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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Mythology has always been a fruitful source of ideas for writers. The Greek and Roman pantheons are obviously the most popular choices, followed by Norse, but other cultures have been creeping in for years. Japanese and African myths are the newest trend, but for a while there it was Native American stories: that's how comics got the Wendigo.

Ancient legends tell of an evil that falls upon only the most cursed of men. The native people of North America speak in whispers, late at night, about the terrible spirit of the Wendigo, a ravenous creature who lives only to kill, and to feed. The strength of the creature is the strength of demons, and its endurance is that of a spirit, for in reality it is demon and spirit both. Those unlucky enough to be afflicted with the curse of the Wendigo never know rest, and never know satisfaction, for they are doomed to hunt and to feed without cessation until a strenth greater than theirs can lay them low.

No surprise the packaging doesn't mention how the curse of the Wendigo is passed: can't have a kids' toy talking about cannibalism, can we? The Wendigo comes from Algonquian myths, where it is a malevolent manitou capable of possessing humans. Generally humans who engaged in cannibalism, but also greed; basically, the tale of the Wendigo ends with the moral "play nice and get along."

The "real" Wendigo is supposed to look thin and bony, like a recently exhumed corpse. But this being comics, the Wendigo is a big muscular brute. Well, recent issues of Hulk have shown appropriately emaciated Wendies, but every previous appearance was all beef. In fact, in its first appearance, the Wendigo even dwarfed the Hulk - with their heads at the same height, ol' Jade Jaws' feet only came down to the monster's knees.

This is a very John Byrne version of the Wendigo, with the big brow, small nose and ridiculously flowing mane. Man, no wonder people couldn't tell the difference between White Sasquatch and the Wendigo. If nothing else, at least the paint is much better here than on the ML12 figure - that thing was a mess! The base color is pale gray, with a darker wash bringing out the detail in the sculpted fur. His mouth is pink, and his eyes a vibrant red... if you can actually see them under there.

John Cleary's Wendigo sculpt demands a wider stance than even Larry Craig in the bathroom, but despite that, the figure is still a massive 8" tall. He wouldn't quite translate to the 9'7" claimed on the back of the card, but it is nice and huge. Articulation is a pleasing mix of Hasbro and ToyBiz styles, with balljointed ankles, hips, torso, wrists, elbows, shoulders and head, swivel thighs and double hinged knees. His tail is attached by a peg, but the design of the join means there's no articulation there. His left thigh rides higher on the hip balljoint than his right, preventing you from moving his leg in toward the center very far.

As part of the numberless, Hulk-only series of Marvel Legends, the Wendigo comes with some of this series' BAF, Fin Fang Foom. Actually, he gets two pieces: the right arm and wing. I suppose if you don't want a Wendigo, for some reason, you could have a severely battle-damaged Foom; maybe Thor tore off on arm and a wing in battle or something, who knows? But let's face it: the Wendigo isn't one of the less-desirable figures in the line.

The Wendigo is a classic Marvel baddie, and though he has had a figure before, it wasn't very good - not even by 1997 standards. Rooted hair and blue shadows? No thank you. This new figure is sizeable, has a great sculpt and plenty of movement, and the paint is appropriate, too. I wouldn't say Wendigo is one of the best Marvel Legends ever, but he's definitely a welcome addition to the ranks. Grab your Face-Off Hulk and first appearance Wolverine, and have the three of them fight it out.


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