Tag Archives: reviews

Toy Biz Sneak Attack Flip ‘n Trap Red Skull Figure Review

90’s toys are my weakness. They aren’t good in terms of sculpt, paint, articulation, accessories, or scale, especially by today’s standards, but something about them always makes me excited. I think it’s just the nostalgia that comes with them- hell, 90’s toys were MY toys. Yeah, I grew up in the 80’s and I played with toys of the time, but 90’s toys were the ones I started collecting. They’ll always have a special place in my heart because of that, regardless of how stupid they usually are.

Case in point: Flip ‘n Trap Red Skull. Continue reading

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Toy Biz Electro-Spark Captain America Action Figure Review

I love 90’s toys. I know, they suck. Well, at least by today’s standards. But, see, these are the toys I grew up with and there’s something to be said for nostalgia. Nostalgia makes everything seem better, even when it’s something that really makes no sense at all. Like Electro-Spark Captain America.

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Ok, to be fair, this figure is technically “Captain America with Sparking Shield and Transforming Hover Jet”, and part of the “Spider-Man: Electro-Spark” line, but one can understand the leap to “Electro-Spark Cap”. But before I start to talk about the figure, I need to jump into the packaging, because, well, just look at that Spidey pic and tell me you don’t want to know more!

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OK, so the back of the package sets us up for why these toys have an electricity theme- the only way to stop electricity is with DIFFERENT electricity. I guess. According to the package Spidey and Cap are the only two heroes capable of defeating Electro, and to do it they need to juice themselves up with zapping abilities.  I would think that if electricity beats electricity (which it doesn’t…unless we’re talking surges and overloads), why didn’t Spidey just go ask Iron Man for help? But whatever, I get another Cap figure out of the deal.

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To take down Electro, of course, Spidey needs at least THREE electricity-themed outfits, including Electro-Spark, which includes a robot spider, Electro-Shock, which has some sorta mech suit, and lastly a Steel-Shock armor- because nothing beats electricity better than draping yourself in highly-conductive metal. I guess the gimmick wouldn’t work well if we got “Rubber Gloves Spidey”, which is a shame, really. We missed out on years of “Proctology Exam Spider-Man” jokes.

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Another info bubble on the box tells us that Cap’s electricity powers actually come from Electro himself; Cap’s shield has absorbed enough power from the villain’s menacing attacks to actually retain the charge. Why isn’t this a video game? I feel like there was a missed opportunity here with Cap running around with his Megaman style shield absorbing enemy powers along the way.

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The jet sled thing we see here doesn’t get an explanation on the packaging, so I suppose we are to just assume it’s the means of transport that Cap took to go help Spidey. Or maybe it’s a space coffin a la “Wrath of Khan”. Let your imaginations run wild, kids!

Once you get past the plethora of bright colors and visual distractions on the package (IF you can) we get what is essentially a definitive 90’s Cap figure.

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His face is sculpted in a mid-battle grimace and there isn’t much definition to speak of- if it wasn’t for the paint I’m not sure I’d know where Steve’s face ended and his mask began- but all things considered it’s a damn good Cap figure. Just look at the detail sculpting on the chest to capture the scale-mail armor, something still missing in most Cap figures today. It would have been easy to recycle piece from other figures for this guy, but I’m glad to see Toy Biz go all out for him.

Now the accessories are where things get a bit iffy. Everyone knows Steve Rogers is never without his mighty shield, but this time out it looks like Cap decided to bring a shield-shaped gun to the party. Ok, so the package states that the shield absorbed some electrical charge, which is why when you pull the cord on the back of it, it sparks up. It doesn’t mention, however, why the shield shrunk down, or how it got glued to a chunk of plastic. I know it needs to house the electro-spark gimmick, but it just looks odd being so small and really wouldn’t offer much in the way of protection. Plus the way Steve holds it make it look like it should swirl and create some sorta hypno-ray, but it doesn’t and that makes me sad.

Now if you take a look at the blistercard, you can see Cap holding a size-appropriate shield. It looks like it would be a better fit, but since we didn’t get it I guess we’ll never know. If only we had that one to see what this guy would have looked like…

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Hey, Marvel Legends Cap! Thanks for helping out!

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Giving this Cap a more accurate shield goes a long way to make him look AMAZING! The color doesn’t quite match up with the most recent Legends shield- the 90’s Cap has much brighter colors- but the size looks so much better that it almost doesn’t matter. If I can find a good color match in this size, I will definitely display this guy holding it. I just wouldn’t know what to do with the electro-shield the figure came with.IMG_1846

The second accessory Cap comes with is the Hover Jet that can double as a rocket pack.

