Scott Snyder’s “Death of the Family” is not only a classic Joker story, it is one of the best I have read.
It’s hard to go into something with the amount of hype this one had without being cynical. Let’s face it – comics today are not what they used to be. Everything that happens is considered an “event” and even the slightest change to a character calls for a press release that ruins the surprise and 84 variant covers.
But they weren’t variants. And the story was truly memorable. The change to Joker – apparent with just a glance at this figure – was mostly cosmetic, but the real surprise came with the reveal of his endgame. I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t read it, but Snyder truly characterized Joker as well as anybody ever has. For me, this narrative is right up there with “The Killing Joke”, which I think anybody would agree is the seminal Joker story.
Side Note: If you don’t, please mention it in the Comments! And tell me which one you think is the best.
I mostly stopped collecting DC’s in-house action figure lines a few years ago; with the exception of the excellent line based on the Arkham video games. But this Joker was so interesting and gruesome I had to have it. Besides, I doubted very much that Mattel was going to make an action figure of a guy who had cut off his own face and then reattached it Leatherface-style.
Side Note: At the time I ordered this figure I also had no idea that Mattel’s 6” line was going to go straight down the toilet and that they would be launching a 4” line in its place. Not that it would have made any difference, I just thought I’d comment.
Speaking of which, I am absolutely furious about the 4” movie figures that are coming out. Mattel is releasing Michael Keaton as Batman, Christopher Reeve as Superman, Danny DeVito as Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Terrance Stamp as General Zod. Each of those is a figure I would have happily purchased in the 6” scale. But I don’t collect superheroes at 4”. Seriously – I’m pissed.
First Glance: Typically the point of DC Collectibles’ action figures is to represent a particular artist’s style. This Joker is Greg Capullo all the way. I knew he was going to be a must-have, but in hand it’s an even more impressive figure.
Articulation: Joker basically has the same articulation as most DCC figures. There are always a few variations here and there, but the company sticks to the same general design.
Head – ball joint
Shoulders – ball joints
Biceps - swivels
Wrists – swivels
Waist – swivel
Hips – pivots
Ankles – swivels
I hate to be super-pissed about the first thing I discuss, but I am so fucking tired of these Joker figures that can’t look straight ahead. I don’t know what fucking idiot has made the decision that all Joker figures need to be shoe-gazing Kurt Cobain clones, but I am sick of it. “Hush” Joker is like this, Arkham Asylum Joker is like this. And now New 52 Joker. It’s enough to make you crazy. So yeah – his head basically just swivels left to right with very little up and down motion. Argh.
The shoulders are a different story. Joker’s shoulders have a great range of motion – much more than any other DCD/DCC figure I own.
The bicep swivels are also nice, since they are concealed in the sleeves of Joker’s speed suit. Same goes for the wrist swivels – they’re in the gloves.
The hip pivots are a bit deeper than some other figures, but still not very functional. Because of this, the knee joints don’t matter a whole lot to me. They bend as deeply as they need to. The ankles swivel just fine.
All of the joints on my figure are free and functional. This isn’t a super-poseable Joker, but it is a step up from where DCD was a few years ago.
Sculpt: Obviously Joker is a 100% new sculpt.
The head is absolutely grotesque and the clearest representation of Capullo’s rendition of Joker. The hair has a lot of form and detail, perfectly capturing the look of the comics - the middle part in the front and the way it is gathered up under the strap of the mask in the back. The skin mask is wrinkled and torn and pulled tight across the exposed muscles of Joker’s face. His teeth are big and slightly misshapen. Not grossly so, but what you would expect from a psychopath. The beady, devious eyes set deep inside of the mask add to the effect. I’m not as crazy about the gigantic ears on Capullo’s rendition of Joker, but they are a signature and are done well.
