Saturday, February 09, 2008

Battle of the Bats

One reason I like the DC Direct figures is that they do a lot in specific artist styles. One problem with this is it can be hard to assemble coherent collections (such as all the members of Justice League in a single style) but the benefit is having figures based on specific styles from specific comics. Today I'm reviewing two figures based on artwork by the same artist, though from two different stories:

Superman/Batman: Return of Supergirl Batman

pencil/ink by Michael Turner, coloring by Peter Steigerwald

Identity Crisis Batman

covers by Michal Turner and Peter Steigerwald.


I absolutely loved Turner's/Steigerwald's art in S/B: Supergirl. Turner draws, and Steigerwald colors, Batman just as I would—if I had any artistic talent. From now on I will always picture Batman in my mind as they draw/color him. I like the tall but not too tall ears, the black/gray color scheme, and I really like their version of the bat-emblem on his chest. These are basically the same figure, though there are a few differences: the head, hands and cape are different, with the arms, legs, and body being the same. The heads are extremely similar, the only difference being the expression of Bats' mouth. Supergirl Batman has an open-mouth snarl, while Identity Crisis Bats has a stern closed mouth expression that doesn't look as stern in the photos. Both heads look great, but I do I prefer the Supergirl Bats version, just a little bit. The capes have a similar look, long jagged edges, but the Supergirl Batman cape is shorter, and of a lighter rubbery material, while Crisis Batman's is much longer, heavier, and slightly more rigid. It also curves outward in a way that off-balances the figure, making it more difficult to stand it up. Crisis Batman has generic mostly open, vaguely kung-fu pose hands, compared to Supergirl Bats' mostly closed hands, designed to hold the controls of the flight contraptions he borrowed from Mr Miracle, they also kinda work as half-closed fists. Batman looks tall, and his body is well defined and muscular, in a way that looks fairly realistic and believable to me. I can't tell you what scale these are in - DC Direct is know for each line having their own scale that's more likely to be slightly different than any other line - if it's a 6 inch scale then Batman is a tall guy as he's a little over 6.5 inches to the top of his head, and 7 to the tip of his ears. He's close enough in height to the JLA Aquaman, JSA Hawkgirl, 52 Batwoman and JLA Green Lantern I have that they'll look fine together in a Justice League display (though it means that Kyle Rayner is a little short, but not everyone's the same height so it works for me).


There is little in the way of contrasting colors, or color at all, actually, but Batman's always been fairly monochromatic, and I prefer the black and gray look anyway. There is one paint difference between the two - Crisis Batman has a bright yellow belt which may or may not be accurate to the comics - I'll have to check (I'm reading Identity Crisis right now, you'd think I'd have noticed, but I haven't) - whereas Supergirl Batman's belt is a dark gold color that matches his accessories.

They both have the same great rendition of the Bat symbol, it is very cleanly applied with very sharp lines and no slop, and it looks identically good on both figures. The lines between the boots and gloves and the gray body suit are extremely clean, although Supergirl Bats has a couple of black spots on one of his calves above the boot. The black used on the boots and gloves is a very glossy black, while his cape and undies are a flat black. The bat emblem is a semi-gloss black, and the contrast between the three is very nice, and helps to distinguish the different areas, more than if they they were the same color. What little paint there is in his face is well done.


I generally like articulation, but it's not as important to me as it was when I only collected Star Wars figures. Since these are DC Direct figures they don't have a whole lot of articulation - well, compared to Star Wars figures for the last couple of year, compared to McFarlane Spawn figures they're loaded with articulation. This Batman figure(s) have what appears to be the standard DC Direct articulation - ball-joint head and shoulders, hinge elbows and knees, and standard hips. The shoulders and head joints have the most movement, but nothing like the recent DCSH and DCUC figures from Mattel, but good enough for a little variation in poses, though the head can't look up or down as far as would be nice.


Identity Batman comes with nothing more than a stand with the Identity Crisis logo on it - he can stand without it, though it's kind of a trick getting him balanced right what with the way the cape pulls him backwards. Supergirl Batman comes with several accessories, all of which are the same bronze color as his belt. He has a flight thingy that doesn't fit quite as well as the packaged photo would indicate (he doesn't seem to grab the controls right), and there's some thingamajig that I think is supposed to fit over his head and shoulders, but is too small to fit over his beefy shoulders. He also includes two big, long claw things that attach to his forearms - in the comics he wore these when he physically assaulted Darkseid - in fact, he smashed them to pieces against Darkseid's face, not that it bother Darkseid much. The claws were a pain to get on despite the attachment pieces being rather soft and bendy - the larger ones fit right over top the gauntlet fins in a not-convenient way, and the small ones were comparatively stiffer (or else more difficult to bend because of their size) and I had a tough time getting them open enough to fit over his wrists. I think they look cool, though, so I won't be removing them anytime soon. He also includes a stand with the Superman/Batman logo, which I really like. He doesn't need it to stand, as he's much better balanced than Identity Batman.


I think these are both great figures, and I'm glad I purchased both of them, but Supergirl Batman was definitely a better buy for my money - even better that it was a few dollars cheaper than Identity Batman. If you only want one Turner-style Batman, the Superman/Batman: Supergirl Bats is definitely the way to go, his expression is better, he stands better, he's got loads more accessories, and the belt looks much better in bronze than canary yellow. But if you liked Identity Crisis as much as I did it's worth picking that Bats up, too.