It’s cool looking enough, but the wings and handles are barely attached and tend to pop off without much prompting, leading me to wonder how any kid was supposed to play with it. If you can manage to get Cap to balance on it without pieces falling everywhere (which took me some effort) it still is a bit funky. The way his arms are positioned he can’t really hold on to the handlebars, and the feet just slide into the goblin-glider foot cups, so there’s no way to keep the passenger in place. I have a feeling that it found its way to many a toy box’s bottom layer.

It also serves another function, though. Well, two more if you count what the package says. First is the jetpack, which works much better than the sled mode does.

It sorta just rests on Cap’s shoulders and hangs there, but the fit is snug and doesn’t come loose as easily as the other mode does. The leg parts have clips to connect the figure’s legs into, but since Cap is sporting his fashionable cavalier boots, and the clips aren’t wide enough, they don’t serve much purpose.  Funny thing is fits a little better when put onto a modern Hasbro Legends figure, despite being made for the smaller guys.

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Now according to the packaging the jet also has a “lab table” mode where you fold the wings back and can lay Steve out for some unsavory experiments. Fortunately (or unfortunately, I don’t know what everyone is into) there are little plastic tabs that keep you from being able to do that. I even tried swapping the wings to opposite sides to see if that would work, but nope. Looks like Cap escapes experimentation due to poor construction.

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Toys from the 90’s are a joy to play with, and Electro-Spark Cap here is no different. We’ve come a long way since the days of 9 points of articulation and “less-than” sculpting, but it’s always good to look back to where you came from, and even for a toy made before the golden age of action figure collecting, this is a dynamite Cap toy. Well, not counting the accessories, of course.

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Captain America: Sam Wilson #8 Spoiler-heavy Review

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Captain America: Sam Wilson #8

Writer: Nick Spencer

Pencils: Paul Renaud

This month’s issue of Captain America: Sam Wilson, brings us one step closer to concluding the Avengers: Standoff storyline and returning Steve Rogers to his former mantle. It doesn’t really do much more than that, but it still is a good read.  In case you didn’t already know, spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.

We start with sort of a double recap. The first page is the standard Captain America recap page, which is fine, but the second page is just more of the same, narrated by Kobik, herself. It’s short enough, but I don’t really know if it was necessary.

From there the story moves along at a fairly brisk pace, taking us from some enjoyable Bam chatting (see my previous review for an explanation) while Steve comes to grips with his re-youthening- something he seems to accept quickly. To be fair, this poor guy has been aged and de-aged before, so I’m not faulting anyone. It’s good, too, since it helps the audience move on while simultaneously showing us just how resilient Steve Rogers is. He simply assesses the situation and prepares for whatever comes next, as we’d expect from our evergreen Cap. We do get a good scene a bit later, however, showing us that Steve hasn’t entirely readjusted to his new/old body when he clocks Whiplash in the face with some serious force.

Before we get to that scene, though, we finally get a full picture reveal as to what Zemo’s insidious plan is- and to be frank, it’s insanely simple. Zemo plans to capture Kobik, turning her back into a simple cube, and when the Avengers arrive to stop him, he can swat them down with very little effort, having Klaw broadcast his triumph for all to see.

But apparently he kickstarted his revolt too soon- The Fixer hasn’t quite figured out how to turn Kobik back to a geometric shape yet. Sure, he’s built a containment unit to house her in, but it’s that “cubify her” part that he just hasn’t been able to piece together. What’s more, Zemo’s hunting party remains unable to find the little girl who Zemo describes as “Often blue. Able to change reality. Even in a place like this, that should be easy to find.” Zemo may have to rethink his master plan, that is until Kraven the Hunter jumps in offering his help to find the girl. And Kraven’s hunting technique is brilliant. I spoil everything for you guys, but you’ll just have to read this one for yourselves.

As for our Captain America Triumvirate, they meet up with Mach VII (former Thunderbolts member) on the streets of Pleasant Hill and help him take out the gang of villains he’s been throwing down with. Mach VII reveals that he was acting on behalf of S.H.I.E.L.D. as security and there is a brief but enjoyable fight scene which makes me sad to think that this is Paul Renaud’s last run on a Cap title (for the moment, at least).

We do get one more solid Renaud-helmed action scene, though, in the form of Agent Avril Kincaid going toe-to-toe with a group of speed-themed villains called The Fast Five, who are lead by old Cap villain, Blue Streak (or a version of. I think the original one died). It’s fun and colorful (as you would likely expect it to be) as well as serving as an introduction for the Curator of the Pleasant Hill Museum who appears at the last minute to help Agent Kincaid defeat the villains. He quickly leads her away to get some form of weapon that S.H.I.E.L.D. was hiding in case things got too out of control (ie: current situation). Looks like we’re going to have to wait until the resolution next week before we get to see what that is, though.

