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Ra's al Ghul

DC Signature Collection
by yo go re

So the moral of this one is "be careful what you wish for," I guess?

The criminal mastermind known as Ra's al Ghul has lived for several centuries due to his ritual dips into life-giving Lazarus Pits. Considering himself more of a god-like visionary than a villain, however, he uses his vast knowledge, riches, and political power attained over his many years to set in motion myriad terrorist plots - designed to purge the world of crime and corruption. Ra's considers the Caped Crusader his worthiest opponent and has frequently sought to make him his successor.

Proving once again that we are no more clairvoyant than any 24-hour-news-channel pundit who tried to predict the presidential nominees in 2008 ("it's going to be Hillary vs. Giuliani, guaranteed!"), we once said that Ra's al Ghul was too boring to appear in Mattel's toyline. Granted, that was in 2008, so it's not like we just made this claim recently, but if we're making fun of prognosticators, we don't get to leave ourselves out of it.

Okay, first things first: this figure's head is wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. So wrong that we need to link you to the Atom review. Yeah, that wrong. So, I bet you can't wait to hear what super ultra-important complaint we have about the figure this time, huh? Well, brace yourself: it's a doozy! The problem is the eyebrows.

We've told you before about the creation of Ra's and the fact that his face was meant to be aracial (you know, like "asexual," but with race instead of sex), which leaves a lot of leeway when it comes to portraying him. But ever since Neal Adams first drew him, one thing about Ra's has been consistent: he has dark circles under his eyes, and no eyebrows. [Isn't that two things? --ed.] This toy has neither of those. Giving Ra's eyebrows is like giving Wolverine a mustache: you could probably find some art to support your choice, but that doesn't make it right. Mattel's Ra's al Ghul has big, bushy eyebrows like your grandfather; he answers the question "what if instead of Liam Neeson (or even Ken Watanabe), Ra's was played by Jeremy Clarkson?" And that's not a question we ever wanted answered.

Below the neck, Ra's is mostly the same figure as Black Mask. Yes, they both use the "suit" body, but it's more than that: while Sandman and the Question had unique coats covering their chests, Ra's gets the same mold that Black Mask wore. On the plus side, he has bare hands, rather than the gloves all the previous users of this mold sported, and his trademark large green cape to distract from the reused jacket. It's just held at the collar by a thick golden cord (molded as part of the cape), rather than the "two discs and a string" of the comics, but we'll only worry about that after Mattel releases a corrected head. We do give them credit for not trying to get away with reusing Phantom Stranger's cape, though.

Unlike many DC Signature Collection figures, Ra's has an accessory. It's a simple choice, just his scimitar, but it's better than the alternative (no accessories at all). A scimitar is a great choice for him, symbolically tying in to his (presumed) Middle Eastern origins, while still being a lethal tool in his hands. The accessory is 4⅛" long, and can be held in either hand. Of course, since Ra's has all the same articulation as the other Mattel DC figures, we can get him into some decent fighting poses; granted, it's nothing too extreme, but he is still wearing his suit - if he were really getting ready to throw down, he'd be stripped to the waist.

The Mike Thompson portrait on the back of the box is appropriately regal. Ra's has his cape wrapped around him, concealing much of his body, and he's clutching the hem with his left hand - and yes, he has the right kind of clasp at his neck back here. Unfortunately, he's also got eyebrows. It's not necessarily that Ra's face is 100% bald from the mouth up, it's just that if he does have eyebrows, they are - at best - very thin. They disappear into the shadows around his eyes; they're not prominent on their own. In that regard, the painting is closer to getting it right than the toy is, but it would still be better if he didn't have them at all. He's also apparently grown in his sideburns, since they're coming in to join his usual little beardlets. The sword he's wielding is shorter in the painting than the one the toy has, but it's a more realistic length. The handguard does seem to be twisted off toward the side, though.

Mattel gets points for making a Ra's al Ghul dressed in his classic attire: a green suit with a cape. Not even DC Direct has done that yet! It's just a shame about the head; I wonder if it would be possible to swap the DCD Trinity figure's head onto these shoulders? It would be rather cartoony, and it wouldn't be a Four Horsemen sculpt, but at least it would look like Ra's al Ghul.

-- 11/28/13


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