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"Public Enemies" Major Force

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

It's not inherently lazy to give a hero and his arch-enemy the same origin and powers - after all, it provides nice opportunities to compare and contrast - but it is lazy to never do anything interesting with the villain other than making him a walking plot contrivance.

Major Force is a product of the same project which created Captain Atom. While in the USAF, Clifford Zmeck had been jailed in a high security prison for rape and sentenced to life in prison. He was offered a pardon in exchange for participation in the high-risk governmental experiment. Introduced as an ally, then successor to Captain Atom, Force's brutality betrayed his government-concocted role of superhero and brought him in frequent conflict with Atom. Unlike his superhero colleagues under the direction of President Lex Luthor, Major Force opts for aggression over diplomacy in trying to capture the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight.

Major Force was introduced in 1988, but his only memorable moment was in 1994, when he killed Kyle Rayner's girlfriend and stuffed her in a fridge. Since then, WiR has become his gimmick, and he shows up whenever a writer wants to show the government being sinister. He's less a character than a plot device, and a fairly crummy one, at that. Like one fan said, "Commenting on Major Force as a character is like commenting on the character of the gun that killed Batman's parents."

The Target-exclusive "Public Enemies" series from Mattel's DC Universe line is divided into two waves, a fact we mention only so people will have an example of all three terms being used correctly in a sentence for a change. The villains (ie, the interesting characters) we divided between the waves: Icicle and Silver Banshee in Wave 1, and Black Lightning [not technically a villain --ed.] and Major Force in Wave 2. Of course, since cases of both waves are jam-packed with multiples of Superman and Batman, those guys are clogging the shelves while Major Force and the others are hard to find.

Major Force uses the new body designed for this series. Of course he does. He has no sculpted costume elements, so everything is just done with paint. Unfortunately, while the paint is true to the animated movie, it's still not right. In the comics, this bad MFer is orange and purple; this version is orange and some kind of magenta. And honestly, both colors should be metallic, not flat. Finally, the logo on his left breast is incorrect: here, it looks like "MI" with lines above and below it; those lines are meant to be thicker, forming the F to go after the M. This looks like a mistake with the paint apps, when it's actually a mistake fundamental flaw with the animated design.

The only unique part of the figure is the head sculpt. He looks very much like a young, beefy Dolph Lundgren, with the prominent chin, square jaw and high cheekbones. His hair is a military-approved flattop, and his nose is very flat. There are black circles painted around his white eyes, to make them stand out more. The figure stands 6⅝" tall, but in his case, that just makes him look more imposing when facing off with Captain Atom or some Green Lanterns.

Major Force has no accesories, but the set does include the Public Enemies oval base, and the central piece of this series' Build-A-Figure, Brimstone. "Central" in this case meaning "the entire chest and head," though oddly the only joint is the torso hinge - he doesn't have a neck. This chunk of plastic is opaque, so it's only the arms that are semi-translucent. Yeah, that's not weird at all.

We complain about how hard it is to find Major Force or any of the other non-Batman, non-Superman figures in this series, but companies walk a fine line: underestimate demand, and they sell out before any fans have a chance to find them; overestimate, and you've got Captain Cold. It's not an easy process, by any means, but it's their job to predict those numbers, so we don't feel too bad bout grousing when they get it wrong. Simply put, there are too many Supermen and Batmen in the casepack for this series, and Mattel never should have split it into two waves. Major Force is a fairly good representation of the character, if you can find him.

-- 05/20/10

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