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Ms. Marvel

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

Usually when a company makes a variant figure, it's just a different costume. More rarely, it's a different character. This is the first example I can think of where it may be both.

Her human DNA fused with that of the mighty Kree warrior Mar-Vell, Carol Danvers became the superhuman powerhouse known as Ms. Marvel. Currently, she adventures as a member of the Avengers, as well as serving as the commander of the special S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team known as Operation: Lightning Storm.

No, she doesn't. That may have been "current" when the bio was written, but it's long outdated now. After the Secret Invasion, Carol was briefly part of Norman Osborn's new Avengers team, but refused to serve under him and resigned. And by "resigned" we mean "flipped off Ares and Sentry and smashed her way out through the window." And now she's dead. (At least to the extent that her powers overloaded and blew her body up.)

Ms. Marvel is figure #022 in the Marvel Universe line, available in a series with a slightly repainted Punisher and a '70s-style Iron Man, as well as a few others. She doesn't quite reach the 4" mark, which actually suits her 5'11" frame - remember, these aren't 3¾" figures, they've been topped off with that extra quarter-inch.

The sculpt is simple, but good. None of the details of Carol's costume are sculpted - apparently the MU women are just going to share a generic body, rather than getting unique details like the men. Wolverine's had three figures and three different sculpts already, but Ms. Marvel is smooth and featureless. In Hasbro's defense, though, it's not like the Ms. Marvel uniform is buried in complex details: it's your average superheroine bathing suit, with long gloves and thighboots, and a big lightning bolt down the chest. Her red sash is a separate floating element around her waist, and that's nice.

With no sculpted details, everything has to be conveyed by the paint apps, and that means a greater chance for errors to screw things up. I had to pass on the first Ms. Marvel I found because the pink on her leg was a mess - the edge of her boot was uneven, and the coverage was incomplete, leaving her blotchy. Any mistakes near the top of the figure will be covered by her long hair spilling down over her chest and shoulders.

The articulation is okay, but there is a bit lacking. Her head is a ball and socket, but it's blocked by the hair. balljointed shoulders are good, but the fact that the elbows are just hinged means she can't cross her arms in front of her. The wrists swivel, the chest is a balljoint, the waist is a swivel, and the hips are ball and socket. Double-hinged knees and balljointed ankles round out the selection, so pretty much everything but the elbows are top-notch.

Other than the non-removable belt, Ms. Marvel's only accessories are two yellow energy blasts designed to fit over her hands. well, technically, over her right hand: they're both designed for the open hand, not the fist she's got on the left. You can make it fit on there, but it's not molded for it. Still, better to have them than to not have them.

Like we said, Ms. Marvel is figure #022 - but she's also figure #023. How's that possible? Thanks to the aforementioned variant! Yes, as we hinted at the beginning of the review (you remember that, don't you?), there's a variant Ms. Marvel: specifically, her in her '70s uniform. The red and blue one with the bare legs? It's not her original original costume, or it'd have big open panels over her abdomen, the same way Huntress' would years later.

Classic Ms. Marvel shares her non-sculpt with Modern Ms. Marvel, differentiated only by paint and head sculpt. Since her hair is done in that curly little bob cut, her neck isn't impeded at all - a win! She's got the same energy blasts as the other figure, but instead of a sash, she's still wearing a scarf. She has light blue stipes on her dark blue paint, but those are more apparent in the flash of a camera than under normal lighting. The bio information is the same for both figures, and so is the included SHIELD file - a psych profile on Carol by Dr. Karla Sofen. And although they have different codes, the info you can unlock on the Hasbro website is identical, as well.

The info on the back of the cards may be outdated, but the fact that they chose to give us a figure wearing Carol's old suit is fortuitous timing. Before the Secret Invasion, Carol bequeathed her unused costume to Ultra Girl, one of the kids coming up through the Initiative; now, during Dark Reign, Norman Osborn has taken the suit back and given it to the villainess Moonstone, to act as Ms. Marvel on his Avengers team. Moonstone, by the way? Her secret identity is Dr. Karla Sofen - the same one who was profiling Carol for SHIELD. Deliberate nod to the comics, or random happenstance? You decide! It's up to you whether this figure is Carol in her early days, or one of the other two women to wear it recently.

Right now it seems that the modern Ms. Marvel is harder to find than the variant - not because they're packed differently, but because folks just seem to like the current look better. Once it starts to sink in that thy're both current looks, though, old number 23 will probably start to pick up some interest. And if you put the long-haired head on the red body, it's even closer to the comics!

-- 06/29/09

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