This Joker is wearing the speed suit or coveralls or whatever that were his fashion choice for this particular story arc. The wrinkles, seams, and pockets are well defined. The shape of the garment is great - the wide sleeves and the too-short legs make Joker look even taller and lankier than he is. It’s a nice effect. The socks have a sculpted texture and the shoes are clunky-looking work shoes. I do have a concern about these feet. They are molded from a softer plastic and I worry that over time they will warp under the weight of the figure and cause what I like to refer to as “The NECA Lean”. Well, I don’t like to refer to it. I wish I never had to refer to it because I can’t stand when an otherwise perfectly good figure… uh… can’t stand.
Joker’s neck and arms are skinny and somehow menacing. His neck juts forward, which is part of the problem with the figure not being able to look straight ahead. I like the pose, but the joint should be more accommodating.
The gloves are big and thick and I’m sure there’s something psychologically disturbing about large hands. The cuffs and seams look great. The right hand is an open fist and the left is slightly more open. Obviously the ideal is interchangeable hands of varying poses, but DCC hit a happy medium with these.
Coloring: This is one area where DC Collectibles typically excels. Going along with capturing a specific artists’ style is getting the coloring right as well.
From a distance Joker’s head looks pretty good, but once you get up close there are a few minor issues. The gaps between his teeth are flesh-colored rather than black, which makes it look like he has a bunch of teeth mashed into a wad of flesh. The line between his exposed muscle and the white of the skin mask isn’t distinct all the way around. And on the right side it looks like a portion of the business securing his mask in place went unpainted, so it looks like there’s nothing attached there. Otherwise the head does look good. The teeth are a nasty yellow, the hair has a dark wash that makes it look filthy, and the buckle on the mask strap is nicely done. Joker’s eyes are particularly good, as they’re placed in the middle of exposed muscle behind the mask.
Joker’s speed suit is a purple that almost looks blue (especially against my purple background). I believe they offered an orange variant as a convention Exclusive. This one looks great. It has a wash that is just enough to make it look worn, but not ridiculously filthy. The lettering on the back and on the name patch is a bit uneven, but that’s reflective of the source art. The paint is applied well in both cases.
The socks, shoes, and gloves are all pretty basic, but do have dark washes that look good. His gloves match the brown of his tool belt.
Flair: Joker has a tool belt that is partially a separate piece and partially part of the figure sculpt. And I can’t think of much more terrifying than Joker with a belt full of tools.
The half and half sculpt is a total success because of how smoothly the parts are joined. The buckle looks great and the way it is slung low on his left hip adds a lot to the profile of the figure. I love how big and bulbous the pouches are – they actually look functional. There are a bunch of tools sculpted in that look fantastic. The sculpt is done so well that you can’t immediately tell they are part of the belt. The paint is also expertly done – there’s no bleeding into the belt and the tool parts are all well defined. The only issue I have with this piece is that the strap on the back is painted purple rather than brown so it looks like the back pouches are just sort of suspended without support. I might actually try to mix up a little paint and fix that.
Accessories: Joker comes with a pipe wrench, a hand saw, a ball peen hammer, and pliers. Again, these are probably the most terrifying items Joker could have come with.
Each tool looks awesome and has a ton of detail. They are molded out of a soft plastic. This is fine for everything except the saw, which is pretty bendy and doesn’t hold its shape very well. Everything has a great paint job. The wrench has some silver parts and some scuffing. The pliers have grips that almost look rubbery. These are some of the nicest accessories I’ve seen in a while; better even than the stuff NECA has been doing.
Joker can hold all of these pieces, though some work better than others. They also all fit in the tool belt.
Packaging: DCC’s new style window box. I’m not a big fan of these. They’re too big, the figures seem buried inside, and the graphics just aren’t exciting. I think it’s a disadvantage to have your package dwarfing your figures, but I suppose they want a standard size. So with a wide range of profiles and body types I suppose this is the best option.
What’s on the back isn’t so much a bio as a blurb. It’s kind of boring and I don’t like the arrogance of the statement “Perfectly captured” (correct thought it might be). In all honesty, I think it would have been a good idea to explain a bit of the story and why Joker is wearing coveralls instead of his traditional suit. And maybe why he has a skin mask.
