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Black Widow

Marvel Select
by yo go re

In my review of the Marvel Select Wolverine figure, I talked about how the $20 pricetag is the line's major detraction, about how the lack of articulation didn't warrant the high pricetag. They're slowly winning me over, though.

The second woman to claim the mantle of Black Widow, Yelena Belova is also a graduate of the Moscow-based covert-training academy known as the Red Room. Hostile to her predecessor Natasha Romanov, Yelena has been conditioned to believe that the designation is hers by right. A child playing an adult's game - Yelena is easily tricked and too trusting. Her superiors in the GRU wield her like a weapon, playing on her patriotism and her love of Mother Russia. Yelena's physical strength and stamina is equal to that of an Olympic athlete. She is also a master martial artist and has extensive espionage training. Hungry and passionate, Yelena has not forgotten what the Black Widow should be at her core: a spy.

Pressed back against a stone wall, the Black Widow is standing with her feet spread wide for stability and one hip cocked to the side. She's wearing her belly-baring leather uniform and has commandeered two guns. Despite the package's claim that this figure is based on the Pale Little Spider series, it seems more likely that she's taken from her introductory miniseries.

The concept of Marvel Select is a line of collector-aimed figures representing a specific artist's work, and the Widow definitely falls right in line. Rather than the art of Igor Kordey (artist of the credited Pale Little Spider) or Greg Horn (cover artist and the guy whose work is on the packaging) however, Yelena is obviously based on the work of J.G. Jones, the talent behind her first appearance. She's got the curly hair that so far only Jones has given her, and even her weapons and accessories are found in his comics. Why Kordey got his name on the box is a mystery.

Yelena was sculpted by Steve Kiwus, and she's looking very nice. Her costume is even less practical than Natasha's, and since Natasha wears a skintight black catsuit, that's really saying something! She does have fancy technological shoes, which (if Black Panther is any indication) are probably super helpful for sneaking, but she ups the "sexy, not stealthy" quotient of the existing Black Widow costume by turning it into a belly-baring number. The shirt stops immediately below her breasts, and the pants are low enough that we can tell she waxes. It does allow for a nice abdomen sculpt, though - she's even got the "Dimples of Venus"! Rowr! But in case anybody is thinking about getting handsy, she's armed with a pistol, a machine gun, and a knife that fits in the sheath on her leg. There are also what I think are three fancy grenades hanging off her belt.

Like all the Marvel Select figures, Black Widow is sort of short in the articulation department. Taking a cue from McToys' "ultra-action" Lotus, her legs are a solid piece, with the first articulation point at her waist. She also moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows and wrists, as well as an ingenious chest joint: Widow has a balljoint concealed beneath the edge of her zip-up top, which allows her a nice range of motion without even being visible. Sculpted in a 7" scale, Yelena is nearly 6¾" tall (which would make her 5'7" in real life).

The stone wall is fairly nice, but the floor is remarkably plain. The set includes three weathered steel drums, all rigged with explosives. If ToyBiz had just 'fessed up to the fact that the figure was based on the original miniseries, I'd say that they were filled with the defective supersoldier formula, but for now it remains a mystery. The base measures 6½" tall by 7⅜" wide and 4¼" deep, and has has a wall-mounting bracket.

The Marvel Select series is intended to eventually have 36 figures released one per month for three years. All the Select figures share the same oversized blister cards with nice graphics on the spine, allowing MOCers to display them like books on a shelf.

The biggest factor working against the Marvel Select line is the large pricetag. These would all be pretty good $10 figures, but right now Marvel and Diamond aren't giving us very much for our money.

-- 06/16/03

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