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Union Jack

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

When you think of British superheroes, one immediately springs to mind. Surprising as it may be, there's more to the UK than Captain Britain.

In a nation ruled by men with centuries of wealth behind them, few men of power truly act on behalf of the common people. Most of this land's heroes are raised up to near-noble status and sequestered behind the walls of a hundred year old intelligence agency, but Union Jack is different. Though he does occasionally work for MI5, he's also got a day job like any other man, and he spends his nights down at the inn with his mates; fighting crime is just a side thing. His power is drawn from the spirit of England herself, a spirit that has always been closer to the commons who work her lands than to the nobles that rule her.

This is the third Union Jack, a legacy character who's much newer than he seems. Though the original - James Montgomery Falsworth - was supposedly active during WWI and WWII, the character wasn't created until 1976, his past retconned in. When James was crippled, his son Brian took over the role, but he was killed in a car crash and the third UJ, Joey Chapman, was eventually introduced in 1980.

It's back to the Bullseye body for Jackie, because he's not bulky enough to use the Black Panther's. Really, Mattel's DCUC line takes a lot of flak for using the same body for nearly every freaking figure, but it's not like they're alone in that, as Marvel Legends so loves to prove. Jack, at least, gets some new parts that aren't just a question of paint, such as his wrist and ankle bands, which are raised elements. Anyway, the skinny body works well in duplicating the depiction of the character in the comics. The neck seems too thick for the head, but that's our only complaint.

Union Jack's costume includes a full-head mask, with just the wearer's eyes exposed - in fact, that was a plot point in one of his stories. Surprisingly, this isn't a style of mask Marvel Legends has ever had to worry about before: anyone with their eyes exposed had their mouth uncovered as well, and anyone who concealed the lower part of their face always had some sort of eyewear to go with it. This particular headsculpt is quite nice, not only because of the wrinkles around the nose, but also due to the seams on the sides of the mask.

The figure stands just over 6" tall, actually suiting the 6'2" listed on the back of the card. Most of the joints are the old ToyBiz standards, but with his new forearms and shins come Hasbro-style balljoints for the wrists and ankles. Ever since this sort of combo first showed up on the (first) ML Human Torch Hasbro made, it's been the best joint layout in the industry, and Union Jack does't disprove that.

Since UJ's costume is basically, well, the Union Jack, you'll have to watch out for the paint. The white outlines can get too thin, allowing the colors beneath to show through, but that's really the only problem. The lines are mostly crisp and straight, and the colors rich (though darker than the official colors. The blue of his suit spills down onto the tops of his red arm and leg bands, but not the bottoms, and there seem to be silver buckles.

Union Jack has two accessories, as well as a removable brown duty belt, just like you'd expect to see on any soldier. There's a holster on the right for his revolver, and a sheathe for his dagger on the left. Both weapons are rubberbanded to his hands in the package, which of course means they're both warped all to hell by the time he's shipped from China and put on the shelves. Stop it toy companies! Just put the damn accessories in the tray next to the toy, in a slot of their own! Thankfully, UJ has no finger joints to prevent him from holding the gear securely. And though you may think the utility belt is a modern addition, it's actually been a feature of the costume since WWI, meaning this figure can represent whichever version of the character you want.

Part of the Marvel Legends series sold exclusively at Target stores, Union Jack is paired with a portion of the Red Hulk Build-A-Figure. He gets the biggest chunk, the torso. Pieces like this used to be split up, offered as chest and pelvis, but no more. It hasn't really been apparent from the other pieces, but Hulk is going to be pretty big: his torso alone is nearly as tall as UJ's entire body!

Before getting this figure, I really had no idea who Union Jack was or what he was about. But having read a few key issues (what, you think we just pull these reviews out of thin air?), the character's actually pretty cool, and definitely deserved a Marvel Legend. This toy is well made, nicely articulated and has good accessories, which is really all you can ask for. You may not know anything about Union Jack, but it's worth finding out.

-- 12/29/08

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