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Electric Superman

DC Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

In the 1990s, as part of an effort to revitalize their older superheroes, DC Comics featured big "event" storylines such as the Death of Superman and the "Knightfall" saga. Whatever you might think of the stories, they produced characters who were both memorable and visually interesting. Three of the main players in those stories - Doomsday, Bane, and Azrael - have already been immortalized by the Four Horsemen in plastic. So it should come as no surprise we get Superman as he looked in his Blue and Red periods.

In the late 1990s, DC stripped Superman of his familiar powers and gave him a whole assortment of energy-based abilities that were intended to be a natural evolution of his powers. He also got a brand-new blue suit. And then he split into two Supermen, the blue one and a red version. It's sort of complicated.

Superman's awesome abilities were sapped completely by the star-consuming Sun-Eater! An attempt to reinstate his superpowers transformed the Man of Steel into two energy beings: the rational Superman Blue and the hotheaded Superman Red! Eventually, the equal-but-opposite Supermen were merged following a battle with the Millennium Giants. As the single Superman absorbed the rays of Earth's yellow sun, he was restored to his superpowered self.

Of course Supes reverted to his traditional costume and old-school powers; he's an icon, after all. Nonetheless, Superman Blue/Red is known well enough by fans to make for a legitimate variant (and an easy retool).

Cases of DCUC2 came with both Superman variants, packed in equal numbers. I decided to give away the red one because the blue one was the "standard" outfit of the storyline, worn for most of the outfit's run. The red one only appeared after Superman split into two beings. Like Red Tornado, Supes Blue is molded almost entirely from a single color. This gives him a more toylike feel than some of the other figures, but I like the result. It gives the figure a solid feel and presence. There does seem to be a very light wash on the limbs.

The body sculpt uses the same sculpt as Batman, Red Tornado, and Orion from the first series, and it has even fewer bells and whistles than those figures did. Supes is rocking a full-body spandex suit with some headgear. The only new sculpting is the head, which features a good rendition of Clark's chiseled American good looks.

The paint, as mentioned, is limited to the white markings and the details on the head. For a mass-market figure, it's all done quite well. My only complaint is the tendency of the paint to scrape and bunch up around the h-joint of the hips when the leg is rotated out horizontally, an issue which seems to happen with several DCUC figures. As a rather generic figure, Superman has the standard DCUC articulation: balljoints at the neck and shoulders, hinge joints at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, post-hinge joints at the hips (for balljoint-style range of motion), and swivel joints at the wrists, biceps, thighs and waist.

Supes is a wee bit light in the accessory department. You could count the blue energy attachment on his back as an accessory, though it isn't removable. His two crackling-energy wrist gauntlets are, however. They're all molded in clear blue plastic, and there's the modified "electric" S-symbol he had on his chest repeated in the center of the blue flames on the back. I'm usually not a fan of sculpted energy or flames, but leave it to Mattel and the Horsemen to create something that actually works well. Of course, he also comes with Gorilla Grodd's left arm.

While Supes Blue isn't exactly the most popular character choice for an action figure, he's an excellent example of one. Whatever you might think of the concept, he makes for a pretty neat action figure.

-- 09/07/08

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