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Dark Knight Returns Mutant Leader

DC Multiverse
by yo go re

You know, you'd think for a guy who made his bones drawing Wolverine, Frank Miller would know what Cyclops is supposed to look like. I mean, he got the visor right, but all the rest...

Real Name: Unknown
Base of Operations: Gotham City Dump
Leader of a mutant gang attempting to conquer Gotham City; brutally attacks Batman who later defeats him in an epic battle.

The Mutants in Dark Knight Returns were Frank Miller's way of showing how dangerous a place the future Gotham City had become. Batman had begun his career fighting mobsters, and when that got too easy, supervillains came along; but in the world of DKR, even a simple street gang is more dangerous and violent than the worst villains Batman ever faced. People blame Batman for criminals' escalation, but the world got darker and rougher without him. Or perhaps you'd care to read something into the fact that the gang is named after the #1 book at DC's competition?

Like the other Mattel DKR figures, the Mutant Leader is built using MotU Classics bodyparts - the chest and upper arms, in this case - in order to better capture the look of Miller's artwork. As Batman describes the Mutant Leader in the comic, "he's got exactly the kind of body I wish he didn't have. Powerful, without enough bulk to slow him down. Every muscle a steel spring ready to lash out. And he's young. In his physical prime. And I honestly don't know if I could beat him." He has clawed hands, which might or might not be reused, but his big feet are definitely new. They look like Beast Man's, but his had fur and these don't. The forearms stop short of the wrist, which is a weird sentence, but it's done so that they can slip on "bracelets" of orange spikes. We put that in quotes because they're not actually bracelets; the spikes seem to come directly out of his skin in the comic, so the toy does its best to duplicate that look.

Miller's art of the Mutant Leader was as inconsistent as his art of everything else. Sometimes he had a "necklace" of spikes just like the ones on his wrists, sometimes not, sometimes the ones on his wrists disappeared, sometimes he didn't even have the "mohawk" of them on his head... it was all over the place. One thing that definitely is missing, though? His nipples. The Mutant Leader had bright orange spiky nipples that the toy does not. They're shown in the art on the box, they were shown on the prototype at Toy Fair, but they're missing here. Possibly for safety reasons, possibly because they would have required new tooling.

The head's nice, at least. It has (rounded) spikes over the top, the weird visor thing, and an open mouth to show off his filed-to-points teeth. For some stupid reason, Mattel has repeated the mistake they made with the Son of Batman figure, and made the Mutant Leader's skin pink. Guys, look at the book one damn time, would you? All the Mutants have pale gray/white skin. Yes, in the panel where he's addressing the gang at the dump his skin looks more like this, but that's because he was illuminated by torchlight; when you see him inside the police station it's clear what color he actually is.

The Mutant Leader has a balljointed neck, peg/hinge shoulders, peg biceps, hinge elbows, peg wrists, torso hinge, balljointed hips, peg thighs, hinge knees, peg boot tops and hinge ankles. As with Armored Batman, rocker joints in the ankles would go a long way to helping him stand naturally. Everyone in Dark Knight Returns was drawn in hunched, exaggerated poses that the Leader just can't achieve. He can gesticulate wildly with his two accessories, though: the torch made of junk that he had while rallying the troops, and the crowbar he used to beat the crap out of Batman. Straight off the page!

Because this figure is being released as part of the DC Multiverse line and not on its own, it also has a Build-A-Figure piece, the left arm of Doomsday. Amusingly, when you've just got the arm, you can't tell how stupid the final product is going to be.

In a smart world, Mattel would have done an entire series of DKR figures with the Mutant Leader as the BAF. Batman, Superman, Robin, the Son of Batman, Armored Batman... that's five figures already. Throw in a Joker and you've got an entire series' worth of figures ready to go. We don't mind this weird melange of unrelated characters too much, but only when there aren't enough of one type to fill out the case. You can't do an entire shot of Supergirl figures, but Dark Knight Returns could support it, especially on the 30th Anniversary.

-- 12/14/16


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