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Red Skull

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

It's the face of the intolerant right.

Emerging from the ashes of World War II, Johann Schmidt rose to become one of Captain America's greatest enemies, the Red Skull.

Red Skull was Marvel Comics' first supervillain. It's not that Captain America Comics #1, his debut, was the first comic they'd published, but all the stories before that had just had general villains and threats, not a costumed madman - it's not like you can name an arch-enemy of Namor, Ka-Zar, or the Human Torch, right? Like Joker, Red Skull was intended to die in his first appearance, but readers liked him so much that he was brought back. (Technically the original "Red Skull" was George Maxon, an American aircraft manufacturer who wanted to overthrow the US government; it wasn't until six issues later that he officially became Johann Schmidt, with the earlier Maxon appearances just being a pawn.)

Long before everyone realized that maybe a military villain should be wearing a military uniform (or even just tactical gear), Red Skull spent most of his time wearing a formless green jumpsuit. Man, being a comic artist back in the Golden Age must have been easy. Sure, you were rushed all the time, but there were no standards of quality or talent to meet. It's like being a webcomic artist 10 years ago. [Hark! A vague insult! --ed.] This body sculpt is all new, which had to be expensive for something so plain. Were they that desperate to have a ribbed belt? He does stand 6½" tall, unfortunately, which is a little too big - size creep coming in.

Skully's got two heads, and both of them are new. The smiling one looks similar to the Red Onslaught Build-A-Figure head, but only to the extent that there are only so many ways to make a skull smile. The alternate head has the mouth almost entirely closed, with just a glimpse of teeth. The brows and cheekbones on both heads stand out prominently, and the shade of red chosen for the plastic stands out brightly against the green suit. It looks great, though they really could have used some paint in the nasal cavity.

You'd expect that with no real shortage of baggy clothes for Marvel Legends, Red Skull would only have reused molds. If that were the case, he wouldn't have a balljoint at the base of the neck and a barbell for the head, because no other figure has had that particular combo. Other than that, the articulation is standard stuff: ankles, boots, knees, thighs, hips, waist, stomach, wrists, elbows, biceps, and shoulders. The hinges are the kind with no visible pins, which is how we know they're new sculpts. His gloves are a lighter green than the rest of the suit, and there's a yellow armband with the Hydra logo on it - oh wait, I just got that these are Hydra colors! This must be from back before the group split away from him.

The figure includes three pairs of hands: two fists, two for gripping or gesturing, and two with the trigger finger extended. Those last ones are perfect for holding his gun (reused from Star-Lord), which is solid black with a yellow Hydra logo on one side. He's also got a translucent blue Cosmic Cube, because he loves those things the way Thanos loves Infinity Gems.

He's also got the head of Xemnu the Titan, this series' delightfully obscure Build-A-Figure.

Red Skull seems like a pretty dull part of this series, with his throwback costume, but the new pieces and the choice of accessories do make him a bit better than expected.

-- 09/20/21

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