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Batman Black and White - Sam Kieth Version
DC Direct

Batman Black and White Sam Kieth statue by DC Direct


One thing about Batman over the years - there have been some pretty radical takes on his basic look. The Batman Black and White series of statues has done a great job capturing most of those looks, and with the latest release they take on Sam Kieth's vision of the caped crusader.

Kieth hasn't done a ton of Batman work - perhaps his best known is Batman: Secrets - and some might argue that his style is more suited to Lobo, with the huge, sharply defined muscles and squat body style.  It's certainly an unusual look for Batman, due in no small part to the elongated ears and neck, something that sets this design apart.

This statue is now shipping, and runs around $70 or so depending on the retailer. As always, I have some excellent suggestions on where to pick him up at the end of the review - please remember that these sponsors make it possible for the site to keep truckin' along.

The statue is billed as a 'limited edition', but with no indication of edition size or COA, it's a fairly meaningless claim. Everything is limited - they only make so many. It is worth noting though that these seem to be selling out at a lot of comic shops right now, indicating that Kieth's style is a popular one and whatever the edition size might have been, it appears to be less than the demand.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Batman Black and White Sam Kieth statue by DC Direct
Batman Black and White Sam Kieth statue by DC Direct
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Batman Black and White Sam Kieth statue by DC Direct
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Batman Black and White Sam Kieth statue by DC Direct
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Batman Black and White Sam Kieth statue by DC Direct
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Batman Black and White Sam Kieth statue by DC Direct
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Batman Black and White Sam Kieth statue by DC Direct
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Packaging - ***
Same old same old - but that's not really a bad thing. The exterior of the box has photos of the prototype, which isn't necessarily exactly what you'll get inside of course. That's why I prefer when statue and bust boxes have windows to allow you to see what you're getting.

Another missing component is any Certificate of Authenticity or even edition size. The box still says "limited edition" but DC Direct doesn't put any actual numbering on the box or base.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Once again, Jonathan Mathews takes an artist's Batman design and knocks it out of the park. Pity the paint doesn't make his work all that it could be - more on that in a minute.

This statue is pretty short, coming in at about 5 1/2" tall, but that's because of the extreme crouch that Batman is currently in. His bulk and size matches pretty well with the rest of the series.

There's lots of cool textures and sharply defined details, and I love how the cape encircles and flows around the base. I've mentioned before that I like it when the designers incorporate the base into the overall look, making the statue aware of its presence. This is one of the best examples of that technique.

All is not perfect, which is why the half star drop. The main issue is the ears, which have a rougher texture to them on the inside than I expect. They should be as sharp and cleanly sculpted as the spikes on both gloves, and they aren't.

That's my only real complaint however, and if you're a fan of Kieth's extreme artwork, then you'll appreciate this translation. If not...well, you know how that goes.

Paint - *1/2
While the sculpting is great, the paint work is not. There's really only one outstandingly serious issue, but it is so grievous that it mangles the score for this category.

There are some very good things about the paint job, most notably the stippling or mottling that they have done on the lighter costume. I don't remember this technique on previous statues, but I think it looks very good here.

Most of the cut lines are clean as well, and while the wash is a bit overused in some spots - like the lower face - it does bring out the sculpted texture extremely well. Let's also not ignore the use of matte and gloss black on various areas, adding a little pop to the basic colors.

So why the terrible score? Just look at those ears! I already mentioned in the sculpting section that they aren't as sharp and clean as I expected - the 'blades' on the gloves are much, much better - but that's not their biggest problem. The black paint is literally dripping off the ends, as though the statue was painted upside down and the excess was not cleaned up. There's a big glop of paint on both tips, which is about as obvious of a place for a problem like this as you can get. Just look at the photos - it's glaringly clear that the tips are botched in every one. How can Bats look bad ass with messed up ears?

Value - **1/2
These are running around $70, which is a tad better than the $80 price tag on the recent Aragones and Mignola versions. It's still not a steal by any means, but I don't feel quite as violated.

Things to Watch Out For -
The tiny points on the ears and gloves are very easy to break - take special care when handling him to avoid bumping them.

Overall - **1/2
A great sculpt of the very unique style of Sam Kieth - this one could have been a home run. It certainly seems to be selling out quickly at most stores, and if you are interested in snagging one I'd say jump sooner rather than later.

I'm hoping that the atrocious paint job on the ears is a one off manufacturing issue, and not a consistent quality problem from the factory. If it's the latter rather than the former, I fear there will be many disappointed Bat fans.

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

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Urban Collector has him for $67.

- Super Power Collectibles has him at $70.

- Entertainment Earth has him at $80.

- or you can search ebay for a bargain.

Related Links -
I've covered lots of Batman Black and White statues:

- the most recent is the Mignola variant.

- just prior to that is the humorous version based on artwork by Sergio Aragones

- Prior to that there was the Gleason and Chiang versions, the Finch version, the Bermejo Joker, the Tony Daniel Batman, and the Arkham Asylum version.

- further back I looked at the cool Man-bat, and don't forget the other black and white Joker by a Lee - Jim Lee.

- before that, we had the Quitely version of Batman, the Bermejo, the McGuinness version, the Dave Mazzucchelli version, the Penguin, Gotham Knight 2 version, the Bruce Timm version, the Ethan Van Sciver version, the Aparo, the Neal Adams and George Perez versions, the Gotham Knight, Bob Kane, Frank Miller, Jim Lee, Matt Wagner, Mike Mignola, and Kelley Jones. *whew*

Discussion:
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Batman Black and White Sam Kieth statue by DC Direct


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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