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Sinister Villains

Spider-Man: Homecoming
by yo go re

In honor of Horror Month, here's a six-foot-tall insect.

When the battle for justice is underway, artificial enhancements make these villains stronger, faster, and even more of a threat.

Abner Jenkins was an aircraft mechanic who was bored with his job. So he did what any of us would do: he built a suit of armor and picked a fight with the Fantastic Four to become famous (remember, this was before American Idol, so "defeating superheroes" was the popular way of showing off). He lost, naturally, and turned to a life of crime, eventually becoming a foe of Spider-Man instead of the Human Torch. And while we've had figures of armors he never wore and characters who aren't him and the girl who took over the identity after he became the heroic Mach-I, but we haven't had a figure of the "real" Beetle since 1997.

We've seen Beetle's arms and legs before, but the trunk is new. He wears a belt with large bumps all the way around it, and the chest has an angular sculpt, rather than looking like painted anatomy. The shoulders, in particular, look like armor, with distinct straight lines and corners, rather than typical rounded swells. There are circles sculpted on the front and back, similar to the peg-caps often visible on older action figures, but they're just that: sculpted, not real. The idea is to make them look like articulated pieces of an armored suit, not parts of an action figure.

The original Beetle suit had a helmet that looked rather like a big overturned bucket, like a 1950s spaceman or something. The redesigned version is much cooler, with a green dome and a smooth, V-shaped purple mask covering the front. The only facial features are the two golden eyes bulging out on the front. This is definitely the look people think of when they think of the Beetle.

Part of the reason Beetle got a new torso is to accommodate his wings. They're the same pink ones the previous Beetle had, meaning they originated with Wasp. Those needed some place to plug in, so a new body was needed. The wings have swivel/hinges where they join the body, and swivels for the smaller wings that poke off the larger pair.

The wings themselves plug into a large purple disc on the character's back (which, on mine, isn't glued in securely, so it comes out of the body more easily than the wings come out of it), while two holes right below the base of his neck allow you to plug in the two halves of the shell that covers his back - each half attaches on its own swivel/hinge joint, so it can be raised out of the way for him to fly. On real beetles, this "shell" is actually two hardened wings, with only a single functioning wing beneath - so technically, Beetle having two pink wings is biologically incorrect.

Like his swap figure, Tombstone, Beetle comes with one of the turbines from Vulture's wings. The right wing, in this case. Considering the character's history as an airline mechanic and an engineer, this absolutely makes sense as something for him to have. If, of course, you don't plan to build the full set.

Twenty years it's been since there was a figure of the Beetle, and that one was flawed even for the era of its origin - as part of the "Spider Force" subline, he came with bug armor rather than his usual equipment, meaning this is the first legit Beetle there's been. Lucky for us he's so good.

-- 10/16/17

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