DC Direct Justice League Series 1

The first series of Justice League figures came out awhile ago - I even reviewed Superman - but Jonathan jumps in tonight with a guest review, now that the comic has hit the stands and the retailer exclusive version of Supes is available.  Tell us all about it, Jonathan!

So, the Alex Ross Justice Wave 1 figures were released a while ago now, but last week I picked up the first issue, and it was great, and my comic book store sold me the Retailer Exclusive Superman which was also great. Therefore I thought I would finally do a review of all of Wave 1 and the DC Direct Retailer Exclusive Superman.

Many people believe that Alex Rossí image of the JLA is THE definitive look of these characters. I agree on some parts, but some I do not. This wave included Superman, Bizarro, Cheetah, Sinestro and The Flash. While some of those figures are seeing their first comic inspired figures, some are not. The quality is very high through out, and with Wave 2 coming in September (Batman, Aquaman, Black Manta, Black Canary and Parasite) and the Wave 3 just announced (Green Lantern (Hal), The Joker, Poison Ivy, Plastic Man and Wonder Woman) this looks to be one of the best lines from DCD in a long time.

As mentioned their was an exclusive Superman released to tie into Justice #1, with a variant head which depicted Superman with fiery red eyes and an angry grimace, these are very limited and run up about $100 on eBay. Luckily I got one from my comic book shop, and have it right here (although MOC) to review for your pleasure.

Packaging - ***
The packaging for this entire line is attractive. The dark blue colour scheme gives the box a very serious tone very inline with the comic. It also looks very nice along side our last Alex Ross figures, Kingdom Come. The font style is rather similar, and the packages balance out. Here we have our cast of figures spread across the top peg hook section. Also in the same way as all of DC Directís boxed single figures they have the shot of the figure included down the right hand side of the box. The box is an improvement on say the HUSH waves, but still not perfect. The back still features a bland description which is the same for the whole wave dragging this back from at least being something interesting for me to read on the way home.

The box will not please MOCers, except for the fact it looks nice along side the other series, it is bulky, and easily damaged. Again it wonít please openers either, and the fiddly little fasteners and plastic bubble inside mean if you do want to open it you might as well just take a blow torch to the box. Nothing spectacular, noting bad though Iíd say the figures look nicer than the box, so open those bad boys up. . . boys!

Sculpting - Superman, Retailer Exclusive Superman, Bizarro, Cheetah ****, Sinestro ***1/2, The Flash ***
This whole wave was sculpted by DCDirect resident go to expert sculptor Tim Bruckner, and boy I do love that man. Superman is the standout, and it really is THE best Superman sculpt to date, not only is it a spot on likeness for Alex Rossí artwork, but it is also a very iconic, muscular and powerful Superman. Although many people have commented that Alex Rossí work makes superheroes look TOO human, old, fat real people that is not the case here, it is a good representation of the more imposing artwork featured in the coinciding comic, JUSTICE. There is more musculature than the older Alex Ross based products, we have abdominal definition and a more defined jaw, it is much more streamline than the previous works. Although there is not so much detail as some of the other sculpts such as Bizarro there are some nice details (crease in boots, veins in hands, cheeks), but overall the simplicity of the costume really adds to the power of the figure, also the symbol is big, and sculpted in just like Batman in the HUSH waves. The cape hangs beautifully, I remember when I first opened my Kingdom Come Superman, I thought wow, thatís a nice cape, although it did look somewhat like he was stood in front of a wind machine, this new one is better, just fantastic, it is an ideal cape for this type of action figure, it looks like Superman is standing there having a staring competition with Darkseid, it hangs realistically, draping over his shoulders made from a softer more vinyl like plastic. So far this IS the definitive Superman figure.

