Superman/Batman Series 4
Batzarro, Bizarro, Batwoman, Superwoman,
Batman Beyond and Kryptonite Batman

DC Direct's series of action figures called Superman/Batman follows the art and style of the same named comic book series. Wave 1 was based on the Public Enemies story line, with art by Ed McGuinness. Ed has a very unique style, and when I reviewed the Batman from that first set, I was a little harsh. But all by himself (or even in a wave of figures) the style didn't do much for me in 3 dimensions.

Series 2 of the line followed the Return of Supergirl, with artwork by another unique artist, Michael Turner was even less to my tastes. Turner's art looks great, but the exaggerated proportions really didn't do it for me in plastic form.

Series 3 got back to Public Enemies, and the art of Ed. I picked up a Nightwing, although I didn't review it, since I'm such a huge Bat whore.

This week series 4 hit shelves, based on the "With a Vengeance" story arc. Again, the art is from Ed, and I picked up the entire run. This was due to 4 of the six figures being based on the Batman side of the world...and the fact that the style is starting to grow on me.

They've announced series 5, and it will be another Vengeance set. I have to say I'm actually looking forward to them at this point! Series 4 should be at your local comic shop, and includes Batzarro, Bizarro, Batwoman, Superwoman, Batman Beyond, and Kryptonite Batman.

Packaging - *1/2
I hate this packaging. Really. Why? Let's start with the total lack of any character personalization, with the exception of a sticker on the front of the bubble. A sticker that wasn't applied quite straight on any of the many bubbles I saw. Add in the use of the base as the only logo on the front of the package, and waaaaay oversized card backs and bubbles, and you have a great recipe for Me No Likee.

To add final insult to injury, many of the bat ears on the three bat characters were bent and warped due to the interior tray. Yes, you can reform them once you get them out, but the tray should be presenting them in the best possible light for you to be convinced you want to purchase them, not making them look warped.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The McGuinness style is growing on me. I'll admit it. Oh, I wasn't a big fan with series 1, or even series 3. And I'm still not much of a fan of any one individual male figure. But group them together, and they look damn good.

The females are the exception to that rule. I love the look of both the Superwoman and Batwoman, with or without any of the other figures to join them. Batwoman in particular would hold a place of honor on my shelf if I didn't buy any of the rest of the series. She's that cool looking.

Batzarro and Bizarro are also a great pair, and fans of the comic will like having them together. I love the open, upside down pouches on Batzarro's utility belt - excellent! And did I mention he's wearing real metal chains? So cool.

Sure, there's a lot of part reuse here - look at all those identical male legs! - but they've done a little resculpting where it counts, and kept things different enough to stay interesting.

There's not much useful articulation here (I'll be complaining about that in a later category), but they were kind enough to give us a great standard sculpted pose for all the figures, especially the ladies. Nothing overly dynamic or silly, no excessive expressions or mannequin stares, but a nice statuesque stance that borders on maquette. Hey, it works for me.

Each of the male figures stand about 6 1/2" tall without the ears, and the ladies are 6 1/4". Obviously, these fit in much better with other 6" scaled figures than 7" scaled figures, and they'll work pretty well with some of the DCSH stuff. Obviously, they also fit in with the series 1 and 3 figures based on the same artwork.

Paint - ***1/2
I'm extremely happy with the paint ops on the entire set that I picked out. Please note the use of the term "that I picked out". It's critical in this case.

Every one of the figures has nice sharp clean cuts between colors, with almost no bleed and no slop. There's some fantastic work done on the faces, particularly Bizarro, Batzarro and Superwoman, where there's a lot of detail and cool highlights. There's a really nice use of matte and gloss finishes on every figure, but it's especially true on Batwoman. The gloss gloves, cowl and boots look fantastic against the matte gray of the body suit and matte black of the underwear and bat symbol.  Her lips are a little fuzzy around the edges, but you'll only notice it in extreme close up photos - in person, she looks great.

The small detail work on Bizarro's face is amazing, right down to the squiggly sideburns and funky teeth. Figures with a lot of one color - like Batman Beyond - are done with a nice consistency and evenness, with enough small touches of color to break up any monotony. I love the blue highlights in the black hair of Bizarro and Superwoman, and the various emblems and symbols are all done with precision and clean edges.

It's worth mentioning the cool green Kryptonite Batman here as well. His body isn't painted, obviously, but rather cast in the green plastic. And yes, he glows in the dark. How cool is that? So while he's really just a repaint of the series 1 Batman, and as such might not be the top of anyone's want list, he still has a pretty cool visual trick going for him.

I have one complaint on my set, and that's with Batwoman. Or more specifically, with her grannie panties. Both her and Superwoman have a bit of the grannie panty thing going on, with their underwear riding up to their waist, yet not quite covering their hips. It's more accentuated on Batwoman though because they are cut more narrow at the crotch, making the wide top band seem even more out of place. She's gone beyond grannie panties into some sort of grannie thong. On Batzarro and Bizarro, they painted the underwear down on to their thighs to avoid this look, and I think they needed to do that with Batwoman as well.

But that's my only complaint overall...on my set. The problem is that my set was acquired by spending a half hour picking and choosing through the 4, 5 or 6 figures they had of each character, looking for the very best possible one. I saw figures with slop on the legs and torso, bleed on the belts and symbols, and poor cuts between the boots and the legs. In other words, the quality of this paint work is far from consistent, and had my set came through the mail from an online source where I couldn't be as particularly, I'm betting my score in this category (at least for some of the figures) would have been much lower. That kind of inconsistent quality in the paint operations has plagued DC Direct for years, and they absolutely have to get a handle on it.

