent plastic on the back of the head as well as flames coming out of the eyes.
For the body Hasbro has reused the body of Ghost from their Thunderbolts boxset which was a San Diego Comic Con exclusive a couple of years ago. Surprisingly this body works just as well, if not better, for Jack than it did for Ghost. When I compare this figure to the Jack-O-Lantern drawings in the Venom comic I’d swear this figure was designed specifically to match the art. The body is lean and lanky with lots of belts and buckles and long creepy fingers. The addition of a new belt seals the deal. I have zero complaints about the reused body.
For accessories Jack comes with a piece of the Absorbing Man, a pumpkin bomb, a gnarly scythe weapon, and his rocket broomstick. Finally, Jack-O-Lantern has his conveyance. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a Marvel Legends version of the original Jack-O-Lantern (complete with his hover disc) but in the meantime this figure fills my Jack-O-Lantern figure needs. 10 out of 10.
This is part 1 of a 2-part review. Originally I had planned to review my new Marvel Legends Jack-O-Lantern figure today but since I was hauling out my 90s figure for a comparison shot I decided I might as well review him too.
I know I say lots of characters are favourites of mine but Jack-O-Lantern truly is one of my favourite comic book characters. I started collecting comics at 8 years old. The very first comic I bought was Amazing Spider-Man 281. It featured Spidey and Silver Sable facing off against the Sinister Syndicate; a group comprised of Beetle, Hydro-Man, Boomerang, Rhino, and Speed Demon. You’d think that would be enough to make for an action packed issue but the B-story was even better…
So Flash was awaiting trial while the real Goblin was at large and scheming with the Kingpin. Jack-O-Lantern was a bad guy on the rise trying to establish himself in New York’s underworld. After first appearing in Machine Man’s book in ’81, Jack tangled with Spider-Man a couple of times but he had never been a major player in Spidey’s rogues gallery. In this issue he determined that breaking the Hobgoblin out of prison was a way to make a name for himself and get into the Goblin’s good graces. He liberates Flash not realizing that he’s actually screwing up the real Hobgoblin’s plan. Gobby goes after him and the two villains end up in a glider dog fight over the streets of New York. Jack takes a beating but actually gets the better of Hobgoblin and makes his escape. I was hooked.
I absolutely loved Jack-O-Lantern’s design. He had dark green tights with a lime green chainmail leotard over top, buccaneer boots, a flaming pumpkin on his head and he bounced around on a hovering yellow disc. I know it sounds ridiculous but it looked super cool I swear. Just glance over at the cover to issue 284 when a gang war erupted stemming from Jack-O-Lantern’s criminal ambitions. How can you not love this guy?
Jack-O-Lantern, whose real name was Jason Macendale, cemented his place as one of Spidey’s main villains when he had the Hobgoblin assassinated in issue 289 and then took over his identity. It was a total baller move pulled off by what was considered a low level villain. I hated to see Jack’s flaming pumpkin disappear from the comic pages mere months after discovering him but I loved seeing the character grow into a real threat as the new Hobgoblin.
This figure was released by Toy Biz in 1998 as part of it’s Spider-Man toy line based on the 90s cartoon. Macendale never actually appeared in the show as Jack-O-Lantern so I was surprised, but delighted, that this figure was even made. I’d wanted a Jack-O-Lantern figure desperately as a kid so it was cool to finally be getting one even if it was a couple of years after I graduated high school.
This figure is still pretty cool looking even 18 years after its release. There’s some really nice sculpting in the face and plenty of detail in the chainmail torso yet the figure manages to retain a look inline with the other animation-based toys. The colors are vibrant and the translucent flame on the back of the head effectively captures the comic-book look. It’s fair to say that I was happy with this figure. However it wasn’t without it’s problems…
This figure has really over-sized weirdly sculpted arms and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. They either hang at his side like a couple of salamis or you have to pose him like he’s constantly scratching at his crotch. A swivel joint at the wrists or forearms would have helped this figure dramatically.
