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Sportsmaster

Young Justice
by yo go re

Updating lame old villains can be a hard thing to do. Do it wrong, and wimpy pushover Killer Moth becomes the cannibalistic bug-man Charaxes. Do it right, and wimpy pushover Killer Moth becomes the mad genetecist seen on Teen Titans. So it's not easy, but a good revamp can really save a pathetic goon, such as the Sportsmaster.

A master of martial arts (and every other athletic endeavor), Lawrence, "Crusher" Crock uses his prowess and customized equipment as Sportsmaster. A former freelance assassin for the League of Shadows, Sportsmaster is now personal enforcer for The Light.

For those who don't watch the show, start. Start right now. Go back to episode one, and watch all the way up to whatever the current episode is. Young Justice is an awesome cartoon for more reasons than we can possibly list in one brief review, and if you haven't seen it you're missing out. Anyway, like we were saying: for those who don't watch the show, "The Light" is the name of secret cabal of villains who conspire to rule the world. So when the bio says he's their personal enforcer, it doesn't mean he's standing by the light switch so no one can turn off the bulb or something.

In the comics, Sportsmaster never really had a regular costume: he just wore a black cloth veil/mask combo, along with the clothes for whatever sport-themed crime he was pulling; so, golf clothes and black veil, skiing sweater and black veil, football pads and black veil, whatever. The YJ version trades that for a grey hockey mask, which is a lot more intimidating.

He also has a specific set of clothes now. I don't know why, but it was decided somewhere along the line that Sportsmaster's color is purple: both Justice League Unlimited and Batman: Brave and the Bold showed him in purple, black and white, and Young Justice has followed suit. Granted, the exact pattern is different in each incarnation, but this is now pretty well established as being his trademark colorscheme.

Sportsmaster's sculpt is almost entirely new. In fact, of the entire body, the only bits that are possibly reused are the hands, groin, the right forearm, the biceps and the shoulders. He may not be wearing a traditional uniform, but this definitely looks like sports gear - like the padding and under armor pros wear under their uniforms today. He has grey boots with armored soles, and his pants are tucked into them. He has purple kneepads, a pouch strapped to his right thigh, and a utility belt with small squarish pouches. He's wearing black gloves with armored knuckles, black elbow pads, and a white T-shirt beneath a black and purple vest. There are armored plates on his left arm, like lacrosse pads or something along those lines.

The figure gets a lot of nice accessories. Just like his costume got an upgrade, so did his modus operandi: he still uses athletic equipment to commit his crimes, but it's been toned down a bit; the only piece he comes with that's unquestionably sports-related is the thick silver baseball bat; the rest could belong to anyone who uses thrown weapons (which means they'll be great to hand down to Bullseye). He has a spear, a boomerang, a pair of knives, nunchucks and two throwing stars. Everything except the spear is molded from PVC, for safety's sake, which means even the bat is soft and floppy.

All the Young Justice figures come with large bases, but Sportsmaster's is a bit different. Rather than a single large chunk of scenery, he gets four modular squares of flooring, which you can arrange however you like - any Tetris shape you can think of, you can create. Each segment has three slots and one tab, and a different feature on top: one is plain with a single footpeg; one has a two-piece storage rack; the third has a wooden training dumy; and the final one is a target on a stand. The bullseye has three notches in it, so you can stick the tip of the weapons into it - not the spear, bat or nunchucks, though.

Sportsmaster was an absolute loser in the comics, but the cartoon has done a superb job of rehabilitating him and turning him into a villain who actually seems like he'd be able to hold his own against superheroes. To go along with his new badassery, he has an awesome costume and an arsenal of impressive weapons. The modular base is very cool, and it's always nice when a character who's never had an action figure before* pops his plastic cherry.

-- 05/09/12

*Yes, Sportsmaster had a Brave and the Bold toy, but those things were garbage and clearly we're not counting them.


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