Batman Black and White
Matt Wagner Version


The Batman Black and White series of statues continues to truck along, cranking out unique artist visions of the caped crusader done in a monochromatic style. The series has been very popular, with some of the statues (like the Mignola and Jones versions) being truly outstanding. The latest artist to be showcased is Matt Wagner, in a statue sculpted by Paul Harding. This guy just hit last Wednesday, so for those that ordered them online, he should be on your door step any day. Suggested retail is an eye popping $60 on these, but you can find them at most retailers for under $50. As usual, the statue is a limited edition, but not too limited at 4500.

The 'black and white' format (based on the book of the same name) has been successful for DC Direct for a number of reasons. First, they color scheme (or lack thereof) fits the character extremely well. Second, they went with a reasonable size, big enough to look impressive on the shelf, but small enough to keep the price down. That's third - a reasonable price. And fourth (and finally), they've used top notch sculptors and solid designs on entire run.

Packaging - ***
The boxes work well, cradling the statue inside safely with some reasonable graphics on the exterior. Of course, I prefer windows so that you can see the actual statue (or bust) that you're buying before you buy, and some additional background text on the whole Black and White concept would be nice, but the packaging is decent.

Sculpting - ***
Sculpted by Paul Harding based on Matt Wagner's work, this is a statue that (like the rest of the series) will appeal to some and not so much to others.  Such is real art.

The style is a bit rougher, thicker and blockier than some may like, and that's where my issues lie.  The sculpt actually matches up pretty well with the comic art, so if you're a big fan of Wagner's version, you shouldn't be disappointed.

There's not a lot of detail work, which does match up with the artwork.  The wrinkling of the cape is extremely well done though, especially around the hands where they are gripping the fabric, and there's some more nice detail work in the pouches on the belt.

Scale on these guys allows them to fit in fairly well with 7" scale action figures, and you could conceivably display them with some of the other DC Direct action figures.  I'd stick with keeping them together though on their own shelf.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint is fairly straight forward, consisting of black and gray.  But they've used a nice gloss finish on the emblem, gloves and boots, allowing them to stand out from the more matte cape and cowl.

All the paint is extremely clean and neat, with sharp cuts between the few colors that are here.  This is a solid quality job at this price point, and hard core statue collectors won't be disappointed.

Design - ***
I'm not too sure about this pose.  Some of the black and white statues have poses that just leap off the shelf at you, grabbing your immediate attention.  Others have been fairly dull and uninspired.  For me, this version, with his cape held out to either side and looking slightly downward, is someplace in the middle.

Value - **1/2
I'm grading this guy around $50, which is probably about what you'll pay. Find it closer to $40, and you can add another half star. That price range is about right for a statue in this scale, with comic book detail and style. The edition sizes aren't extremely low, so most of these haven't gone nuts on the secondary market, but they haven't gotten extremely cheap either, which is a good indication that the asking price is about right for what you're getting.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not a thing, really. This line has had very consistent quality, so what you see on one statue tends to be what you see on every statue.

Overall - ***
This isn't my favorite of the entire line, obviously.  But it is a good representation of Wagner's artwork, and it is a very different pose than the rest of the line up.  That's important, because it makes the shelf a whole lot more visually interesting.

Coming up later this year is the Jim Lee and the Alex Ross versions, and both of them look terrific.  I have high hopes that both will be solid sellers, and we'll get to see this series continue!

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  ***1/2
Paint - ***
Design - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Online options with my sponsors include: 

- Amazing Toyz has him listed at $47. 

- Alter Ego Comics has him in stock for $48. 

- Forbidden Planet in the U.K. has him for 44 pounds. 

Related Links -
I've reviewed a few of the other Black and White releases, including the Mignola version, and the Kelly Jones version.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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