It's no secret to anyone that I'm a pretty big Batman fan. When DC Direct announced 2005 to be the "Year of the Bat," I was excited. Others may think that it's overkill, releasing a Batman in the style of damn near every artist to draw Bats in the last 10 years, but I for one love it. I can't get enough Batmen, as dirty as that might sound.
One side effect of all this collecting of all things Batman is that you end up amassing a decent Superman collection as well. DC Direct's Batman lines based on the "Hush" story arc and on Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns gave us figures of the Man of Steel to go with our Batmen, and the latest to follow that trend is the line based on the first story arc in Jeph Loeb's Superman/Batman title, known as "Public Enemies." This particular storyline featured artist Ed McGuinness, and the line is appropriately based on his artwork.
The line was sculpted by Tim Bruckner and John G. Mathews, and most of the figures (actually all of them except for Metallo) seem to utilize a similar body, with different heads and various character-specific retooling. It's not such a big deal since McGuinness draws most of his bulky males with the same basic bodies, but some fans have complained that this is a cheap move. In the case of Superman, nothing was sacrificed for accuracy in the sculpt, although it is worth noting that the trademark 'S' logo is painted and not sculpted.
The overall work is nice, and this is quickly becoming one of my favorite Superman figures. The stout body and the sharp, angular work, particularly on the head, are pure McGuinness, and Superman's belt, boots, and cape are all accurately depicted. Supes' eyes are sculpted (and painted)
to be squinting so much that they're practically closed, and though this may bother some, it's another aspect that's trademark McGuinness. While he used this technique more frequently with Captain Marvel than with Superman (a throwback to Cap's artistic origins), there are plenty of pages in the "Public Enemies" arc in which it looked like Superman was looking directly into the sun.
Many fans have complained about glaringly apparent sloppiness with this line, but my Superman seems blessedly devoid of any such errors (and I only had one to choose from). His suit is painted in a shiny, metallic blue, and as I mentioned before, his trademark S logo is painted, not sculpted. The paintwork on the logo is done very well though, and I have no complaints.
[that makes you one of the rare ones; lots of people are getting large paint glops all over the logo. --ed.]
Strangely, the yellow S is missing from his cape, although McGuinness included it in his artwork. The definition between colors is a little sloppy, particularly in the area where his red underwear meets his blue tights, but it's not terribly distracting. What is a tad distracting is the electric blue highlights in his black hair. DCD employed the same technique with the Penguin figure in their Rogue's Gallery line, and while I understand what they're going for, it never quite comes across as it's meant to.
Articulation is always tricky with DCD figures, and while this figure doesn't break any records, it does surprise in a few places. The neck is (disappointingly) a peg joint, and the shoulders are balljointed (but they lack the usual back and forth play that many DCD shoulders feature). The hips are a T-crotch, and thankfully there are peg joints in the wrists. The best part, however, are the hinges in the elbows and knees. Looseness is freqeuntly a hassle in the hinge joints of DCD figures, and in response to this issue Superman's knee and elbow hinges feature ratchets that click into place, and should alleviate joint loosening problems, at least for a while.
Unfortunately, the frequent DCD issue of sparse accessories is not successfully addressed in this figure. Supes gets a base depicting the series logo, which combines Superman's S shield with Batman's chest emblem. It's nice, but what about some interchangeable hands or something? Or how about the shotgun Supes used to fire a Kryptonite bullet at a future version of himself who attacked him in the Batcave? More accessories would certainly help justify the strangely high price point of DCD figures.
Despite the artist-specific nature of this figure, it really is a great representation of Superman. McGuinness's blocky style works on a big ape like Superman, and I for one can't wait to add the "Public Enemies" Batman figure to my collection as Clark's counterpart.
If they've released all these this year, what is DCD going to do next year when their new Superman movie comes out? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.