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Green Lanterns' Light

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

The new Green Lantern Classics line isn't the only way Mattel is gearing up (way) in advance of the Green Lantern movie. They've also released a Wal*Mart-exclusive "Green Lantern's Light" five-pack.

Much like the Gotham City 5 pack, this one has a bunch of re-releases and one figure people actually want. Since 80% of the figures in this set are functionally identical - slender male body, right fist with a ring on the middle finger, left hand open to hold the included (standard) GL battery - we're just going to breeze through all those, hitting the high points, and then we'll get to the real meat of the review.

An ordinary scientist from an obscure planet named Xudar, Tomar-Re never dreamed he would be chosen to serve in the Green Lantern Corps, much less that his name would one day stand for courage and integrity, assigned to protect Space Sector 2813, Tomar-Re distinguished himself so thoroughly in the line of duty that the Guardians of the Universe promoted him to their elite honor guard.

Like we said, generic body, new head. Tomar-Re is the fishbirdman who's been a part of the Green Lantern Corps since 1961. Well, was part of the Green Lantern Corps. He died after Crisis, killed by Goldface. His biggest claim to fame was that his sector, 2813, was home to Krypton - he tried to prevent it from blowing up, but... well, you know how that turned out. Awesome! Way to go, Tomar! You have to wonder if Hal ever told Superman about that one.

Unexpectedly, Tomar-Re's head is entirely new. Admit it, when you saw Romat-Ru in the Color of Fear two-pack, you assumed they'd someday make a Tomar-Re by putting that head on a generic Green Lantern body; it's okay, we thought the same thing. But the Four Horsemen being the Four Horsemen, they didn't take that shortcut. Obviously he's wearing a mask rather than having uncovered eyes, but in addition, the ears are attached to the head at a different angle and his chin is a different shape. This is clearly a unique individual.

When Green Lantern Hal Jordan was incapacitated en route to a JLA adventure, Hal's power ring selected John Stewart to be Hal's "alternate" peacekeeper of Space Sector 2814. Honest and utterly without fear, John was eventually awarded his own power ring and full-time status as a Green Lantern in his own right. He continues battling evil as a Green Lantern, his dedication earning him full membership in the JLA.

We already had a John Stewart in DCU11, so this figure may seem entirely superfluous. Au contraire! That version was wearing his modern, Justice League Unlimited-inspired costume, while this one is in an older, more stylish look. This is (nearly) the uniform he was wearing in the '80s and '90s, during Cosmic Odyssey and for the year or so when he held down his own title, Mosaic. The huge logo on his chest is a very cool design element. The figure's head is the same mold as before, but since he's wearing gloves, he gets a new hand. Well, the same hand as all the others in this set, but not the same as the last figure. He doesn't have the "triple barbell" problem the old John had, either - he can look down.

While training in a flight simulator, test pilot Hal Jordan was suddenly transported to the crash site of an alien spacecraft. The injured pilot passed on to Jordan his green ring and uniform. The ring allowed him to make real anything that he could imagine, from flying unaided through space to lifting mountains. With it, Jordan, chosen by the ring itself because of his fearlessness, must fight evil as a member of the Green Lantern Corps.

When Frank Miller realized he was soon going to be older than Bruce Wayne, he wrote The Dark Knight Returns, one of the masterworks of '80s comics. When Geoff Johns felt that Hal Jordan was aging too much, he wrote a story explaining how a primordial space bug had turned some of Hal's hair gray. Classy. Anyway, this really is "my" Hal Jordan, the version who was in comics when I started reading them. The head is the same mold as the DCU3 version, but he's got a little bit of white at his temples - as he should. Not only can he look down, he can actually look up slightly - one in the win column for Hal!

Sinestro was chosen to patrol space sector 1417 as its Green Lantern, but instead he ruled Korugar with an emerald fist. While he trained fledgling GL Hal Jordan, the Korugarians freed themselves and exposed Sinestro's abuse of power. The Guardians of the Universe stripped Sinestro of his mantle and power ring, subsequently banishing him to the anti-matter universe of Qward.

Oh, now this is just embarrassing. It's Sinestro when he was still a GL; nothing wrong with that, right? Well, like we said at the top of the review, he uses the same body as the rest of this box set, but if you recall, the the DCU3 version was stupidly short (something Mattel has still never apologized for), so if he's normal-sized here and dwarfish later, then we're left to assume that being evil makes you shrink. Plus, since this is just the same head as the old figure, it's too small for a normal-sized body, leaving him looking just slightly wrong. Slightly. It's not terrible.

Okay, enough of that. Let's get to the good stuff.

When Abin Sur crash-landed on Earth, his power ring detected two equally suitable replacements: Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner. Jordan got the ring because he was closer to the crash. Later, Guy received a second chance to join the Green Lantern Corps, but he often clashed with Jordan. Still, the Guardians sensed great potential in him. After proving himself, Guy Gardner was promoted to "honor lantern," one of the highest ranks in the Corps.

For most of his existence, Guy Gardner's defining character trait was that he got punched in the face. Not that he got beat up a lot, like Daredevil, but that he got punched in the face. "One punch" sums up that entire era, and still makes JLI fans smile broadly. But a character whose defining trait is a punchline - no pun intended - is not a character at all. These days, however, Guy is a respected badass who speaks his mind, but it didn't happen overnight.

When Guy first started out, he wore the typical GL uniform - everyone did. That's the point of a uniform. But in Green Lantern #196, when the Guardians reinstated Guy, he created this costume for himself, being the first GL to break ranks. The "aggressive" outfit, designed by series artist Joe Staton, is much more detailed than the usual uniforms, with a heavy jacket over a black turtleneck sweater. His gloves have belts to keep them in place, and his boots are bulky. The belt was originally a giant chain, but it eventually turned into the buckled number seen here. The flap of the vest should go farther over to the side, so the GL logo could be more centered, but this is still good. He's got white stripes painted down the outsides of his legs, but they're applied much more cleanly than Commander Steel's were.

The boots, gloves and upper chest are new sculpts, and the jacket is a soft PVC piece over the torso. The head sculpt is good, if a little oversized. He's got a very nice little smirk, and a ridiculously square jaw. His hair isn't quite the "Moe Howard" bowl cut it eventually became, but it's getting there. After scores of dull-eyed zombies, it's nice to see a DCU figure with some personality!

Guy, like all the figures in this set, includes his Green Lantern battery. It's really a shame that we don't get any ring construct accessories in here; even if they were just simple flares or energy blasts, it would have been better than nothing.

The modern Guy Gardner - the one who's a decent character, not a total joke - can mainly be credited to one guy: Beau Smith. He was the one writing Guy when the whole "Emerald Twilight" thing happened and the editorial edict came down that there could be no GL-related powers, so he had the opportunity to do some really good character work. Character work that has stuck all the way to today. Guy is the only figure in this five-pack who's never been released in any form before, so he's the one that's selling it. The set originally retailed for more than $60, but it's recently gone on sale for less than $30 - not bad, considering it only showed up about a month ago. At full price, it was a hard pill to swallow. Not really worth it, honestly. But on sale? Guy is great, and the other figures are different enough from their previous releases to make up the difference.

-- 12/30/10


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