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Black Noir

The Boys
by yo go re

If he's here, then where's Miraculous Ladybug? Wait, that's Cat Noir, not Black Noir, never mind.

Silent, stealthy, and enigmatic, Black Noir is The Seven's superpowered ninja. His superstrength and heightened senses, such as his razor-sharp hearing, are matched only by his proficiency in the martial arts. Criminals run in terror at the mere mention of his name. Little is known about this lethal warrior, other than his having trained with a master sensei to become the death dealer that he is today. Whatever lies behind Black Noir's mask is a complete mystery - which only makes him more terrifying.

The Seven are clearly a pastiche of the Justice League, and Black Noir is pretty blatantly their Batman: scary, dresses in black, hand-to-hand combatant, the whole deal. That's what everybody does when they're copying the JLA - compare Beltza Nhema here to Midnighter, for instance - but most attempts don't give him any personality beyond that. Give The Boys credit: their knockoff Batman is still insanely violent, but he's also openly emotional and caring, which not even the real Batman can manage anymore.

It's a tradition to bring up the Boys packaging right at the start of the review, and we're not going to break it today. Chris Longo has made three of these now, and despite them all being distinctly different designs, there's a coherence created by the small touches, like the stripes across the top and bottom, the angles on the sides, etc. Since Black Noir doesn't have a symbol the way Starlight and Homelander do, this box just gets by using the costume texture (in black and grey, of course) behind a nifty new logo. Even the photos on the back have the backgrounds desaturated, so there's no color to be found anywhere (other than the mandatory age restriction emblem hidden on the bottom flap - dang lawyers, always ruining the fun!).

Kuro Khmaw was sculpted by Thomas Gwyn, who had quite the task ahead of him. First you've got to find adequate reference for details that, by design, are dark and hard to see, then you have to sculpt them in such a way that they'll show up on a similarly dark toy. The costume looks like a cross between Snake-Eyes and The Gimp, being all-black and covering him from head to toe. In the comics, Schwarz Kaala's suit was basically just a solid suit, a la Charlie Kelly's "Green Man" from Always Sunny. Just not green. But for TV, his suit has a texture to it like the other characters, and also has some armor worn over top, providing protection and accentuation - especially that codpiece! There was a minor misalignment with the figure right out of the box: the round shoulderpads are supposed to go over the plate at the top of the torso, but they were tucked underneath. Easy fix!

The Snake-Eyes feeling really comes through in the head. Dubh Chornyy conceals his face beneath a solid helmet with built-in goggles, and a cloth mask that covers the nose and chin. Beats trying to give him visible lips, huh? It looks perfectly intimidating in a middle-of-the-night street fight, and perfectly ridiculous in a midday suburban surveillance. As it should. He doesn't have any pointy ears, but there is a tiny knife on the back of his head.

This toy is pretty much solid black, as you'd expect, using matte and gloss to mix things up - John Wardell and Geoffrey Trapp assigned the different shades to different types of material on the suit, so things with a smooth surface are shinier than things with a textured surface, simulating the different way they'd each reflect light. Under normal ambient lighting conditions, the two shades look almost identical; but under a strong enough light, you can easily appreciate the hard work that went into making him look dull (as much of an oxymoron as that sounds like).

Lanu Uliuli doesn't have very many accessories, but the ones he does have count. In the package, he has hands that are fairly relaxed, but you can trade those for fists or a pair that can hold his small knives. The knives fit in sheaths on his legs when not being brandished. According to costume designer Laura Jean Shannon, Blank Noid has at least 15 knives on his costume at all times, but only those two are functional on the toy - the rest are merely sculpted. It would have been nice if NECA had gone full "Gotham by Gaslight" with the blades, making them all removable accessories, but most of them probably would have been too small to function properly. Still, there's more they could have done. Not necessarily the severed head the recently announced MAFEX version is coming with, but definitely the bunny. Or a candy bar. And why is Night Monkey the first figure in this line not to come with an alternate head of his own? They could do that scene where he's been lightly exploded, and so is showing a little bit of burnt skin.

As a physical fighter, Mávros Negru needs to be able to move well. Luckily, this is a NECA toy released in 2022, so he does move pretty well. He's got a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a balljointed chest and waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. The other two members of The Seven we've gotten so far had double knees and elbows, compared to singles here; why the change? All the joints move fine, with no sticking or breakage, and when his armor overlaps a joint, it's flexible PVC. You can do a lot with him, but not quite a superhero landing pose.

Black Noir is a great take on the "STBLDF Batman" archetype, being intimidating and mysterious, but also a fairly substantial part of the show's comic relief. The figure itself is good, but more could have been done with the accessories to make this a truly standout release.

-- 05/29/22

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