Superman is the best superhero. Yeah, I said it. Deal with it. Maybe someone else is your favorite, but Supes really is the super hero. He’s the ultimate embodiment of underdog wish fulfillment power fantasies, he has the character of a saint, and his whole existence shows that sometimes power does not corrupt. Too bad he isn’t real, eh?
Injustice: Gods Among Us is the DC Universe’s most recent (and apparently best) fighting game, with an engine based somewhat on Mortal Kombat. The premise follows a lot of parallel-earth stories (particularly A Better World from the Justice League cartoon) of a world where Superman went bad “for the greater good,” and managed to convince the other heroes to follow him. The contrast between the big blue boy scout as we know him and the terrifying despot he can become is what drives this type of story. That, and how it’s really impossible to take him down without kryptonite if he isn’t holding back.
Injustice has proven to be really popular, and DC Collectibles has released some action figures for it! The toys are 3″ in scale, which is smaller than the 3 3/4″ we are used to for Star Wars, GI Joe, and Marvel Universe. The figures come in packs of two, apparently determined with a blindfold, dart board, and dice rolls. Seriously. We have Nightwing – the wrong Nightwing – but no Batman. Harley, but no Joker. Only “regular” versions of the characters, even when you only saw their Evil Universe versions in the game. It’s crazy!
In the game, regular-universe Superman only comes into the Injustice universe at the very end, at which point he mops the floor with everybody and saves the day. That’s the Superman we have here, not the evil tyrant. Nightwing is Dick Grayson, former Boy Wonder… and the wrong figure. See, he doesn’t actually do anything in the game – regular Nightwing shows up in the background of a few cut scenes at the beginning, and that’s it. Injustice Nightwing isn’t even Dick, it’s Damian Wayne, Batman’s biological son. In the Injustice universe, Damian killed Dick and took his mantle. Damian’s been pretty prominent in the comics for several years now, but doesn’t have a figure – the Mattel one probably won’t be released, and in this case they bypassed releasing him in favor of Dick Grayson, who doesn’t even appear. BAH.
Okay, okay, complaints aside… see, in December, we’re getting a two-pack with Doomsday (And Catwoman. Still no Batman), and I’d like a decent Doomsday, so I went ahead and picked up Superman so he’d have somebody to fight. Let’s look at these two caped crusaders now (one of whom doesn’t have a cape).
Man, the packaging for these guys is elaborate! It’s a huge window box, with the figures posed in mid-battle, and held in place with a ton of twisty-ties. Actually, it’s excessive and wasteful, the packaging has a tendency to warp the figures a bit, there are more teisty-ties than you could ever imagine, and it’s just too much. Nice effort, though, and at least the cardboard insert works as a backdrop.
SCULPT: Superman: **, Nightwing: **1/2
Hey, notice how the faces all look blurry in these photos? That’s not my fault (well, mostly). The faces on these figures are blurry, indistinct, and just not right. Nightwing’s fares a little better due to the mask, but SUperman’s head is both too narrow and too chubby, and looks oddly Asian. That’s not a racist slur, it’s just the first impression I got – they gave him weird, stereotypical features, and you can’t unsee it.
Body-wise, both figures use New 52 costumes, which means that their spandex is padded with all of these little armor plates and ridges. I swear, those ridges will be the 2010’s version of ’90s pouches or ’80s jackets-over-spandex. I guess it’s meant to be armor plating now, and the visible musculature is sculpted on like a Roman lorica. THeir proportions are odd – these guys manage to be too lanky and too bulky all at once, with massive upper bodies, tiny pinheads, nearly-detached shoulders, and stilt-like legs. Superman’s upper body is so huge that when he stands up is makes him look like a mallet, while Nightwing has the flattest torso and chest ever.
On the bright side, those ridges are nice, the costumes are pretty detailed, and I like the way that Superman’s cape appears to be fluttering in the wind. But these figures look really cheap, which is especially bad when you consider their price point – they look remarkably worse than the things Hasbro produces in a similar scale.
Oh, wait, did I say similar scale? These guys aren’t in-scale with those figures at all – they’re an inch shorter! So, Superman & co. can’t really cross over with any of the other super heroes, soldiers, aliens, criminals, or what-have-you out there. Not even the other 3 3/4: DC figures. This unfairly isolates the Injustice figures from pretty much anything else. Sure, Superman can take on Wolverine, but he’ll be fighting a crazy, 7-foot-tall Wolverine!
The good news is, at least none of the paint is sloppy. Both figures have great costumes, and there’s even some subtle shading on Superman’s outfit. And technically the paint is crisp and clean on their faces, it’s just that there isn’t much of it. Superman’s face seems like a blank, and the exact flesh tone they chose makes them look soft and indistinct. Other than that, I can’t complain about the paint.
On paper, the articulation looks great! Each figure has a ball-jointed head, torso, and hips, ball-and-socket shoulders, hinged elbows, double-hinged knees, hinged ankles, and swivel wrists, biceps, and calves. I say on paper because in practice it just doesn’t work.
The shoulders seem like they would provide a decent range of movement, and they seem to on Superman, but on Nightwing they are just these huge massive spheres that offer little in the way of movement. On both of them, the arms are awkward, and can’t seem to take the exact poses you would want. The legs seem fine at first, and I love the double knees, but the ankles don’t let you position them out, and the hip joints are terrible. So terrible, in fact, that Superman’s leg keeps popping off at the hip! At least Superman can take a decent flying pose (though I had to hang him up with a twisty-tie), but other than that the articulation just doesn’t seem to work right.
Nightwing comes with two escrima sticks, and Superman comes with nothing. You could count the cardboard backdrop in the package as an accessory, but it’s too small to really work with. Also, it’s Themyscira, and neither of these guys are Amazons.
Those sticks are tiny, un-detailed, and just cheap. They are some of the easiest toys to lose in my memory – I’ve dropped them multiple times and gone carpet-diving thrice already – and Nightwing has trouble holding them! They are just too thin for his hands, and you have to position them very carefully to keep them from slipping out. Considering the price point, these figures needed to come with more. You know, maybe batarangs or a car for Superman to throw, or at least something – they’re just too expensive to justify being so bare-bones.
A pack of two Injustice figures costs $30. That’s $15 each. For $10, you can buy a slightly larger Marvel Universe figure, with better sculpting, paint, and accessories… who is actually in-scale with other toys. The price just stings with these guys.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Watch for loose and stuck joints, as well as ones that just fall off, like my Superman’s leg. Also, try not to lose Nightwing’s sticks, even though they’re just so tiny.
WHERE TO BUY:
I bought these at my local comic book store. You should be able to find yours anywhere, though you can also go to the Warner Brothers Shop or Amazon.
Well, crap. I’m still going to pick up Doomsday, but this pack of figures really doesn’t bring my hopes up. I can’t really think of anything about them that’s genuinely done well, and the price is just horrendous. And you know what really bugs me? NO INJUSTICE CHARACTERS! I’ve checked! In every case where the Injustice version plays a bigger role in the story, you get stuck with DIck Grayson or regular-Deathstroke or whomever else. So really, these are just New 52 mini-figures, and that isn’t very special when you think about it. I would love a figure of Injustice-world Deathstroke (heroic!), but we’re not getting him. I think the fans are owed a toy of Damian Wayne, but that’s never going to happen. But even if they released Injustice versions of these figures, we’d still have issues like the missing Batman or Joker. So no, I can’t really recommend these figures, even if Superman is the best ever.