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New 52 Owlman

DC Comics Super-Villains
by yo go re

If you pollute, the gritty new reboot of Woodsy will ^&$#ing kill you!

From their world to ours, come the sinister Crime Syndicate. Owlman wreaks havoc and no one can stand in his way... not even Batman!

The new Owlman is still Thomas Wayne Jr., but his origin has changed: in the Old 52, his mother and brother Bruce were killed by a crooked police officer, and Thomas Sr. eventually became GCPD commissioner in order to bring his son to justice; in the New 52, his mother was abusive and his father enjoyed killing patients during surgery, so Thomas Jr. conspired with his younger brother and the family butler to kill his parents (unfortunately, Bruce got cold feet, so he ended up dead as well). Then, when he decided he wanted a new brother, he engineered the deaths of Dick Grayson's family so the boy could become his sidekick Talon.

The original Owlman costume was one of the worst things ever designed in comics. Yes, we're including every '90s costume and almost everything Wonder Man has ever worn in that statement - Owlman's outfit was just. That. Bad! Below the neck, it was basically just Batman's Silver Age costume, but then instead of a mask, he wore an owl-shaped hat that left his entire face exposed. His redesign (done by Grant Morrison, not by Frank Quitely, like we said last time) fixed that, but it didn't survive past Flashpoint.

His costume is still basically Batman's, with some cosmetic differences - for instance, a black belt instead of a yellow one, and a single large spike on each glove, rather than several small ones. His cape is similar to the previous version, where it looks like a series of geometric feathers, rather than a single smooth piece of cloth. There's a raised Owl symbol on his chest, and a matching one on his belt buckle.

Owlman's new cowl isn't quite as cool as his last one, but it still beats the original. The "feathers" of his cape continue up his neck, then three ridges run over the top of his head. He has a sharp nose and chin, circular blue lenses, and a flared bit of armor wrapped around his temples that suggest the feathers around an owl's face (but it should come down to the level of the jaw, not end at his cheeks like it does here).

That's not the only thing about this toy that's wrong: there's also the color. Throughout Forever Evil and all its crossovers, Olman's costume had a specific colorscheme, one that this toy doesn't duplicate. The costume was grey, as it is here, but the grey had more of a bluish tint - to the point where, in many panels, it actually appeared to be blue! Also, other than one variant cover for issue #1, his cape (and, by extension, everything on this toy that's black) was a pale gray, closer to silver than black. The early prototype for this figure was shown with that colorscheme, but DC changed it. They made the right choice. This one may be indistinguishable from Batman, but the other looked like some other hero entirely. Surely they could have found some middle ground?

Remember back when DC Direct started,
and their figures could barely move? Those days are long gone. Owlman has a "barbell" neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a hinged torso, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. That's better than Mattel's toys! You're a little bit limited in what you can do with him thanks to his thick cape, but the same thing is always true with Batman, as well, so we really shouldn't mark him down for it. There's really no way around that, unless you're going to make it out of softgoods, which wouldn't really work for Owlman's distinctive back-drape.

Owlman, sadly, has no accessories. He's just like Batman, yes? And Batman should never be sold without at least one batarang, right? Therefore, by the transitive property, Owlman should also have an... owlarang? As it is, he's limited to beating people up with his fists. Let us all shed a tear for him. Maybe he already threw his entire stash at somebody?

The New 52 Owlman design isn't as cool as the last one, but this is a very nice action figure. We do wish some different color choices had been made, and that he came with some accessories, but he's still one hell of a villain.

-- 04/30/15

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