Why doesn’t the paint on his boots and gloves match the chainmail bathing suit? They’re supposed to. I appreciate that Toy Biz put a brown paint wash on the torso to show off the sculpted detail but it makes for a dark and weathered chest piece that looks odd with the clean and neon-bright limbs.
Jack came packaged with a big pink bug that spit pumpkins. Lots of Toy Biz figures came with big useless accessories that I immediately tossed into a spare parts bin never to be seen again. If you want to pack big useless missile-launching bugs with characters like Spider-Man, Swarm, and Tarantula in order to appeal to little kids I’m fine with that; those characters wouldn’t need accessories anyway. But don’t give a bug to Jack-O-Lantern if it means robbing him of his trademark pogo ball. Stupid decision.
Lastly, as nice as this face sculpt is, it does not look like Jack-O-Lantern…at least not the original version. Macendale usually had two triangle eyes and a smile with 4-pointy teeth. It was a very simple design which I have replicated on plenty of real pumpkins over the years. This face is too detailed. It’s got too many teeth, too many wrinkles, its eyes are too emotive, and worst of all it has a nose. This is not the Macendale Jack that I love. This is the face of the imposter who ripped off his gimmick many years later and went by the name Mad Jack. I’d be fine with getting a Mad jack figure but not at the expense of an original Jack-O-Lantern figure.
As you can see, I have mixed feelings about this figure but at the time I was sure it was the only Jack-O-Lantern figure I’d ever get so I made peace with its problems and rejoiced that I had it at all. 7 out of 10.
Last year there was a storyline that spanned many Spider-Man related comic books called “Spider-Verse”. The premise was that a group of vampire-like dudes called the Inheritors were traveling to various dimensions and sucking the life force out of each dimension’s version of Spider-Man. Once the “real” Spider-Man got wind of this he teamed up with all the other spider-pwered men and women from across the multi-verse to defeat the Inheritors. I didn’t think it was great, largely because the inheritors are rather bland villains, but there was a fair amount of fun to be mined from the premise. Spider-Verse featured appearances by every Spider-Man you can think of including the 60s animated Spider-Man, Star Comics’ Peter Porker: Spider-Ham, and the black & white newspaper strip Spider-Man. It also brought back all of the transformed and mutated versions of Spidey we’ve seen over the years such as Cosmic Spider-Man and Spider-Hulk. There was no shortage of Spider-Men to pick from and yet the writers and artists went ahead and created a bunch of new variations anyway like Spider-Punk and Lady-Spider. One of the new spider people was from an alternate reality where it was Peter Parker’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, that got bit by the radioactive spider instead of him. The result was Spider-Gwen. She didn’t actually call herself that in the comic because that would make her secret identity obsolete but that was the title of the book that introduced her. In Gwen’s world she goes by the name Spider-Woman (yes, another one).
Spider-Gwen’s costume design was really cool and quite different from any spider costume we’d seen before. She caught on with fans immediately and within weeks of her introduction you could find pictures of multiple Spider-Gwen cosplay outfits online. She was given a fairly large part to play in the Spider-Verse saga and as soon as it wrapped up Marvel gave Gwen her own on-going series. She’s also a member of the ensemble cast featured in the new team book Web Warriors which features a bunch of the other fan favorite spider heroes from Spider-Verse. It’s fair to say that Spider-Gwen is a bit of a phenomenon. I think she looks cool but I haven’t bothered to read her solo series. I picked up her introduction story and the first issue of her on-going but they failed to reel me in. At this point I feel I’ve read a few too many variations of a teenaged spider-hero coming of age. Even alternate reality versions of established Spidey villains used to be fun but now they feel played out. That said, I’m glad Spider-Gwen has found an audience and I’m sure it’s exciting for younger fans who haven’t seen these storylines a hundred times before.
Spider-Gwen’s popularity is further evidenced by how quickly Hasbro produced an action figure of her. She was included in their latest Spider-Man themed wave of Marvel Legends which features an Absorbing Man build-a-figure. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this wave so I was pretty excited last week when my pal Dave over at Strange Adventures Comic Shop texted me to say they had them in stock and he was giving me the first crack at them. I said I wanted them all and he gave me a good deal which was awesome (you rule, Dave). That text saved me from hunting these figures down one-by-one all over the city and it enabled me to build a complete Absorbing Man. Dave also hooked me up with the final pieces I needed to complete my Rhino and Hulkbuster build-a-figures so my Marvel Legends shelf just got a whole lot more crowded.
