In Part 1 of our ongoing series, "DC Direct schools Mattel," we compared Jokers, and we're back to familiar territory for Part 3. Mattel's Joker is a current-day interpretation of the character, while DC's first effort had a more classic Silver Age look. It remained to be seen how they would handle the modern maniacal Clown Prince of Crime.
Fans got their answer in the first series of DC Direct's "Hush" line, based on the best-selling story arc by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee. The story often seemed like a glorified excuse to parade all of Batman's biggest villains across Jim Lee's drawing table, probably never moreso than in issue #614, which featured the Joker.
Joker added nothing to the story, didn't progress the plot or even offer much of a red herring. He was just there so Lee could draw him, and even that wasn't very impressive - sure, the design gave him a beak-like nose and a long pointy chin that made him look really creepy, but it seemed to be exaggerated just for exaggeration's sake. Yes, Joker is a force of psychotic nature, but he's still human.
DC Direct's main-man sculptor Tim Bruckner did a great job of giving us a figure that is definitely influenced by Lee's design, but doesn't look quite as cartoony. Joker's wearing his traditional purple suit, orange shirt and green vest and tie. His shoes curl up into little elf points at the toe and his white spats match his gloves nicely. For an insane mass murderer constantly on the run, Joker's sure got one snappy sense of style.
Particularly good is Joker's headsculpt. Just a bit meatier than Lee's design, Joker still has the wicked, angular nose and chin. His eyebrows are contorted to extreme points above his red-rimmed eyes and his crimson lips are pulled back to flash purple gums and yellowing teeth. In a really clever touch, his bright green hair curls up into two tiny devil horns, adding to his sinister look.
The Hush figures all come with a display base shaped like the Batman logo. Five inches wide and 3" deep, the base is only about 3/8" thick, but looks nice beneath the figure.
Joker has no accessories, but he is clutching an oversized gun with a "bang" flag extending from the barrel. Though the gun is a molded part of the figure, Joker's got enough articulation that it won't get in the way: he moves at the knees, hips, waist, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, neck and jaw.
Though the jaw looks a bit "bulldog-ish" from the front, it blends okay when viewed from the side. In an unexpected move, Joker's waist is one large balljoint, which means you can tilt him however you like. The figure is nearly 6 1/2" tall, about an inch bigger than his Mattel counterpart.
Unlike Mattel, DC Direct spent the extra four cents to give their Joker a paint wash. Instead of a plain white face, he's got hints of pink that make it look like his skin has been bleached white instead of just painted, which is a very nice touch. Even the flower on his lapel gets three colors.
You can't judge this figure by its pictures, or even in the box - it's one you really have to play with to appreciate. I only got the figure, in fact, because my shop was only selling the "Hush" line in full sets. My least-wanted figure turned out to be a nice suprise, and probably the best Joker ever made.
What's your favorite Joker story? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.