As individual as most of them have become, there's no denying that a whole lot of superheroines owe their existence to some writer taking an existing hero and attaching boobs. Supergirl, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Batgirl, Wonder Girl, Spider-Woman - whether it was to stop a competitor doing it first and copyrighting the name, a desire to expand the hero's "family" and capitalise on their success, or just plain lack of any other ideas, there's not a lot of classic superheroes who don't have a female counterpart wandering around. Billy Batson - aka Captain Marvel (the "SHAZAM!" one, not the Kree) - was only three years old when, in 1942, he acquired one of the first: Mary Marvel.
When Billy found his long-lost twin sister,
not only did she gain a brother, she gained the powers of a superheroine as well. Once bestowed the title of Captain, sharing it with her brother, Mary changed her costume to one of white and gold in order to distinguish herself from her red-and-gold-attired sibling.
It's always about the clothes, isn't it? Actually DC Direct produced both red (standard) and white (variant) versions of Mary in the SHAZAM! line, so they can be forgiven for explaining the difference. In any case, she's currently wearing black, having proved that without the Wisdom of Solomon she's got the Common Sense of Wile E. Coyote and gone and gotten herself corrupted by Eclipso. You'd think after 65 years in the superheroine business, she'd be a bit more savvy.
[yeah, and after 66 years as a soldier, you'd think Captain America would know how to avoid a bullet, but that didn't work out so well for him, either --ed.]
Mary is posed in your typical action figure "standing still looking intent" posture, and stands 6¼" tall - a bit much for a teenage girl, perhaps, but then again Billy Batson is just a kid
and transforms into a guy with the physique of Superman, so maybe Mary's older when she's got her groove on. The sculpt is to DC Direct's usual standard - accurate, well-proportioned, and worthy of particular praise for her torso which really does look like a loose tunic - Mary being (up until Countdown) one of the few heroines who didn't apply her costume with a can of spraypaint - but overall not very dynamic. In fact, perhaps in an effort to add a bit of visual flair, they've given her costume and especially her cape the appearance of being windswept. It's a good effort so far as the costume goes, with all the folds and ripples of the fabric being very credible, but it's let down somewhat by her hair, which sits over her right shoulder without looking as if it's in much of a breeze at all. The fine details are all well done, with nice touches being the stitching on her boots, and the decorative ties on the edge of her cape.
Her face is pretty, with a touch of girlish cuteness, but also a more forceful edge - quite an effective sculpt for an action figure, so far as conveying personality goes.
The paint applications are all clean and look quite realistic, although the dark lines just above her eyes, filling in for eyelashes - I'm pretty sure Miss Innocent isn't meant to be sporting eye shadow - could have been a bit less thin towards the centre, where they almost disappear. If there's a light source in front of her dispelling the shadows beneath her brows, she actually looks a bit like her eyes are staring in different directions, kind of an anti-squint, though under normal downward light it's the position of the pupils, not the surrounding details, that matter and then she looks fine. Aside from the hair not blowing around, that's all the shortcomings worth noting, so facewise Mary definitely goes down in DC Direct's books as a good day.
The paint on the rest of her isn't quite so clean. Overall the bright colour scheme works - the trim colour is yellow, rather than gold, but it looks fine,
and is pretty close to how that 'gold' is rendered on the comic page half the time anyway. Much of her is cast in colour: boots, legs, arms, skirt and tunic, head, hair, and cape are all unpainted for their base colour, so they have nothing to worry about - the only 'major' element painted on is the skin colour on her neck, which is close enough to the face as makes no odds. The lightning bolt symbol on her chest is crisp, but elsewhere the yellow trim wavers a bit - the edges of her cape, her skirt, and her sleeve tops all have a little slop. The cape is the worst offender, but luckily the pearly sheen of the white lets the unevenness of the yellow blend in far more than would normally be the case.
That pearliness - a combination silver-white soft plastic with a touch of translucence - is a really nice effect. I was unsure whether I'd buy Mary Marvel at all, based on the promotional photos which show a flat white costume, but seeing her in person made up my mind for me. The folds of her costume catch the light excellently, and she almost seems to glow - if I didn't know better, I'd think she was a doll with an actual fabric costume.
As is often the case with DC Direct, you're largely stuck with the pose you're given - they're not McFarlane, but whoever designs each company's articulation would get on well with each other at parties. Mary has the standard balljointed neck, but due to the hair sitting on her right shoulder (and down her back, to an extent) its range is limited in several ways: she can tilt her head up and down a little, but to really look down she also has to look to the left, to allow the hair to clear the collar of her cape. Even with her head level she's stuck with a slight leftward glance, and can't look to the right at all.
She has balljointed shoulders, swivel biceps at the sleeve edge, and peg elbows - some options, but not a lot, especially with the clenched right fist and the angle of her wrist heavily favouring a straight arm in terms of looks. She doesn't have a waist joint, which is just silly - I know DC Direct don't do them as a rule, but her costume practically has the swivel joint built in, so much so that I tried to turn her waist quite hard before eventually concluding that it couldn't. She's got balljointed hips beneath her skirt, but said skirt limits their mobility quite a bit, especially side to side - they're very nearly stuck acting like peg joints - and peg knees (ratcheted, for some reason) and swivel boot tops round out the articulation.
Mary has only one accessory, a round base cast in translucent red with a clean yellow lightning bolt and border; her right foot has the peg hole. She's not known for using weapons or equipment, so the lack of an accessory isn't a terrible oversight - oddly, though, her left hand seems to have been sculpted to hold one, though what it would have been is anyone's guess.
Bottom line, she's got her pluses and minuses - I doubt many people will be buying her for her visual coolness alone, and with the loose tunic she's no good for Dark Mary Marvel customizations, but fans of innocent, wholesome Mary probably won't be disappointed.