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Young Justice
by yo go re

It just feels wrong to open this review by saying "white power!"

Deep underground on Sub-Level 52 of Project Cadmus, Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash discovered the mysterious Project Kr. Using Superman's DNA - without that hero's knowledge or consent - Cadmus has cloned the Superboy to make a slave of Superman's son!

Superboy in Young Justice (the cartoon) is different from Superboy in Young Justice (the comic). In the book, he was immature and rude, and was a really big talker; while in the cartoon he's brooding and angry, and barely says a word. But that's just his personality - even his powers are different! If you've read the comics, then you know that Project Cadmus was unable to duplicate Superman's powers, so they faked it by giving Superboy tactile telekinesis; it allowed him to fly, to pretend to be super-strong, and to be fairly invulnerable (as long as he saw the threat coming). Cartoon Superboy, meanwhile, just has a watered-down version of Superman's powers, since only half his DNA was Kryptonian.

Just as in the books, Superboy's costume is a T-shirt and jeans, which isn't exactly a thrilling look for an action figure to have, so Mattel went a different way, putting him in his first-appearance-only "solar suit," the white bodysuit that provided him with a steady stream of yellow sun radiation and allowed him to be fully powered even in the dark basement. The figure uses the "large teen" body, which means he has the same build as comicbook Superboy. The majority of the figure is white, of course, with only the forearms and neck showing any exposed skin. There are a few dark silver lines creating outlines, but even those are minimal. He has the Superman symbol on his shirt (for recognizability purposes), but what benefit would that actually provide in-universe? That is, why would Cadmus bother putting the symbol on the suit, when plain white would work just as well?

Superboy's head is new, as are all the Young Justice figures'. It looks decently similar to the animated designs, but the expression could be better. The best way to describe it is "fiercely indifferent" - he looks bored and indifferent, which doesn't suit the character in the slightest. He should be angry, or at the very least sullen. Anything but neutral.

The appeal of the YJ toys is that they come with large, ornate bases. Superboy's is a piece of the Cadmus Labs, somewhere down in the depths where it starts to be converted into Genomorph City, the secret area that Dubbilex and his little buddies were carving out down there. The "lab" portion of the base looks like concrete, while the "Genomorph" half is a semi-organic red mass with metallic blue globs bursting from within. Off to one side we have a tall science device designed for making science. It's basically a glass tube with a grabber arm that reaches down inside - you can figure it's some kind of automated DNA sampler or something. That's what your imagination is for!

Superboy's accessories are of the "improvised weapon" variety, so he's got a -4 penalty when attacking with them. First there's an I-beam that's been crushed in the middle to form a hand-hold. It's molded from the same translucent red plastic as the Genomorph goop, then painted silver (you can see the original color poking through in some of the tighter corners). His second prop is a chunk of reinforced concrete that's so blatantly a hammer that you have to wonder what it was supposed to be before he tore it free to swing at his enemies.

A few fans were annoyed that Mattel chose to make Superboy in his solar suit rather than in his usual clothes, and that's perfectly understandable: this is what you'd expect from a later variation, not the first release. But honestly, this is a more toyetic look, and one that we haven't seen before. And if they'd gone with the more familiar look, we would have lost out on an unexpected bonus.

See, Project Kr wasn't Cadmus's first attempt at cloning Superman: before that they tried Project Match, which resulted in a savage, feral clone; however, Match wore an identical solar suit (until it was ripped and he used his heat vision to brand himself with a backwards S symbol), so this figure could just as easily represent Match as it could Superboy. Thus, unexpected bonus!

-- 05/17/12

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