The issue ends with the Cap Trio exchanging apologies and reconciling their differences just in time for the Avengers to assemble for a final showdown. It’s a solid scene in which Steve officially declares that he has no intention of taking the Captain America role back from Sam as he hands the current Cap his shield back (though the solicitations for next month’s Captain America: Steve Rogers book show us Marvel won’t let Steve stick to his convictions).

Like I said earlier, this entire issue was just a stepping stone on the path to next week’s Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega #1 (Jeez, these freakin’ titles), and I guess there’s really nothing wrong with that. It was still a solid book, and while we didn’t get any huge revelations or major plot shake-ups this time out, we get some great action scenes and more entertaining Nick Spencer writing.

Next month is the start of a new story for Sam and new books for both Steve (Captain America: Steve Rogers) and Bucky (Thunderbolts), so I have a nagging feeling I’m going to be a busy blogger, but with Spencer helming 2 of the 3 books, I’m anticipating greatness.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 Review (Spoilers ahead!)

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This month’s issue of Captain America: Sam Wilson is sort of a big deal- not only is it the 75th anniversary of the character, but this latest book marks the return of Steve Rogers as a youthful Avenger. No, that isn’t a spoiler yet.  Well, not if you’ve read anything about anything comic-related over the past few months. Marvel hasn’t exactly been shy about the return of the original Cap since announcing Captain America: Steve Rogers #1.

The book is broken into several different stories- the main ongoing title is split between CA: Sam and CA: Steve, both written by CA:Sam regular Nick Spencer, and the supplemental stuff done a variety of other writers. As you may imagine, the artist duties are equally distributed throughout the book, but for the sake of keeping things organized, I’m simply going to review each story independently.

This is a mighty hefty book, with 60+ pages of story, so hit the bathroom now, because there’s no rest stops on the way.


 

“CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON”

Story: Nick Spencer/ Art: Angel Unzueta & Matt Yackey

The story starts with Sam arriving in Pleasant Hill at the same time as Bucky, AKA The Winter Soldier. Both were following separate tips that lead them to this remote S.H.I.E.L.D. installation to figure out just what is going on and shut down the KOBIK Program. Casual Marvel fans and Cap readers are likely having a “WTF?” moment. Luckily, Sam’s entire story here is really a “Catch the audience up to speed” recap.

Basically the idea is this: S.H.I.E.L.D. was doing a thing with the fragments of some Cosmic Cubes until Sam and Steve found out about it and forced them to shut it down. Well turns out under the direction of Maria Hill, that project, called KOBIK, was still under way in secret. I know, shocking, right? It seems that, at some point, the fragments of the Cubes fused together and became sentient, which isn’t that unusual as Cosmic Cubes have done that from time to time, but this one turned into a little girl also named Kobik instead of some giant super-being. S.H.I.E.L.D. decides to use Kobik’s infinite power to create the world’s most badass, yet morally questionable, prison by having her alter reality, turning dangerous villains into harmless townsfolk of the “Leave it to Beaver” style prison-town known as Pleasant Hill.

What could possibly go wrong?

Yeah, so everything. Somehow the Fixer builds a machine that reworks the villains, including the sinister Baron Zemo, and a Thunderbolts reunion tour starts just as Steve Rogers comes to shut the place down. Explosions, carnage…you know the deal.

This entire story arc gets explained over eight pages as Sam and Bucky fight their way through a gaggle of circus-themed villains with very little difficulty. The pair meet S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Avril Lavigne Kincaid and she helps the duo fill in the blanks along the way. We get a lot of Sam/Bucky bromance, or as my wife has started calling them, Bam. The two do work rather well together, and it’s fun to see them back in action for the first time since the Brubaker run a few years back. I know people are all about “shipping” Steve and Bucky, but this here, folks, is where I’d put my money.

Interesting note- my wife chose “Bam” after realizing the other option was “Sucky”. Good call.

Anyway, Kobik appears to Bam to warn them that Steve was in dire trouble, and he needs his friends now more than ever, so our dynamic duo (I’m kidnapping it for Marvel) rush to his side.

Like I said, this is a fairly short story, but since the purpose was really just to act as a recap, it didn’t need to be too long. I rather preferred this approach to just exposition, mainly because Bam was (were?) really entertaining to read.

The art in this short outing is handled by Angel Unzueta and Matt Yackey, who do a mostly successful job matching Spencer’s zany antics, but something about the way Bucky was drawn irks me. I can’t put my finger on it, but something” just seemed off. Overall a solid start to the 75th anniversary.


