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DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

Tick tock, Clarice.

In the late 1930s, chemist Rex Tyler developed the revolutionary vitamin "Miraclo" and decided to make himself the first test subject. The drug gave him increased strength, stamina, speed, agility and limited invulnerability, but only for an hour at a time. Rex decided to use these abilities to fight crime as Hourman, joining the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron to help America throughout world War II and beyond.

Oh, a revolutionary "vitamin," was it? Not likely! Vitamins are vital nutrients that a living organism can't synthesize naturally; drugs are substances that alter normal bodily function. Since Miraclo gave the user superpowers for 60 minutes at a time, that seems to fall pretty squarely under the "alters the body" umbrella. Unless you want us to believe that superpowers are natural in the human body, and need only to be unlocked by the proper application of Vitamin E or something.

Hourman uses one of the smaller bodies, but he's still quite muscular. Hourman is one of the luckiest Golden Age characters, in that his costume isn't a giant embarrassment today. Black and yellow is a classy combination, one that isn't often seen in comics unless the character is bee-themed. The little bit of red on his belt and boots adds just enough contrast, too - this is a more modern take, since the original boots stopped at the ankle, not the calf. It's a bit unusual that he doesn't wear gloves, but would an average guy in the 1940s be worried about fingerprints? Yes, they'd been a regular part of policework for decades, but they weren't as easy to check as they are today.

Hourman's disguise is a combination mask/hood, which is done really well for this figure. Remember how abysmal DC Direct's last attempt was? Well, no worries here: the Four Horsemen know what they're doing. The hoodmask looks like real cloth hanging over a human head, just as it should. The collar of his cape is a separate piece between the head and torso.

Rex has no accessories, but he does include the hourglass he wears on a cord around his neck. In the comics, it really was just a legitimate hourglass: it had nothing to do with his powers, he didn't keep his pills in there... he just draped it on his neck as a decoration. The piece on the toy is properly small, and hangs by a real cord. It's molded from clear plastic, and given red paint apps.

Hourman includes one of the chintzy DC 75th Anniversary collector buttons, and he actually appears on it, too! That's a nice change. The image is taken from 1941's All-Star Comics #4, a cover which showed the assembled Justice Society of America marching on Washington DC. It's like they were campaigning for civil rights.

All the figures in Series 14 include a piece of the Ultra-Humanite BAF. Buy the entire series, and you can assemble the big monkey. Hourman gets some fairly important pieces, too: the head and crotch. Can't build a villain without a head and crotch! There are no joints to speak of, and the crotch is unpainted, but man, the closer we get to finishing these reviews, the more excitingit is to finally get the big guy assembled.

Hourman is a cool character, and he has a great design that's aged very well. Hopefully Mattel will eventually make the modern Hourman, Rick Tyler - and heck, even the Hourman robot from the 853rd century! Let's get a display of all three versions, because that would be awesome!

-- 03/30/11

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