Series 2 of History of the DC Universe from DC Direct hits stores THIS WEEK, and we’re here with an early look. This first shot of the line out of the package pays some homage to the decade in which one of the characters first appeared. Yes, The Creeper and Black Lightning love the ’70s. (Incidentally, the photos are by my lovely, tolerant wife, Becky.)
As you know, the figures in the this DC Direct sub-line are based on the art of George Perez. Perez, having decided that drawing the entire DCU in Crisis on Infinite Earths wasn’t NEARLY enough, also took on the art chores of the follow-up History of the DC Universe. The art of Perez is a perfect template for this series, as anyone that saw Assortment 1 knows.
Let’s take a look at the individual figures:
Aquaman: This is a great “vanilla” Aquaman. The smile is perfect for the time period. The straight-fingers, suitable for diving and swimming poses, is a smart touch. There’s a touch of wave to Aquaman’s hair, which, again, is smart, considering.
The poseability of the figure is decent. If there’s a downfall with this one, it’s that there are no articulated ankles. For display purposes, you really ought to be able to point Aquaman’s feet for a swimming pose. My other (minor) knock on the sculpt is that there’s no attempt to put the scales on Aquaman’s shirt. Every major Aquaman figure, from the Mego Pocket line to Super Powers to earlier DC Direct figures and Mattel’s DCUC, has some nod (usually in the form of texture) made to the scales. Here, it’s one smooth color, and it looks a big odd when you’re used to the scales.
Overall, it’s a solid Aquaman, but not the perfect rendition of the character.
The Flash: This is a really nice take on Barry Allen. The boot and cowl wings are nicely done. On a very close examination, you can see where some of the “History” characters have pieces in common . That makes it easy to create different characters with minor part switches, but it does sort of lock you into a uniform scale.
Two strong pieces here would be the Flash’s paint job (it really pops) and the fact that, with a little work, you can make him strike a running pose on his stand (each figure comes with one, a flat black disc with one peg). I like this figure quite a bit; I have other good Barry Allen figures, but it’s really sharp-looking version of an iconic character.
The Creeper: DC Direct’s first Creeper benfits from an appropriate crazy-looking head sculpt and a velveteen texture applied to the throwrug that he wears on his shoulders. The Creeper has always seemed like a missing piece in the DCD line, and it’s nice to see him finally appear.
As a total figure, I would have liked a little more articulation. Typically in comics, The Creeper is seen in crouching or leaping poses. Unfortunately, you can’t put this figure in a full crouch; you can only make him lean over a bit. The bright color and generally eccentric look capture the personality of the character, but you can’t totally make him harass Batman or the JLI in the way that you might want. Nevertheless, the character is a good choice, and basic look is well-realized.
Black Lightning: For my money, the best of the bunch. This is a character that I’ve wanted to see from DC Direct for a looong time. Yes, they did the modern JLA version, but that’s still not the look that I think of when I think of Black Lightning. It’s a classic costume, wholly of its period, and it’s great to see it appear in figure form.
The costume color (and the costume collar, for that matter) are extremely well-rendered. The forearm articulation allows for good blasting poses. There’s also the faintest hint of a scowl in his expression; you could believe that he’d pass on joining the Justice League. And like the werewolf drinking a Pina Colada at Trader Vick’s, his hair was perfect.
Verdict: The History of the DC Universe sub-line has two good assortments under its belt. While I understand the fiscal need of throwing in the Big Guns, it would have been just plain awesome to see the first assortment be Blue Devil, Manhunter Paul Kirk, The Creeper, and Black Lightning. Granted, there’s a bit of catch-up/scale adjustment going on by keeping the Bigs, but I like the focus on the heretofore unseen characters.
Of the four, Black Lightning’s my easy favorite. I was quite surprised by how much I liked the Flash out of the package. Aquaman is the weak link (insert generic stand-up comedian “talks to fish” joke here). As a group, I give it a strong B.
The History of the DC Universe line continues in December, with Silver Age Brainiac, Ocean Master, Plastic Man, and Superman in Series 3. The next two DC Direct assortments in stores are Justice League International Series 2 (Fire, Martian Manhunter, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle) and Blackest Night Series 1 (Red Lantern Atrocitus, Green Alpha Lantern Boodika, Black Lantern Earth-2 Superman, and Blue Lantern Saint Walker).