Here we have a fantastic photo from the late 1970’s, possibly early 1980’s of what appears to be three superheroes and a small child. It’s hard to tell for sure from the photo if this is a promotional photo from some sort of appearance or just some sort of Halloween get together. Whatever the origin (I’m not sure I even want to know), it’s got some great cheesy vintage charm to it. The costumes aren’t too horrible (though Superman glued his S on upside down) but clearly not on model, until you get to Spider-man, who is about as ghetto as you can get. They’re like real life Megos or something. I love it.

Superman movie review
It would seem we are in something of a Golden Age of superhero film. It seems like every other blockbuster is based on the exploits of a Marvel or DC Comics character, especially since 2008 when The Dark Knight was released and Iron Man began the march toward The Avengers. Conspicuous in his absence was the granddaddy of all superheroes, Superman. Though the first two Superman films are fondly remembered, the 2006 continuation Superman Returns fell flat and left the series in limbo. Now Man of Steel hopes to start an all new Superman film franchise. Is this a shiny new beginning for our oldest superhero, or another non-starter? Here are my mostly spoiler-free thoughts.

Man of Steel is very much Batman Begins for Superman, even relying on flashbacks to explain the backstory. This is not a slight against Man of Steel, the Superman story needed to be rebuilt from the ground up on film, just as Batman needed it. The choice of Zod as a villain is a bit interesting, because he is better known from the original films than he ever was in the comics. The sequel focused mindset dictates that Lex Luthor cannot be featured until movie #2 or #3 (though you are likely to spot some LexCorp logos throughout Metropolis).

The nonlinear exposition was actually refreshing for me, because I was prepared to sit through a full Smallville retread of the Superman origin. The prologue on Krypton at the start of the film does its best to reinvent the dying planet, but I found the execution a bit too Star Wars-prequelish. I say that as a fan of those movies, but the pure amount of CGI-candy, and action hero Jor-El, in that sequence gets to be a bit much. Continue reading

DC Action League
Superman and Bizarro
2 Inch Scale
By: Mattel

I’ve been on a bit of a mini figure kick as of late and today’s review just reiterates that. The Action League started out as an expansion of the Batman Brave & The Bold line, but this year is being rebranded to include all of the DC Universe. Gone are Brave & The Bold designs, but in their place is the entire DC Universe to choose from. Wave 1 has many heavy hitters that didn’t appear in the Brave & The Bold cartoon and gives us a chance to get some new pack-in figures aside from Batman. Today’s review is of Clark Kent’s alter ego and his botched clone. Let’s dive right into the review of these little dudes.

The package is a nice little window box with hanging tab. It’s similar in shape to the Batman Brave & The Bold Action League figures, but lacks some of the charm. As with all other DC Universe products, this shares a similar deco to the Mattel DC Universe core lines.

I’m not a big fan of all the packages more or less looking the same. I think it confuses the consumer and doesn’t make the individual lines stand out. If these were all the same line, that’d be one thing. However, this package does have a few bits of Action League branding that sort of help differentiate it.

The back includes cartoon pictures of the figures in this set and shows off the rest of the guys who came out in this assortment. We also get a little story/bio, but it’s not very good. At least it’s a start of something and will help kids who may not know about them out a bit.

Right out of the gate Mattel wanted to inject some new life into this line and they gave us some homerun figures. Superman is arguably the face of DC comics and the entire DC Universe, so his presence is an important one.

Superman is sculpted in one of those Christopher Reeve majestic flying poses. The good news is that he fits into the same style as the previous Action League offerings. This is something I was worried about, but he looks just as animated as the others. From his box-like head to his three fingers and a thumb.

Super definitely looks ready to fly into action and kick some major butt. There are a few noticeable paint splotches or uneven areas, though. I noticed this across the board on the new series of Action League, which is something I never really saw with the previous Brave & Bold Action League.