 

“CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS”

Story: Nick Spencer/ Daniel Acuna

GIANT, BLOODY OLD MAN ROGERS FACE!

I hope that got your attention, because that’s how the next chapter of this book starts. All we know is that Steve is at a considerable disadvantage and Crossbones, Cap’s long-time adversary, is about to finish the job. I love this scene, honestly, because once again we see just how much Spencer knows the characters he is writing. Crossbones’ lines about not underestimating Rogers and “Zemo’s an idiot” are really on-point.

We jump back in time (Spencer loves doing this) to the events that directly followed the Super-Villain prison riot in Avengers Standoff. Maria Hill is gravely injured and using the remainder of her energy to blame Steve for the bound-to-happen cataclysm that has just went down. We also learn that she intended to use Kobik on herself so she could live peacefully in this pseudo-reality she’s created. I’d feel bad for Hill if I didn’t dislike her so damn much.

Steve calls for medical attention, and after a brief back-and-forth with Mentallo, Zemo steps in and admits that, yes, he does need Hill alive, but in order to jump her up ahead the wait list for medical attention, someone else will need to step down and trade places with her. After all, HYDRA doesn’t value the powerful more than the little people. Apparently.

Unfortunately for Danny Rothstein, random S.H.I.E.L.D. accountant, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and that means his head is on the chopping block. Classic Zemo. Heartless, but classic. However, now that a spot has opened up on the list, Steve picks up Hill and is ordered to carry her across town to the local doctor. Of course he isn’t allowed to just go it alone as Zemo orders Father Patrick to accompany them. Who is he? Dunno, but odds are he’s a villainous villain.

While crossing the streets Steve, Hill and Patrick come across the Wrecking Crew, who, despite their immense powers, are easily tossed aside by Father Patrick. Just who is this mysterious badass!?!

The trio makes it to the building where Eric Selvig is locked up and Steve takes Hill inside while the good Reverend stays outside for some reason. After a brief exchange with Selvig, Steve learns where Kobik might be hiding and decides he needs to get to her before Zemo does. He makes a hasty escape, leaving Selvig and Hill behind to deal with Father Patrick, which seems like a terrible idea as we pretty much know this guy is a powerful villain. Turns out that it’s even more risky than we thought considering Father Patrick is revealed to be THE RED SKULL. I would tend to guess that Zemo had no clue who he was either, since  I can’t imagine he would ever entrust Steve’s safety to the Star-Spangled Avenger’s arch enemy. But this is where I get a bit confused. Steve has no clue who Father Patrick was, but his plan involves leaving a defenseless Hill and less-than-average Selvig behind with a man he just saw beat the snot out of a group of guys who regularly tackle Thor, which turns out to be okay since Patrick is revealed to be the Red Skull, and the Skull apparently has his own plan which involves leaving the helpless pair alone while ensuring Steve escapes “Zemo’s wrath”, and that in turn makes me wonder why the Skull didn’t just walk away after getting Steve to the building instead of trying to barge his way in to begin with. I’m honestly not clear on what his entire plan was.

Also I have no clue if this is the original Skull, or the cloned one that became Onslaught, or if there’s even a difference anymore, but in any of those cases when did the Red Skull become strong enough to single-handedly dismantle the Wrecking Crew in two seconds. Sure, it was a cool scene, but I feel like I missed something.

Moving on, Steve heads to the town’s bowling alley where Kobik is hiding out, and after a heartfelt plea for Kobik to stop using her powers, Steve is able to convince her to hide just as Crossbones enters the building. This should bring us full circle to where we started with this chapter, as Steve starts to get his wrinkled butt handed to him.

The next few pages are just Nick Spencer 100% completely getting Steve Rogers. It’s really refreshing after the last joker they had on the book to get a writer that understands the character, his motivations, and his mentality. I just love the way he writes Steve this entire book and it makes me excited for May’s “CA:Steve”.

This chapter comes to a close as Kobik steps in at the last minute and, just before the killing blow, “makes Steve a hero again” by returning him to his youth using her world-altering cubey powers. Yeah, you knew it was coming, and you knew this was likely how it would play out, but for some reason it doesn’t make the moment any less impactful. Watching Steve turn the tables on Crossbones and beat him down is, well, it’s one of the reasons I read this title. Bam shows up just in time for Steve to get in a good glamour shot as Bucky chimes in with “Wow! About time!”

Nick Spencer really tells a solid story here, despite some confusing Red Skulling, and it was an entertaining read from page one straight through. I already knew he understood Sam, but I’m glad to see he can write Steve, too. And the great thing is that while Spencer has a specific style he doesn’t make the two characters sound the same. They are each independent characters with their own personality, and that’s how it should be.