Articulation - Batzarro, Superwoman, Bizarro, Kryptonite Batman **1/2; Batwoman, Batman Beyond **
This is perhaps the most disappointing category for me on this line, since they HAVE joints, but most of them are fairly useless.

Let's start with the necks. All the necks are cut joints, yet they just scream for ball joints. Now, I can understand why they didn't do that with the four male figures, based on the thick neck design. But why did they do that with the two female figures? They could have easily incorporated basic ball joints, and it would have really added so much to the look of these two figures on the shelf.

The all have ball jointed shoulders, jointed only at the torso, The range of movement isn't fantastic, but it's good enough for the style and design.

All the figures have pin elbows and pin knees, and they work just like you'd expect. The elbows allow for some different poses, but the knees have very little use since the sculpted designs don't allow for any real changes to the leg pose.

The males have the DC Direct T crotch, and the females have the slightly more V crotch design. Again, the leg articulation is almost useless, so these joints don't serve much of a purpose.

True to the usual DC Direct form, none of the figures have a waist joint. Superwoman, and Bizarro have cut wrists (very useful joints!), and Krptonite Batman and Batzarro have cuts at the top of the gloves, but Batwoman and Batman Beyond don't have jack in the wrist department.

And then Batman Beyond comes in with the weirdest joint of the group - he has cut calves. Why? Not sure. In fact, both of the cuts are gapping a bit on mine, and serve no real purpose, so I'd have preferred if they weren't there at all.

So all in all, yea, there's some articulation. Most of it is worthless, and these guys are going to take pretty much one pose on the shelf. Thankfully, the sculpted pose works well.

Accessories - Bizarro *1/2; the rest *
Your big accessory here is the standard base that has been used for the entire line. It's attractive enough, and I didn't have any trouble using the pegs to keep the figures up. Then again, none of the figures have any issues with standing on their own, so the bases are pretty much useless.

The only figure to come with any other accessory is Bizarro, who comes with his #1 necklace. It looks okay on it's own, but on him has two issues. First, I would have preferred that they thread the rope from back to front, instead of front to back. They did it this way on purpose, putting the knots in back, but this tends to push the name tag too far out from his chest.

My second issue is the length of the rope. In pre-production (and package) pictures you can see that it hangs down on his chest, as you'd expect. However, the string isn't long enough in the production version to do that, and makes the tag sit right below his chin. Take this one off and put a longer one of your own on.

Fun Factor - **1/2
These heavily muscled caricature figures are likely to appeal to kids from a visual stand point - they've got a very cool look - but aren't too good in the play department. However, for the young fan that has other figures in this scale, they can certainly battle it up. A big plus for kids is that the leg joints are tight, and the figures stand very easily on their own, making it fun to have battles where they get either a) shot by a nerf gun or b) punched out by another figure.

Value - **
I paid $15 each for these at my LCS. Even with shipping, I could have saved $20 by going with an online source, but then I couldn't have gotten this review up so quickly for you, the faithful reader. I'm a hella guy, eh?

But $15 each is probably going to be pretty consistent with most local shops. Oh, online stores may be closer to $13, and at that price I'd give these guys another half star, making them pretty average. But at $15? No way, sir. All you're getting is a figure - no real accessories, and limited articulation at that. For ten bucks (or less), I can pick up the Mattel DCSH figures, and it seems like we're getting about the same quality. So what's the 50% higher price tag paying for? Obviously these are a lower manufacturing run than the mass market figures, but for the individual buyer, it's not going to seem like enough of a trade off.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Paint, paint and paint. I got a very good set in general, but I had to look through everyone they had (and they had four or five of each at least) to ensure I got the best one. Also watch out for curled ears on Batzarro, Batman Beyond and Batwoman. Many of them were very bent from the packaging, or had weird little burrs on them.

Overall - ***
I would really like to give these figures another half star, especially Batwoman and Superwoman. Those two in particular are very cool looking...but with no accessories, a big price tag, and limited articulation, I just can't bring myself to do it.

There's also something weird about this line for me. I'm not a fan of how the overly muscled steroid freak look translates from paper into plastic. This is particularly true with the male figures, as I like the look of the ladies quite a bit more. If I were to take any single one of the male figures (like I did with the review of the series 1 Batman), he'd get a lower score than this on his own. But when I put the line together on the shelf, the group looks far better than the individuals. There's something very visually intriguing when you have so many different characters together that are all done in a similar style, even when the style itself might not be your cup of tea. So now I'm hooked on the figures based on Ed's art, and I just may have to go back and pick up a couple more from series 1 just to complete the set.

Score Recap:
Packaging - *1/2
Sculpt -  ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Batzarro, Superwoman, Bizarro, Kryptonite Batman **1/2; Batwoman, Batman Beyond **
Accessories - Bizarro *1/2; the rest *
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - **
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
There's some good online options if your local comic shop doesn't have them - or is too expensive:

- Alter Ego Comics has the full set of 5 for $60.

- YouBuyNow has singles at $13 each.

- CornerStoreComics has the singles for $13 - $15, or the full set for $62.50.

- Amazing Toyz has the singles for $13, and the set for $62.50.

Related Links -
I reviewed the Batman from series 1.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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