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Molecule Man/Spider-Woman

by yo go re

We've mentioned before that Art Asylum's current scheme is to release thematic Minimate four-packs, then an accompanying two-pack as a TRU exclusive. Well, here's our exclusive; where's the Secret Wars box that goes with it?

Disillusioned laboratory technician Owen Reece's dormant mutagenic powers were activated after a lab accident transformed him into Molecule Man! With control over all matter and energy, there are seemingly no limits to his powers.

Well, that's not exactly true: like most Marvel characters, he has limitations, but they're all in his head. Owen was a bit of a momma's boy, so even after he was granted the powers of God in an accident, he was still rather meek and unsure of himself, so a smart opponent could talk him out of a fight. Plus, he had mental blocks that kept him from his full potential: for instance, he believed his powers didn't work on organic molecules (yes, we know that strictly speaking there's no such thing - it's just arbitrary shorthand for a compound built with carbon), though he had no such limitation.

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Molecule Man first appeared in 1963's Fantastic Four #20, but he didn't really gain prominence until he was transported to Battleworld during the original Secret Wars. Because of that, his costume had never really been redesigned, so this Minimate represents what is pretty much the quintessential Molecule Man: he's wearing enough green and purple to make both Norman Osborn and Lex Luthor jealous, including a little skirt and pointy smock, both of which are extra pieces added to the figure.

Owen's face is just about perfect: yes, they painted on his lightning-bolt scars, but more than that, they gave him an expression that's at once sullen and angry, suiting the way he's generally been characterized over the years; remember, he may be classified as a villain, but more he's simply not the protagonist. His hair is the same used for Peter Venkman, done in brown, its receding front line serving nicely for this middle-aged schlub.

Recruited for an "athletic study," an unsuspecting Julia Carpenter was experimented upon and developed super-human powers similar to those of Spider-Man! Deciding to use her powers for good, she was drafted into the Secret Wars by the Beyonder himself.

There's been a Spider-Woman Minimate before - or I suppose, to be more accurate, a Spider-Woman II Minimate. Of course, she was just the chase variant for Spider-Woman I, but we've been over all that before. Julia was part of Series 10, back in 2005, and has been hard to find ever since. I've had her on my wishlist ever since, so this new release was good news. Of course, some people complained about her being available, but those people are idiots.

This figure is far from a straight re-release. In fact, the only bits that could conceivably be called the same are her hands and feet - you know, since they're plain white Minimate bits. Her torso is a lot more detailed, in keeping with modern Minimate design. There's subtle highlighting creating the outline of her waist, and her spider-symbol wraps around her sides and continues onto her back, something the previous release could not claim. Of course, they probably thought they could get away with that because of her hair.

The old figure re-used Phoenix's massive hair, which effectively obscured her back. This version, however, strives to be true to her Secret Wars appearance, so she gets a new hair piece with a long ponytail trailing down to her butt. The face is new, with a more appropriate shape to the mask. Her mouth is smaller, and the mask's eyes have a more detailed outline. The blue highlights continue on her head, helping to create a sense of a face beneath the cloth.

All Minimates share the same body with different paint decos, and they all move at the same 14 points: neck, waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. Neither figure gets any accessories: it might have been too tough to make Spider-Woman's psychic webs, but they could have at least thrown in one of Daredevil's billy clubs as the wand Molecule Man used to wave around to make his powers work (he didn't need it, of course - just another symptom of his mental limitations).

This is a great two-pack. Spider-Woman is a much-needed re-release, and there's never been a Molecule Man figure of any sort before. Keep your fingers crossed that your Toys Я Us will get this set in.

-- 11/23/09

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