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Legendary Heroes
by yo go re

Not many stories begin with the hero's death. And for those that do, the story then usually turns into a long-form flashback. It's a rare case where a character's death is just the beginning of his adventures, but that's exactly what happened to one of indie comics' biggest stars. And no, we're not talking about the Crow.

Madman, aka Madman of Snap City, aka Frank Einstein, is a re-animated corpse who was a black ops agent for a shadow government organization called Tri-eye in his previous life. Found as a "Jon Doe" by two scientists experimenting with the secrets of Life and Death, he was given a fresh start and a new chance at life. The technology that brought him a new life also gave him advanced reflexes and enhanced skills and also heightened senses including a third eye that allows him to see the thoughts and feelings of others. Now he works for one of the scientists, Dr. Flem, helping him with his experiments in space and time travel and spends his spare time with his girlfriend, former lab assistant, Joe Lombard.

Like most of the Legendary Heroes (and the Marvel Legends this line merges so well with), Madman has had a figure before - in April of 1998, specifically. That's when Graphitti Designs released their Premiere Series figures - also including Grendel and Mage - under the "Big Blast" imprint. Graphitti says the toys were "produced with the Graphitti Designs' vision and quality imprint," but that doesn't say a lot for either Graphitti's vision or their quality (or their copy editing, honestly). The toys were acceptable, but they only stood out because there was nothing else like them, not because they were any good. This figure, however? Any good.

Standing nearly 6¼" tall, Madman has hinged toes, hinged and rocker ankles, swivels at the top of his boots, double knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a swivel waist, hinged torso, hinged fingers, hinged wrists, forearm swivels, double knees, swivel biceps, balljointed shoulders and a balljointed head.

The sculpt of this figure is truly excellent. Why? Because it has almost no detail. Admit it, that just sounds wrong, doesn't it? That's only because we've been conditioned to think that every inch of a figure has to be covered with tiny details. However, Mike Allred's artwork is notoriously clean and simple, almost the antithesis of the Image Comics crowd, so if this figure would look wrong if Dave Cortes had gone overboard with the folds and wrinkles. There's a bit, but it's all pretty low-key. His gloves are probably the most complex things on him.

Madman doesn't actually wear a mask and costume to conceal his secret identity, like many heroes do - in fact, the only reason he wears it is that he's a reanimated corpse, and has the countenance to match. Now that would have made for a cool variant or removable head: unmasked, blue-skinned, scarred-up Madman! Kids would love it! Madman's hair pokes out the top of his mask, and is sculpted like Allred's art rather than real hair.

Despite Madman's exceedingly simple costume (based on Frank's favorite comic character, Mr. Excitement), there are still some paint issues to watch out for. First, though, the good: no crappy wash on the costume. Look back at any Marvel Legend wearing white, and you'll see these baby blue splotches all over the place - ToyBiz's attempt at a wash. Madman has a wash, yes, but it's done the way all those old ones should have been. Simply. Subtly. Without looking like he put his costume in the wrong laundry pile.

The big red exclamation mark is crisp, mainly because the edges are sculpted in, but the black lines on his shoulders and waist don't have that advantage and they're very nice, too. The face has some real issues, so before you buy, check the blue scar on his head and the black paint on his mouth, to make sure everything is where it should be.

Madman actually comes with an accessory, some kind of crazy ray gun. It's got the design of a toy from the '50s, which matches Allred's artistic sensibilities. The figure's hand is molded to hold it, sort of - one finger is out, but the handle is slightly too big to fit in his hand properly. Still, he looks good with it, and it adds playability to the figure - we always like that.

weird assortment The set also includes two more pieces - one is a part of the BAF, Pitt. Madman has Pitt's stomach and hips, a piece which shows off a nice assortment of textures and whatnot. Gotta have the piece if you want to build the big guy! We also get Timmy, Pitt's little human friend. Timmy's not articulated, but he does look just like he did in the comics. Yay!

Madman is a cool little figure. Even if you don't know who he is (and really, no one could blame you), he's got a groovy design that will stand out in your collection. And hey, as a bonus, if you remember Freakazoid!, that character was directly inspired by Madman. Plus, Robert Rodriguez is looking to give Madman the same big-screen treatment that he gave Sin City, so this is your chance to get in ahead of the curve.

-- 09/29/07

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