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DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

You already know that the Ultra-Humanite was the first mad scientist Superman fought, a year before the introduction of Lex Luthor. But did you also know he's pretty much the first supervillain in comics, period? He appeared one year after Superman himself, when everybody was still fighting one-shot crooks and thugs.

Over the years following the Ultra-Humanite's "birth" he has worn many faces, eventually bringing him to the form that he currently inhabits: a giant, albino gorilla that has been genetically modified to provide housing for his now-enormous brain. Declaring himself to be the pinnacle of human advancement, he has divided his time between criminal activities and scholarship, as he devotes his off-hours to activities that stimulate his aesthetic tastes. However, he is not to be underestimated, as his genius, coupled with his powerful simian body, makes him a formidable opponent for even the likes of Superman.

The gorilla body wasn't his first choice: he originally had his brain put in the body of an actress named Dolores Winters, making him comics' first transgendered character. (S)he appeared twice more in the Golden Age, then was forgotten for 40 years - an ignominious track record! He returned to prominence in the '80s, when the whole Earth-1/Earth-2 thing came about, and lots of years of "missing" history needed to be filled in.

Ultra-Humanite is the BAF for the Wal*Mart-exclusive DCUC Series 14. It really should have been called 15, though: after all, Series 5 and Series 10 were WM-exclusives, so why break the pattern? Besides, Series 15 actually showed up in stores before Series 14, so the name is just poorly chosen. The figure comes in seven pieces: torso, head, pelvis, arms and legs; everybody but Tyr came with something, so if you bought them all (or scavenged them off eBay), you can assemble a giant white monkey of your own.

Actually, "giant" is right - real gorillas are fairly short, but ones in comics are always big. Standing straight up, he's 8¼" tall, and even if he's hunched over, he'll be several heads taller than a plain human figure. His proportions are in general closer to a human's than a gorilla's, as well. Look at Grodd's legs, then at Ultra-Humanite's: this is basically a very hairy human, not an ape. Also, he should have a big gorilla belly - maybe his costume doubles as a truss?

Ultra-Humanite is based directly on his appearance in the comics; yes, the JLU version wore a very similar costume, but there were definite differences. The biggest clue, though, is the head: while the animated version had a two-lobed cranium, so it looked like a brain, the one in the comics just seems to have male pattern baldness, and that's what we see here. The snarl on his lips is wonderfully sinister, and the prominent veins on his head make it clear that's skin, not a helmet.

The paint is very good. Rather than being a plain white monkey, he's actually a pale gray all over (which is why he's in front of a blue backdrop instead of our usual colorless one) with darker paint to create shadows. His fingers and toes are darker still, and the nails all get individual apps. There's no sloppy work on the red and yellow of his clothes. His teeth are slightly yellow, with brown paint outlining them so they stand out. There also appears to be some sort of clear gloss coat on the mouth and nose - they look wet when the light catches them just right.

Like several of the DCUC BAFs, Ultra-Humanite gets an accessory. His is a simple little control pad with nine yellow buttons on it. What does it do? Can't tell you. Is it from the comics? Wouldn't know. Does it look cool? Sure does. It's just the type of thing Ultra-Humanite might wield. Pretend it controls the Personality Reversing Ray or some other suitably Silver Age-y contraption. It fits easily in either hand, though it came with the right arm.

DCUC14 is surprisingly plentiful for a Wal*Mart series - Series 5 was average and Series 10 was fairly hard, but Series 14 is actually hanging around in fairly substantial numbers. I snapped up the first set I found, not sure that I'd ever see it again, but full sets have lingered on the pegs for weeks at multiple local Wal*Marts. Rustin's had trouble finding them, so there are some spots where you'd be out of luck, but overall Ultra-Humanite seems as easy to get as any recent series.

Kamandi | Obsidian | Gold | Hourman | Zatanna | Green Lantern

-- 04/13/11

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