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Mary Batson

DC Universe Classics
by Artemis

Mary Marvel (the life and times thereof already gone into in the DC Direct review, so I won't bother again - you know the drill, take male character, plus tits minus tackle, job done) is a challenge to Mattel: she's not wearing skin-tight spandex like 95% of everyone else in the DC universe. Gasp and shock, they actually sculpted new pieces!

Sister of Billy Batson, Mary was raised by a wealthy family in Fawcett City, reuniting with Billy years later when her adoptive parents were kidnapped by the villain Ibac. To save them, Mary (like
her brother) was granted miraculous powers by the Wizard "Shazam!", thus transforming her into a slightly older, super powered version of herself with the same abilities as Billy. Following the rescue, Mary continued to use her powers alongside "Shazam!" as defenders of Fawcett City.

They're going to some lengths there to avoid using the name "Captain Marvel", due to the old copyright debacle that saw DC lose the rights to use Cap's name on the cover of his own comic - even committing the standard faux-pas of referring to him as "Shazam." I wasn't aware that the kerfuffle extended to Mary Marvel though - Mar-Vell's boobed-up counterpart isn't even called Mary - but Mattel evidently thinks it does, since not only do they avoid naming her in the bio, her packaging dubs her "Mary Batson" and leaves it at that. Perhaps the legal department has some cause for concern there, but I'm inclined to just put it down to over-zealous arse-covering.

Speaking of arse-covering, Mary's dress (smooth segue, huh?) is the crux of Mattel's cost-cutting woes, since she unfashionably refuses to don it with the aid of a vacuum pump - except when she's being Naughty Mary and using her fetish wardrobe, which she does an awful lot for a supposedly innocent character. I'm just saying. The baggy-dress look has bequeathed to Mary's action figure a new rubber skirt (not made to look like rubber - unless she's evil again), new torso and new upper arms, as well as the custom cape and boots, which are rather more par for the course. As if to make up for the bagginess though, her actual physique - what we get of it - is tiny, with zero-exercise legs and painfully thin arms. Whether or not Mary actually gets physically older/larger when she transforms, as Billy does, depends on the era (and the artist), but there's no way this incarnation of her is less than 16 years old, and no 16-year-old whose life includes exercise, let alone saving the world, should look like that. Hell, Sarah Michelle Gellar could break Mary in half.

Still, the colours are nice and bright, without being eye-wateringly plasticky, and regardless of how unhealthily stick-like her body may be, she's got a healthy glow to her skintone - indeed, the unpainted plastic is almost too rosy, coming out kind of orange in comparison to the soft, muted skin tones of earlier DCU women. Maybe it's a spray-on tan. The dress has enough folds and creases to look plausible without going overboard into NECA territory, and her cape is another stylish Horsemen cape in sculpt though, extending quite a ways back in a windswept-but-not-crazy wave. There's a variant available, with the dress in white rather than red, or rather pale grey (as is the cape on both versions) - the effect is that her skin looks even more orange, and standing beside figures with true white costumes, she looks like she needs a wash.

Mary's face is... interesting. Oh, she's pretty enough, with her bright smile and full cheeks and cute little nose, but there's something about the jawline and the set of her smile that makes me think more of an attractive older woman than the pretty young thing she's supposed to be. The eyes are slightly lidded too, giving her something of a scheming look - it's just not an expression I'm used to seeing on early-20-something superheroines.

Articulation is a mixed bag, but overall I'm calling it weak. She has the traditional DCU balljoint neck, and by "traditional" I mean "not much good for anything but swivelling," and limited at that by the hair pretty severely too. If you look at how the tendons in her neck are sculpted, you can only just get her head to turn far enough to the right to match them, and any tilting is pointless, since the tilt component of the joint is too loose to hold its position. Moving down she has swivel/pin shoulders, swivel sleeve tops, pin elbows, swivel wrists, and a swivel waist - all good, but no torso joint. Beneath her skirt - taking advantage of its concealment - she has proper swivel/pin/swivel hips, none of the unsightly cut thighs, then the usual pin knees, swivel boot tops, and pin ankles. Though the skirt isn't rigid, it's a hell of a lot stronger than the leg joints, meaning those lovely balljoint hips - and thus the legs as a whole, to an extent - are a bit of a waste. Sigh. Also, as a result of being crammed into her packaging, she's acquired a permanent outward bend in her left leg. Double sigh.

Mary has nothing in the way of accessories herself, but she does come with a couple of extras, the most obvious being her BAF bit, the torso (and skirt) of her pimp daddy, Darkseid. Y'know, I remember when Darkseid was demanding Wonder Woman be his bride or he'd unleash his battle fleet against the Earth - now he's chasing high school girls. Mid-anti-life crisis, no doubt. There's nothing much to say about the piece that you can't see in the photo (give or take my currently cantankerous camera), although there is a cool little technological doohickey stuck on the back of his belt; a Mother Box, removable.

Mary (in line with other recent figures) also gets a little button badge, showing Captain Copyright going up against Superman, from Justice League of America #137 - close inspection of Wonder Woman's exposition reveals that Supes has been at the red Kryptonite again, so they're fighting with a purpose, not just engaging in the metahuman equivalent of Fight Club for the hell of it. It's a cheap little bit of tack, unless you're a badge collector, in which case it's just unremarkable.

Darkseid's hot body and someone else's badge aside, what Mattel have managed to do, essentially, is give us the same thing DC Direct did some time ago, just with a scrawny body, a slightly better cape, and a dodgy knee. It's not a terrible figure, but with DCU Classics being, as a whole, a pretty decent line (when you can find it), this is a below-par entry.

-- 06/10/10

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