Holy crap! What's this? It can't be, can it? It is! It's the newest installment in our continuing comparison of the ways in which even a company new to the world of toys can outpace the industry's old guard by making good decisions - "DC Direct schools Mattel."
Having created an obervation satellite gone terribly haywire, the Dark Knight must try to reverse his mistakes before it is too late.
Well, one thing DC definitely needs to work on is these back-of-the-card bios. One sentence? Really not enough to sum up the character. Yes, it's very "to the point," but sometimes you need a little more than that. Tell us about the OMACs, and how he teamed up with Blue Beetle, Mr. Terrific and a bunch of other heroes to save the day, nearly sacrificing himself in the process. Something. Anything! One sentence is lame - even if you can't put it on the card (since all the figures share the same one), you could at least put it on the website. Right now all the site says is "the Dark Knight emergers from the shadows of the miniseries event that rocked the entire DC Universe," which is even worse than what's on the card. Plus, for the record? While that bio may sum up the majority of his role in Infinite Crisis, it actually has zero to do with this particular figure.
During the Battle of Metropolis, Batman, along with Robin and Nightwing, completely kicked Deathstroke's ass. And they did it without getting a scratch on them. Bats only got hurt when a building collapsed and he pulled himself out of the rubble.
This figure is a first for DC Direct -
they've never done a "battle damaged" character before. The closest they've come, really, is the tattered cape on "Hush" Superman. But for a first effort, they really did an excellent job. Jack Matthews handled the sculpt, based on Phil Ramirez's artwork. Batman is big and bulky, especially in the upper body, and has a look of grim determination on his face. It's not easy to recognize the Ramirez style unless you're looking for it - this could very well be Frank Miller, Jim Lee, Andy Kubert... any number of artists. Such is the strong visual identity of Batman.
And really, the damage has been done superbly. His cape, always the first to go, is completely tattered. There's a big rip in his suit on the left thigh, and another near the top of his left glove. His right shoulder is almost entirely exposed, and half his batsymbol has been ripped away to expose his chest. Holes in his cape across his shoulders go all the way down to the skin beneath, and his cowl is torn on both sides, exposing small wisps of his hair - and yes, they're sculpted. There's even a big gash on his utility belt, and one of the pouches is missing. This really is excellent work.
Batman stands 7" tall, if he's upright
(the packaging for this wave sees all the figures given dynamic poses in the blisters), but then his stance looks weird, like his feet are too close together or something. Of course, if DCD would give their figures appropriate articulation, that wouldn't be a problem. As it is, though, Batman makes out slightly better than usual. He has hinges ankles and knees, peg hips, peg gloves, hinged elbows, balljointed shoulders, a balljointed neck and - get this - a torso hinge. Wow, seriously? Way to go, DC! Hell, if his hips were balljointed, this could almost pass for a complete figure. The shoulders are very tight - so much so, the plastic is getting gouged and scored just by turning them. The arms won't hang straight down, but they're still better than the Superman/Batman figures in that regard.
You will want to check the paint before you buy. The colors are great, even if the figure is in blue, while the comic saw him in black. The flesh tone is consistent all over, which is always good to see.
The grey of his suit is dark, and is tinted with blue. His utility belt is a muted gold, while the rip in it reveals a small flash of silver. The bit of hair you can see through the mask are black, and there's some detailing between his teeth - it's not between all the teeth, which may be evidence of a bad paint wash, but it might also be an intentional choice, to suggest he's bleeding from the mouth. The exposed skin of his body is detailed with a speckling of rusty paint, which could just be dirt from the battle, but is more likely to be blood spatter. So why do you need to check the paint? because all those thin strands of his costume that hang over his skin could easily be painted too heavily, making them thicker than they should be.
Batman doesn't have any accessories, sadly.
Yes, we always say it's stupid that anyone would release a Batman figure without a Batarang, but there's something else this particular version should have: a gun. Yes, Batman - that ultimate proponent of non-lethal force - got so angry and disgusted during Infinite Crisis that he was willing to shoot the main villain, who was lying helpless on the ground, in the head. Holy crap! Go Batman!
Infinite Crisis Batman isn't the best Batman figure ever released, not by a long shot. But he is very good, and that counts for something. And while this basic figure will be available - sans battle damage - in an upcoming Infinite Crisis four-pack, right now he's unique: this is a battle damaged "variant" that's 100% new sculpt. When most companies throw a BD figure our way, it's maybe got one or two new parts and a few painted-on rips and tears; DC Direct went above and beyond. When Mattel made a battle damaged variant of their Unmasked Batman, the thing was a huge disappointment (not to mention impossible to find). When DCD does it, it's a whole new toy, evenly packed with the rest of his assortment. Yes, some accessories would have been good, but even without them, DC Direct has once again schooled Mattel.