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Leader

Avengers (Gamerverse)
by yo go re

Since we reviewed Hulk last week, it only makes sense to review his Face-Off enemy this week.

Gamma radiation turned Samuel Sterns into the hyper-intelligent menace, the Leader.

Sure did. Before that he was just a janitor, with self-admittedly below-average intelligence. While moving a wheelbarrow of leftover waste in the basement of the local chemical research lab where he worked, a gamma ray cylinder exploded, bathing him in radiation for nearly a full minute. A fraction of the dosage should have been enough to kill him a dozen times over, but he seemed fine - though he now had a voracious appetite for reading, and could remember it all. No detail of the Court of Thorns and Roses/Crescent City series shall be forgotten, no matter how miniscule or inconsequential! [#TeamDanika --ed.] Anyway, he soon passed out and when he woke up, his head now looked like Abraham Lincoln's millinery dummy.

A backup feature in Incredible Hulk #393 presented a paper submitted to the American Psychological Association by Doc Samson, titled "Psychological Ramifications of Gamma Radiation." The premise of the paper (other than recapping Hulk's entire history for this special anniversary issue) was that the nature of transformation due to gamma exposure is due largely in part to the subject's subconscious: that you become what you want to be. Sam Sterns was jealous of his brother Phil, who worked as a physicst at the same lab where he was a janitor; and that's why he got smart instead of strong.

This figure is based quite explicitly on Ariel Olivetti's art from Incredible Hulk #603 - you can see it in the face, and in the shape of the armor harness he wears on his shoulders. Technically that should be silver, not yellow, but that's why we specified "shape" and not "appearance." As is de rigueur for the Leader, he's wearing an orange and black jumpsuit, though his gloves, boots, and belt are yellow. Let's assume that's because yellow is more toyetic, because it was all still grey when we saw it in issue #604.

If you recall our review of Retro Collection Mr. Fantastic, that one said no one else used his particula body mold. Wrong again, dumdum! The Leader does, in fact, use the Reed Richards mold, as evidenced by the fact you can pop his arms out with no trouble at all. Why would you want to? You wouldn't, they just picked this one because the Leader is not a highly muscular character, and this slightly baggy suit is the best choice for portraying that. He's got the usual suite of jounts, even though he's more a "sit in a chair and direct underlings" kind of threat than a fighter.

This figure was part of the first series of that Marvel's Avengers videogame you probably forgot existed until just this moment. So he comes with a piece of the videogame Abomination Build-A-Figure. Now that I have four pieces of it, I almost regret not getting the other three. Almost. Not enough to actually get them.

I wasn't in a big hurry to get this figure. After all, I already had both Face-Off Leaders, so why not leave him behind at the store for fans who weren't throwing money around in 2006 to buy? He lingered long enough that GameStop eventually marked him down, though, so I did eventually pick him up just as a curiosity (a curiosity I was in no rush to review, as evidenced by this one coming two years after the other figures in his series). I'm a little surprised Hasbro hasn't reused these molds to make a version of the Leader from when he was running around with the Thunderbolts: make the skin red and the clothes blue, and he'd really stand out from the other existing Leaders!

-- 08/01/22


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