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Red Arrow

Young Justice
by yo go re

Man, it seems like we just reviewed this guy!

Having impressed Green Arrow with his bow-handling skills, orphan Roy Harper became the emerald archer's ward and sidekick Speedy! But upon turning eighteen, Roy felt driven to achieve something more... choosing to go solo as Red Arrow.

Yes... "choosing" to go solo. We don't want to say any more, for those of you who have yet to experience the pure awesomeness that is the Young Justice cartoon. The show really plumbs the depths of DC continuity for its characters, but like The Walking Dead, they're not afraid to go off on their own tangents when it suits the story. So yes, Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy dropped that name and started calling himself Red Arrow when he began working solo, but just because you know the circumstances of that change in the comics, don't assume you know it on the cartoon as well.

Red Arrow gets a unique body, which is nice. Well, the legs, abdomen and arms are taken from the "Large Teen" body, but those aren't what fans care about when they talk about whether the body is new or not. The important thing is that he's got a new upper torso, which has been molded with new costume details, and has a more blocky, cartoony look than the body typically gives us. The harness his quiver attaches to is sculpted on, while the matching piece at his waist is a separate piece (so the legs can still move). The feet come from Kamandi, freeing up that portion of the tooling budget to create new hands, with the fingers on his right hand curled to draw a bowstring.

The figure's face is very cartoony - perhaps even more than the actual animation model is. Roy is supposed to be slightly older than the other kid sidekicks, but his face here is baby-smooth. His hair pokes up in front just the way it's supposed to, and his eyes are hidden behind a black domino mask, but he still looks young.

Red Arrow's costume is odd. Oh, it looks exactly like it does in the cartoon, but that doesn't make it any less weird. For one thing, he's wearing an arm guard, as you might expect an archer to do, but he's got it on his right arm, not his left. Remember, the point is to protect your arm from the bowstring, so a guard should be worn on the arm that holds the bow - in Roy's case, the left arm. This thing ain't protecting squat! But even stranger than that is the actual design of his costume. Robin, Kid Flash, Miss Martian... they all wear outfits that match what they wore in the comics, right? Well this costume isn't one Roy ever wore, as Speedy, Arsenel or Red Arrow; in fact, it seems to be a direct copy of Ultimate Hawkeye. That's not even the same publisher! There was a promo video for the cartoon that showed Roy in a costume more reminiscent of the one he wore in the Outsiders comic, but that didn't make it to the final series for some reason (even though it made it as far as the prototype stage).

The set includes a bow and four arrows, none of which are reused from any earlier sources. The bow is very nice, a sleek, futuristic piece with no string, but two eyelets so you can string your own if you want. The four arrows are separate, and each have different trick arrowheads: one standard, one with blades, one that may be a sonic arrow, and one with a mace. The arrows can clip onto the side of the bow, so it looks like he's shooting, but the articulation is still not good enough to actually have him aim. Close, though. Closer than any other Mattel figure has come. He still gets the swivel/hinge wrists, and as you know, you never use your wrists for archery. Maybe when DC figures return in 2013, Mattel will have finally worked all this out.

Like the rest of the Young Justice figures, Red Arrow comes with an ornate display base. He gets a nifty slice of rooftop, with a chimney in the corner and a wanted poster featuring Sportsmaster. Why would there be a wanted poster on a chimney at roof height? Because Roy took it up there for target practice. The poster is mode from a very soft PVC, and is actually printed with an image of Sportsmaster, rather than just using a sticker that would surely fall off in minutes. There are two holes in the poster, sized to perfectly fit the pegs on the tip of each arrow - so just like Artemis can shoot her target, Roy can shoot his (and yes, the arrow pegs are the same size, so they can switch).

The roof is also sized to match up perfectly with Robin's base, for a larger diorama - they meet back-to-back, not end-to-end. Well, you can put them end-to-end, nobody's stopping you, but then you have two little architectural embellishments next to each other and the depth of the bases doesn't match up. Thus, it's wrong. Roy's roof is 3⅞" deep, 8⅛" long and 5" tall, and there are footpegs on the two edges.

Red Arrow came out in Series 2 of the Young Justice figures, alongside Aqualad, but he's much harder to find. It's a shame, too, because he's another good entry in the line, has cool accessories and a really nice base. And he's a ton more interesting than any previous Red Arrow figure has been.

-- 05/03/12

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