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Prehistoric Batman

DC Direct Return of Bruce Wayne
by yo go re

At the end of Final Crisis, Darkseid apparently killed Batman. They found a body and everything! But it turned out he'd actually only been thrown back in time and had to find his way back. To the future!

Bruce's first stop on his magical history tour was the dawn of man. Which means it was either 35,000 years ago if you have more than a third grade education, and 5,999 years and 51 weeks ago if you don't. He met Anthro, the first boy on Earth (in that he was the first Cro-Magnon born, and thus the first homo sapien), and despite having lost his memories was still together enough to kick the butt of the leader of a comparatively young Vandal Savage.

Prehistoric Batman (or, as DC Direct insists on calling him, "Batman: Prehistoric") was sculpted by Ray Villafane, and is based on designs by Andy Kubert. It's certainly not the costume worn inside the comic - since Batman was only in prehistoric times for a few days, at the most, he continued to wear his normal trunks and boots. This is more like a Bruce Wayne who's been living in the past for months or years. He's fashioned himself some fur boots (with claws on the toes) and pseudo glove-spikes, and he's wearing a loincloth. He even put together a paleolithic utility belt: there are a few pouches tied to it, three bone claws and even a coil of rope; so in other words, capsules, batarangs and a grappling hook. Awesome! His "cape" is a giant bat skin, from a beast killed by Vandal Savage: Bruce stole it to better intimidate Savage when they fought. Cleverly, a normal-sized bat acts as the clasp, hanging in just the right spot over Bruce's bare chest.

The anatomy is good, which is almost a must in this case: the figure really only has one pose, all hunched over; therefore it falls to Villfane to give him even a hint of dynamism. It's one thing to sculpt someone standing straight up, it's quite another to sculpt him in an active pose - particularly one we're all familiar with. If anything was wrong, it would stick out blatantly. But no, this is good work. Even the slight twist to his torso looks natural. Granted, it would be better if he weren't stuck in this pose, but things could certainly be worse.

Since the "cape" is PVC, you can light the bat head away to see Bruce's head beneath it. While the expression is angry enough to belong to Batman, the shape of the face seems wrong. It's very round, which doesn't look like the kind of face we've seen poking out of a cowl for all these years. His hair is long, again suggesting he's been in the past for some time.

Prehistoric Batman has two accessories: a stone club, and a flint knife. The end of the knife pops off so you can fit it in his hand, but it also falls off easily. His articulation is plentiful, but would be better if he didn't have such an extreme pose. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, swivel hips and swivel boots. The paint is mostly good, but his skin is rather sallow, much like the Black Lantern figures. The prototype had painted nipples, but the final piece does not.

There's a problem with Batman meeting Anthro: while Batman was displaced in time, he wasn't displaced in space; in other words, he fought Darkseid in Bludhaven, so he got sent back to the area that would one day be Bludhaven, got it? That means he was in America, while the Neanderthals never made it out of Europe. That makes Anthro, the first Cro-Magnon, about 28,000 years out of place. Still, it's a comicbook, not a science journal, so we can overlook things when they make for a better story. We can't overlook how preposed this toy is, though - it's a great sculpt of a cool design, but it's more of a display piece than an action figure.

-- 10/01/11

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