Ross Justice League Series 2

Alex Ross is sort of like Apple. Some people love him loyally, others hate him with passion, and then the majority sway back and forth depending on what the cool kids think right now.

I like his artwork, although it really only fits certain story lines and time periods well. I didn't pick up the entire first wave of Justice League figures based on his art, only Superman, but I was very glad I did. The second wave just hit comic shops yesterday, and includes Batman, Black Canary, Parasite, and Aquaman. As you might suspect, I bought Batman.

The third series of figures is scheduled to hit next May, and includes Joker, Poison Ivy, Green Lantern, Plastic Man and Wonder Woman. Rumor has it that the entire series could top 30 figures before they're done.

Packaging -  **1/2
DC Direct's packaging continues to leave me fairly cold. If I were trying to be a MOCer with this line, this design would drive me nuts. It's half box, half card back, which means it has most of the flaws of both, but fewer of the perks. With the card section sticking out on top, you won't be able to store them nearly as easily as if they were simply boxes. And because the bottom half is like a box, there's lots of wasted space.

But the graphics are good, and the colors of the JL stuff looks great on the peg.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Just recently, I spent a review bashing the Public Enemies version of Batman. This version just reaffirms how goofy that character looks.

Don't get me wrong - this isn't a perfet Batman either, and has several issues, but none of them are as major as the outright dopey appearance of the PE version. This isn't a definitive Batman for me - I still like both the Hush and Zipline versions better - but it does capture Ross' art well, and as part of the overall Justice League line, it gives you a Batman that fits in pretty well.

Not perfectly though, because DC Direct is still having scale issues. Batman is big, bigger than the Superman for this series. That will be an issue for a lot of folks, because part of the beauty of this figure is displaying him with the rest of the Ross JL line, and yet he doesn't quite fit in.

The head sculpt is very much like the Ross art, capturing and older and more 'realistic' look to the face. Ross' art is less cartoony, and this head sculpt does it justice.

I do wish that the symbol on the front has some sculpting to the edge, like they did with Superman in the first wave, but that's not the case. The symbol is simply painted on, with no sculpting detail.

The cape looks fantastic though, and is another terrific example of how good a plastic cape can actually look. It's about the right length too, something that tends to allude the sculptors at times. The boots, cowl and gloves also all look great, and I'm really digging the belt with the large pouches. It looks great on the figure, with just the right amount of additional detail work. There are a couple other proportion problems that might bug you though, at least at first.

The first one that jumped out at me is the knees. Because of the pin joints, and the style of the boots, the knees appear much thinner than either the calf or the thigh, and can look pretty goofy at the right (or wrong) angle. Also, his forearms and hands are a tad small for the large torso, but you'll probably grow to ignore that pretty quickly.

The right hand is sculpted to hold his included batarang, and the left hand is fisted. He stands just fine on his own, or you can use the enclosed display stand.

Paint - ***
This category score comes highly qualified - this is MY figure, and yours could very well be a much different story. I've heard lots of reports of weird paint jobs on the eyes and lips, and saw a few myself in the store, so you could end up with one that deserves a much lower score than this.

The eyes on mine though are straight and clean, and don't exhibit the kind of sad expression that is on others I've seen. And I don't mean sad as in bad, I mean sad as in it appears as though someone just shot Ace the Bathound.

The lips are also pretty clean, and not too dark. Again, I've seen others that are much worse, so be careful. The rest of the body is well done, with a clean line around the bat symbol, and nice consistent colors on the suit and cape.

Articulation - **1/2
Batman isn't going to do much other than stand with his hands at his sides, but he does that one thing very well. If you can only do one thing, you better do it well.

He has a cut neck, which turns easily this time around. I've gotten other DC Direct figures with this same style neck joint that haven't moved as well, so it's nice to finally get a good one.

He also has ball jointed shoulders, but they have a very limited range of movement, and the T joint style hips. Finally, he has pin elbows and knees. The only weak joint is the knees, where the pins feel particularly soft.

There's no waist joint, although it looks like there should be, and even worse, there's no cut at the top of the gloves. At least with Superman we got articulated wrists, and yet with this figure (who has an accessory to hold and pose with!) we don't get those joints. Damn.

Accessories - ***
Here's a category that DC Direct is notorious for doing very poorly in, but they've stepped it up this time around. While the quantity isn't great, the quality is pretty damn sweet.

Bats comes with only two accessories, and one is the now standard display base. There are two pegs included for two holes in the base, but Batman only has a hole in one foot. Go figure.

The second accessory is his well sculpted, nicely scaled batarang. This thing looks as deadly as it should, but the cool feature is that it folds in half! Not only that, but fold it in half and you can neatly tuck it into a compartment in the back of his belt. Excellent! DC Direct isn't really known for that type of touch, so it was a very pleasant surprise.

Fun Factor - ***
Even though the articulation is limited, this would be a fun Batman for any kid. His only problem is the slightly weak knee joints that might not hold up to play very well, and that nasty, pointy batarang that might injure the cat.

Value - **1/2
This is so tricky for DC Direct figures, since you're at the mercy of the retailer. I paid $15, which is about $2 - $3 too high, but I have some suggestions below where you can get it in the right ball park, and below $12 you could add another half star.

Things to watch out for - 
Those eyes and lips. I looked through a half dozen on the peg to be sure I was getting one I could live with, and I've seen some pretty weird paint jobs that other folks have ended up with.

Overall -  ***
This is a much nicer Batman than the PE version, even if you're not a huge fan of Ross' art. But still has his issues, including scale and some missing articulation that just doesn't make sense. If he's going in a Batman display as an example of this art style, you won't mind as much since scale will be all over the place anyway. However, if he's going in the Ross JL display, you'll want to keep him away from Superman to avoid making the slightly larger size too obvious.

The Black Canary figure also looked extremely good in this line, and Aquaman wasn't bad. Black Mantis and Parasite didn't do much for me, but then I'm not a huge fan of either. The series in general is working out well so far though, and will make for quite an interesting display once it's complete.

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

Where to Buy -
Comic shops got these in this week, and specialty retailers like Media Play or Sam Goody should get them in eventually as well. Online options include:

- Alter Ego Comics has the full set of five for just $50.

- Circle Red has the full set for the great price of just $50.

- YouBuyNow has an excellent price on the individual figures, any one for just $12.

- Amazing Toyz has the full set for $54, or individual figures for $12 - $14.

- CornerStoreComics has the full set for $55, or the individual figures for $11 - $14 each.

- Yikes Comics has the full set for $55 or the individual figures for $15 each.

Related Links -
I have one other review of the JL line - Superman. There's also a guest review of the entire series.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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