Superman has a couple of issues that I don’t love. He’s sculpted into that flying pose and without his stand, he can’t stand up. I do like that the stand is removable, but aside from hanging him on a string, he’s not going to get vertical.

The back of his cape is also missing his insignia. While it’s only a minor deal, it’s a missing piece none the less.

Bizarro looks really good and definitely seems to be channeling his animated JLU appearance. The face is more kid friendly than many of the Bizarro figures we’ve seen in recent years. He still retains a certain monstrous look however.

His body is big and bulky and really help him stand out as a massive mound of miscreant. He’s got a good color to him and a fair amount of detail in his backwards S symbol.

His cape also has some shredded parts which really help to show him off as the anti-version of Superman. It’s a nice figure and perhaps, one of the nicest in the DC version of this scale.

The new figures have all the standard Action League articulation that we’ve come to expect, which is simply cuts at the neck, shoulders and waist.

It’s enough to get a few poses out of these desktop warriors, but not enough that you could really play with them. Maybe on a car trip to grandma’s or something.

Up until now, almost no Action League figures came with accessories. A couple of the Deluxe packs had removable elements, but we get a couple of honest to goodness accessories here.

Bizarro has a big ol’ chunk of Kryptonite. I mean HUGE! It’s painted, not translucent like more Mattel green rock. It’s a free moving piece and not attached to the figure in any way, although Bizarro can hold it well.

Superman also gets his stand. It’s necessary to get him to stand and works pretty good.

The Brave & The Bold versions of the Action League used to run about $6.99, but for whatever the reason these have been bumped up to just under $8. I’m not super pleased with that and I’m going to be selective in my purchases as a result. I think this set and the Green Lantern set are worth it, but the others are getting a pass for now.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 5
Accessories – Kryptonite, Stand
Value – 7
Overall – 7 out of 10

The expanded DC Universe Action League figures aren’t any better than the old figures, but they aren’t any worse. It’s really just a continuation of the same line. That’s definitely a plus for folks who have been building up a collection of these small fries.

I do wish the QC was a little tighter and the price was a tad cheaper, but that’s pretty much the case with everything that Mattel produces. It’s good to have Superman in the mini figure scale on the desk and Bizarro is a great colorful addition to the villain shelf. I just hope that the Action League continues to produce the obscure villains like Bookworm as they seemed to be trending towards in the Brave & The Bold line.

So here’s the new trailer for DC’s latest animated feature: All*Star Superman. It’s expected to be released in Spring of next year, with James Denton (Desperate Housewives) voicing Superman, Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) voicing Lois Lane and Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) voicing Lex Luthor. In the film, Superman is faced with mortality and has to decide what is truly important to the last survivor of Krypton.

The movie sounds interesting, but I can’t help but feel as though the once great DC animated empire has taken off into a DC Direct model for movies. Each film has different actors, different writing, different universes and even a different drawing style. I realize that the DC animated team are probably tired of exploring the Bruce Timm BTAS/STAS/JLU world… But that’s what people liked about DC’s animated stuff. That world was probably the best damn incarnation of the DC Universe ever.

The rest of this stuff, while good, often varies in quality. We also run into the problem of a lot of these films exploring similar themes. These are basically one shot comics, in a cartoon movie format. It’s a nice idea and all, but I think DC would be better served to create a series of movies that tied together and used the same actors and drawing style.

Am I alone in this?

A new Super Powers colored Superman figure from DC Universe Classics has hit Ebay. This is obviously a Superman that was “found” in a factory in China. No official word on when this figure will be released, but the auction lists it as a “Secret Origins” figure. I’d love for this figure to come in a two pack with a new Clark Kent figure.

I really like the colors on this one, though I have to wonder if we really need yet another regular release of Superman. It would have been nice to at least get a new head sculpt. Should be interesting to see if and when this figure hits retail. I’m sure more details will be coming shortly. Needless to say, this guy looks pretty sweet.