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Holocaust

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

In July of 2007, Hasbro announced Series 4 of their Marvel Legends figures, which would comprise Punisher, Daredevil, Beast, Black Bolt, Tigra and Nova. They were scheduled to come out in January 2008, but were cancelled before that happened. In April of that year, Wal*Mart made an arrangement with Hasbro to carry the series as an exclusive. A single case of figures slipped out in December, but no more showed up until August 2009. Even then, thanks to spotty distribution, it took until the end of the year before the figures actually appeared in any numbers - often on immediate clearance, and buried in among re-releases of already-overstocked Ares-series figures. It's been a long, tough road, but finally Series 4 is complete.

How does one classify a mutant who dares to frustrate the Upstarts at dawn, singlehandedly destroys a Sentinel-processing plant at noon, and attempts to slay the X-Men at dusk? According to history discs of the era, the man should not even exist. Holocaust is the most frustrating of all mutants currently under observation, because his methods have yet to reveal his motivation. He does not speak, his thoughts are cloaked even to me, and his mutant powers seem to adapt to any situation...and therein, one suspects, lies the key to his defeat. The name implies his goal is the systematic destruction of all life on the planet Earth - indiscriminate of whether that life be human or mutant. If that is indeed his intent...he had better hurry, for the legacy awaits.

"Nemesis," as this figure is known, has an interesting and rather complicated history. He was introduced as "Holocaust" during the Age of Apocalypse story (and honestly, that's still how most people know him), but was called "Dark Nemesis" when he got an action figure in ToyBiz's 1997 Ninja Force subset. Why? Because you can't name a mass-market character Holocaust and expect it to ever appear on shelves. However, we can call him that until the cows come home! Holocaust, Holocaust, Holocaust!

Nemesis's pieces are sold with six figures, but there are actually nine of them, depending on your point of view: legs, arms, groin, chest, shoulder armor, bubble dome and skeletal remnant. The pieces fit together tightly, but not so much so that you'll never be able to separate them again. Although, why would you want to? That would be stupid.

As mentioned in the Tigra review, the tabs holding Holocaust's dome on are thin and break easily, which is really frustrating. I managed to come up with a nice, low-tech fix for it, though: taking an old, unneeded product catalog, I repeatedly folded it over until it was the perfect thickness to fit in the gap between the tab and the rest of the dome; I then unfolded it and began supergluing it shut, allowing each crease to dry before starting the next; once that was set, tucked a corner of the glued lump into the gap in the helmet, traced the shape and cut it out; carefully gluing both sides of this small paper wedge, I pushed it back into the hollow, effectively providing a solid surface to prevent the tabs from breaking. The fix is invisible from the front, barely noticeable from the back, and preserves the hinge on the helmet. Plus, each of the ML4 figures comes with an instruction sheet on how to assemble Holocaust - the perfect thing to use for this low-tech solution.

Fully assembled, Holocaust stands 7½" tall - we've had Marvel Legends that size before, but it's appropriate for the character. Even with his arms tucked in, he's still 5½" wide, thanks to his shoulder armor. The figure has Hasbro-style swivel/hinge at the ankles, knees, hips, right wrist, elbows and shoulders, swivels at the thighs, biceps and chest, and a balljoint at the chest as well. If you hinge up the dome on the armor, there's another swivel/hinge joint at Holocaust's neck.

In-universe, Holocaust really was originally named Nemesis: he was one of Apocalypse's Horsemen, and looked like an average human, a handsome blonde man. Nemesis killed Magneto's daughter, and in revenge, Magneto tore him apart, leaving the burnt corpse where it fell. Now it's only this crystalline armor that keeps his energy from dissipating. All those red dots on the figure? Those represent energy inside the armor, so pretend they're not just painted on the surface.

If you lift the top of Holocaust's armor, you'll see Nemesis's human remains: a red skull and ribcage, with yellow eye sockets. The bones have a rough detail, and the size is right for a 6"-scale human. The little skeleton can be removed from the armor, if you so choose. Why would you want to do that? Well, maybe you want to re-enact the scene where Holocaust was cracked open and his energies were literally snorted by one of Marvel's various ersatz Supermen.

Holocaust was designed by Joe Madureira, the first guy to bring an anime influence to mainstream superhero comics. That may not seem so special now, but you have to remember, in the early '90s, it wasn't something anyone had seen before, and it started a whole new trend in comics. Holocaust's armor shows that anime influence: the panels on the knees, the overlapping shapes of the shoulders, the general proportions... things have been rather "normalized" for this figure, but the flavor is still there.

One downside to the shoulder panels? They prevent the arms from lifting straight forward. Well, a bit: you can still raise the arms,they just push the armor up and out of the way. It has a slight flex to it, but I wouldn't want to do it too often, for fear of something snapping. Other than that, though, all the joints work the way they're supposed to and seem sturdy.

Although Holocaust was transported to the 616 universe at the end of the AoA crossover, there was apparently already a version of him there. In 1993, Marvel published Stryfe's Strike File, a book "written" by Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell, foreshadowing several years' worth of storylines and introducing a few upcoming characters. One of the introductees was a mysterious being known as Holocaust (that's his entry we used up at the top of this review). Other than an exposed skull and swirling energy, the two characters seem to have nothing in common. That version of Holocaust never appeared anywhere but that long-forgotten book, so it's obvious some things changed along the way.

It may have taken two years, but Hasbro Legends 4 finally came out. Since Hasbro is focusing on the 4" toys now and only releasing 6"ers in two-packs, it's quite possible this will be the last of the ML BAFs. Some of the figures in this series are lacking, but Nemesis himself is really good. The only flaw, really, is the breakage-prone bits on the back of the head-dome, and that can be corrected with just a little no-cost work. This is one of only four AoA figures in Marvel Legends, but since he spent time in the 616, he has a place in with your normal X-Men, as well.

Beast | Black Bolt | Daredevil | Nova | Punisher | Tigra

-- 01/11/10


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