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Judge Dredd

Legendary Heroes
by Poe Ghostal

In Mega-City One, Judge Dredd doesn't just represent the law - he is the law. The Judges aren't known for their mercy when doling out justice, but they're not nearly as bad as their evil, extradimensional counterparts, the Dark Judges, and their leader, Judge Death.

A twisted creature from another dimension, Judge Death reasoned that since all crime was committed by the living, life itself was unlawful, and he set out to destroy all existence. Once a young boy called Sidney, the warped son of a dentist, he is now a supernatural being, capable of reaching into his victims' hearts and squeezing them, and possessing others with his spirit should his body be destroyed. He is often accompanied by his Dark Judge brothers - Fear, Fire and Mortis - who laid waste to their own home, turning into Deadworld, and wish to do the same to Mega-City One!

Aside from Dredd himself, Judge Death may be 2000 AD's most recognizable character. A hideous cross between Dredd and Eddie the Head, Death is about as close to a supervillain as you can get in Dredd's world.

Like his (somewhat) heroic counterpart, Death has been immortalized (no pun intended) in plastic before, back in the early '90s by a company called Re:Action. But those figures, while cool for the time, weren't nearly as articulated as young master De'Ath here, one of the two bad guys (along with Conan's foe Wraarl) to appear so far in the first few series of Marvel Toys' Legendary Heroes.

While the Legendary Heroes line features a decent amount of retooling and re-use from previous ToyBiz figures, Death is an entirely new sculpt - and what a sculpt it is! This is almost a perfect translation of Brian Bolland's art: a skinny, scrawny creature with rotting flesh and enormous shoulder pads (one in the shape of a pteranodon, a grotesque parody of the Judges' traditional eagle), and withered, claw-like fingers. Judge Death may be the finest sculpting work we've seen yet from Phil Ramirez. It's a tour de force of detail, from the ID name badge on his chest to the bat wings on his belt. This is McFarlane-worthy sculpting (and if you peek under his portcullis-like visor, you can see a flat nose and vacant sockets).

But what sets Judge Death apart from most of his LH brethren (except perhaps for Pitt) is his paint applications. Again, the details and efficacy of the wash are almost on par with modern McFarlane work. I saw someone's photo of Judge Death sitting on the throne from the deluxe Series 21 Spawn and the Judge fit in perfectly; it almost looked like a statue.

Fortunately, however, JD is not a statue. He's fully articulated in the standard ToyBiz style, and despite his skinny limbs, he's solid (at least, mine hasn't broken). Of particular coolness are his articulated fingers; all of them bend at the first knuckle, and the index fingers bend separately from the rest, allowing Death to point out his next victim or tell the world he's #1. There's even a hole for a Doop-stand, so he can float menacingly.

Due to the build-a-figure (BAF) concept, the big three action figure lines - Marvel Legends, Legendary Heroes, and soon, DC Universe Classics - have been going light on the accessories, and the Judge isn't an exception. His only accessory is Monkeyman's big fat leg. Like all good monkeys, Monkeyman has a hand for a foot, which means lots of articulation - two joints for each "finger" and one for the "thumb." The ankle is balljointed, and the knee is double-hinged. The leg stands 4½" tall, and while the paint is different than the image on the back of the card, it's not a variant: just a change made before production started.

In the comics, Judge Death's body is often destroyed, leaving him a disembodied spirit until he can get some (living) person to desiccate a corpse to the consistency of beef jerky, at which point the Judge possesses it as his own. To represent the spectral Death, Legendary Heroes offers a variant molded in clear plastic.

LCBH runs at about 10 bucks a pop, which has sadly become the standard price for a decent mass-market action figure. Specialty figure lines are averaging $15, so getting a figure this good for this price is almost a deal (especially when you factor in the BAF).

-- 10/16/07


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