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Ultron, Hulk & Vision

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Last year Target got an exclusive Marvel Legends three-pack featuring Ms. Marvel, Captain America, and Radioactive Man. It lasted long enough to reach clearance, but apparently Target was happy with the sales, because they're doing it again this year.

Behind his menacing red eyes there is no mercy. Nothing will stop Ultron from controlling the world!

Ultron is a smart choice for this box set: he starred in one of the year's biggest movies [Pitch Perfect 2, naturally --ed.], and while that version got a figure, we can always use more comic-based versions (as long as they have the right head). Plus, he was involved in the first post-Secret Wars comic, Rage of Ultron. Well, the comic came out before Secret Wars started, but the story is set after it ends. Whatever. It's a good time to be an Ultron fan, is the basic point, and there isn't a slot for him in any of the normal lines, so Hasbro found a home for him here.

The figure seems to be based on Ultron's appearance in Age of Ultron - the comic, not the movie. And also not the Ultron drones seen in the story, but the real Ultron who was living in the future and never appeared in the book proper. The bulk of the figure comes from the Ultimate Beetle mold, which is an inspired choice: it's mechanical, of course, and the pods that covered Beetle's armor are painted red and glowy here, just like in the crossover (though only on the front, not on his back). The two-toed feet are a little weird, but he does get new forearms and hands, to set him apart from the previous figure to use this body.

His head is also new. I didn't pay much attention to Ultron when I grabbed the box, so at first I thought it was the same as this Ultron, but nope: this one still has the proper eyes and mouth, but his ear-antennae are the kind that are rounded around the face, rather than being straight. His mouth is bright orange, with black kirby dots crackling around inside.

Ultron has awakened Bruce Banner's rage, and the Hulk won't stop until Ultron is no more.

These biographies sure sound like they're talking about the movie characters, rather than the comic characters, don't they? But this is definitely comic Hulk - in fact, it's supposed to be the Marvel NOW! version. Yes, he should be wearing armor, but there was at least one panel in Indestructible Hulk where he was just wearing normal pants.

This is the Avengers 2: Red, White & Blonde Hulk mold with a new head. That means the limbs are detailed well, but the torso is too smooth. Bummer. His hair is what identifies this as a Marvel NOW!: Bruce had a buzzcut when he started working with SHIELD, and when his Professor personality re-emerged (using the name "Doc Green"), he cut his hair into a mohawk. This one has the short hair, but it constinues on the sides of his head, not just the top. The face itself is nice, with the mouth open in anger, though it would be better if his eyebrows were painted with more of an arch - we want fury in this sculpt, not annoyance!

This extraordinarily powerful android may be the Avengers' final hope!

Well that's a brief bio. Good, because papa's got his ranting pants on!

John Byrne has a reputation for ignoring the work of other creators. Unless Stan and Jack wrote it (or he wrote it himself), then it doesn't count. Decades of character growth can get thrown out the window on a whim, and Vision is a perfect example of that. Vision first appeared in 1968; Roy Thomas wanted to reintroduce the original Vision, but Stan Lee wanted an android, so they compromised. From the start, Vision's story arc was all about his increasing humanity, and when Scarlet Witch joined the Avengers in 1970, they began a romantic relationship. They were married in 1975, and a decade later had twin sons. But then came John Byrne.

From the very beginning, comicbook Vision was presented exactly the same way movie Vision was: a synthetic human. He had veins, he had organs, he had blood... they were just made from artificial materials, rather than meat. He was never in his life built like a Terminator, with a metal skeleton under rubber skin - until Byrne decided he was. In Byrne's opinion, Wanda marrying Vision was the equivalent of marrying a toaster, so given the opportunity, he declared that Vision didn't even have genitalia - and depicted him in a fully disassembled state that would forever link the character with the "purely robotic" state of being.

(The truly idiotic thing is that Byrne considers the original Human Torch to be more than just a robot, when it's that Human Torch's body that was rebuilt to be Vision! Seriously, I could go on with the dumbness, but this section of the review is already getting outrageously long.)

(Okay, just one more: Byrne had Wonder Man refuse to allow the Avengers to scan his brain in an effort to repair Vision's erased personality. Wonder Man had, until that point, treated Vision like a flesh-and-blood brother. Would a brother not donate a kidney to a sibling in need? Is a brain scan somehow worse than donating a kidney? GAH! Not until Green Lantern: Rebirth would a single story do so much literal damage in service of a single elevated fanboy's entitled opinion.)

All that said, one of the changes Byrne made really was for the better, because it honored the intentions of the creators: Roy Thomas wanted the character to be white, like a ghost, but printing quality at the time wouldn't allow that. That had changed by the '80s, so the new Vision was finally white (well, off-white, with pure white cape and trunks)!

This figure mostly uses the same small body as the last release, though he has two fists instead of one fist and one open hand, and his feet are new bare sculpts, rather than boots. Yes, "White Vision" was barefoot. The head looks better here than it did there, because the details aren't buried under thick paint. In fact, the entire figure (including his cape) is molded from clear plastic, then given a dusting of white to make him look more ephemeral. There are thin black outlines on his chest and waist to suggest the lines of his costume, and the silver gem on his forehead is similarly outlined. His eyes are black with silver pupils. And while he has all the same articulation as the other uses of this mold, the hips are really wobbly here - I don't know if that's a common issue, or if I should hope that another set of these shows up sometime.

I freely admit that, much like Neo-Classic Armor Iron Man is "my" Iron Man, white Vision is my Vision; consequently, he's the main reason I bought this set. But the Ultron is tons better than I expected, and even the Hulk is nicer than he seemed at first blush. Unlike last year's three-pack, this one doesn't have any total duds.

-- 11/02/15

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