Of course the Retailer Exclusive (RE) has the same body as the above figure, although that does not make him any less nice, he is a very reputable figure without a doubt. The head sculpt therefore is simply icing on the cake, although not exactly better than the normal Superman head sculpt rather it shows more expression and is therefore simply more interesting, where as the Superman widely released is a solid four star sculpt, the retailer exclusive is a high four star sculpt, the teeth and general facial expression also have lots of detail, and purvey a great deal of anger and strength.
Bizarro has a VERY, VERY similar body sculpt to Superman, and most likely is from the same mould, HOWEVER, and somebody can contradict me if I am wrong, but he seems ever so slightly taller than Superman. The detail in his sculpt however is very intricate, the cracks in his skin run all over the parts of his exposed body. His eyes are wide open, and his teeth are very rough and sparse. He looks like a zombie, or in this case a clone gone wrong. The detail of his hair is also nice, and it gives the impression that his head is bigger than it should. He looks very clumsy and unintelligent, the nicest feature is his head, it creates a feeling of him being unaware and yet a creature to be feared, very resembling of Frankensteinís monster in all ways.
This brings me onto the feline fatale of the bunch, Cheetah, okay well I could sum this up with one sentence, while writing this review I originally had her pegged as a three and a half star sculpt, but then I looked at her again, and she is very much a four star sculpt. The detail in the fur alone deserves that, but also the stitching and rips based on Rossí design are fantastic. All of it has a very primal quality, including her fingerless sleeves, and razor sharp nails (children beware!). Her had sculpt is fantastic, so lively and viscous. At first I was going to cut her down half a star because of her bland, static pose, but the pose honestly works with the character, and the liveliness of her face and position of her hands make all the difference. However I donít think it would have hurt if she wasnít such a static figure in most places.

Sinestro is a very lean fellow, very lean indeed. Alex Ross, Ross, Ross, this Sinestro is straight from the animation cels of Super Friends, and we all know how much he loves that show! His fancy nancy cummerbund is there with lovely little ruffles and fanning around the waist, as well as the very simple but effective muscle definition. Of course the simplicity of the animated character is expanded on. He has some lovely material sculpting along his chest, these absolutely fantastic wrist bands he has, and of course here we have Sinestro sporting these absolutely stunning boots from DCDís latest collection. The head sculpt is very nice, as are the hands, and although there is nice detail in his face, and hair, the expression is rather bland and therefore pulling it down a Ĺ star, of course one of his hands his sculpted to hold his mega-rod (heehee), however when not holding this accessory he can quite easily be showing off his fabulous ring of power.

Onto the fastest man alive, or in the non-Alex Ross DCU, the fastest man dead, a lovely rendition of the Barry Allen Flash. This figure features quite a lot of detail, more on the level of Superman, rather than Cheetah. He has nice muscle definition, however none of this is a problem as I am sure you can imagine, as Cheetah is, he is in a static pose, more his right leg, than left, the foot is positioned so that it seems as though he is running, he will neither stand nor look correct if stood in any other pose. This would not be a problem, if like Cheetah his pose was suited to a figure, but it just isnít. A figure cannot look like its running, and you would think that was simple enough, because, well, it canít move. However you can at least make him look decent, but also the angle of the head does not work. Although the work on the neck is just fantastic, it gives a very realistic feel to him turning his head. The material work all over the costume is great, from the creases at his shoulder, to the crease in his boots, and his little wings on the side fo his head. This is a solid Flash figure, although something of a more natural pose would have held this back up at a three and a half star sculpt. But the fantastic work on the body and facial detail work mean he is still at a push a three star sculpt.

Paint -Cheetah ****, Retailer Exclusive Superman, Superman ***1/2,Bizarro, The Flash, Sintestro ***
Well here we have the sketchiest area of DCDís entire catalogue, or rather they have become more sketchy as the figures became more popular. However luckily the artist specific waves have often been on the plus side of their painting quality, and luckily this wave of figures is certainly at the top end of that conundrum.

