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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Captain Marvel isn't the only character in ML15 who was created to protect a copyright. In 1976, Filmation decided to pair their successful Tarzan cartoon with Batman to create The Tarzan/Batman Adventure Hour. It was a huge hit, and they began plans to do more superhero cartoons, using heroes created in-house (so they wouldn't have to pay licensing fees). When Marvel heard that one of the heroes-to-be was named Spider-Woman, they acted fast to get theirs published first.

Her genetic code accidentally combined with that of a rare breed of spider, Jessica Drew was duped into serving evil as a Hydra assassin. As Arachne, Jessica attacked SHIELD Director Nick Fury, Spider-Woman who revealed Hydra's true nature and won her to the side of justice. Adopting the codename Spider-Woman, she subsequently embarked on a career as a costumed heroine. Jessica now wields her superhuman strength and bioelectric blasts as a member of the Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Jessica Drew has been experience a resurgance of popularity, lately. Like Power Man, she's one of those B-list '70s characters that Brian Bendis has a soft spot for, so she gets used in everything he does. On the plus side, now that people care about her, Marvel has cleaned up her origin. In Marvel Spotlight #32, her first appearance, it was revealed that she was an artificially evolved spider. By the time she got her own series, that angle had been scrapped, and she was a normal human girl who was shot by a radioactive laser or something. Yeah, it wasn't a huge step up. The recent Spider-Woman: Origin actually managed to take the best parts from both of these versions and make something good.

Spider-Woman features a new body sculpt by Dave Cortes, which is nice enough, but it has some problems. Beginning with her huge hands. Maybe they help her cling to walls? Other than that, it's basically the way the torso is designed - the sculpt of her hips make her look like she's wearing a diaper, and the articulation makes her look like she's got scoliosis. Or poor posture, at least. She just doesn't want to stand up straight. Though oddly enough, if you turn her abdomen around backwards, the problem goes away. Of course, the Doop-stand hole on her back proves that the figure wasn't assembled wrong, just designed oddly. The chest won't move far enough back on the abdomen to straighten her out, and it can be really annoying.

Another oddity? Though the edges of her gloves are sculpted elements, she doesn't have a joint there - the figure is solid from elbow to wrist. What? Everything else is more or less up to the Marvel Legends standards, so you can get nice poses from Spider-Woman, but those few oddities really stand out; particularly if this is going to be a new "standard" female body. SW has her translucent wings under her arms, but the material they're made of is flexible enough that the motion isn't impeded.

Spider-Woman has a variant in this series: the second Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter. Currently going by the name "Arachne" on the pro-registration side of Civil War. Kinda. It seems every time there's a Spider-Woman figure, Jessica is the normal one and Julia is the variant. It happened with Marvel Minimates, it happened with Marvel Select and now it's happened with Marvel Legends, too. The paint on both versions of the figure is good, though the black outlines on Jessica's costume get a little blurry around the waist, and the yellow section wasn't designed correctly - it's supposed to have a sort of "double diamond" shape, but it never bulges back out.

There have been some complaints that both Spider-Women use the same head, which they do. differences The details sculpted on Jessica's mask don't match up with Julia's: the new Spider-Woman's eyes are larger, and she doesn't have a spot on her forehead, so they're just painted over. The eyes are okay, since you can just chalk it up to the construction of her mask, and the triangle on her forehead is dark enough that it doesn't stand out. ToyBiz actually did a good job of making the ladies look different - in addition to their masks and hair color, their skintones are different. Honestly, this doesn't just look like a cheap repaint.

Neither Spider-Woman has any accessories, which is a shame. SWI had electrical blasts, while SWII had psychic webs. Both ladies do have the same MODOK piece, though: his ugly giant baby head. Cripes he's hideous. From the back, the piece looks like a cupcake, so be careful where you put it until you collect all the pieces and assemble the BAF. If it's anywhere near the kitchen, you're going to get a craving for sweets.

Spider-Woman includes a repint of issue #1 of her self-titled comic, which sort of picks up from the Marvel Spotlight story, but introduces her new, slightly less silly origin. Did you know her hair isn't naturally black? She dyes it, as part of her disguise. At least, that's what we see in the comic. Included with the figure is a backdrop - it's New York City at sunset, as seen from the command deck of the SHIELD Helicarrier. It's quite picturesque, really, but it does suffer slightly from having GW Bridge and Dum-Dum Dugan in the shot.

The Spider-Woman figure is decent, but those infuriating torso joints are almost a deal-breaker. There are some paint problems (on both the normal and variant versions) but they're due to the design of the figure, not your typical messy edges. Someone needs to come up with a better way to articulate female figures, because this just doesn't work right.

-- 12/22/06

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