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Goblin Queen

X-Men '97
by yo go re

Okay, we knew from the character selection in Series 2 of the toyline that Disney+'s X-Men '97 was going to go places. We had no idea though that it was going to be so incredibly good!

A Jean Grey doppelgänger who shakes the X-Men to their core, Goblin Queen becomes a fierce enemy of the X-Men after her mind is corrupted by Mister Sinister.

No TV show spoilers from us, but we trust you already know who the Goblyn Queen is in the comics: after Jean Grey's death, Cyclops left the X-Men to grieve. While on his gentleman's intermission, he met Madelyne Pryor, a woman who happened to have a passing resemblance to Jean. And initially, that's all it was: a pure coincidence; the rest of her story, about being a clone created by Mr. Sinister because he wanted to sap Scott Summers' precious bodily fluids, was only made up later as a way of dealing with the fact that Marvel had brought Jean back so they could launch X-Factor. The cartoon did what the cartoon do, taking the frame of the existing story and telling it differently.

Goblyn Queen (yes, it really was spelled with a Y in the comics, which is very convenient for our purposes when differentiating between the two continuities) does not exactly have what you'd call a "toy friendly" costume. Heck, even the planned direct-to-consumer version had to "PG-down" her design, and that was for a toy that was never going to be sold in a store! The cartoon gives her a more modest costume, not even as outrageous as the comics' Black Queen appearance, but it's still hella sexy without being trashy like the original look. It's an actual garment, not the torn remnants of a dress, and actually serves as something akin to a typical superhero costume: she seems to have a corset and bodice, but it's more contoured than what she wore during the Phoenix Saga, and actually manages to show off more skin because of the way the cape fits it.

One thing that is funny, though, and actually surprised me when the episode aired? The bit of body between her boots and briefs is painted grey on this figure, but was bare pink skin on the cartoon. The pattern is the same, so was that a change made to the cartoon model after the toy was in production, or was it a change Hasbro made on their own to make this more marketable? The grey does just make it look like she's wearing stockings, and I'm not sure her "strawberry ice cream" pink skin would really look any better.

The more they're treated like two separate people, the easier it is to forget that Jean Grey and Madelyne Pryor are meant to be identical - same height, same build, same face. So theoretically, the face we see here is the same we'd see if Jean got angry and decided to let her hair down. The figure's expression is a bit plain - in the show, she's constantly mocking the X-Men, so the toy would look better with a wicked smile and angry brows.

Rather than being entirely separate, Goblin Queen's cape is actually attached to the figure's chest behind that big gem clasp. It flares out to the sides about halfway down its length, making it feel a bit like demon wings. Unfortunately, the figure is already hard to balance, because she's wearing high heels, and now the cape is making her back-heavy, too. She's got all the articulation you expect, but that cape, those heels, and some knees with just a hint of looseness to them combine to make a figure who's not easy to keep upright without support.

The toy includes fists and gesturing hands, plus translucent green energy swirls that contrast with the rest of her colors very nicely. The really exciting accessory, though, is the pack-in of Nathan Christopher Summers - her baby! The Cable-to-be is just a re-release of the Bruce Banner Jr. figurine with a new head, but it's a great thing to include! His swaddling is yellow with white X logos on it (though only on the front, because Hasbro skimped on the paint), and he's got a perfectly content look on his little face. Silly Nathan, don't you know you're going to be sacrificed to demons? This is a time to be crying!

You can tell X-Men '97 is very good, because people are trying to come up with contratian reasons to dislike it. "It's done with CGI instead of 2D!" Not it's not. "They just reused the opening unchanged!" No they didn't. "The animation's no better than the old show." Wow, tell me you've never seen either show without telling me you've never seen either show. There are sequences in Episode 3, "Fire Made Flesh," that are going to stand among the best animation of the year, period. A legitimate argument could be made that the show is moving too fast, burning through stories too quickly (with its version of "Inferno" being a fine example), but the show is overall incredible, delivering a restart in a way that no one thought could actually be done, surpassing what came before. This may not be the perfect Goblyn Queen action figure, but it is very good and fills a very specific Sexy-Jean-Grey-Clone-sized hole in our collections.

-- 04/22/24

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