Daniel Acuna handles the art in this chapter and if you’re at all familiar with his work on Sam’s book you know what to expect. His bright colors and great action scenes are not the traditional comic art many people are used to, but I love it, and it goes well with this story. He won’t be sticking with Steve, though, as he’s continuing his run on Sam after this issue.


 

“PRESENTATION”

Story: Joss Whedon/ Art: John Cassaday

This next story is short, only 9 pages, but it’s not bad. Written by Joss Whedon, “Presentation” is the story of Steve Rogers losing his original shield. Now, I get a little turned around here because I thought Steve got his iconic shield long before he even went overseas (as he had it in Captain America Comics #2 back in 1941) and this story has him losing it while fighting some giant Nazi skull tank, but the Marvel history has been retconned so many times I don’t know what to believe anymore. It’s good to see John Cassaday drawing Cap again, too, and teamed up with Whedon’s writing it makes for a good, yet brief, read.


 

“CATCH ME IF YOU CAN”

Story & Art: Tim Sale

“Catch Me if You Can” is Tim Sale’s filler story about how Steve beats his way into a HYDRA facility to reclaim a cherished heirloom of his. 8 pages, 7 word bubbles- it’s short and sweet, but nothing stellar. I’m not a big fan of Sale’s art, so to each his own.


 

“PAS DE DEUX”

Story: Greg Rucka/ Art: Mike Perkins

Writer Greg Rucka seems to think Steve Rogers hates the ballet. That’s the only thing I got from this story. Wasn’t a fan. Always delighted to see Mike Perkins draw Cap again, though, I just wish he had more to work with.


 

For being the 75th anniversary issue, I had high expectations going in and, to be honest, I wasn’t let down. Yes, the supplemental stories weren’t spectacular, but they also weren’t bad, and we all know they’re not what we came here for.

Before I close this article out, though, I need to gripe about one thing I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned in these reviews before- the cover. No, it’s not bad art, and I actually like the throwback to the old Captain America Comics #1 cover that Alex Ross gave us. My problem is that it recreates the original cover where Cap is punching Hitler with Sam punching Steve. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but something about Steve Rogers in the “Hitler” spot on this cover just seems really wrong to me. It doesn’t even make sense with the story to have Sam punching Steve, but I guess that’s why they say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

That said, great book. Welcome back, Rogers!

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Marvel Select Disney Store Exclusive “Avenging Captain America” Review

I’m not a big fan of Marvel Select action figures. I don’t know what it is, and I know lots of people love ’em, but I just never got it. I own the old Disney Store Exclusive Cap, and to be frank, I hate it, so I was really REALLY hoping that this new Cap would change my opinion. When I first saw the promo pics for it I was optimistic so when the opportunity came to snatch one up, I jumped at it.

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I don’t usually rant about packaging- I’ve always been a “take it out and play with it” kind of guy, so the boxes tend to go right into the garbage. In retrospect I suppose that’s a disservice to all the time and hard work that goes into designing the boxes for some of my favorite toys. I will admit it- I’m a heartless monster. But hey, admitting there’s a problem is the first step, right?

Anyway, I need to start this review up by jawing about the stupid oversized Marvel Select packaging. Listen, I know they make these things jumbo-sized to be uniform. I get that if it were smaller, characters like Rhino or Juggernaut would never fit. But here’s the thing- when you don’t have an enormous character crammed into the box, it’s just a whole bunch of empty space. Look at that! Geez, throw some extra accessories in there! Sigh, landfills are getting a little crowded, fellas.

Okay, beyond the packaging (I now have a title for my behind-the-scenes action figure documentary I will never make) we get to the figure itself. This particular version of Cap is based on his appearance in the Captain America: Living Legend book. I don’t know where the “Avenging” title comes from, and I have seen people refer to this as an “Ultimates” version, but it’s very clearly supposed to be this:

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Straight outta ’10

 

Hell, they even use that image right on the package! Once you release the figure from his twisty-tie hell (why do companies still use these miniature torture devices?!?) you get a solid chunk of plastic that stands about 7″ tall and is packed with detail.

I usually don’t like any sculpts that we get from Marvel Select- I believe they are done by Mr. Jean St. Jean, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. This one is better, although I wouldn’t say it’s perfect. There’s a lot of detailing in the outfit and the face is acceptable enough that I don’t see some sort of pan face or Ron Pearlman when I look at it. What? Look at any Select figure and tell me I’m wrong (the Winter Soldier is hideous). That being said, it still isn’t 100% spot on for me, though I do think it was slightly more successful than the recent Marvel Legends Cap.

