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DC Multiverse
by yo go re

Being afraid of an imaginary evil Russian? What is this, Republicans in the '80s? Or Democrats now?

One of the world's best contract killers, the man known as The Beast is hired to take out Batman.

This is the New 52 version of KGBeast, who's basically a DC take on of Kraven the Hunter. The Old 52 version was Anatoli Knyazev, a Soviet assassin sent to America to kill several US officials. He was basically Bane before Bane was Bane: a foreign powerhouse who was more than a match for Batman - maybe not mentally, but definitely physically and in terms of pure will. He was so badass, Batman locked him in a storage room deep within Gotham's sewers at the end of his first story, left to starve to death. Then he got worfed enough times that he was reduced to the level of "recognizable henchman," the guy who stands around in group scenes, seen working for other, more prominent villains while still wearing his own costume. He definitely needed a reboot.

This costume is an update of his original, a black suit with red stripes on the chest, back, and boots. In the '80s, the "stripes" were cutouts that showed off his manly chest, but that had changed by the next decade. He has spikes on his shoulders and studs on the knuckles of his glove, and shurikens sculpted onto his crossed belts. His mask used to have red streaks over the eyes, but now it's an angular pattern that feels more like something out of Jack Kirby's New Gods stories - a touch that makes sense, since this version was trained in part by the Apokaliptan assassin Kanto.

Rather than using one of the standard DCU Classics molds, The Beast joins the Dark Knight Returns figures in being based on a MotU Classics-style body - something big and daunting enough to look intimidating without being cartoonishly huge. The torso and hips are covered by soft plastic shells, as they do, and while the wiring on the left arm is just paint, his pants get sculpted wrinkles and the details on the boots are all raised elements. His shirt has a sculpted texture to it, while the red panels are smoother, though still with evidence of cuts and bullet impacts. This is a figure with a very nice look, no doubt about it.

KGBeast's trademark is a big gun replacing his left hand - during Anatoli's first trip to Gotham City, Batman managed to trap him with his grappling line. Not willing to fail his mission, The Beast took up a nearby axe and cut his own hand off to escape! The prosthetic's design has changed over the years, with this one being very square and blocky, like he's wearing a tool chest on his arm. The figure comes with a machete that can plug into the gun like a bayonet, and there's a removable "grenade" as well. The set also includes two smaller knives, which fit into the sheaths on his boots.

The articulation is above average by MotU standards, but exactly average by DC standards. The figure moves at the head, neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrist, gun, chest, waist, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. While MotU never really evolved past the plain swivel wrists and hinge ankles, KGBeast gets swivel/hinges for both. The gun arm only swivels, but even that is more than expected. His waist does pop apart fairly easily (as in, he came out of the tray in two pieces, not one), but you can just push it back together if yours does the same.

He also comes with a piece of this series' Build-A-Figure, Killer Croc. It's the head, which has a great sculpt and even an articulated jaw. If this BAF were done in a normal scale instead of being a reworked King Shark, it might have been worth completing. Or maybe you'd like to build it to go with Todd McFarlane's oversized new offerings.

If you'd prefer a more classic KGBeast, Mezco made one in their One:12 Collective line, but that's every bit as expensive as it is cool. Mattel may not have knocked it out of the park with this one, but they did better than expected, and gave us an overlooked Batman foe we've never had before.

-- 05/27/20

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