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Samurai

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

Admit it: you thought no character could ever be as big a trainwreck as El Dorado.

Granted superhuman powers by the New Gods on New Genesis, history professor Toshio Eto vowed to use his new powers for good. He patterned his crime-fighting persona after the heroes he admired most: the samurai warriors of ancient Japan. Guided by the ancient samurai code of honor, Samurai is a fine role model and member of the Super Friends in their global crusade against evil.

If the whole "getting zapped by the New Gods" thing sounds familiar, it's because that's the same origin that was used for one of the other Kenner Super Powers losers, Golden Pharaoh. Literally the same origin. Two guys, both shot by random energy blasts from the other side of the universe, and they both get completely different superpowers. It's not even like this was some widespread program by New Genesis - it happened twice. It wasn't "oh, remember that time all those beams came from space and thousands of us got powers?" It was two dudes, and no more.

If you've seen Gone With the Wind, you'll remember the scene where the cash-strapped Scarlett makes a dress out of her curtains. Well, makes her slave make her a dress; don't want to forget the fact that the hero of the movie was a proud slave-owner. Anyway, there's a famous spoof of that scene from The Carol Burnett Show, in which "Miss Starlett" similarly makes a dress from curtains... but leaves in the curtain rod. Samurai's costume, based on the wide-shouldered Japanese kataginu, looks like nothing so much as an homage to that zany outfit. The "shirt," if it can be called that, is a separate PVC piece glued over the torso, so it flexes as he moves. The tops of his boots are sculpted, not just painted on, and he gets unique forearms with banded wrist decorations.

Samurai's head is new, and it is pretty much a perfect representation of how the character's animation model. He's got the handlebar mustache, the little Van Dyck and his hair pulled up in a chonmage. He has distinctly Asian facial features - for once, the Four Horsemen's sometime-tendency to sculpt flat faces works in the toy's favor.

Like Cyclotron, the original Samurai figure had a waist-spinning action feature, though his twirled his legs rather than his torso. See, by yelling "kaze no yō ni hayaku" (literally "swift as the wind"), he'd turn his body into a tornado, and that was the toy's attempt to duplicate that. Since this was The Superfriends, and the writers just randomly made up new powers as they went along, he could also turn invisible, engulf himself in flames or create illusions. Yes, just like El Dorado. This guy is just all over the map!

In addition to all that, the original toy came with a sword that seemed to be made out of lightning - after all, since he already took parts of Golden Pharaoh, Cyclotron and El Dorado, why not get in on a little Black Vulcan action, as well? This figure includes an update of the sword, cast in translucent yellow plastic. It can only be held in the figure's left hand, reinforcing the lefty bias Poe has commented on before.

He also includes the left arm of Apache Chief, the Series 18 build-a-figure. Coincidence? Or conspiracy! We claim the latter, because it's fun to pretend.

Samurai has actually made the leap from the Superfriends to the real DC Universe, appearing in 2010's Justice League of America #46. And unlike the comics version of Apache Chief, he was fundamentally unchanged from his animated appearance, so this figure won't be out of place with your "normal" DCU Classics.

-- 10/12/11


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