I’m very pleased with how Spider-Gwen turned out. The body is the same one we’ve seen on fellow teenaged spider-powered females like Spider-Girl, Black Widow, and Arana. The eye-catching paint job distinguishes this figure from the others though. The stark contrast of black and white always looks good and the powder blue webs on the purple areas looks really sharp. The removable hood is sculpted very nicely and it sits proportionately on her shoulders.
As an added bonus Spider-Gwen has a couple of awesome accessories. She has an alternate unmasked head which is something I wish all figures included. Why don’t I have a Peter Parker or a Mayday head? My new clone Spider-Man figure would be so much cooler if it had an alternate Ben Reilly head. I hope the inclusion of Gwen’s unmasked head is a trend we see continued. I would’ve preferred a long haired John Romita style Gwen but the head provided is a pretty good representation of the Emma Stone Gwen which isn’t a bad substitute. Another neat little extra detail is that Gwen includes a downed hood that can be put around her neck with the unmasked head. Lastly, she came with Absorbing Man’s ball and chain which is a must-have for any respectable Absorbing Man figure. This Spider-Gwen is a home run which I’m sure will please her legions of new fans. 9 out of 10.
As I sit down to write this “toy review” it is 2:00pm on March 10, 2016. It is important to note when I’m writing it. I just watched the new Captain America: Civil War trailer that hit the internet about an hour ago. More accurately I should say I just watched it multiple times. I get excited about every Marvel movie release but this one has got me bouncing in my seat. I feel like I’ve just been told I won the lottery and I want to run around telling everyone the good news but I’m presently at work in a quiet office where no one cares about this stuff. I emailed my brother Doug so we could gush about it but he hasn’t responded. I texted my brother Brian who had just watched it himself but we didn’t really get to talk about it because I’m not supposed to be on my phone at work and I think he’s lounging on a beach somewhere.
My best pal Miguel and I have been emailing back and forth about it a little (he’s the one that told me it was up) and we both agree that we’re too excited to go back to our mundane duties for the rest of the afternoon. This is why I’ve opted to write this toy review instead but to be honest I’m not even sure what action figure I’ll be reviewing yet. I was just so excited to talk about the trailer I haven’t thought that far ahead.
If you haven’t seen the trailer yet you should go watch it before continuing on because I’m going to spoil the big reveal.
Ready? Spider-Man shows up at the end and he looks AMAZING! Spider-Man’s inclusion isn’t a surprise to fans in the know but I bet it will shock casual fans. It’s been public knowledge for months that Marvel Studios inked a deal with Sony to share the film rights to Spider-Man so that he could appear in their films starting with Civil War. What we didn’t know is how he would look. It had been said that Marvel didn’t want to give fans something they’d seen before and Sony pretty much nailed the classic red and blue Spidey costume in their last movie (that piece of crap Amazing Spider-Man 2). That led fans to believe we’d get something quite different in Civil War such as the black costume worn by the Miles Morales Spider-Man in the comics. Images of a Civil War merchandising tie-in Spider-Man hoodie leaked out a couple months back which featured a scrambled web pattern on the classic outfit and many people logically assumed that maybe that’s what we’d see on screen. There has been a whole lot of speculation but that can now end.
Marvel Studios has opted for a relatively classic looking red and blue costume with some minor adjustments. Tweaks aside, the shape of the eyes and the web pattern on the costume make it look to me like something John Romita Sr. might have drawn. It’s fantastic. The coolest thing about it was how the eyes squinted. It’s not realistic for a mask to move that way but the emoting mask has long existed in the comics and it worked for Deadpool on screen so I’m glad they went that route. It’s comic booky and it adds a fantastical and fun element to the character. I cannot wait to see more of him.
