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El Dorado

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

When the Superfriends writers introduced all their new Affirmative Action heroes, they had a problem: when you're writing about people from another culture, you actually have to know something about other cultures; failing that, you can just use broad stereotypes and bad accents.

Dressed in a costume that evokes the Aztec kings of long ago, El Dorado uses his mystical powers to aid the Super friends in their worldwide quest for justice. Some speculate he is the descendant of Aztec sorcerers, empowered by their ancient magic and his people's warrior-spirit. El Dorado has never revealed the source of his power, but his knowledge of ancient ruins in Mexico suggests a connection to the Aztec civilization.

Look at that - not even the bio on the back of the card knows anything about El Dorado. "He's Mexican, maybe, and his powers might come from sorcery or they might not." He's named after the mythical city of gold, which has nothing to do with his inconsistent powers: the name suggests something Midas-like, but nope; he's actually got flight (sometimes), eyebeams (once), super strength (maybe), teleportation and telepathy; or maybe all those are just the result of his main power, the ability to create illusions.

Speedy Gonzales here uses the same skinny DCUC body as Black Vulcan, but that doesn't mean he doesn't get any new sculpts. The details of his boots and gloves are merely painted on, but his ornate belt and collar are a new piece. Yes, one new piece: they're connected. Okay, it's molded from two pieces - one for the collar and cape, the other for the belt and connector - but they're glued together. It's a weird design, but the details in the sculpt are good, and definitely have an Aztec feel to them. Sun designs, an eagle, etc. On the cartoon, El Dorado teleported (in a shower of sparkles) by wrapping his cape around himself; on the toy, one side of the cape is sculpted farther forward than the other, suggesting a similar movement.

The head is a new sculpt, and it's been done really well. Whoever El Dorado is and wherever he comes from, he has undeniable Mesoamerican facial features. You could put this head on any body, and it would still be "hey, look at the Hispanic guy!" And yet this is toned down from the cartoon's model sheet, which was just terrible.

El Dorado has all the usual DCUC articulation, though the fact that the belt and collar are connected render the chest hinge just about useless. They're made from soft PVC, so he can bend forward slightly, but forget about leaning back. And the way the cape is designed makes him look like he's twisted permanently to the side, but that's an optical illusion.

The figures comes with a piece of the Series 18 build-a-figure, Apache Chief. He gets the torso, which shares its mold with Trigon's chest, though it's been resculpted to lose the sash and fill in the big hole in the center of the back (though you can still see where they were, if the light catches them just right). The piece includes a loincloth, a band around the neck, and a removable vest.

El Dorado is a crappy, irredeemable character: there's nothing to him; even more than most DC characters, he's a set of powers and nothing else. On the other hand, that makes him a blank slate - you can have him be any kind of character you want, which should make Poe happy. The costume design isn't great, but it's executed well, and with El Dorado, that's about all you can hope for.

-- 09/22/11

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