Value: This Joker seems to run between $19.99 and $24.99. He can pass as a twenty dollar figure, but twenty-five bucks is pushing it for any 6” scale release. I feel good about what I paid for him, which was a decent bit less than the twenty thanks to my comic shop discount.
Overall: This would be a damned fine Joker if it weren’t for the head that can’t look forward and that paint mistake on the tool belt. Otherwise he’s perfect.
4 out of 5
If you want crazy Leatherface Joker, this is probably your only option. The poor decision making on the head drives me nuts, but I’m still happy to have him on the shelf. You can probably still order one from your local comic shop, but BigBad and Entertainment Earth have him in stock if that’s not an option.
Phantom Troublemaker vs. 31 Days of Halloween
I’m changing the format a bit this year in order to more accurately portray SyFy’s schedule and also to preserve my sanity. I had the genius idea to cut and paste the schedule directly from SyFy’s page rather than typing it out in my own format. This has saved me an awful lot of time and also means that individual episodes are listed rather than blocks of programming like previous years. So what I’m going to do is provide commentary where I feel it is needed rather than posting next to every single entry. Don’t worry – you’re getting the same amount of hilarious, then kind of funny, then labored, then thoroughly disenchanted Phantom content. Just in a different way.
Like last year, I am covering the programming from the time this posts until the time of the next post. That means that on Fridays you are going to be treated to a shit-ton of this stuff.
Let’s do it!
Oct 24 11:00 AM Syfy Original Movie Monsterwolf
Aside from the 9 AM movie, Blood Monkey, this seems to be werewolf day on SyFy. And I am totally down with that. Moreover, I am actually off today, so I will be enjoying at least a few of these gems. I absolutely love the name Monsterwolf.
Oct 24 01:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Wolvesbayne
This ridiculous spelling would seem to denote some sort of Gen X, rave-oriented tale. My best guess is that it’s a Blade ripoff, but about werewolves.
Oct 24 03:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie War Wolves
Can’t be as good as Dog soldiers, but might be okay. I’m still waiting for an adaptation of Jerry Ahern’s classic, WerewolveSS. Yes – that’s exactly what you think it is.
Oct 24 05:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie An American Werewolf In London
No matter how many times I watch this movie the nightmare scene still scares me and the transformation scene transfixes me utterly.
Oct 24 07:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Underworld: Evolution
Oct 24 09:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans
What’s the deal with SyFy only showing sequels of some franchises? Are they just that much cheaper to license (or whatever it is TV stations do to be able to show movies)? Just once I’d like to see a marathon of every movie in a franchise. I mean, not this franchise. Rise of the Lycans is awful. But maybe something else, like Ginger Snaps. Those are great fucking movies.
Oct 24 11:00 PM Syfy Original Movie Red: Werewolf Hunter
As appealing as I find Felicia Day – especially with her new haircut:
I could not get into this movie. I’ll certainly give it another shot, but I remember not liking it at all when it premiered.
Oct 25 01:00 AM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Leprechaun
Oct 25 03:00 AM Syfy Original Movie Leprechaun's Revenge
Wrong holiday, knuckleheads.
Oct 25 05:00 AM Ghost Whisperer Gravesitter
One more. Just because:
Oct 25 06:00 AM Paid Programming
Oct 25 08:00 AM Syfy Original Movie Warbirds
Today’s theme is Scary Flying Things! For awhile, anyway. In my Perfect World, this movie would be about genetically altered, cyborg ostriches that get out of hand and attack… I don’t know… Kansas or something.
Oct 25 10:00 AM Syfy Original Movie Pterodactyl
Sometimes when I see the word “pterodactyl” I think of Jurassic Park III and the scene where we finally got some flying dinosaurs (though they weren’t actually pterodactyls). Sometimes I think of Pterry, Pee Wee Herman’s friend. Other times I think about the guy that decided a word that elicited thoughts of “terror” and “dactyl” (I don’t know what that’s supposed to evoke, but it sounded sinister when I was a kid) needed a “p” at the beginning. “P” doesn’t make anything scarier. Scientists are weirdos.
That’s way better.