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Uncle Sam

DC Signature Collection
by yo go re

Whose uncle is this, anyway? Bandit Keith's?

When America faces aggression, the spirit of Uncle Sam - powered by faith and patriotism - inhabits the body of a worthy American, giving him great strength and invulnerability. During World War II, Uncle Sam led the Freedom Fighters - a team of superheroes dedicated to fighting the Nazis. Today, his spirit battles on, inhabiting new hosts when needed. Inspired by his example, a new generation of Freedom Fighters follows his command to protect their country.

Uncle Sam (the real one, not the comic character) was not the first personification of America: before him we had Columbia, a sexy dame who dates from the colonial period, and during the Revolutionary War we got "Brother Jonathan." The earliest known reference to Uncle Sam was in 1813 in the Troy Post, and the name was nothing more than a play on the letters "U.S." - and the name was only used by newspapers that were opposed to the War of 1812, so really he embodied all the negative aspects of the government. Now he walks around in parades and everybody loves him, because we have a history of co-opting people's attempt to make fun of us. Sometimes because we're too dumb to get the joke.

The comic character was created by Will Eisner, and was based on the depiction of Uncle Sam by JM Flagg. Flagg used his own face as model for his poster, but comic art isn't that specific, so the figure doesn't try too hard to duplicate that. He looks old and angry, as he should, but the fact that his white hair is worn long pegs him as a modern Sam.

Below the neck, this figure is identical to DCUC Series 10 Joker. Well, nearly identical: he doesn't have a flower on his lapel, and he has bare hands instead of gloves. It's a perfect choice for Uncle Sam, since it already had a vest and a tuxedo jacket with long tails. The spats on the shoes add a touch of class, but the floppy bow tie says "I know how to take it easy."

His jacket is dark blue, while his vest is lighter. The red stripes on his pants are painted cleanly, and line up even over the joints. One of the red stripes on his hat comes down over the blue band slightly, but not enough to be a noticeable flaw. He has white stars on the hat, and his tie is red. Basically, it's exactly what you'd want a figure of Uncle Sam to look like. One thing we would have really appreciated, though? A new right hand with a pointing finger, for "I want you" poses.

Uncle Sam has no accessories, but he does have something no other DC Signature Collection figure has had yet: a second character. Displaying the sense of charity that makes America great, Sam has opted to share space in his tray with his fellow Freedom Fighter, Doll Man.

Doll Man was also created by Will Eisner, and was the first shrinking superhero. He got his powers from a chemical he drank, and could will himself to contract to a height of just 6". And really, just six inches: unlike a lot of size-changing heroes, Doll Man couldn't stop anywhere between his extremes; it was full-size human or 6", nothing else. That means this figure, at 1½" tall, is three times the size it should be. Pretend we're seeing him in mid-shrink (or mid-grow, as the case may be).

Doll Man wears a blue unitard that leaves his arms and legs bare, as well as a giant red cape. Like Atom and Elasti-Girl before him, Doll Man is unarticulated, so he just stands around. His cape does make him slightly back-heavy, so if his legs are warped at all, he'll tend to fall over.

The painting on the back of the package, by Mike Thompson, is up to the high standards we usually expect from DCSC. Uncle Sam has a dynamic pose, sort of bending his knees and twisting toward the camera at the same time. He's holding the brim of his hat, presumably so it doesn't fall off his head, and the tails of his coat fly out behind him as he turns. His face is closer to JM Flagg's painting than the toy is, but he still has the long hair.

Naturally, Doll Man is included in the image as well. He's leaping at the viewer, with his cape billowing out behind him. Judging by Sam's open right hand, it's entirely possible he was carrying Doll Man and just threw him at us. That's the Spirit of America for you: always willing to give the little guy a hand.

Uncle Sam is not an expected choice for an action figure - the character just isn't very recognizable (as ludicrous as that sounds). He'd be a great base for a custom Abraham Lincoln action figure, but as far as superheroes go? Not a must-have. On the other hand, he makes for a neat seasonal decoration, like Santa Claus. We do have to ask, though: why the heck did Mattel release him now, instead of, oh, say, in July?

-- 12/13/12

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