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by yo go re

An evil South American spider? Isn't that how Arachnophobia started?

Trained and equipped by an oppressive government, Tarantula traveled north to take on the United States' native heroes. There, he sold his skills to the highest bidder, working for evil corporations and criminal organizations. His natural fighting skills and the technology built into his suit make him nearly a match for any hero - even Spider-Man!

What, they can't say he's South American? He's already from the pretend country of Delvadia, in between Ecuador and Columbia. Yes, "Columbia," not Colombia. Way to use that atlas, Marvel. Sorry, got sidetracked. He's already from a fictional country, they can't even name what continent he's from? It's not like they hide where Dr. Doom is from for fear of insulting Europeans. Ah, I'm probably just reading too much into it. Basically, Anton Rodriguez was part of a small revolutionary group trying to overthrow the local dictator; when the group kicked Rodriguez out, he switched sides and the government turned him into Tarantula, Delvadia's answer to Captain America. But he was too much of a jerk for them, too, so soon he was on his own.

Tarantula is a strange figure. Anyone who's been collecting Marvel Legends for a while will immediately recognize that he's built on the Bullseye body - lord knows we've seen enough of it over the years. But the odd thing is, this isn't the Bullseye body: is a new version of the same basic sculpt, but the articulation is different, and the body is just generally smaller than the ones pulled from the previous molds. Did the old tools finally wear out? The sculpt is generally softer, and the figure stands only 5¾" tall, rather than topping out just over 6". This is very strange, and I'd love to hear what happened here.

There were actually two Tarantulas. The original, Rodriguez, tried to boost his powers, and ended up being mutated into a giant spider, so he commited suicide. Delvadia replaced him with Luis Alvarez, who also turned out to be too violent for them and went rogue. Which one of the two does this figure represent? Could be either. The mask covers most of the face, and they both wore the same little mustache. Maybe it's something in the super serum that does it.

Like we said, Tarantula's articulation is slightly different from... well, all the other Bullseye folks. First, the things that are the same: toes, ankles, shins, knees, hips, waist, torso, fingers, wrists, elbows, biceps and shoulders. See? The majority of the joints are the same. He gets a ball and socket head, so that's new, but the real oddity are the forearms. The left one has a swivel joint, like all the previous uses. The right? Solid from elbow to wrist. What the hell? The pin joints all stick out beyond the surface of the figure, too, so overall the figure seems sort of sub-par. Fortunately, if you stand him on tiptoe, he's almost the right height.

Tarantula is molded in red, and his spider symbol is painted on cleanly. You ever notice that Tarantula and Anti-Venom have the same symbol, just like Venom and Spider-Woman did? Weird. Technically the black lines on his arms should run down the outside, not the front, but that's a minor thing, and easy to overlook. His eyes are white, and the little bit of his skin that's visible is nice. They even did his silly mustache right.

The figure's accessories comprise two "break apart crates" - actually the same crate twice, and it doesn't break apart, it just has a removable lid. The crates are nice, for what it's worth, and there really isn't anything else you'd want him to come with: it's not like the blades in his shoes are separate from his costume, after all.

So like we said before, Tarantula is a strange figure. It's a classic Spider-Villain we needed a new version of (the previous one having been released in 1997), but it's also a really oddball figure with some inexplicable problems. If you can find him for a good price, go for it. Wait for a sale. Definitely don't pay above retail unless you really, really love the character. Tarantula's flawed, but he's not terrible.

-- 04/27/09

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