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Nighthawk and Blur

Squadron Supreme
by yo go re

The high-flying Nighthawk and super-speedy Blur ally with each other and the Squadron Supreme to defend their Earth.

Technically they only defend their country - they're part of the Squadron Supreme of America, and once a villain crosses the border, it's someone else's problem. (Though to be fair, just like the US government itself, they have a fairly encompassing view of what counts as an American interest abroad.) While there was already a 616 Kyle Richmond, this isn't him: that one was a rich businessman, while this one is a congressman. And that, technically, may count as a joke: the Squadron Supreme has always been based on the Justice League, and this modern version lives and works in DC. We see you, Jason Aaron!

Like the Superman of Earth-23, Delegate Richmond of the District of Columbia is based loosely on Barack Obama. And also Spider-Man, whose villains he seems to have inherited in this alternate world (though they are acting as direct stand-ins for Batman's rogues, same way Marvel characters were mapped onto Superman's for Hyperion). Like 616 Nighthawk, he has powers derived from some serum that makes him more powerful at night, and also means he only needs to sleep once a month. Lucky!

The Earth-21798 Nighthawk was designed by Ed McGuinness, who seems to have taken cues from both the villainous and heroic costumes his 616 counterpart wore: the suit is midnight blue, with black trunks, gloves, and boots, and a red cape with huge flares sticking up over the shoulders. His golden belt is painted on, joining seamlessly with the stylized bird symbol that covers his abdomen and stretches out around his shoulders. His mask is black, with Wolverine-style wings on the sides that are done in gold. It really is one of the best things any Nighthawk has ever worn. The figure uses Hasbro's newest body, with the shoulder hinges, but now there's a hole in his back to help hold the cape in place - that's new! The figure can have your choice of either fists or open hands, and he also includes three golden "Hawkarangs" that are new for this set.

Not-Really-Batman is paired in this two-pack with Not-Really-Flash, the Blur. The Fastest Mortal Alive, your Friendly Neighborhood Super-Speedster, Stanley Stewart. His "real" 616 counterpart is Speed Demon, so that name wouldn't really work, which is why this time he inherits the supranym from J. Michael Straczynski's 2003 Supreme Power book. Still, it's a shame Marvel's not brave enough to let him retain the original name from 1969. Let the Squadron Supreme's speedster be The Whizzer, you cowards!

Technically, none of the members of this Squadron Supreme are even human: they have no pasts, they have no fingerprints, they have no belly buttons... the government grew them in a lab beneath the Pentagon, "like living loaves of cultured hamburger" as Nighthawk put it. After being brought to life by mystical means, they were then mentally programmed to have the personalities needed to become what the government wanted - in Whizzer Blur's case, that meant giving him Clockwork Orange eye-clamps and immersing him in a non-stop mix of execution videos and secret SHIELD kompromat sex tapes. So, like any random 20 minutes on TikTok.

When Hasbro is planning out a series of figures, one of the things that has to be taken into consideration is what molds are already being used - not because they're worried we'll get bored of the sameness, but because if a certain set of tools is physically filled with one color of plastic, they can't very well fill them with a second color at the same time, can they? Since Doctor Spectrum was already using the plain body, that was out of the question for Blur; and although this figure does have pec hinges, the fact that Nighthawk was already using the new body, that one was unavailable, too. They could have used the same Spidey body that Speed Demon did, but Ed McGuinness is famous for drawing his characters chonky, so they've bumped it up a size. Nice choice! We also get a pair of open hands to replace his fists - make sure you don't confuse his extra hands with Nighthawk's, since they're the same color. Too bad he couldn't get the flat "running" hands. Or an in-scale smartphone, since he's constantly on social media, even in the middle of fights.

The original Squadron Supreme Whizzer wore a yellow costume with white boots and gloves, and a jagged black line across his chest, forming a big W. (No word on if any treasure was buried under it.) Blur keeps the yellow, but loses the white entirely, and now has a thick stripe all the way down his torso, with lightning bolt edges. It's not black, but it's such a dark, dark blue that it will look black under normal lighting conditions. He wears a red belt, which matches the goggles that cover his eyes, and a pair of yellow lightning bolts stick up from his eyebrows. In contrast with the dour Nighthawk, Blur is sculpted smiling.

The Squadron Sinister that fought the Avengers in the '60s was just four members, and these two two-packs have covered them all. The modern Squadron Supreme of America had five (plus even more in their alternate reality), and thankfully Hasbro has already announced Power Princess as part of ML11. Both Nighthawk and Blur have really nice designs that have been translated to toy form well.

Doctor Spectrum | Nighthawk | Hyperion | Power Princess | Blur

-- 12/18/23

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