I had just decided that I’d review a Spider-Man figure here (seemed appropriate) but that would defeat the purpose of the spoiler warning mid-paragraph. Instead I’ll review a figure of another character that gets to shine in the new trailer, the Black Panther.
Black Panther is a longstanding hero of the Marvel Universe having first appeared in Fantastic Four issue 52 back in 1966. He’s had his own solo book many times over the years but none of them seem to last very long for some reason. I’ve collected his title in brief stints here and there but it’s usually the creative team (i.e. John Romita Jr. and Jason Aaron) that draws me in rather than a fondness for the character. I like the Black Panther, I just don’t love him. Perhaps it’s because he’s never been able to maintain a long running series that I find it difficult to get to attached to him. Anyway, he’s a cool character and a staple of big cross-over events. I’m very stoked to see more of him too.
The Panther’s path to the silver screen has been a long one. As I recall, they tried to make a Black Panther movie in the 90s but red tape wouldn’t allow it so they made Blade instead. Well it took nearly another 20 years but Black Panther will finally make his live-action debut in Civil War this May. There were plenty of cool scenes with him in the trailer, ripping Bucky off of his motorcycle and whatnot, but he doesn’t have me nearly as excited as Spidey does.
This figure is from the Marvel Universe line by Hasbro. It’s a good figure but it’s also a good example of why I hate paying $12 to $14 for these things. The sculpt is plain, (he’s just a dude in a full body leotard), there’s practically no paint apps to speak of (two dabs of white for his eyes), and he has one simple accessory (a redundant spear). All those things are appropriate for the character but Hasbro should give fans a break on the price considering how little work went into making this figure.
The Civil War trailer gets a solid 10 out of 10. Even if the movie doesn’t meet expectations there’s no denying that this trailer is effective at getting fans pumped up and ready to spend their money. Batman v Superman could learn a thing or two. The figure gets a 7 out of 10.
A couple of posts back I told you that I purchased a Marvel Legends Blizzard figure on a recent trip to my favorite comic shop, Strange Adventures. I neglected to mention that I also bought a War Machine figure that day. I didn’t mention it because I’m actually somewhat embarrassed by how much money I’ve wasted on Marvel Legends figures over the past couple of weeks. They sell for $24.99 a pop and in the past two weeks I’ve bought Scourge, Task Master, Scarlet Spider, Ghost Rider, Superior Venom, Cottonmouth, Blizzard, and finally War Machine. That’s a lot of dough. I vowed to settle down this week and not go toy shopping.
Well yesterday morning I was working diligently on my files at work when I got a text from Dave, my pal and manager of Strange Adventures. He said that they had just received a shipment of toys but the boxes were all banged up so they’d be selling them at a discount. He recalled that I had purchased Blizzard and War Machine last week, both of whom came packaged with pieces of the wave’s build-a-figure, Hulkbuster Iron-Man. He said that shipment included a bunch of figures from that wave and he was giving me first stab at them so that I could complete my Hulkbuster.
The shop is practically next door to my work so I popped right over. He had two boxes of Marvel Legends figures that he was selling for $10 each. The figures themselves were in perfect condition, only the boxes were banged up which means nothing to me because I open all my toys anyway. I ended up buying Vision, Black & Gold Iron Man, Valkyrie, and Thundra all of whom came with Hulkbuster pieces. Dave didn’t have a Doctor Strange figure though so I’m still one leg short of a complete Hulkbuster. I also bought Giant Man, Grim Reaper, and Tiger Shark from the build-a-figure Ultron wave. I could’ve bought Wasp, Ant-Man, and Bulldozer to complete Ultron but even I have my limits; seven figures was plenty. So that’s 15 Marvel Legends figures in 14 days. ouch.
I never actually intended to complete the Hulkbuster figure but now that I’m only one leg away I have to seek out Doctor Strange so I can finish him. The Hulkbuster is a beast of a figure and it’s going to look awesome once fully assembled. You can see how big it is in the final pic of this post.
