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Black Hand

Green Lantern Classics
by yo go re

So, wait, they're making figures of the militant Serbian group responsible for killing Archduke Franz Ferdinand? What a world!

William Hand was sought out by the alien Atrocitus, who believed that Hand was the key to bringing about the foretold "blackest night" that would destroy his hated enemies, the Green Lantern Corps. When the Prophecy came true, Hand was chosen to be the herald of the death-entity Nekron, becoming the central figure in the most dangerous crisis Green Lantern ever faced.

Black Hand has already had two 6"(ish) action figures from DC Direct, so the last thing we really need is a third version - yes, the guy was instrumental during Blackest Night, but other than that one brief moment, he's been a useless, forgotten villain. One version of this guy would be enough for anyone's collection, especially when you consider that all three versions have been wearing the same clothes. This figure would have to be something really damn special to be worth buying.

This figure is something really damn special. Since 2008, we've been conditioned to expect Mattel's DC figures to be more about paint apps than sculpting. Not Black Hand, though! The only parts of this figure that might be shared with anyone else are his feet. Not only is the Frylock symbol on his chest a raised element (as befitting something that would have been made of metal in the "real" world), the seams between the black and blue portions are sculpted on, as well. There are fine wrinkles on the black side of the divide, and the sculpted "cloth" even stretches over the anatomy beneath it differently. That's outstanding!

Black Hand's mask only comes down to ear level, which, judging by the designs of the DCD figures, is outdated: apparently it's meant to cover the back of his neck now, as well? Whatever, the head looks great anyway. His skin is gray and wrinkled, and the metal crest on his cowl is raised. He doesn't look particularly evil, but his dispassionate indifference is threatening and unnerving in its own way.

Shockingly, Black Hand does not have the usual DC Universe articulation: instead, he's been blessed with double-hinge elbows and knees in addition to the normal assortment of balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, swivel wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, H-crotch, swivel thighs and hinged ankles. Why did Hand get singled out for more joints? Who cares, he has them, they're great, and that's all that matters. The hands are a little bit smaller than the wrists they're attached to: that's fine on the left, where there are leather straps right at the wrist which would make the arm thicker, but on the right, it just makes him look like he's got someone else's hand attached to his wrist.

That's a problem exacerbated by the paint apps: the hand is a darker grey than the arm, and while the comics did show the same (you'll remember it from the DCD one we reviewed), but there's no blend between the two colors: dark hand, light wrist; a better fade between the two would have served to conceal the size change between the two pieces, rather than drawing attention to it. Still, that's the only paint problem to be found.

Black Hand has no accessories (and no collector's pin), but he does have a Build-A-Figure piece. The figure in question is Arkillo, and the piece is his left arm. The biceps and shoulder appear to be the same mold used for Kilowog, which would be appropriate. The forearm and hand are new.

The DC Universe packaging has remained fairly constant from Series 1 onward - the biggest change was introduced with Series 12, when they changed the art style and lightened the colors. The proportions of the packaging were all the same, anyway. (The Public Enemies series was a one-off aberation.) The GL Classics packaging, while superficially similar to what we've come to know, is quite different. Obviously it's green (though it would have been smart if they'd color-coded the cards to the Lanterns on them - would have made it simple to find what you wanted on the pegs), and while the shape is roughly the same, the card is much taller, and the blister has angled blocks meant to suggest the spreading energy on the card art. The packaging says "I fit with DC Universe, but I'm my own thing."

Black Hand really didn't seem like a character who needed the Mattel/Four Horseman treatment: he's not that popular to begin with, and he already had two perfectly suitable action figures already, so why would anyone bother to buy a third? Well, it turns out there is a reason: Mattel's version blows DC Direct's away. At last, this is a DC figure that can almost compete with Marvel Legends.

-- 12/26/10

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