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Black Vulcan

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

Hey look, everybody: it's Supervolt!

A devoted member of the Super Friends, Black Vulcan's courage and character are undeniable. Although he keeps his identity and personal life to himself, he is trusted implicitly by his teammates. Some speculate that he might be a scientist - especially since he has used his powers to spot-weld microelectronic circuits - but not even Batman feels the need to investigate him.

Okay, this is going to be just slightly more fun than anticipated. Clearly Mattel recognized how ridiculous it is to be making Superfriends toys and decided to play it up. That line about welding microelectronics? That happened in in Season 4's "Dive to Disaster." The list of his powers below the bio also include turning himself to pure electricity, flying at the speed of light, and creating magnetic timewarps. The Superfriends writers were on crack, apparently, because sometimes Black Vulcan's lightning bolts blew things up, other times he could use them like rope.

Black Vulcan's costume changed constantly on the show - it wasn't redesigned or anything, it was just animated very poorly. When he was introduced, for instance, the only exposed skin was around his mouth. Soon his legs became bare, as they are on this figure. Most of the time the V at his neck was colored as though it were a cutout exposing his chest, but other times it was filled in with black (so no, this figure's paint isn't wrong on that count). Often his sleeves would disappear, leaving him with brown arms. Basically Mattel could have painted him however they wanted - seems like a missed opportunity for a variant! The edges of the lightning bolt on his waist are crisp, but the rest are a bit blurry.

The figure gets a new head, because there was no way to cheat that - nobody else has these ridiculous bananas on their ears. Honestly, look at those things. What are they? Did someone in the art department misunderstand the name Black "Vulcan" and try to give him Spock ears? Did they just pull a half-completed redesign of Captain Boomerang out of the drawer and not bother to erase anything they'd already drawn? It's unabashedly nonsensical, in the way that only a cartoon from the '70s could possibly be.

The articulation is your bog standard DCUC fare, since he uses one of the usual bodies. A skinny one. That means he moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders and neck. It had been a while since we bothered listing all those, and now it can be a while before we have to do it again. The right leg on mine was bent badly from being put in the tray incorrectly, but it's returning to its proper position since he's been open. Finally, this figure has the thing Poe's been asking after for years: two clear plastic bolts of electricity. They're the same ones available with Series 2's Electric Superman, but they've been cast in yellow, so they look appropriate with Supervolt's black-and-yellow colorscheme.

There's a build-a-figure piece, as well. And since DC Universe Classics Series 18 has a Superfriends theme, you can probably guess who the BAF is: Apache Chief! Good guess! Black Romulan has the left leg. Which, like the man himself, has no pants. That must be why neither of them are in the new 52 reboot: because of the pants.

The creation of Black Vulcan is a shameful bit of business. He was "invented" for the cartoon, despite being identical in every way to the pre-existing Black Lightning. Why? So they didn't have to give any credit (read: money) to Black Lightning's creator, Tony Isabella. Dick move. While we've made a lot of fun of Black Vulcan the character, Black Vulcan the toy isn't bad. Yes, he's goofy, but he's always been goofy. There's no way around that. Being cool would be untrue to the character.

-- 09/14/11

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