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Lady Death

Chaos! Comics
by yo go re

You know that 30 Rock bit where Jon Hamm and Tracy Morgan are playing "Alfie and Abner," old-timey black TV stars, and it rapidly devolves into the white guy (in blackface) sitting nervously across a table from his costar until he eventually just blurts out "BANJO!" at the top of his lungs? This review is that same thing, except with "TITTAYS!"

A supernatural demigoddess of destruction, Lady Death was born during the plague-ridden Dark Ages. To save her life and ease the pain of betrayal and heartbreak, she gave up her humanity, becoming cold and aloof. Now she rules a bleak underworld called the Endless Graveyard... but has her sights set on conquering Earth.

When Chaos! Comics went out of business in the early '00s, most of the characters were sold off separately, which is how Lady Death and Evil Ernie ended up being two separate properties published by two separate companies. Well, in theory, at least; Lady Death keeps getting published by lots of different folks, but nobody's very interested in publishing Evil Ernie (primarily because nobody's very interested in reading Evil Ernie). But these toys come from the good ol' days - the '90s! - when the whole band was still together.

Approximately 90% of the volume of Lady Death's head is taken up by her hair, a fact this toy duplicates very well. Her face, plain but lovely, nearly gets lost in the vast acreage of her billowing tresses, a situation not much helped by her chalky white skintone. She has what's probably meant to be a seductive smile, but even with the bright red lipstick, that's not what's going to be attracting anyone's attention.

Lady Death, in life, was a poor medieval peasant girl from Sweden, so naturally the first thing she does upon finding herself in hell is start dressing like she shops at in the discount bin at Frederick's of Hollywood. She may show less skin than Vampirella, but that's mainly by virtue of her opera gloves and thigh-high boots - otherwise she's just wearing black lingerie adorned with golden skulls. Fortunately, Clayburn Moore is a highly talented sculptor, so that exposed body is at least anatomically plausible... well, with two big exceptions.

Lady Death first appeared at the end of 1991, which is coincidentally when Fatal Fury 2's Mai Shiranui (the mother of jiggle physics) would have been in development, too; there must have been something in the water in back then that said "go on, indulge your desire for giant gazongas." Artist Steven Hughes drew her breasts moving fairly realistically, but these days, it seems like Adam Hughes (no relation) is the only one who has a firm grasp on the physics behind them. A lot of the art - including this toy, alas - shows them like two half-watermelons glued to the front of her ribcage. So she looks accurate (enough) from the front, but from the side, it's a nightmare.

Moore Action Collectibles managed to outshine even McFarlane Toys when it came to lacking articulation, so Lady Death has swivel shoulders and a V-crotch. There's a neck joint, too, but her gigantic hair renders that useless. The hips are no great shakes, either, since moving them even a millimeter will break the line of her garters. So functionally, all she gets are shoulders. You couldn't even throw in some wrists? Or elbows? I know you were worried about joints breaking up the line of the sculpt, but her glossy black gloves would have helped to hide any imperfections. It's not like we're asking for a big ol' swivel joint to be cut right through her alabaster stomach or anything.

Just as Ernie had a glow-in-the-dark variant, so too does Lady Death. Well, she also has "metallic" and "clear" variants, but the GitD is the only one I bothered with: after all, if the normal Lady Death has chalk white skin, gloss black clothing with golden skulls, a bit of pale blue shading on the hair, and red for her lipstick and nails, then the GitD one should still look "right." Its skin has a little more tint to it, thanks to the plastic used, and the fingernails are unpainted, but the rest is nearly identical. One of the few changes is that the regular figure's eyeliner goes all the way around, while the variant's just does the outside corners of the eyes.

Both versions come with the same accessories: a black softgoods cape with a blue lining; Darkness, LD's sword of power; and a Chaos! Comics logo display stand. The sword is two-tone gold, and can be held in her left hand. She'll absolutely need the base to stand, because she wears stiletto heels, and even her massive boobs aren't enough to offset the weight of her even-more-massive hair.

Originally nothing more than a motivation for Evil Ernie ("kill everybody and you can touch 'em"), Lady Death gained depth as she grew in popularity and began appearing in more issues. And despite being part of the '90s "bad girl" craze, she's a suprisingly progressive character: Brian Pulido mandated that though she can face setbacks and lose sometimes, she's never allowed to be victimized in her stories. Yes, that was really all it took to set her ahead of the competitsion back then. Not that we're doing much better these days, really, but we're getting there. Slowly. It's just a shame no one was making toys of Lady Death when she had her really good Elric-inspired CrossGen series.

-- 02/27/19

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