DCDirect's Superman/Batman: "Public Enemies" line has been much-maligned ever since fans first saw prototype pictures. Back then, the chief complaint was that four of the five figures (Batman, Superman, Captain Marvel and Captain Atom) all used very similar body sculpts. When the figures were just recently released to the public, the focus moved to the awful paint applications many fans seemed to be discovering. Reports of smudges, globs of color in the wrong place, Batman's face disappearing into black paint, Superman's S shield logo being unrecognizable, and even tales of insects inside the package (I'm not kidding) began flooding the internet message boards.
Thankfully, the Batman and Superman figures I managed to find were reasonably okay as far as paint apps were concerned, and my personal beef with this line is the line-up itself. Bats and Supes faced off against a lot of villains in the "Public Enemies" story arc, and the best they can give us is Metallo? Granted, this is DCD's first Metallo figure, but still, we could have (and should have) been given Lex Luthor in his battle armor! And Captain Atom, while he's a major player in the storyline, isn't all that much to look at in figure form. I would have much rather had a Hawkman figure in this style so I could recreate the fatal four-way between Hawkman, Captain Marvel, Superman and Batman that took place during the storyline.
Another common complaint among fans is that they just don't like the style. And, it's true, the art of Ed McGuinness does take some getting used to. In today's world of ultra-detailed, super-realistic comic book artists, Ed McGuinness favors a simpler, more stylized approach, and the effect is transferred pretty well from the 2D to the 3D medium. Batman works decently in figure form, although it's true that his body sculpt is quite similar to Superman's (and Atom, and Marvel for that matter). While the monster-sized thighs may in fact be the same exact sculpt between the two figures, everything else is at the very least heavily retooled.
Batman's arms have articulation points in different places, and his boots, gloves and cape are all unique to him. The belt is a separate rubber piece that fits in a groove along the waist, and unlike Superman, Batman's logo is sculpted onto the torso. Despite the shared parts, however, the figures look dead-on to the story art, and the completely unique headsculpt is where this figure really captures the look of McGuinness's work. Batman's got a thick neck, high forehead, and squared jaw all come together great.
Like Superman, his cape is painfully short; however, unlike Superman, McGuinness drew Batman with a pretty long cape. It tended to fluctuate lengths from panel to panel, but it was never this short. No biggy though, and he fits in nice next to the similarly shorted Supes.
Paint, which seems to be the most touch-and-go area with this series, is pretty darn good for the Bats I picked up, and there was only one at the store so I didn't get to pick and choose. His bodysuit is done in flat gray, while his boots, logo, cape, cowl and gloves are glossy black, just like McGuinness suggested they were in the comic. For the most part there's good definition between colors, but that's probably because with most of it, the black and gray pieces are separate pieces.
The cape, like the belt, is a separate piece that fits into a groove in the body sculpt, and the gloves and arms are separated by articulation. However, the definition on the boots, underpants and logo are all pretty top notch as well. I've heard complaints that the black of the cowl intrudes way too far into the flesh-tone area on many figures, but mine is just fine. The skintone gets darker around the lips without looking like lipstick. There are some funky silver zigzag lines to accentuate the eyebrows, but once you get used to them they work pretty well. For such a simplistic figure, the utility belt is almost too detailed, with a few different shades of brown and yellow on the pouches.
Articulation is nothing to write home about, but DCD's use of ratchets in the hinges of the elbows and knees is commendable.
The arm articulation clearly shows the difference in the figure's sculpts; Batman is articulated at the glove tops, while Supes is articulated at the wrists. Batman's elbow hinges are also placed much higher up on the arm than Supes. Bats also gets balljointed shoulders, but unfortunately the range is far more limited than Superman's for some unknown reason, and he can barely put his arms down at all. Superman has the same monster lateral muscles but somehow avoids this problem. In addition to the joints I just mentioned, Batman has a peg joint in the neck and T-crotch style hips. Once again, there's no excuse for DCD skimping on the waist joint, and ankles might have given us some different posing possibilities.
As far as accessories, we get a Superman/Batman logo base. While I understand it might have been hard to think of something to give Supes as an accessory, Batman should always at least have a batarang! Even Mattel knew that much. This "nothing but a base" philosophy is really starting to get to me, especially since DCD figures typically cost quite a bit more than your usual mass-market fare.
Despite the qualms over articulation and accessories, this is still a neat figure if you like the style and can find one with passable paint apps. I don't think I'll ever get tired of artist-inspired Batman figures, and even though this figure can't quite put its arms down, it's still a worthy addition to that tradition.
Did your Superman/Batman figure have any problems? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.