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Goliath vs. Thor

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

Marvel's Civil War may have been fundamentally flawed (remember, Mark Millar wanted us to think the pro-registration side was in the right), but there's no denying that it was still a really good read. It was suitably epic, and despite the stupid choices made by Iron Man and anyone who sided with him, there were a lot of impressive "oh crap!" moments on both sides.

As an abondoned chemical plant burns around them, the first true battle of the Super Hero Civil War rages. This is more than a chance to stop the anti-Registration forces, however; it is a test run for the secret weapon developed by Tony Stark, Hank Pym and Reed Richards. A cybernetic clone of the mighty Thor thunders into the midst of the battle, his lightning striking down at his foes. As the powerful being smashes into the melee with his hammer, Goliath moves through the surging battle, hoping to stop the carnage before it goes too far.

Thor was out of the picture dring Civil War, but a lot of fans (including our own Poe Ghostal) guessed that the series would end with his return - so when issue 3 ended with a bolt of lightning from the sky, it seemed like they were right. Ha! Ha! Ha! Misdirection!

The robo-clone Thor, who eventually earned the name "Ragnarok," uses the same body as the Comic Pack Thor, which surprisingly is the only one we haven't reviewed yet. It's a good "classic" Thor, a 4" version of his Kirby costume (well, 4⅝", but who's counting?). The discs on his chest are sculpted, as are the wraps on his legs, but if you look at the actual art in the comic, you'll see that the belt whould be a slightly different style. Do you really care? Of course not. He's very mobile, with all the usual Marvel Universe joints, but for some reason he's got a waist in addition to the chest swivel/hinge thing. Why? We're all in favor of giving a figure the most joints possible, but not when they're superfluous.

Being that this is Thor, almost, he comes with a copy of Mjolnir. And yes, it was a copy - some folks were confused about how a robot could be worthy of lifting the hammer (yes, that famous slogan is sculpted on the side of the accessory), but it wasn't: its weapon was basically just a hammer-shaped electricity gun. This mold has been used before, but the colors fall somewhere in between the previous releases.

The biggest change on this figure, obviously, is the head. In Civil War #7, Hercules cemented his badass status by stoving in fake-Thor's head with his own hammer. He got better, somehow, but for a while he was running around with a Terminator/Kano half-metal face. The metal bits are actually sculpted to look like they're beneath the skin, too - you'd be surprised how often people forget that. Technically he should have a point on top of his helmet, but bonus points for having even the "human" eye painted red.

If you'd ever made a list of Marvel characters who were unlikely to ever get an action figure, Goliath probably wouldn't have been on it - not because him being turned into plastic was likely, but because not enough people remembered him to bother add his name to the list. He's a footnote of the '70s, when he was created as "Black Goliath." Because (almost) every black hero had to have "black" in his name, lest you forget.

Dr. Bill Foster, DSc, PhD, was working for Stark Industries in Baltimore, but transferred to be Hank Pym's lab assistant. Apparently just working around Hank was enough to give Bill powers, because the next time he showed up he could now grow (to an impressive height of 15 whole feet!) with no explanation for where the ability had come from. In the Marvel universe, super powers apparently work like a contact high. He was originally Black Goliath, then the second Giant-Man, then he dropped the "Black" an became the third Goliath.

Continuing the trend of these Giant Battles sets, Goliath's mold is reused from the now-defunct Marvel Legends Icons series. As you may be able to tell from the piping on his costume, this body was originally a 12" Cyclops. It's a good choice, in that there are a lot of "costumey" details in the sculpt, but it also makes him look very thin. Cyclops' nickname is "Slim," remember? Well, this sculpt lives up to that, which means he doesn't look very strong. He's big, but he's scrawny. Of course, this is the same mold the two Goliaths in the first series used, so it's not without precedent. The paint is good, and really sets his costume apart; however, the arms should be bare, not blue - that makes him look like his nephew Tom (the fifth Goliath). On the plus side, his utility belt with its giant "G" buckle is a new piece.

The head is also new, of course. Bill has a plain expression that could easily be interpretted as angry or determined or whatever other emotion you'd prefer. It's a good sculpt, aided no doubt by the fact that it's twice as large as usual. He's got a fine, curly texture to his hair, and appears to be squinting behind his domino mask. For whatever reason, the eyes are painted silver - it's probably an attempt to duplicate the way the comics generally show blank white eyes in the mask, but it's still weird.

The set includes a reprint of Civil War #4, the pivotal issue featuring both Ragnarok and Goliath. There have been a few changes, like minor layout tweaks on the cover, and a censored version of the panel where years of tempting fate finally catch up with us, and a character named "Goliath" is taken out by a smaller guy with a thrown weapon. The issue is, like all the rest, a killer read: a big awesome battle, a bit of introspection, Sue Storm showing the world her pimp hand several times... it's got everything! It's interesting to reread this now, though, knowing how many of the characters were Skrulls at the time - when something went wrong, was it an accident, or on purpose? Judge for yourself!

The Marvel Universe Giant Battles sets really are a decent value. You get a 12" figure, a 4" figure and a reprint comic, and it'll only cost you about $30. Compare that to Mattel's line of 12" figures, which all share the same (hollow rotocast) body, have less articulation than their 6" counterparts, come with no extras, and cost twice as much. This set, in particular, offers a new version of Thor unlike any other, as well as a character who's never been anything other than a custom figure before. That's hard to beat.

-- 05/09/11

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