Almost all of the details are sculpted in, from the star on his chest to the stripes on his abs, which is something I always appreciate. There are little buckles and buttons throughout that really help sell this guy, and that harness is covered in so many little intricacies that it might take a while to soak it all in. Unfortunately this is one of my major gripes of the toy- all the sculpted grenades and pouches in the world can’t make up for the fact that his belt, which is a softer PVC plastic and connected to his shoulder straps, sits way too high on his waist.

My local Disney Store had about 8 of them on the shelf and they all had this same issue, so, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s an isolated thing. You can pull it down and try to make it look right, but it keeps heading north. Normally a belt is used to hold up your pants, but Steve here seems to be wearing on just as a home for an abundance of pouches. How very 90’s of him.

Once you get past that snafu, the figure is pretty enjoyable. The articulation on the old Select figures used to be a nightmare, but they, in recent times, seem to have improved on their designs. The head appears to be on a ball pin, but I’m not attempting to pop it off to confirm that. It has a good range of motion and can move freely in pretty much all directions. You get ratchet-style shoulders, bicep swivels, single-jointed elbows, wrist swivels at the glove to hide the articulation, and both wrist pivots and swivels. That’s one heap of articulation and we haven’t even moved past the arms yet.

His torso is something of a quandary to me- I just don’t get what they were going for here. You get a waist cut so Cap can turn, but you also get an ab-swivel so Cap…can…turn? I would assume it was meant as an ab-crunch, but the sculpt is in the way or something because he gets about 1mm of movement forward and that’s it.

Going down past that nonsense we have DCUC-style articulation at the hips, which I have always preferred to the old Toy Biz Legends’ ball hips. Thigh swivels, double jointed knees, calf swivels, ankle swivels, and ball-jointed feet will finish off the articulation list. All of the joints (on mine, at least) are tight and hold in place well, and I did spend quite a while playing around with different poses for Cap, so yeah, that is a huge improvement over the last MS Cap we got. Kudos to Diamond for upping their game and being mostly successful.

The paint aps are really solid here, and mine has nice , clean lines, and little, if any, paint bleeding. I will say I would have liked the colors to pop a bit more though. The red is a bit deep and the blue, while having a cool weathered wash on it, is a little on the dark side. It is on model though, so I really shouldn’t complain, but I just did, and I’m not deleting the last sentence.

For accessories we get Cap’s trusty shield, and while I would have liked an American flag, or an alternate head, I guess the shield is really the only accessory you NEED. It’s a good size for the 7″ figure and is cast in a deep red with a metallic look to it. The straps on the back are awesome and very nicely sculpted, and they fit well onto Cap’s arm, making it a HUGE improvement over the stupid white clip we got on the older Cap.

Unfortunately I have an issue with the execution of his trademark shield for two reasons. Number one- Steve usually carries his shield on his LEFT arm, though I know he occasionally has worn it on the right. I prefer the former when I display my figures, and most companies make it so you can display him either way, but Diamond has opted to give him only one open hand on his right side. Actually now that I really look at it I notice it’s more of a trigger hand than a “shield holding hand”, so I don’t really know what’s going on here as the left hand is just a fist. You can easily switch the shield over to his left and just hold it in place by stretching the straps over his fist, and that’s likely what I’ll do, but it just irks me a bit.

My second issue with the shield is that, as far as I can figure, there is no way to attach it to Cap’s back. At this point I assumed all companies were going out of their way to make sure Steve could holster the ol’ flying disc. This is by no means a deal-breaker, and honestly I’m only pointing it out simply to point it out. Most of my Caps are holding their vibranium in case my room goes all Toy Story on me. I have a lot of He-Man villains that we need to be prepared for.

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HAIL HYDR…er…we’ll come back later.

 

The last piece of this figure is an incredibly cool base/diorama piece. It looks like the ruins of an old HYDRA base, complete with bullet holes in the walls, debris on the ground, and a nicely sculpted HYDRA symbol at the top. The paints on it are weathered and really sell the “Cap was here to kick ass and chew bubble gum” vibe. Well done.

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Overall this is a well made, nicely constructed figure. It has some minor bumps, but mostly everything it does is done right, so I’ll count it as a win for Diamond Select and I will gladly be adding this new Steve to the giant collection.

Look for it now in Disney Stores for about $25.00, and remember to tell them “John Stranger sent me!” for an additional look of confusion from the cashier!

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Capvengers Capsemble!

