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Black Lantern Batman

DCD Blackest Night
by yo go re

Grant Morrison's Batbooks may be an ungodly mess, but given enough re-readings, a true enough path through the muck becomes clear, and you can piece together what really happened.

As the event known as Final Crisis unfolded, the world was forced to accept the death of Bruce Wayne - and Batman. In the midst of the chaos created by the Black Lantern Corps' assault on Earth, the heroes of the DC Universe must face foes, family and friends in a fight for their lives. As the ranks of the dark corps expand, even the body of the former Dark Knight is not safe.

That's not strictly accurate: in "Batman R.I.P.," Bruce "died" by crashing a helicopter into the Gotham River; he crawled out of the river just in time to join the Justice League when Orion was killed in Final Crisis #1; in FC #2, he was captured by Granny Goodness and handed over to a pair of Darkseid's minions; they used a creature called Lump to read his mind and imprint it on an army of Batman clones, but the memories were too powerful, and the clones all killed themselves as Batman escaped; he got zapped by Darkseid and thrown back in time, and Superman found one of the clone bodies. When Black Hand ripped open Bruce's coffin, all he got was the skull of a clone.

It was never reallly explained in the story why Black Hand needed Batman's skull - yes, it was the source of the Black Lantern Rings, vomiting them up on command, but would any skull have worked as well, or was there something special about it? Zombie Batman was sculpted by Ray Villafane, who's taken some liberties with the anatomy; in the four panels, total, in which BL Bruce appeared, his body was just as normal as BL Hawkman's - in other words, normal musculature, but with dired skin. This figure is more gaunt, with a heavily emphasized ribcage and sunken abdomen. It definitely looks undead, so it's a change for the better, but if you're a stickler about toys being accurate to the source, you may be unhappy.

The costume is an interesting take on the usual Batman design - the guy already dresses in Black Lantern colors, so it's not like he gets the same kind of makeover Wonder Woman does, you know? He's still got a grey bodysuit, but the gloves, boots and cape are a destaurated blue, rather than black - there's a joke in there somewhere about how becoming an undead zombie has actually made Batman lighter, but we'll step aside and let you make it for yourself. He gets the big triangle on his legs, just like everyone else, and a Black Lantern symbol inside his batsymbol. The gloves and boots have thick bands that correspond to the winglets. His cape is tattered, but more like he's been through a tough fight than through age or neglect. His utility belt seems to be magical: the pockets wrap around his waist like usual, but there's no "belt" part; even the buckle just hangs over his middle without anything connecting to it.

We really must mention the head (and not just because we always have one of these headshots in every review and feel the need to put an appropriately sized paragraph next to it). Batman's got his mouth hanging open and his tongue sticking out - it's supremely ridiculous. And why does it have to be bright pink? He looks like he's had a lobotomy. Look out, world, here comes "Herp A Derp" Batman!

This may be one of those rare figures that has too much articulation. The derpy head is a balljoint, and the shoulders are DC Direct's usual limited swivel/hinge dealies. His arms do turn at the biceps, which is always welcome, and he has hinged elbows. For some reason, there are swivels both at the top of the glove and at the wrist - one of those is superfluous, really, because they both create the same range of motion. Why design them both? Moving on, there's a T-crotch, swivel thighs (thanks to the Black Lantern costume design), hinged knees and swivel boots. Other than the extra forearm joints, it's all very nice.

Batman has no accessories, probably because his cape ate up the budget for them. Obviously it would be a nightmare to include lots of tiny Black Lantern rings for him to spit up, but when the power finally created a body to go along with the skull, the rings he vomited out were shrouded in black energy that took the form of a bat. Since he doesn't come with a batarang, hey could have given him one of the energy ring-bats as a stand-in. He includes the usual Black Lantern display base, but it's useless, because his stance is too wide to use the footpeg: put him on there, and his left foot falls off the side.

Black Lantern Batman may be an imposter, but he's still a good toy. The design just screams "I'm a zombie superhero," from the sculpt of the body and clothes to the subtle "dirt" paint apps making him look like he crawled from the grave. Plus, if you had ever told us the day would come when we said a DC Direct figure's articulation was too much, we wouldn't have believed you.

-- 10/23/10


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