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Marvel Universe
by yo go re

For some people, every day is Halloween! Of course, most folks' idea of "trick or treat" doesn't involve guns.

So perfect is Raven Darkholme's shape-changing ability that no one knows how old she truly is, or even what she really looks like. That her life is interlinked with many of the X-Men in complex ways is without a doubt, but she has almost always been one of their most dangerous adversaries. Trained as an assassin, she delights in criminal enterprise. Her primary concern is always for herself, and whatever profits she can realize.

According to Mystique's packaging, she's a Fans' Choice Winner - the same poll that won us Havok, Winter Soldier and Mary Jane Watson, among others. But you want to know a secret? Those polls are all a big scam. It takes up to two years to get a figure from zero to store shelves, so fan votes are basically just PR: the vote decides who gets the sticker, not who gets made. Think about the Star Wars ones: every time a winner is announced, Hasbro comes out and says "oh, but look, we already had your #2 and #3 choices in production, so you'll get those, too!" Really? Hasbro happened to have the fans' second- and third-choice figures in the works, but not the one they wanted most? Yeah, that seems likely.

Anyway, Mystique uses the basic female body - it's the same mold used for Ms. Marvel and several others we haven't reviewed and therefore can't link to. There are no sculpted costume details other than some wrinkles near her ankles; since the same body has to be used for everyone, it has to be able to accommodate a wide variety of boot and glove styles (to say nothing of hemlines), and that means no sculpted edges anywhere. She's very busty, and both her legs point directly forward - shouldn't they turn out to the sides at least slightly? It's a more natural pose. Yes, you can turn her feet to the side, but the knees are still perfectly square. And though her neck is a balljoint, the design of the head turns it into a swivel for all intents and purposes.

Since all the costume details are paint, you need to check her over carefully before you buy. Of particular importance is the white uniform: like the Marvel Legends version, her costume has a wash to bring out details. This one isn't as bad as that, but I had to compare every one the store had to get an acceptable one. Her blue is wonderful, though - not as light as the ML - and her red hair has a very dark wash to keep it from looking toyish. Her eyes are yellow and the skull on her forehead is gold. Overall, a beautiful presentation when it's done right, but definitely check to make sure you get a good one.

Mystique's only accessory is the same M16 X-Force Wolverine came with, but it makes a lot more sense for her than him - she's always willing to pull the trigger, as much as she is to hide. Her loincloth is a separate piece, molded with the golden skulls all the way around her belt: another thing to watch out for when buying.

She has a display base with her number on it - #29 - as well as the usual "paper accessories," the envelope full of bonus info. Hers is still a HAMMER file, rather than SHIELD, but pictures from this weekend's New York Comic Con reveal that will soon be changing. Anyway, her file is the transcript of an email from Quasimodo (the living computer HAMMER used to analyze supervillains) to Norman Osborn, telling him why he shouldn't bother with Mystique. There's also a code for the Fury Files website, in case that ever comes back online.

The quality of Mystique as an action figure depends entirely on her paint. The sculpt is decent, but unremarkable - that's the way it was designed, after all. If you get one with good paint, she's a real treat; if you don't, however, she's barely mediocre. And hey, unexpected bonus: since her head fits on the generic female body, you can make any of the MU women into Mystique!

-- 10/11/10

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