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Lady Death

Dark Alliance
by Artemis

You know what, don't call your child "Hope." Nature abhors a vacuum where there could be poetic irony, so sure as day follows night she'll wind up a murderous villainess, or nihilistic anti-hero at best. It's just a law of nature, and it's not smart to go tempting fate by being overly optimistic when you're filling out the birth certificate - same goes for "Faith," "Chastity," and so on. No need to name your daughter Apocalypse Buttsecks to safeguard her from predestined irony, but something nice and neutral like "Wendy" would be a safe medium. You don't often get Wendys swearing to exterminate all life on Earth, and if they do, it's probably just a coincidence anyway.

A teenaged girl named Hope is deceived by demons and trades her mortality for eternal life in Hell. Upon her arrival she is enslaved. To ensure her survival she turns to the darkness within herself and begins a transformation into Lady Death. In the end, she fights back and leads a rebellion that topples the mighty Lord of Darkness himself.

Anyway, regardless of what cruel law of causality made her the way she is, Lady Death is your basic hyper-violent sexual fantasy - comics were full of them back in the '90s (today they tend to be nymphomaniacs or bloodthirsty psychopaths, rather than both at once), but Lady D was one of the biggest and best of her two-dimensional brood - she had really big tits and was really violent - so she's managed to eke out a living ever since in a low-profile but regular run of miniseries, one-shots, crossovers and softcore porn pin-up portfolios, while most of her sisters in sexy crime have long since retreated to the back-issue bins. She even managed to have a movie made of her adventures, albeit a direct-to-DVD animated one - I picked it up cheap a while back, it's quite fun, in an "Oh Lord, what's she wearing now?!?" kind of way.

She's always been marketed as a "mature audiences" character, although that may make her sound more serious than she is - it'd be more accurate to say she's silly and immature, but there's tits and gore as well. Luckily long gone are the days when toys were aimed at children, so back in 2002 or thereabouts Lady Death got a place in the Chaos Comics-based "Dark Alliance" line - no, I don't know who the alliance was between or why - and wound up with this rather striking pair of action figures to show for her troubles. Two variants were available, living and undead, differentiated only by paint and hair colour - for the majority of her existence Lady D's sported unearthly pale grey skin, but like every '90s survivor she's gone through various tweaked incarnations in an attempt to weather the storms of changing reader demands, including being occasionally rebooted into a mortal form.

The figure stands 7½" tall (eight if you include the horns) and stands as evidence that by the early 2000s many manufacturers had taken note of McFarlane's rise, and lifted their own game accordingly - Lady Death (an Art Asylum product, if I recall) could stand side by side with any comparable 2008 figure, no questions asked. Her outfit typifies the Lady Death look - shiny black fetish lingerie from top to bottom, with 6" heel (figure's scale, of course) flared thighboots, a riotously revealing vinyl teddy with a thong back, and dominatrix opera gloves.

In a valiant (but doomed) effort to make her look more intimidating than a Victoria's Secret model, the boots and gloves have rows of spikes attached, the teddy has gold and silver detailing, and the whole lot's topped off by shoulder armour and a big, heavy cloak, black with gold edging and a luxurious red lining. It looks... well, preposterous, but if that's going to stop you, boy is Lady Death the wrong comic for you.

Her face is pretty swish - comicbook-y and with more than a bit of Barbie in it (not that that's out of keeping with a lot of her art, mind you), but well-sculpted and painted nonetheless. Here the paint varies, as well as the underlying plastic colour, with the undead version sporting pure white eyes - basically they just skipped the blues, and the rest of the facial paint apps (arched eyebrows, pouty lips) are identical.

The face is framed by a gold headdress, giving her a bit of a "Disney wicked witch" look, and also neatly concealing the dividing line between the face and the rooted hair both versions have - blonde or silver, depending on her vitality status. I'm no expert on rooted hair, but I've seen a few examples up and down the quality ladder, and this strikes me as not the best - it's thick and resistant to styling, inclined to curl on its own, and with a lot of stickiness between the strands.

She's not a well-articulated figure, but there are a few surprises in her if you're expecting nothing more than a half-naked plastic statue. Her neck is just a swivel - ugh - but the shoulders are swivel/pin balljoints, and the armour sits up high enough to give them a good range. She has pin elbows and peg wrists, but cleverly the grip of her hands is tilted rather than perpendicular to the wrist, so by turning them you can fake some of the range a better joint would offer. From the mammaries down she's all about looking good and moving little, so a V-crotch and pin knees are it - luckily the weight of the floor-length cape is such that you can use it to keep her upright, so the legs can be tweaked into show-off poses that'd otherwise be unstable. Neither foot has a peg hole, so it's just as well.

Both versions come with the same pair of accessories, a scythe and a flamberge, and with the ball shoulders and tilted wrists, it's possible (just, in the case of the sword) to have her wielding her toys double-handed. The scythe is large (8" shaft, 4½" bladespan) but simplistic, with a minimal amount of sculpted adornment, and a satisfactory but unambitious all-over drybrushed silver. The sword, while obviously smaller, is still quite hefty in its own right, and sports a well-painted blade and an ornately gothic hilt in heavily shadowed dark gold.

For some reason, these things were everywhere, at least in Sydney, a couple of years ago - maybe a shipment of them got lost in a warehouse, and only rediscovered years later. Dirt cheap, too - I picked up all four of the Dark Alliance series two girls (Lady Death blonde and silver, Vandala, and Oblivia) for about two thirds what you'd pay for a single DC Direct figure. They're not so common now, and that was probably a localized anomaly in any case, but if you see Lady Death on the pegs, especially on sale, snap her up - she's worth having, just for fun's sake.


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