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Tortured Souls
by yo go re

When Todd McFarlane and Clive Barker teamed up to create 2001's Tortured Souls line, they managed to create one of the year's hottest lines. That type of success pretty much demanded a follow-up, and indeed we got it.

While Lucidique was the sole carrier of the XX gene in the first line, this time we were offered two: the angelic Camille Noire and the arachnine Szaltax.

Actually, to say she's arachnine is a bit of an exaggeration; "insectoid" would be more appropriate. In what may be the most classically-inspired "torture," Szaltax's limbs have been torn from her body and replaced with mechanical apendages. Two additional "arms" have been grafted to her sides, and her head floats freely above her neck.

The technological elements of Szaltax are sculpted just as well as the rent flesh. Pistons and hinges are hugged by the remnants of tendon and muscle. She's got three individually articulated fingers on each arm, and the metal has become quite sanguine.

Compared to Szaltax, Luci and Cami were both wearing nuns' habits. Szaltax's "clothes" are comprosed of a few thin straps and that crisscross between metal rings, leading down to some sort of ram's head chain thong. That right there would be enough torture for the average person.

But not Szaltax. Though her shoulders and hips have been replaced by large metal hinges, she still has her thighs. The tops are flat, indicating a clean amputation. Of course, the coinciding parts of her hips are torn ragged, so it seems her legs were removed both professionally and haphazardly. She's got fishnets down to the knees, which are as butchered as her other joints. A few sickly strands of muscle cling to the metal framework of her shins. Her left foot is bare, and her right foot is robotic.

Szaltax's independant head is supported by two metal struts. From chin to nose, she looks human; then the skin turns brown and rough, with six ice blue eyes staring at you. The back half of her head is covered by a leather cap that buckles under her chin, though I'm not sure how it stays in place if she has no neck. A few strands of black hair dangle down from beneath the back of the hood, and there are two mandible-like hooks where her ears should be.

Szaltax is articulated more than any other Tortured Soul, which gives you the option of posing her as a woman or a spider. In her hominid form, she's 6⅜" tall. There's a large metal arm attached to the small of her back, with two sets of pinchers at the end. Red plastic tubes run from the weapon to the back of Szaltax's head, presumably as a means of life support - after all, you can't eat if you don't have a throat.

Once again the only Tortured Souls I bought were the females - I just had no interest in the others. I'll leave it to you to decide what that says about me. Does it make me mysogynistic? Into S&M? Afraid of women? Why do I find injured women worth paying for, but not injured men?

Part of Tortured Souls Series 1's appeal was the segmented novella offered with the figures. You got a great, detailed background of whichever character you purchased, and there was a running story to encourage you to buy the other figs.

Alas, there's no story to accompany these new Tortured Souls, so we don't know much about them. Were I to make up a story, I'd say Szaltax was crippled by a jealous lover, then turned to the mysterious Agonistes for revenge. She asked for new legs, and he gave her more than she bargained for. Is that it? The world may never know, and I can't help but think that this is going to impact TS2's sales, but only time will tell.

-- 01/16/03

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