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Wild West Batman

DC Direct Return of Bruce Wayne
by yo go re

It was revealed, eventually, that Batman's trip to "prehistoric" times was actually circa 9,000 BC, which is neither prehistoric nor even remotely close to when the first Cro-Magnon would have been alive. He then leapt forward to 1640, followed by a jump of only 78 years, taking him to 1718. His next pit stop was somewhere between 1870 and 1880, though this one seemed to break the rules of his journey.

Here's how it works: Bruce leaves one time period, and appears in the next in the same spot he was before. He may spend days in-period, or just a few hours, and then he's off again. His first appearance (in the comic) was some undefinied homestead "out west." And when he appeared he was wearing full cowboy regalia, not the tattered remains of his puritan clothes, suggesting he'd had time (and money) to get himself outfitted in period attire.

So he shows up near one of Gotham's rivers (or its coastline, depending on where you think Gotham City is), then gets some clothes, heads out west for some unknown purpose, meets a woman who needs his help, then rides back into Gotham hunting the men who'd fled there. Seems needlessly circuitous, doesn't it? He spent a lot of time in the late 19th century, and spent half his time going back over his own tracks while he was there.

Like the previous figures in this series, Wild West Batman is based on the design work of Andy Kubert. Unlike the other figures in the series, though, this is basically what he wore in the actual comic, too. It's even closer than Puritan Batman's outfit was. He's wearing a black duster, though this time it's the shoulder flaps and not the lower edge that gets the bat-scallops. He has a grey vest over a beige shirt, and grey pants beneath black chaps. His cape clasp, the buckles on his boots, the buttons on his chaps and the details on the back of the gloves are golden batsymbols, and his "spurs" are half-symbols. He has a holster on his hip, but there's no gun inside: just golden batarangs.

Bruce is wearing a cowboy hat, with the brim turned up to resemble bat wings. He's wearing a black mask, like a stagecoach robber's, rather than the Lone Ranger or something. This figure was sculpted by Mike Locascio, who also did Witch Hunter Batman - not only do the two share similar poses, the faces are close enough to show that these are the same guy.

Wild West Batman doesn't have as extreme a pose as the first two figures in this series, but his articulation is still crap. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel wrists, H-hips and swivel knees. Yes, swivel knees. Like those even count. The lack of elbows is just insipid, but it's the head that's really insulting: while it's a balljoint, it's designed terribly; with the head pushed all the way back, he's still looking at the ground; push it forward, and his chin rests against his chest. What is he, sleeping? This is piss-poor toy design, DC Direct, below even the already low standards we've come to expect from you.

The figure does include one accessory, a whip. It's got a very nice sculpt that makes it look like wrapped leather, and is cast from PVC so it flexes naturally. Unfortunately, the handle is too small for the size of his hand, so he doesn't actually hold it securely. You have to jam the butt knot up into his palm, like a professional whipcracker would hold it.

In all four of these "Return of Bruce Wayne" figure reviews, we've been really hard on the figures. They're nicely sculpted, but preposed and highly immobile, so we can't tell you to buy them unequivocally - that said, I'm really glad I got them, and wish they'd do some more. We need Hard Boiled Batman! Of course, they'd need three more figures to round out the assortment, and there aren't that many left. The Archivist suit is stupid, the Hyper-Adapter Armor isn't very interesting (but might work), and after that he's back in his normal costume. Okay, so they could do the Victorian Batman Kubert designed when he misunderstood when the detective story was set, but that's still only two potential figures, so the set will forever be incomplete. None of these have been very good toys, but the designs are so cool it's easy to overlook. Some fans have compared these figures to the "Legends of Batman" line, which is not totally undeserved, but is that really such a bad thing? It's nice to see good creativity with an old line.

-- 10/22/11

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