Cheetah really is the only figure worth mentioning here, and as I say that, I know itís not really true! Although she is the best of the lot. Everything is just so clean, she has the beautiful spots all over her leopard skin, and they are all painted on brilliantly, right down to the end of her tail (although they become stripes at this point). She also has very clean finger AND toe nails, which I must compliment her manicurist on. There are also wonderful highlights on the more exposed areas of her fur, which grade into white. As well as lovely blood stains on the torn edges of her costume. The best part of her paint job, of course is the stunning face, the clean lines on her war paints, lips and teeth are all great. The give life to the facial expression and the eyes just add to the manic and savage expression she has. I must say, it is nice to have a figure willing to put on some lippy for you.
The RE Superman is bumped up from the other three by the clean paint application on his eyes and teeth. There is no bleeding on the eyes, which is nice as they are done in the same way the HUSH Superman was, with a red centre, and a black outline, they really are menacing. The rest of the app is mostly, clean, except for a smudge on his symbol, which I can overlook as he is going to stay MOC.
Bizzaro is also, nice, and although he doesnít have ALL the detail of Cheetah. However there is some nice detail in and around the cracks of his skin. His teeth are also a horrible crusty gray color, and his mouth is brown. This matched with the stark gray and white of his eyes add to the monster-ish quality of his sculpt. The off purpley-blue is also a nice reflection of Superman, it is a much better choice than the Bizarro we received in Superman Wave 1, who was simply bright purple. If it wasnít for some sort of bleeding and build-up around his collar line he would have been a three and a half star job, even with the minor chip on his trunks.
The rest are pretty standard, well I mean they are above average, but each has its own slight draw back.

Superman has only a couple of bleeds; none are on the symbol which is impressive. He has a nice consistent skin tone from his head to his hands and the color chosen for the lips is nice, realistic indeed. Except for a scuff on his hair and neck he is solid. The symbol as I said is very clean and sharp, and very large, just the way we like it. The blue used on this figure is also very nice, it is much darker than the recent Superman, such as HUSH or the JLA one. It is more of a royal blue, and therefore gives him a more regal appearance, overall I think it is a good improvement and one which they should use no matter who designs our next Superman. 

Shimmering in the light is our resident speedster. By this of course I mean he is covered with some sort of glittery substance, I personally like this although it might not be to everyoneís taste. The gold used on his ďearsĒ is consistent throughout his symbol, lightning detail, and boots. The bleeds are only slight, and on the symbol only. I also noticed a small black dot above his left eye, but nothing too major. The eye detail is nice and crisp, as are the lips, using the same colour as on Superman.

Sinestro again is not bad at all, he too has a nice nail job, and the ring detail is rather crisp. But he has some of those build up issues I mentioned earlier, around his shoulder area. Also there is minor bleeding on his wrist. But the facial detail again is fantastic. Some highlighting on the hair may have been nice; I donít know why it only bothers me on him though. The eyebrows and moustache are nice though. There is also minimal bleeding on the cummerbund, which is a pleasant surprise as it is black and white. Overall he is the worst of the paint jobs, but thatís the worst of a great bunch.

Articulation - Superman, RE Superman, Bizarro, Sinestro ***, Cheetah, The Flash **
Well there really isnít much to rave about here, its good, itís an improvement definitely. All of the three star figures feature 11 points of articulation. Thatís better than we sometimes expect from DCD, and its good. Except for one thing, why all cut necks? I mean they seem to have a thing with Alex Ross based sculpts, and cut necks, I just want to know why. Well that is a minimal gripe as mostly these figures would gain little with ball jointed necks (except Superman, I wanted him to have one, he just needs one). In fact in such cases as Sinestro it really helps the sculpt to keep it.

Cheetah and The Flash are both in the same boat, neither have cut wrists, and I can see the logic, neither really have a place which you could hide cut wrists, but I just about let that off, but when you factor in how redundant most of the articulation actually is with their sculpts they just get dragged down a full star, I mean with 9 useless POA, is two stars all that bad?

Oh by the way, waist joints anyone? NOPE!

Accessories - Sinestro **, Everyone else *1/2
Well Sinestro comes with his mega-rod (heehee), as well as the stand, therefore nudging him up just half a star above the rest, pompous Korugarian.

Every other figure (as well as Sinestro) comes with a lovely base. I mean it, I really like this base. As I tend to display my figures in product lines (by this I mean their figure line, not rows) the bases are great. They give each figure a very statuesque and iconic quality, especially Superman. They also make some of the more difficult to stand figures (The Flash), relatively simply, and when displayed together they look very good. Although still there is absolutely nothing spectacular to any of the accessories selection itís not too bad, nothing less than you will expect if you regularly purchase DCD products. 

