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Hydro-Man

Spider-Man Classic
by yo go re

For every great villain like Green Goblin or Dr. Octopus, Spidey is saddled with a dozen losers like Kangaroo or the Looter.

Hydro-Man, sort of When ship worker Morrie Bench was accidentally exposed to a combination of radiation and rare gasses, he was transformed into Hyrdo-Man! Able to turn his body into a water-like substance and project powerful blasts, Hydro-Man chose to use his new abilities for a life of crime. Moving through small holes and cracks as easily as water, burglaries and other thefts became simple, and traditional jails couldn't hold him! Defeated by Spider-Man on several occasions, Hydro-Man has been known to team-up with other super-villains against Spidey.

Hydro-Man was always pretty much the low-rent version of Sandman: a guy who's not too bright gets powers that make him pretty much impervious to harm, able to shape his body into anything at will, but all he ever tries to do is pull some small-time heists. In fact, since Morrie was introduced at the tail end of Sandman's stint as a foe for the Fantastic Four, it seems likely that he really was just created as a replacement.

Amazing Spider-Man #315 The classic Hydro-Man costume is simple - a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Kinda dull, actually, which is probably why that's not the outfit he's wearing here. Yes, it's disappointing that we won't get the iconic version, but at least this is a comic-accurate look. In a move that would really help him ditch the "made-in-Taiwan version of Sandman" rep, he joined the Wizard's Frightful Four, taking Sandman's place on the team. Way to go, Morrie! Great career move.

Wizard provided him with a new costume designed to increase his abilities, and that's what we see here. It's more technological than his usual outfit, but we're not talking Iron Man levels of detail. There's a ribbed section running up the middle of the suit, metal bands on his forearms and he's wearing big boots. Don't forget the belt, collar and the weird disc on his chest. Because when you've got a guy who can turn his entire body into the most fluid of liquids, what you really want to do is encase him in a bunch of inflexible steel. No wonder these guys always lose.

Ringo is the man This costume is actually fairly new - it was designed by Mike Wieringo for Fantastic Four #514, released in 2004. Now, 'Ringo usually has a great flair for designing "costumey" costumes, but Karl Kesel, co-writer of the story arc in question, wanted something more in the New X-Men vein; something that didn't look like a costume. Mike's original designs were actually pretty decent, but Paco Medina handled the final art on the book, and between him and the unimpressive coloring, the Frightful Four looked less like villains and more like circus clowns.

Even Morrie looks confused and disgusted by this figure The sculpt of the figure is pretty generic - this costume has only been drawn by two guys, ever, so why doesn't it look even slightly like their art? Why is Hydro-Man so skinny, when he was big in the book? What's up with with the goofy face? Where are the tubes running down the outside of his arms, which would have given us an action feature without ruining the articulation?

splashy Hydro-Man moves at the toes, ankles, knees, thighs, hips and waist - a fine start, to be sure. Above the waist, however, he's got a balljointed head and peg shoulders. That's it. See, HM's got a water-shooting action feature, which renders his torso and arms into inflexible hollow tubes that lead to a pin hole in each fist. Pull the figure apart at the waist, and his torso fits on a 5¾" column of water that also serves as the pump and storage reservoir for the water.

Spidey sez 'You should be embarrassed by how much you suck.' The column's sculpt is okay, but you really can't capture the look of flowing water with a solid piece of plastic. There were apparently some rumors that the blast would be cast in translucent plastic to help "sell" it as water, but no such luck. It's painted nicely, with a fade from dark to light blue. The cap on the bottom screws on, and a string keeps it from getting lost. Still don't see why he couldn't have wrist joints. A lot of custom figures use Namor's display base as "legs," and that seems to work pretty well.

ToyBiz really had the right idea with Sandman: interchangeable parts to show his powers. Hydro-Man doesn't need to actually shoot water any more than Cyclops' eyes need to actually light up. Yes, this costume is more toyetic than the usual look and the action feature will appeal to the kiddies, but collectors really got shorted this time. Decent articulation might have made up for the bad design choices, but then he wouldn't be able to squirt like a champ. I guess if you want a Morrie who actually looks like Morrie, you'll have to customize one.


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