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Agent Helix

GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

The poem Ozymandias ("look on my works ye mighty and despair") is about the inevitable fall of any culture or society, which may then only be glimpsed, distantly, through the shattered artifacts they left behind, artifacts entirely divorced from any direct understanding of their origin. Agent Helix is named after Double Helix Games, the company that developed the Rise of Cobra videogame, a studio (and game) you wouldn't even remember once existed if not for this character.

Agent Helix is a covert operations officer with advanced martial arts training and expert marksmanship. An Alpha-Level G.I. Joe Operative bent on stopping the rise of Cobra, she sees the world in data sets that allow her to anticipate the probable outcomes of any action. Her distinctive "whirlwind attack" is an overpowering combination of kicks and firepower utilizing her Olympic-class gymnastic abilities.

That's the bio presented in the marketing copy today, but Helix is one of the characters who was planned from the beginning, so she also had a bio on the official website (when the brand had an official website). It's mostly identical, though the now-deleted one mentioned her gymnastic abilities near the beginning rather than the end, and also included the lines "She has a unique near-psychic ability called Total Organic Battlefield Awareness (TOBA). This allows her to perceive elements of her surroundings before they are visible" in place of the stuff about being an Alpha-Level operative.

Being invented by a game studio as sort of a self-insert mascot, Helix is one of the few Joes not directly created by Larry Hama. He seems to have embraced her, though, not only making her part of the Real American Hero continuity that's been running since 1982, but actively focusing on her and even doing an entire miniseries about her origins and personality. (The scene on the front of her box is referencing the climax of that story.) It's always nice when newer creations get to be considered "real."

Helix's new parts were sculpted by Fred Aczon - her legs are taken directly from Scarlett, but everything above the hips is new. Since the character was just introduced 15 years ago, her existing costume fits the Classified aesthetic very well. We previously described it as "an armored corset over a yellow and grey wetsuit," and yep, that's what this toy gives us. The detailing in the sculpt is impressive, with lots of small details and textures on her harness. Her belt is loaded down with ammo pouches and grenades, but they missed an opportunity to update the design in one small way: the RoC figure had some sort of tiny digital screen strapped to her right bicep, and it's still there on this figure; but the Classified Joes have all worn that transponder thing, so why not swap that onto her arm? It would have kept the vibe going but given her one small feature that would make her definitively part of this line.

They were already making one stylistic change. You may recall the original Helix wore a bandaid on her right arm, something that was important enough for the toy, comics, and game to all include, even if it was never commented upon. Classified Helix doesn't get that. Instead, she has a bandaid on her left forearm, but it's not sculpted, only painted - it looks like a pink tattoo rather than a physical item. Unusual choice. The yellow used on her shirt is paler than on her original toy, and although the stock photo on the box shows her with her proper "pale hair with black roots" look, the black on the production figure has been toned way down. It could be worse: the first samples that shipped to stores lacked almost any shading at all.

Helix has some kind of battle-autism, which is what allows her to be aware of and react to everything around her. It can also overwhelm her sometimes, if there's too much going on. In the old continuity, she knew a whole slew of various martial arts and could master a new fighting style after encountering it once; now in the ARAH continuity, she was trained by her foster mother, who was a former world champion in MMA. Whatever abilities you want her to have, she's got plenty of articulation to do it: balljointead head, a hinge at the top of the neck and a balljoint at the bottom, swivel/hinge shoulders on pectoral hinges, swivel/hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed chest and waist, hips that are a balljoint mounted on a hinge, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, and swivel/hinge ankles. Also, I can't believe we forgot to include stats in the past few reviews! Helix's are Covert Ops 2, Light Weapons 2, Marksman 4, and Martial Arts 3. Despite the fact "Marksman" isn't one of the options normally available for Skill, only Role.

The figure's accessories include modern updates of the "customized dual 10mm autopistols" the old figure had, then a backpack and katanas that are more modern additions to her arsenal, plus a machete. Then there are the pieces made up for this toy, the "mantis blades," a set of devices that clip onto her forearms. Each one has a straight silver blade with serrations near the base, attached to a hinged arm that allows them to stick out from her body at unusual angles. That is not something she's used anywhere, but they do kind of suit her. And you can come up with some really interesting poses with them.

The comics have specifically said that Helix isn't autistic, but it feels like the same way Big Bang Theory would insist Sheldon "isn't" autistic - ie, he is, but by saying he's not they deftly avoid any criticism for how they portray him. "Why is Sheldon doing (X)? That's not really an austisc trait, people just think it is." "No, no, he doesn't have autism, we're just showing him doing something stereotypical as an unrelated coincidence. Bojanglez." But: Agent Helix. Doesn't talk much? Doesn't like to be touched? Hyper-aware of everything around her? Has trouble reading emotions? Can fight off up to six deadly ninjas at once without getting injured? Each of them absolutely neurodivergent things you'll recognize from all your friends and acquaintences. Hasbro may say she's not, but she is. She just may be something else, as well. Helix may have been invented for the least memorable game of all time, but the comics have turned her into a really interesting character with an affecting story, so it's great that she hasn't been forgotten.

-- 04/12/24

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