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Red Skull

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Yet another fascist bonehead!

Trained by the black-hearted Adolf Hitler himself, the Red Skull and his fearsome visage were intended as a symbol of Nazi supremacy. During World War II, his unparalleled evil genius only could be matched by his arch-foe: the star-spangled Super-Soldier called Captain America. After failing to tip the wartime balance of power in favor of the forces of tyranny, the Red Skull spent decades in suspended animation - awakening in present day to enslave humanity and resurrect the power of the Third Reich!

During WWII, American comicbook creators set their heroes against the evil of the Axis powers. But realistically, a guy who can tear tanks apart with his bare hands would whip through even the most powerful army in days. So with that in mind, how do you explain that the war kept going for years?

Well, there are two options. You either do what DC did, and set up a reason that the heroes can't attack directly, or you do what Marvel did, which was to create a similarly superpowered archnemesis for your hero.

Red Skull has had piteously few action figures before - probably because of his Nazi background. Oddly enough, the last one came as a result of Red's appearance on the Spider-Man cartoon! But while it was quite nice for its time, things have come a long way since 1998.

Standing nearly 6¼" tall, Red Skull's the perfect size to face off with ML1's Captain America. He's not quite as articulated as the rest of the Marvel Legends crew, with movement only at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees, boots, ankles and toes. That wouldn't be too bad, but most of those are simple peg joints instead of the balls that the rest of ML gets, so his poseability is quite limited.

Originally Skull's namesake visage was just a complicated mask, but exposure to his trademark "dust of death" eventually turned his real head into, what else, a red skull. This figure's got a great sculpt of Skull's... skull. It's not smooth and cartoony, but rather has the bumps and ridges that real bone would display. His beady little eyes are sunken in their sockets and his pearly white teeth are exposed menacingly.

Skull is the chase figure from Series 5 and again, it's probably because he's a Nazi. ToyBiz didn't put any swastikas on him, so that's not going to offend anyone, but the packaging does mention Hitler, so there you go. In lieu of said symbol, he's got a golden eagle on one sleeve (clever!) and a gold and green "V" on the other. His uniform is a soft pvc piece floating over an unidentified internal body, and is detailed nicely: gold trim, gold buttons and green epaulettes, and the wrinkles all look pretty decent. He's got a removable service cap that, thanks to its pvc construction and slightly tacky paint, stays on fairly well. Skull's legs are reused from the movie Daredevil figure. On his hip is slung a gun that could either be the one he used to deliver his death dust, or just a generic luger. Either way it's a reused piece from Series 2's Dr. Doom.

Like the rest of the Marvel Legends, Red Skull comes with a detailed base. His is a bullet-riddled section of wall with the top of a damaged tank resting against the stone. If that sounds familiar, it's because it's a repainted version of Captain America's base. Instead of a yellow wall and gray tank, Skull gets a gray wall, green tank turret and brown mud. It actually looks quite nice, better than Cap's. The only thing missing is a big Nazi flag to stick in it.

Red Skull comes with a reproduction of Captain America (vol. 3) #16 - a story which sees some kind of alternate future or something in which Skull has cosmic power. It's actually a pretty unengaging story, and doesn't explain much about the character. Something from the recent arc in which the villain was operating under the guise of Secretary of Defense Dell Rusk (get it?) might have been better.

-- 07/20/04

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