Fun Factor - Superman ***, Bizarro, Sinestro **1/2, The Flash, Cheetah **, RE Superman N/A
Superman, is well SUPERMAN. Any kid, or myself, will be able to play with him, just because of who he is. The articulation is reasonable, if somewhat limited, he can still be put in some basic poses, and the occasional punch. I think he will please both collectors and children alike, and although he may not sport 21 POA, the sculpt more than makes up for it, and he will look cool however you put him.
Bizarro and Return of the Evil Superman (Bizarro) both have the same functionality of Superman, but as when it comes to playing nobody ever really WANTS to draw the Sinestro or Bizarro card, and they will mostly just scare children, I think they donít have the same impact. Although it is quite easy to set up a nice battle between Superman and Bizarro, or GL Wave 1 Hal and Sinestro.

I think I am bordering on generous with my two stars from The Flash and Cheetah, if it wasnít for the fact that the pose suits both characters, and is basically the only way to would pose either if you could play with them, they would get practically nothing, but like I said, they are lucky!

RE Superman does get nothing, but he also gets free pass on this round, because I am simply to afraid to open him, when I hear they probably made like 10,000,000 of tem I will open him, but until then he is staying MOC, and believe me nobody ever wants to play attack of Box Man!

Value - Superman, The Flash, Bizarro, Cheetah, Sinestro ***, RE Superman **
Well I managed to pick them up from my local Forbidden Planet for £50 the whole set, which is shockingly £25 less than I would have paid if I bought each figure separately. If you look around the net you can still find them, but I am guessing most of you who wanted them have already bought them up by now. 

RE Superman, was expensive, I got him for just under double the price of a normal DC Direct figure, although I think he was worth it, and will be in the future I feel a bit ridiculous sometimes when I think about it.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Superman and Bizarro both seems to have trouble with a slightly loose left knees joint, which means with too much fiddling you may be in trouble. The Flash also has a loose knee joint, however it is on his strange right leg, which over time may happen to give way. The rest of the line was clear of any problems for me.

Overall - Superman ***1/2, Cheetah, Bizarro, Sinestro ***, RE Superman, The Flash **1/2
These are the best versions we have of all of these characters to date, except for perhaps The Flash. Superman is by far the definitive version yet, and since Ross is in my eyes the premiere of Superman artists, I doubt this will be surpassed easily. The Superman figure really is a fantastic job, and he is one of my favourite buys of the year so far.

The rest are fine figures, they each surpass any other release of them. Cheetah and Bizarro are top notch three star figures, a fine addition to any collection. Where as Sinestro is just there, if the GL waves continue, he may or may not be seen in a better light. The Flash fell down on his sculpt alone, had he been standing like a normal human being, he very well could have been up there with Superman, but alas it was not meant to be.

RE Superman simply is there because of the high price point, everything else worked, just that price snagged him down.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Superman, Retailer Exclusive Superman, Bizarro, Cheetah ****, Sinestro ***1/2, The Flash ***
Paint - Cheetah ****, Retailer Exclusive Superman, Superman ***1/2,Bizarro, The Flash, Sintestro ***
Articulation - Superman, RE Superman, Bizarro, Sinestro ***, Cheetah, The Flash **
Accessories - Sinestro **, Everyone else *1/2
Value - Superman, The Flash, Bizarro, Cheetah, Sinestro ***, RE Superman **
Fun Factor - Superman ***, Bizarro, Sinestro **1/2, The Flash, Cheetah **, RE Superman N/A
Overall - Superman ***1/2, Cheetah, Bizarro, Sinestro ***, RE Superman, The Flash **1/2

Where to Buy - 
It is becoming increasingly hard to find all of the Wave 1 figures available so late on, however luckily they are being re-listed next week so keep your eye out. Wave 2 s also available for pre-order:

- YouBuyNow has some of the individual figures in stock for $12 - $13 each.

- Alter Ego Comics has the full set for $50

- Circle Red also has the full set for $50, and you can preorder set two at that price as well.

- CornerStoreComics has all of Wave 1 for $54.95, and the same for Wave 2. The separate figures run from $10.99 - $13.99

- Amazing Toyz has individual figures (some are still available) from the first wave for around $12, or pre-orders for wave 2 at $54.

- Yikes Comics has wave 2 listed at $55 for the full set as well.



Figure from the collection of Jonathan White.

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