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Piledriver & Hawkeye

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

In 2004, Hasbro came up with a new way to sell their figures: they bundled three GI Joes together in one package, and included a reprint comicbook featuring those characters. In 2006, they expanded that idea to Star Wars, and in 2009, it carried forth to Marvel Universe.

Mighty Galactus begins his consumption of Battleworld, threatening the lives of every creature on the planet. With the army of villains, including Piledriver, safely locked away and out of commission, Hawkeye and the other heroes are free to concentrate all of their power on the cosmic menace. Little do they know, however, that Doctor Doom continues to act in the background, condemning them all!

Piledriver - or, as he's known on the packaging, "Marvel's Piledriver," because piledriver is too generic a word to trademark, and just throwing "Marvel's" in front of it was easier than looking up his real name (Brian Philip Calusky) and took up less room on the card than other options would have - is part of the Wrecking Crew, a quartet of petty criminals empowered by Loki to give Thor a hard time.

Piledriver doesn't get a weapon, like all his buddies do; instead, his power was all internal. He's big and strong, and according to every source, his hands should be larger than usual, a feature this figure doesn't duplicate - at least, not to the same extent. You should be able to glance at him and immediately know there's something wrong with his hands, but not here. Of course, we're talking about comic art - one person's ungainly freakhands is another person's normal artstyle, but in general, each fist should be about the size of a human head.

It's rare that villains are given patriotic costumes, but Piledriver wears red, white and blue. The colors are strong, and like many MU figures, he has washes to catch the details. Although the wash on his shirt is blue, it's a very desaturated shade, so it actually works as shadow, rather than looking like he put his shirt and his boots in the same load of laundry. His forearms and face are painted, but the hands are molded in color, so they don't quite blend.

The second figure in this set is the world's greatest archer, Hawkeye. (Yeah, that's right - suck it, Green Arrow.) Clint Barton was originally a carny, then a supervillain... but I repeat myself. His original costume was a definitely influenced by his circusy roots, but it was also meant to suggest a medieval archer. It even had a little skirt! This is the second version, which updates a few of those original elements without losing the overall look. Yes, back in the day, artists knew the truth: if the change is drastic enough to be noticed, you've failed at your job.

Hawkeye's body is a slender mold, which makes sense since the guy is also an acrobat. He's mostly blue, but has big purple pirate boots and thick bracers on his forearms. The bands around his biceps are separate pieces, and though they're just held in place by the fact that he has elbows, the shape is right to make them look like something he's actually wearing. The loincloth, belt, straps and chainmail shrug are all one separate piece. It looks like the figure was assembled through the thing, so no entertaining thoughts of stripping it off him.

Clint has the personality of a performer, which means he's a braggart and a showoff with a streak of vanity. Sure, talking about yourself is nothing new in comics, but Clint was really, really good at it. He wears his initial on his forehead - one of the only things he and Captain America can ever agree on. The figure is sculpted with a great smirk on his face, and his right hand has the fingers curled to draw a bowstring.

Hawkeye does come with his bow, logically, but Hasbro didn't bother trying to string it: to be in scale with the figure, a bowstring would have been way too thin, and we're pretty sure monofilament wire is frowned upon in children's toys. There's a quiver of (non-removable) arrows that can be slung over his shoulder, and a single loose arrow he can hold. Whoever Hasbro had sculpt these accessories is clearly more knowledgeable than either Michael Locasio or the Four Horsemen, because the arrows are for once the right length. The arrowhead is oversized and complex, but this may be one of Hawkeye's trick arrows, so who's to say that's wrong?

Since this is a Comic Pack, it includes a comicbook - in this case, Secret Wars #9. The "featuring those characters" part of the formula we mentioned at the top of the review has obviously changed, because Piledriver's big role in this issue is appearing as a headshot in the back of a crowd of headshots when Reed Richards spends one panel thinking about everyone who's involved. Congrats, big guy! Hawkeye gets a little more love, as he's at least shown making his own arrows, but he's not wearing the same costume as the figure is: the biggest clues are the long sleeves. But bottom line is, who cares? This is an excuse to release some figures that might not ever get another chance, and if it means propping up the flimsiest excuse possible, so be it.

Most of the early Marvel Universe Comic Packs were rather disappointing, but this one actually offers two new characters, and they're done well. Piledriver isn't exactly a superstar in the comics, but the figure is decent, and Hawkeye is just cool. If the rest of the Comic Packs were as good as this one, you wouldn't have to keep looking at Hulk and Cyclops every time you go to Target.

-- 07/05/10

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