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Batman: Jason Todd

DC Direct Batman Reborn
by yo go re

Grant Morrison's run on Batman has been, at best, mediocre. There are some not-idiotic ideas (probably), but the writing is his usual series of stunningly bad gaps in the narrative and allusions to things that only he understands. To give you an idea, the past few months of the main Batman title have been dedicated to explaining just what the hell happened in the execrable Batman: RIP. There is no clearer sign of bad writing than the company that published it spending time and money desperately trying to make sense of it well after the fact.

Pushed over the edge of sanity, Jason Todd couldn't watch as Gotham City erupted into chaos and spiraled out of control. Instead, he picked up Batman's cowl himself, becoming an even darker version of the Dark Knight. With his own version of the Batcave deep within the subway tunnels of Gotham, Jason Todd will do anything to hold onto the Mantle of the Bat.

This figure is part of DC Direct's "Batman: Reborn" line, which is stupid. (Not the line, his placement in it.) Why is it stupid? Because Jason didn't wear this costume in "Batman: Reborn" (which was just a branding event, not a real series or crossover) - he wore it during the craptacular and completely unnecessary Battle for the Cowl, and was back to being Red Hood by the time the so-so "Reborn" logo began appearing on the books. Artemis may have grumbled about Batgirl being part of this series, but at least she actually is part of "Reborn." Jason Todd was just thrown in because there was nowhere else to put him.

Jason Todd, for those who don't know, was the second Robin, the one beaten to death by the Joker because 28 people didn't like him. [72 people --ed.] He was brought back to life because Superboy punched time. The less you know about it, the better. Anyway, Jason's time as Robin was characterized by him being rougher and more violent than Batman liked, so his reimagining of himself as Batman is similarly... harsh. The base is the typical grey bodysuit, with black gloves, boots and trunks. His utility belt is metallic blue, and rather than pouches or capsules, it seems to be ringed by canisters (or really large bullets). There are holsters on the belt, a sheath on his right boot, and a bandolier across his chest.

The sculpt was handeled by Robert Lynders, a name we haven't heard before. Look for it in the future, though, because he did a great job. The cape, with its pointed shoulders and leathery texture, wraps around his lower legs. The costume has enough superfluous details to make it clear it's made of cloth, not body paint: small wrinkles across the muscles, the seemingly random seams around his thighs, the quilted sections on his biceps, everything. Even the cut of the gloves and the texture on the palms on his hands is good.

We can't say if the comics ever explained the purpose of that metal facemask Jason wore, but you can imagine it's for filtering the air or altering his voice or something. If you don't like it, though, it's removable: pop it off (in truth, you'll have a harder time getting it to stay on than removing it) and you'll see his smiling face behind. He has dark red eyes, and his bat-ears are very high on the head and a bit forward - in fact, they're more like devil horns, which is appropriate since the story in Batman #666 showed us a future in which someone wearing a very similar Batsuit claimed to be the Anti-Christ.

In addition to the metal mask, Batman has a knife and two guns: yes, in his effort to distance himself from Bruce, Jason uses deadly force; and not just on criminals - on anyone who gets in his way. The guns fit in the holsters, and while they're clearly a matched set, they're not identical. One has four small barrels, the other has one large one. The hands are designed to hold the guns, but as a consequence, he can't really hold his knife at all. He's also got a black disc base that doesn't seem to serve any purpose.

So far what we've described is a pretty average DC Direct Batman, and if that's all we were getting, I'd probably regret my purchase, but there's more to Jason Todd than a design and a sculpt. No, what he has is articulation. Like every DCD figure, he has a balljointed neck and shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel wrists and a T-crotch. Okay, fair enough, but the list doesn't stop there. How about an ab-hinge, which they haven't done in years? How about thigh swivels hidden by his trunks? How about a waist? A waist! Wow. Who released this toy, and what have they done with the real DC Direct?

Every so often, an idea makes it out into the world and can't be stopped. Frustrated by being roped into an X-Men crossover that none of the characters he was writing would actually be appearing in, Peter David made an off-hand comment that they should have Magneto pull out Wolverine's skeleton. He meant it as a joke, but next year, that's exactly what happened. The idea was out there, and it just snowballed. Similarly, Jeph Loeb never meant for Jason Todd to really return in "Hush," but once the idea was out there, it was only a matter of time before it became real. And with him kicking around the DCU and Bruce temporarily out of the picture, having the Bat-family's red-headed stepchild try to muscle his way into the role was just a natural. It may have been a short-lived move, but this is a damn impressive toy.

-- 09/03/10

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