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Absorbing Man

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

The Marvel Universe has several high-security jails for its villains: the Vault, the Raft, etc. And they're all supposed to be pretty escape-proof. However, there's one bad guy with an advantage: the tougher the jail they put him in, the easier it is to bust out.

"Crusher" Creel lived a lifetime of petty crime even before being granted his powers by Asgardian magic. He lived from score to score, knocking over a liquor store here, a small-town bank there; always enough to live on, but not enough to catch the attention of any of the heavy hitters in the city. Even so, he eventually ended up in prison, where his physical domination of the other inmates caught the attention of Loki. He was given power enough to challenge even the mighty Hulk, whose might he quickly learned to absorb into his own body. His strength limited only by the applications of whatever material or energy he absorbs, every opponent he has ever had has only beaten him through luck alone.

Absorbing Man is one of those villains created to fight a certain hero, then shuffled off to face someone else. 'sorby's never really settled down, though, being kind of a general menace for almost everybody. Yes, all his toys have been the result of the various Hulk toylnes, but that's only because Thor can't support a line of his own (yet) and Spider-Man is too busy.

There was a Marvel Legends-quality Absorbing Man released in Series 2 of the Hulk Classics line, but since only about five people ever got one of those, a new version was much needed. This one comes courtesy of the Marvel Legends Hulk series, but he's still proving pretty difficult to find. The sculpt is all-new, not re-using any of the parts from the last figure, which is both good and bad.

Creel is seen here in mid-absorb: his right side is (mostly) human, but his left side is changing. His leg is brick, and his arm and torso appear to be concrete. The rest of him is human, save for a patch of bricks on his right thigh: the previous figure looked entirely human, then had interchangeable arms to simulate his abilities. So this one can never be presented in a "powered down" state (or absorb more than one thing), but the material he's sucking up can fade gradually across his limbs, rather than stopping short at the joint. The bricks, in addition to being stacked on top of one another realistically, have a pitted texture indicative of being fired in a kiln. The concrete has a smoother texture, yet still rough, and is marred by long, shallow cracks.

One thing the old figure definitely has over this one is the facial sculpt. The new figure has a very dull, plain expression, whereas the 2004 version sported a furrowed brow, big ears, deep lines on his face and a scowl that revealed crooked teeth. It still looks like the classic Absorbing Man, make no mistake, it's just that it could also look like any other random bald guy, too. A sculpt at this size needs exaggeration to look its best, and this one stops just an inch past "normal."

Absorbing Man is a sizeable figure, 6¾" tall, and has the typical Hasbro Legends articulation: everything's balljoints. Head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, torso, hips, knees and ankles... all of it. The paint is decent, with a great red for the bricks and a warm gray for the concrete. His flesh looks a bit sallow, but he's wearing those old-timey striped prison pants the fans missed on the previous figure (who was clad in a more modern blaze orange). One mistake, though? Creel's got a belt. And shoelaces, too. Prisoners wouldn't have either of those things. The red on the leg stops about a brick and a half too soon, and the gray on his chest could have a better fade - they did, however, use a gray wash to help conceal the line.

The figure only has one accessory, but it's the one that matters: his ball and chain. No, not his wife (though a figure of Titania would certainly be cool), his literal ball and chain. He was a prisoner, remember? Rather than a metal chain, the accessory is all-plastic. Only half the links in the chain have the small depressions that make them look like actual links, rather than gray discs. The ball is a little more than 1" in diameter, and the chain is 6" long. One advantage of plastic over metal for the chain? It doesn't just hang straight down when you put it in Creel's hands. The ball has the same sort of cracked texture seen on AM's concrete side: yeah, it absorbs the same properties as the rest of his body, but wouldn't the original metal be stronger?

Of course, Absorbing Man also includes a piece of this series' BAF, Fin Fang Foom: the right leg. The leg, designed with a permenent squat, is about 5" tall and beautifully sculpted. The texture of the skin is just rough on the inner leg, but it fades to full-blown scales by the time you get around to the outside. At least three different shades of green are used on the leg, and the nails are yellow. This is going to be an impressive BAF! There's a single hinge at the knee, another at the hip, and a balljoint for the ankle - not bad, but you can tell the posing options for the legs are going to be rather limited once the big guy is together.

Absorbing Man is a good figure, but there are just a few flaws keeping it from greatness. The head is one, and the lack of interchangeable parts is another. Still, if you didn't get the Hulk Classics figure a few years back, this is a much-needed offering, and (nearly) perfect for filling that hole in your collection.

-- 09/25/08

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