 

Captain America: Sam Wilson #6 “You better believe there’ll be spoilers” Review

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After the ups and downs of our new Cap book, the first story arc of Captain America: Sam Wilson draws to a close. Just 6 issues in and we can see Nick Spencer has a writing style all his own which gives us a fresh new take on the adventures of the Shielded One. It’s quirky, and humorous, and, as we’re about to realize in this issue, has nothing at all to do with the main character.

The last two months of the book I complained about Spencer using Sam Wilson, our shiny new Captain America, as more of a prop than an actual hero. He spent more time as a target of ridicule, a werewolf, and then a paralyzed werewolf than he did anything else. But, see, I’m optimistic. I knew that Sam would pull an ace out of his sleeve before this arc was over- after all, it’s his book, right? Well, let’s take a look.

We pick up where we left off last month- Sam is an immobile werewolf tied to a chair and thrown out a window. At the last second his new buddy, Joaquin, swoops in to save him from being the world’s furriest street pizza, but the momentum sends them both tumbling to the ground just as the Serpent Squad closes in for the kill.

As we should be used to by now, Viper, leader of the Society, starts up with his high-horse speeches before ordering his team to attack the new Falcon and the statuesque Cap-wolf. Cap tells Joaquin to run, and run he does as the entire Serpent Society chases him through the bustling streets of NYC.

Then we get a few panels of in-your-face social and political commentary. Because so far the themes were too subtle (?), and Spencer wants to make sure you get it. We jump back to Joaquin who is fighting for his life against an army of snakes when Sam gambles on an unusual, though kinda neat, strategy- he is going to use the psychic connection he has with Joaquin (thanks in part to Redwing) to help the scrappy little guy fight off his attackers.

Quickly the fight turns in favor of Joaquin, who looks an awful lot like Machine Man with wings, thanks to art by Joe Bennett. Then some more social and political commentary. Because it’s funny. I guess. Anyway, Joaquin seems to be gaining the upper hand until, as Sam points out via narration, the Serpents’ sheer numbers are able to overpower the little guy. He goes down hard and Cottonmouth is quick to step in and chomp off poor ol’ Falcon’s face. Ouch. Then more commentary. Not even good commentary. Just heavy-handed “it’s not just about super heroes, kids!” stuff.

Sam has all but given up, what with being a paralyzed pound puppy, as the Society moves in to finish him off when suddenly Joaquin comes to the rescue! His genetic manipulation a few issues ago also provided him with regenerative powers, meaning that the writers can phone it in any time this character is in danger! God, I’m so sick of regeneration powers. Such a lazy writing device.

Anyway, Mr. I-Will-Never-Die starts to fend off the slithering enemies when Diamondback, who had been sort of hitting the sidelines this entire issue, decides she’s had enough and swaps sides, helping Joaquin fight off his attackers. Why she couldn’t have decided this earlier and saved Joaquin from Cottonmouth I have no idea. Would have saved me a facepalm over healing factors, but whatever.

Suddenly the lovely Misty Knight makes her entrance with a sexy “get away from her, you bitch!” kind of pose. Now things are getting good! Oh, wait. She just stands there? She doesn’t fight? Oh. Well…uh…at least she looks good?

Now overcrowded with characters who, aside from the Serpent Society, Joaquin and Diamondback, are doing absolutely nothing, the book is digging around for direction. Maybe if we hadn’t spent time with all the damn commentary, we could have had some character development, or more time for the climatic action scene. Something.

But, see here’s where things get either better or worse depending on your perspective. There’s just so many characters with a whole lotta nothing happening that the book needs something to further the plot. Viper finally decides that its time to finish off Captain America, and moves in for the killing blow, ranting and being creepy as ever when he hears a faint sound. Enter D-Man driving a chain gun toting buggy, blasting Creedence on the stereo. He simply drives in and runs everyone over, saving the day. And you know what? I’m ok with that. At least they did something with D-Man for the first time in 6 issues, and unlike bringing Misty into this “final showdown”, good ol’ Dennis was actually useful. GTA style useful.

Then some more stupid commentary. Could have been three panels of fighting. Just saying.

In the midst of all the Dunphy-driven chaos, Viper takes the opportunity to slither away, but is abruptly stopped by by a shield to the face! Finally Cap does something! And it was off-screen! Sigh. We go three issues now where Sam, the main character of our book, has done next to nothing. He’s been the equivalent of a talking MacGuffin, I just can’t help but wonder if that will show to be a huge misstep on Spencer’s part. But I digress.

We get some final “shoved down your throat” commentary about corporate America, greed, and how it’s currently a necessary evil. Cap arrests both Viper (and I would assume the rest of the Society) as well as some big business honcho who was using the “Serpent Solutions” development package. Instead of being regarded as a hero for, as Sam puts it, “Taking on the Serpent Society and some of the most powerful men on the planet”, even though all he did was get beaten, tied to a chair, and eventually wake up to arrest some people, the media decides to focus on him meeting up with Diamondback at the strip club a few issues back. That part was actually kinda funny- Fal-Cap-Wolf-Pig. Just imagine Al Gore saying it.

