You can judge a hero by the class of villains he faces, which is why for years, Hal Jordan's greatest enemy was Goldface, just a normal human who literally sprayed yellow paint on everything. You know the "damn you and your lemonade" issue of All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder? That was his entire schtick, and it worked for more than 30 years. No wonder Geoff Johns has had such luck revamping old villains - they've always been there, but they've always been lame, too.
The villainous Black Hand hailed from Hal Jordan's
Coast City, wielding a deadly Power Rod that could absorb the energy expelled from a Power Ring.
Originally Black Hand just a smart criminal who knew he'd eventually run afoul of Green Lantern, and built himself a device that could suck up ring energy. Which, interestingly, is how Sinestro's yellow ring used to work before he got his own power battery. And his own corps. Anyway, in the new Blackest Night crossover, Black Hand's origin has been tweaked slightly, so that his family were undertakers, he was preoccupied with the dead, and his power rod was actually a device he lifted from Atrocitus (now the Red Lantern leader) when the alien was briefly on Earth after killing Abin Sur. Kind of a big step up. Particularly the death thing - that kind of came out of nowhere, tacked on as an excuse to tie in to the whole Marvel Zombies ripoff.
Black Hand will soon have a figure in Series 4 of DC Direct's Blackest Night figures, but why wait until April 2010? He was already released way back on March 16, 2005, in Series 1 of the GL figures - same time as Kilowog and Parallax. Thus, the figure is based on the Green Lantern: Rebirth comics, but the design changes between then and now are negligible at most. Do you really care about the way his cape attaches or the particular length of his mask? If you do, you lead a sad, lonely life. The only substantive difference is that next year's version will come with Bruce Wayne's skull, while this one comes with nothing - not even the Power Rod mentioned in his bio. Poor planning?
The figure was sculpted by James Shoop and looks very good.
One of the changes introduced by Johns is that Black Hand's costume is made from one of the bodybags his family worked with, explaining why the black panels of the suit are a different texture than the central blue bit - much more wrinkly. The symbol on his chest, which was originally just a triangle with no sort of explanation, has also been slightly redesigned, now serving as the palm of a stylized hand. It and the "fingers" are raised, riveted elements.
Black Hand's skin is gray and veiny, suggesting the changes he's gone through. The crest on his forehead was drawn alternately as a triangle or an arrow during the Silver Age, but is now a big silver V like on his chest. His irises are yellow and rimmed by orange, adding to his unnatural look. His right arm is also exposed, explaining why he doesn't have his power rod: at this point, the ability to absorb Oan radiation had been internalized.
While Hal was briefly, mercifully, dead, he left his ring behind with Green Arrow. When Black Hand attempted to steal the ring, GA shot him in the hand, and then Hal (as the Spectre) turned his hand to coal. After it crumbled, Hand kind of went insane, but he soon discovered that by absorbing the life force of those around him, he could reconstitute his hand, briefly. The forthcoming Black Hand figure will be sculpted with a Black Lantern ring that this figure lacks, but its hand also won't be as deeply black.
Black Hand stands just a bit below 6½" tall, and has the typically mundane DC Direct articulation: balljointed head and shoulders, hinged elbows,
swivel wrists, swivel hips and hinged knees. Will the Blackest Night Series 4 figure be any better? No, probably not. Will Mattel ever make a Black Hand in their DC Universe line? No, probably not. So is this about as good as a Black Hand figure will ever be? Yeah, probably. To keep him standing, the figure has the same sort of translucent disc base as the other figures in the three Green Lantern series - but cleverly, his is molded from black plastic, rather than green. A hint of what was yet to come!
Blackest Night is currently shaking up the entire DC Universe, but that wasn't the original plan. Geoff Johns has been laying the work for this story since he started Rebirth, but it was originally going to be a self-contained crossover, like the Sinestro Corps War; after SCW proved so popular, and with the promise of so much mental angst to be spread around (thanks to all the recent deaths), the powers that be decided to have it spill out into the DCU at large. So now "DC Zombies" is all over the place, and Black Hand is a major player in it. Or we assume he is, at least - three issues in, he's hiding in the background nearly as much as the real threat, Nekron. If you want a Black Hand toy, you can either get this one cheap right now, or wait until the middle of next year and get a mildly different one for full price.