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Batman, Vandal Savage and Future Superman

Justice League
by yo go re

Batman refused to believe Superman died during Toyman's attack. He was right. The Man of Steel woke up in the future to find the immortal Vandal Savage as Earth's only resident. Savage developed a weapon that gave him ultimate power, but left him lonely and remorseful. He eagerly helped Superman find his way back to the present in order to prevent Savage from destroying the human race.

The reason the info on the back of the card seems to stress Batman so much is that Batman actually doesn't have any business being in this set. Yes, what it says is true: this set is based on the Season 2 episode "Hereafter" (the same one to feature Lobo) and Batman did refuse to believe he was actually dead, but that was really the extent of his role in the episode. Mattel released 23 different paint variations of Batman during the life of its Justice League lines, so the last thing we needed now was another one. But, oh, wait, it gets better: this exact colorscheme was already released before. Four times before! Twice in six-packs, once in a three pack, and once by himself. For eff's sake, Mattel, we didn't need a fifth version of it! These sets are supposed to be "thank you"s for the fans, and yet you're still sticking it in us and breaking it off. This one is wearing a gray suit, dark blue cape, and a faded yellow belt, and is a total piece of garbage that should never have been made.

Vandal Savage is an interesting character, and really could have filled an important niche for Justice League: rather than relying on Lex Luthor and the US government as the major ongoing villains, they could have used Savage. He's been plotting for millennia, and while he can anticipate most things, he can't anticipate the rise of superheroes - how would he react when they start undoing all his carefully laid plans? We got hints of that in "The Savage Time" and "Maid of Honor," but we could have gotten more.

As interesting as Vandal Savage is as a character, he's incredibly boring to look at. His Golden Age look was a black military jacket with white trim, and his JLU incarnation uses that as its starting point. Things have been simplified, of course, so instead of a pointed collar, stripes down the outside of his legs and lines at the tops of his boots, he has white on his cuffs, collar, waist, and the center of his jacket. It's not much to look at, but short of designing an all-new costume for him, there wasn't much they could do.

The head is new for this toy. Vandal Savage has worn varying levels of beard over the years, and JLU went with a neatly trimmed goatee and mustache. His hairline is receeding slightly, which you'd expect after 35,000 years, and it's just a bit shaggy at the back of his neck. Overall, the paint is rather sloppy, especially considering how little of it there is.

The final figure in this set is Future Superman. When he arrived in the future he found that Earth now had a red sun, so he no longer had any powers - so basically, we were treated to the adventures of Superman the Barbarian.

Superman has traded in his usual costume for something a bit more practical. He's still wearing his blue tights, but he's topped them off with a white tunic. And yes, he's got a red cape, but it's not his usual one; as you can tell by the distinctive white patch on the back (which is inexplicably sculpted rather than just being a pattern like it should be), it's the skin of the wolf-like beast that challenged him. Teaching us that the only reason Superman clings to that whole "I never kill" thing is that being 100% invulnerable affords him the luxury of doing so; as soon as that went away, he merrily killed the first creature he met. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen! If you look at the elbows immediately above his forearm wraps, you'll see that he's sculpted with claw marks from the wolves. Sadly, Mattel did not see fit to include the sword he forged for protection. Protection and wolf murder.

Having released 28 Superman figures, you'd think Mattel would know what his face looked like. But nope, they somhow managed to get this one completely off-model. The thickness of his beard lets you know how long he was living in the future, but the head behind it seems to be the wrong shape. Luckily the costume is distinctive enough that you'll never wonder who this is supposed to be.

With these final few three-packs, Mattel seems to be purposely messing with the customers. They know we'll buy anything, so they don't even try to make it something worth buying. A garbage Batman, an undersized Vandal Savage and a Superman who relies on his beard for his likeness? Way to honor the fans, Mattel.

-- 01/02/13

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