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Everett Ross & Erik Killmonger

Black Panther
by yo go re

While Everett Ross is assigned to escort T'Challa to American soil, Erik Killmonger threatens the security of the Wakandan borders from which T'Challa hails.

What? America? Where did they get that from? I mean, both those things do happen, but not at the same time. Take out the "while" and add a semicolon, and the sentence would work a lot better. "Everett Ross is assigned to escort T'Challa to American soil; Erik Killmonger threatens the security of the Wakandan borders from which T'Challa hails." See? That's, like, 608% more accurate than it was before. Everett Ross? Escorts Black Panther to the UN. Killmonger? Breaches Wakanda. The events are not directly related to one another.

Everett K. Ross was created for the late-90s Marvel Knights Black Panther series, because T'Challa had spent 30 years being a forgettable token character who was always being overshadowed by other heroes; if the comics were going to turn him into one of Marvel's pre-eminent badasses, then there needed to be some diegetic character reacting the same way readers would react; and if that character was as lily-white as the readers themselves, all the better!

The Emperor of Useless White Boys was visually based on Michael J. Fox, while his personality came from Chandler on Friends. In the movies, he's visually based on Martin Freeman (because that's the actor who's playing him) and he has a personality more in line with what you'd expect from a government agent: he's confident and collected, and people take him seriously. Well, people outside Wakanda. People inside don't have much time for this bumbling colonizer. The figure gets a paint-printed face, so the likeness is outstanding. Love that crooked, pursed-lip frown! It's so him!

The head is the only new part on him. The body comes from Agent Coulson, because one government agent in a suit is the same as every other government agent in a suit. Unfortunately, the mold is a little too thin to really look right here - remember, Ross is a diminutive little guy, while this body makes him look a bit tall and willowy. And makes the head feel oversized. At least the suit is a different color, right? It's dark grey, with a lighter gray shirt and a black tie. He also gets a pistol, which is more than the Minimate managed. This still would have been a grand opportunity to introduce an ML-scaled briefcase, though.

Killmonger is the second figure in this set, and no, we sadly still don't get him in his Dragon Ball Z armor, it's him in the same borrowed Black Panther suit he was wearing in the normal series. Okay, fine, that's a much more budget-friendly option, but it certainly doesn't make you want out and buy this set, does it?

Okay, there is one major difference, and that's the paint. Consider this a "powered up" Killmonger: the base color of his suit is a little lighter than before - more of a dark grey than the deep charcoal it was - and there are golden paint apps picking out a lot of the details on the sculpt. It's only to be found on the front of the figure, sadly, while the back remains bare. But hey, it does make this toy feel like more than a plain re-release, so that's something. Even the paint apps on the mask look better!

If you remember the single-carded Killmonger, the mask was sort of a mess of overdone apps; this one scales things way back, so you can actually make out the facial details without having to look up hi-res stills of the movie. But what's truly excellent is that the set also gives us an unmasked Killmonger, showing us Michael B. Jordan and his odd little dreadlocks. The expression on the face is fairly neutral, where you might have expected an angrier, snarling look, but figure they chose this so it'd be appropriate in more situations.

Killmonger comes with the same accessories (a sword, a spear, and extra hands to hold them) as the previous release, and has the same articulation. Hasbro really should have taken this opportunity to repaint the spear, however: it gets the same apps as before, which leaves with a silvery shaft; since Erik broke the spear by simply kicking it, we know that's supposed to be wood, not metal. This also would have been a good chance to give us a fully intact spear, even if it wouldn't be accurate to this costume.

It's not really clear how Hasbro decides which figures will be part of a movie line and which will be part of that "First Ten Years" dealio; there have been two more Marvel movies since Black Panther crushed theaters, but this pair is sold in Black Panther packaging, not Marvel Studios. Isn't that a little bit late? Oh well, if it keeps the price low, we're all for it. Still, it's annoying that the Killmonger in this set is barely better than a double-dip.

-- 08/13/18

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