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Marvel Universe
by yo go re

There's a persistent email rumor that the word "picnic" is secretly racist, being derived from the phrase "pick a nig(ger)." White families would pack food either when attending a lynching or a slave auction, and that's where we get the word from. That claptrap is just as false as the idea that a duck's quack doesn't echo. "Picnic" comes from the French "piquenique" (from piquer, "to peck") and originally refered to what we'd recognize as a potluck dinner. It first appeared in print in 1748, approximately 60 years after it was coined, but didn't find its way into the English language until the 1800s. The email forward is just a case of oversensitive people believing things and reacting without thought.

Dirk Garthwaite never needed a reason to be a bad guy. For as long as he can remember, he's been filled with anger, and determined to make everyone else suffer for it. Even before Asgardian magic turned him into a being powerful enough to challenge even the mighty Thor, he got his kicks by robbing people and destroying their stuff. Flush with superhuman power, he takes great joy in trashing things on an epic scale. Together with his partners in the Wrecking Crew, he's nearly a match for the Avengers.

As far as villains go, the Wrecker is actually pretty successful. He was originally just a human construction worker fired for being violent. He committed petty robberies, until he broke into a hotel room where a de-powered Loki was staying and knocked him out. He put on Loki's helmet and accidentally received a power boost from Loki's ally, Norn Queen Karnilla. He proceeded to beat Thor several times by himself - even killing him once - and after joing the rest of the Wrecking Crew, he also managed to take out Hercules and She-Hulk. He once beat Spider-Man three times in one day! He may be a second-rate villain, but he's got one heck of a win/loss record.

Wrecker was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, so he has a fairly mundane costume - it was originally just a green two-piece with a purple belt and ski mask. This is a more modern take on the design, with heavy gloves, big boots with laces, and large buckle holding the belt closed. His shirt is more like a military jacket now, with a short collar and a large flap covering the entire front of the chest. It's the same general design, just given some better details. The sculpt is very good, making the character's clothes look like a thick material rather than typical superhero spandex. He looks like a working man, and that's how it should be.

The paint is handled well. The green and purple are good colors, and contrast each other nicely. The laces and soles of his boots are black, and there's a light green for the details on his chest. His silver buckle is clean. The face, which is sculpted with a lot of personality in that big scowl, is very clean - eyes, teeth and lips are all done perfectly.

Wrecker's articulation is good, of course. In fact, it's a bit above average for the Marvel Universe line. His head is a balljoint, and there's a hinge below that in the neck. He has swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel gloves, that usual swivel/hinge torso joint, balljointed hips, swivel thighs (something we don't see often), double-hinged knees and swivel/hinge ankles. This is the only member of the Wrecking Crew who gets a unique body, but he's just as good as the others.

Wrecker's weapon of choice is a crowbar, which is another one of those words that people like to claim has a racist name (and there, you thought our opening paragraph wasn't going to have anything to do with the rest of the review). Somehow they've got it in their minds that "crowbar" is somehow related to "Jim Crow," which is just stupid: it's called a crowbar because the end resembles a crow's beak or foot, and it's been that way since at least 1400, 330 years before the word was ever applied to blacks. If anyone insists the tool be called a prybar, hit them with one. The accessory is gigantic, as Kirby drew it: if this were supposed to be a real crowbar, it would be the right size for a 12" figure. His paper accessories aren't much to talk about, and there's a now-useless code for the Fury Files site.

None of the Wrecking Crew has ever had an action figure before, so it's really cool that Hasbro has made all of them in the Marvel Universe line. Sure, in order to get Thunderball, Piledriver and Bulldozer you had to buy Comic Packs with some less-than impressive figures, but it's great to have them all at last. In fact, hard as it may be to believe, the Wrecking Crew is the first team to be completed in the Marvel Universe scale! We don't have a complete Fantastic Four, X-Men team or Avengers roster - not even the two-man Heroes for Hire - but the Wrecking Crew is all here and ready to throw down with all your heroes.

-- 11/08/10

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