DC Direct Public Enemies

Superman/Batman - Public Enemies was a series written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Ed McGuinness. In this tale, U.S. President Lex Luthor accuses Superman of being at fault for a huge chunk of Kryptonite hurtling toward Earth.  Obviously, Supes can't do much about it since it's Kryptonite, but Luthor uses this to attack him and send a whole squadron of other superheroes out to get him.

He and Batman team up, working to end both the threat and Lex's maniacal control.  The story line has it's fans, but it has it's critics as well, and probably isn't the strongest Batman/Superman team up you'll find.  Loeb's use of captions to let us into the thoughts of both Bats and Supes is usually heralded as the best aspect of the story.

DC Direct has just released the first series of action figures based on the story arc, that includes Superman, Batman, Shazam, Captain Atom and Metallo.  I only picked up Batman though, so that's who we're looking at tonight.

You should be able to find these at the local comic shop for around $15 - $20 each, depending on how badly your local dealer wants to abuse you.  I also have some other online suggestions at the end of the review that might end up a tad cheaper.

Packaging -  ***1/2
DC Direct continues with the minimalist school of packaging.  The cards are nice and small, which is a plus, and the main graphic is actually the display stand.  Normally I'm not a big fan of their packages, but I think they did a nice job this time, getting creative with the base, adding artist versions of all the figures on back, and going with the basic yellow.  The small size means MOCers won't have too many issues storing them, either.

Sculpting - **1/2
Ed McGuinness had a very bold style in the comic series, but I'm not sure it really works all that well in 3-D.  At least we do know what to compare this to, since it's clear who's artwork it's based upon.

Tim Bruckner was the main sculptor on this line I believe, and he pulled off the overly muscle style fairly well - at least it looks very similar to the source material.  Where he failed was in making it work in a 3-D world.

The sculpt and articulation clash at several points, making the joints fairly worthless.  This figure could have skipped the knee joints, gone with cut joints at the shoulders, and been exactly the same figure, due to the sculpt.

Also, and I'm being honest here, part of this lower score is due to my dislike for the style.  Not necessarily in print form, where it can be dynamic, but in this static representation, where Batman just looks...uncomfortable.

As I was playing around with this figure, looking at the swollen calves, enormous thighs, and thick neck, I was reminded of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon.  He looks like he should be floating along the streets of New York, right behind the Kermit balloon.

BTW, the belt is not removable, at least not without a knife.  Also, if you're picking up the set, you might find yourself slightly annoyed - or maybe not - that Supes, Bats, Captain Atom and Shazam all use almost an identical body sculpt.

Paint - ***
I've heard some other folks who have had serious issues across this line with the paint ops, but fortunately, that wasn't the case with the single I bought.  The black is clean and consistent, the gray covers well without being gloppy, and the lines are all well defined and neat.

My big complaints with the paint is more of style - I'm not a big fan of the bright, gloss boots, cowl, cape and gloves.  The bat-symbol can be glossy, but the rest just looks odd and out of place.  At least the interior of the cape is flatter.

Also, the glossy black on the cape reminds me of the tacky stuff we had with the Teen Titans Robin, and I suspect this cape will get stickier with time, just like that one did.

Accessories - **
Generally speaking, if you're looking for accessories, don't look to DC Direct.  It's not always true, but it's a safe rule of thumb.

Batman comes with a display base.  Now, it's a cool display base, since (like the comic logo) it's a combination of the Superman and Batman logos.  It works fine, and is actually needed for this figure, unless you want him leaning forward.

Articulation - **
Batman has enough articulation - most of it is fairly useless though.  He has a cut joint neck, but I couldn't get it to turn.  Like other DC Direct figures, his jaw like is sculpted down lower than the cut joint, and his jaw was just too tight against the neck to allow me to get any movement.  You might get luckier if yours isn't quite so tight.

He also has ball jointed shoulders, but these have far less range of movement than usual due to the monster lats this guy has.  His arms are never going to be near his body.  Cut joints would have given you almost as much use here.

He has pin elbows and pin knees, but be careful with them.  Both seem a tad easy to break, especially when you're freeing them up from any paint clogs.  He also has a T-Joint at the hips, which turned out mighty important to keep him standing.

Don't expect to pose this guy in any way outside of the standard straight up maquette pose.  It just isn't going to happen.

Value - *1/2
I'm grading this at the twenty bucks I paid - I was robbed.  Of course, with every comic shop setting their own price, you are at their mercy most of the time.  However, I've given you some options below that are much cheaper - some as low as $12.  At that price, you can add another star to this score, since he rises up into the average value range.

Things to watch out for - 
This is DC Direct, so paint is the number one thing to watch for.  Damaged joints right in the package would be number 2.

Overall -  **1/2
This line appears to be one of those good ideas that didn't work out quite so well in execution.  McGuinness' art doesn't translate particularly well into 3-D, even when done by someone with as much talent as Bruckner.  As a complete Bat freak, I had to add him to the shelf, but unless you really like this particular style or this particular story arc, I'd save my money for other DC Direct lines.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - **1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - **
Accessories - **
Value - *1/2
Overall -  **1/2

Where to Buy -
I was raped by my local comic shop - not my regular shop, but my regular shop was only selling full sets, and I just wanted Bats - for a whopping $20.  Don't pay that.  Online options include:

- Circle Red always has good pricing in DC Direct stuff, and has this full set for just $50.

- Alter Ego has just Batman for $15, or the full set of five figures for just $50.

- Amazing Toyz is charging $55 for the full set, but has some of the individual figures as cheap as $12.

- CornerStoreComics is a little higher on the full set at $55, but they have the individual figures as cheap as $13 (including Batman).

- Yikes Comics has the full set for $55, or the individuals for $15.

Related Links - 
If you're looking for a more definitive version of Batman, check out one of these:

- there's the Hush version, which is one of my favorites.

- and of course the Zipline version from Mattel.

- or one of the deluxe versions released by Mattel overseas.

- and if you'd like to see HOW this figure can be improved with just some simple changes - including cutting out some of the lats to allow the arms to rest lower and adding a new cape - then check out the excellent work Iron Cow did on his custom.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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