We close out the story with the official introduction of Joaquin as the new Falcon. He poses in his costume which harkens back to Sam’s original green outfit from the early days, and while I appreciate the throwback, I don’t really know how I feel about the bare-chest look. I’m sure it’ll grow on me though, as I found Joaquin to be one of the more enjoyable aspects of this story, if you don’t count the stupid regeneration thing.

Assuming you’ve made it this far, I think you know where I stand with this issue. Overall the story was good, but everyone knows a bad ending can ruin a great story. Luckily this last issue wasn’t terrible, just very weak. Hopefully Spencer takes it easy on the political satire in the next arc. I don’t mind it as an undertone- I mean, all the best Cap books have had some sort of commentary on something in the social or political climate, but it just felt like there was too much in this last issue. To paraphrase the Robot Devil: “You can’t just go around having your story announce how it feels! It lacks subtlety! That makes me feel angry!”

Captain America: Sam Wilson #2 Review

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It’s time again to review the latest issue of Captain America! But wait, didn’t we just get a new issue 2 weeks ago? Why yes, dear reader, we did! Both issues number one and two of CAPTAIN AMERICA:SAM WILSON came out in October before it goes monthly. Why? I don’t know, all I care about is that it meant I didn’t have to wait too long in between issues! Huzzah!

If you read issue #1 of Nick Spencer’s Cap book, you know things weren’t looking that great for our “new” Star-Spangled Avenger. He has no money, very few friends, and half the country views him as a bad guy. Even his life-long buddy, Steve Rogers, the former Captain America, seems to be at odds with him. But before we really get to understand what’s going on we are dropped off in the deserts of Arizona to fight some costumed villains and save some people. Oh, and to start a political debate in the real world about the virtues of kidnapping immigrants. Not gonna touch that last one.

With so many unanswered questions this latest issue is sure to have a lot to juggle, and thus seems to be the sort of thing Spencer is really good at.

We start with a bit of backstory answering the question “Why does S.H.I.E.L.D. hate Sam?” Which eventually leads us up to what is going on with Sam and Steve. Here’s the deal- an unknown informant calling himself the Whisperer has leaked some pretty damning info about S.H.I.E.L.D. and Sam is up in arms about what they are doing. Thing is, so is Steve. Where everything goes wrong for Marvel’s greatest heroes isn’t what S.H.I.E.L.D is doing, but rather how they each feel the informant should be handeled.

Steve is playing the idealist again, believing that The Whisperer will need to stand trial for leaking government information. In his mind he should be held accountable for his actions, even if he had the best intentions.

Sam, being the more cynical of the two, feels that the Whisperer would never get a fair trial due to the nature of his “crimes” and therefor it is Captain America’s job to ensure he can escape capture, since all he did was, as Sam puts it “saved us from ourselves”.

After a brief exchange between the two heroes, Sam does the exact opposite of what Steve would have done and beats up some S.H.I.E.L.D agents, rescuing the Whisperer to live and rat another day. This is the action that causes the rift between these two former partners.

One of the things I love about this being the hot issue is that I, myself, am torn. I agree with Steve and stand behind him 100%, but at the same time I totally get where Sam is coming from and understand why he does what he does. There is no good guy/bad guy situation here. Nick Spencer gives us a realistic situation with no clear right answer, and again I feel like he has complete understanding of the characters he is writing. Both of these characters have views that seem natural and in-character for them, and I thank Spencer for keeping that in mind while writing. I do wonder, however, where Sharon stands on the subject – we haven’t heard from her yet.

So with the elephant in the room properly addressed we can move forward on to the white
-power super villains who, as it turns out, are working for a bigger badder…uh…badguy. While I’m not usually a fan of retreading old stories, I’m curious to see what the Power Broker has to do with this plot, and how it relates to Falcapwolf. Oh, issue #3 is going to be “The Return of Cap-Wolf” in case you didn’t know.

Issue #2 is pretty solid and sheds plenty of light on the situation developing with “Everyone vs. Sam Wilson” while still leaving us plenty of time to develop the story behind the Sons of the Serpent. Nick Spencer moves the story forward again in an interesting direction and keeps us wanting more, which is more than I can say for several previous Cap stories. Look for it in comic stores now.

Oh, I can’t believe Sam just left Misty on that plane after her whole “You wouldn’t like me when I’m bored” speech. I’m sure that won’t come back to bite him.