For today’s review I’m gonna take a quick look at Thundra. I’ve been a huge Marvel nerd dating back to the mid-80s and I have a fondness for many obscure characters but I gotta tell ya that I have zero connection to Thundra. I know I’ve read a few books with her in them, some Hulk and old Fantastic Four, but she failed to make an impression on me. I sometimes get her confused with Titania, another Amazonian-like redhead that pals around with the Absorbing Man. Honestly I would’ve much preferred a Titania. Besides the fact that Thundra strikes me as a bland character I find her costume pretty boring too.
Lackluster character aside, this toy is pretty average and forgettable as well. The face sculpt is okay but she has a weird expression and her eyes seem slightly too far apart. The body seems way too big even for an Amazon, she towers over Captain America and Iron Man. I don’t like how there are a few points where there’s no sculpting to distinguish the costume from her bare skin, like on her waist line and wrist guard. Lastly, the loose belt seems thrown on as an afterthought. I never would have bought this figure if not for the Hulkbuster part I needed. That’s why the build-a-figures are such a clever ploy by Hasbro. I would’ve considered adding a Thundra to my 3 3/4″ Marvel collection for $12 but for $25 this figure should be better than this.
Thundra came with one accessory, a chain weapon. It’s nothing special but I guess she always has it with her in the comics so it’s good that Hasbro included it. I don’t know why they didn’t give this same chain to Ghost Rider. Oh well. 6 out of 10.
About a month ago I reviewed my new Rodan action figure/piggy bank. In that review I mentioned that I had went to the comic store that day intending to buy a different figure, either Marvel Legends Blizzard or DST’s Oggie Boogie Man, but I rationalized my way out of buying either of them so I could justify spending thirty bucks on the hollow rubber Rodan instead. I had made peace with my decision to leave Blizzard behind. But then yesterday I was writing a review of my recently acquired Marvel Legends Cottonmouth and I happened to mention how much I love collecting D-list Marvel villains. That’s when it donned on me that I really should have bought Blizzard when I had the chance. I popped into Strange Adventures today on my lunch break and fortunately he was still there which is why you’re getting a review of him today.
Blizzard is primarily an Iron Man villain. The original guy, named Gregor Shapanka, first appeared in Tales of Suspense issue 45 back in 1963. He was kind of dorky looking and he went by the name Jack Frost back then. That guy was before my time so I have no attachment to him. I think the only story I ever read with him in it was a Spider-Man comic from 1986 where Blizzard was killed by an evil Iron Man from the future.
The second Blizzard, Donnie Gill, was introduced in Iron Man 223 released in 1987. My brother Doug and I were still really new to collecting comics back then and easily enamoured with new characters as we discovered them. We both loved Blizzard version II right away. His blue and white costume was pretty basic but it clearly conveyed the message that he was an “ice” bad guy. Simplicity is underrated. Sometimes the best character designs are the simplest ones. To this day I love the jagged ice design of Blizzard’s costume. As I mentioned in my Rodan review, I unapologetically ripped off Blizzard’s costume when creating my own ice-powered villain, Icicle.
I don’t recall Blizzard ever doing anything exceptionally memorable in the comics as he was often an ensemble guy who tended to get lost in the crowd. It’s also kind of hard to get excited about a guy who shoots ice from his hands because that’s been done to death (Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold, Killer Frost, Ice Man, etc.). Despite his status as an unoriginal relatively harmless hired goon I can’t help but love the guy.
This figure, however, I find disappointing. There’s just something about it that doesn’t look quite right. The overall construction makes for a somewhat gangly figure. Maybe I wouldn’t notice it so much if the costume wasn’t so plain but the lack of patterns and accessories doesn’t allow for any flaws to be hidden. Many of the joints feel loose and breakable. I also don’t love the paint job. There’s only so much you can do with this guy but I’m not a fan of the metallic light blue Hasbro used. Lastly, I wish the ice pattern on his head came down further on his mask. As is, it kind of looks like a toupee to me.
It would’ve been nice if Hasbro had included some ice blast accessories to spice this figure up but unfortunately this figure is bare bones. I should mention that he did come with the torso of the Hulk Buster Iron Man build-a-figure though so it’s not like he came with absolutely nothing.