Once again Hasbro has given us a multitude of comic packs to grab. Many of the packs reuse molds already put out in single packs with some alterations. Still the packs have enough interesting differences to warrant a second look.
I avoided the Cap/Wolverine pack as it had nothing new to offer in my opinion. I would have done the same with the Thor/Iron Man pack but it was a gift from a friend. Being a gift does not effect my views on it though.
Sentry & Spider-Man
To start off with is the greatest battle that as far as I know never happened, Spider-Man vs. Sentry. Eh maybe they were being ironic with this one.
First up is Sentry, the rip off Superman who substitutes yellow for blue and blue for red, well kind of. But his status as a rip-off Superman is pretty solid as he has near infinite power and is nearly completely invulnerable. His arrival seems to have divided fans who think he was just too powerful for the Avengers. I still think Thor could probably take him though.
Also Sentry’s cape is flowing off to the side, which looks great if he is going to one side, but only at that moment.
Another oddball bit about him is in the comic he is released with, he never appears as the way his figure does. His long-hair scenes are accompanied by a beard and his other look is with short hair (not counting the comic book look as well). Just something I thought was weird.
As a figure he uses that tried and true (note I am saying this somewhat sarcastically) Wrecking Crew mold. An odd feature to the costume is the fact that the blue bands on his wrists and forearms actually accentuate a huge flaw in the mold, the much too skinny wrists for such a big figure. I also have to note it is ironic that the comic Sentry comes with is one of the ones that features the Wrecking Crew. Yeah a ton of coincidences here.
His one major knock is the oddball brown lipstick that has been added to the face. I have no idea what might have possessed the designers to add this feature. It makes the face look as if he is a drag queen and is totally unnecessary. Thor doesn’t have this lipstick and is fine. Another point is the mold makes Spidey look kind of like the big eyed MacFarlane designs which are pretty far away from Spider-Man’s appearance in the comic included with this set.
Still he is not a terrible figure, so I suppose one’s feeling on the character might drive if they will buy this set or not. Sentry is the real draw here and I really don’t understand why he was not given a single pack release especially in light of the pack in he is with.
Spider-Man, gee do we have enough? Apparently Hasbro thinks we need one more and this time repainted the Black Costume Spider-Man into a more traditional Spidey. This raises a few issues. One of the features I have loved about many of the Spider-Man molds have been the webs. Even on the cheaply done Spider-Man line the webs are a part of the mold. Perhaps it is unrealistic but the lowered (or in the case of SDCC movie Spidey, raised) webs give the figure a texture not normally afforded to it. With this figure and the paint on job it feels like a step backwards, like something that was released in the early ‘90s rather than in 2010. It’s not bad, but not a step up from what we already have and as such feels kind of pointless, I mean beyond the fact there have been 20 spider-man’s released this year.
There were plenty of other choices that could have gone with Sentry as well. Spider-Woman is an easy enough repaint and would have offered some variety in a dull wave of comic packs for example. Even though she already has a single pack coming her “slot” (oh, that sounds bad doesn’t it) could be allocated to someone else, and thus expanding the roster. Of course Hasbro will insist the “core character” requirement has to be filled, which is an issue best left for the next set.
Again Spidey isn’t bad, but doesn’t feel like he is very necessary either and might be best left elsewhere. I was ok with the painted on webs on house of M Spider-Man cause he was obviously a onetime thing, but here just seems a waste of space, unoriginal, and just plain waste. I know some people prefer this as he fits with the Black costume Spidey mold but to me he just doesn’t cut it.
Thor & Iron Man
This one was given to me, and to be honest at first I was thinking “What do you hate me or something?” but I admit I like the colors on Thor a bit more than his single pack release. Ironically the brighter colors for this mold are not accurate to the comic appearance. With the exception of the cape, Thor actually looks more like his single pack appearance in the comic. I will say if you missed out on the single pack version this is a great substitute. The comic packs do get out a bit better than the single packs do and he should be much easier to find.
The mold is exactly the same as the single pack version. It has all the great parts and articulation of the original release. The legs on mine seem a bit better, my single pack Thor’s right leg has a tendency to pop off, I have not had this problem with the comic pack version, although his left knee is kind of loose. The head sculpt is still kind of crappy but that is more an issue with the art of the comic than the sculpting. The art has a very scrunched face, I am not sure why since the rest of the figure is so broad and does not have that “squished” look to him, but still the issue with the mold is not is design but with execution on the pages of the comic.
The difference in color for Iron Man is negligible to his single packed release. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me to find out this is the exact figure that has been clogging the shelves only repackaged (of course I mean that jokingly). But in all seriousness there appears to be absolutely little difference and thus I am avoiding rating this figure in this review. I think it is unfair to give the figure a lower rating just because of some mismanagement in case ratios. I have reviewed this figure already and also want to stand by that original review.
I will state that I think it is incredibly cheap or short-sighted to include a figure that is obviously past the saturation point into a two pack like this. The figure has reached its limit with the buying public I think and unless you don’t have the Thor I would think most would avoid this pack (As I would assume they would with Wolverine and Captain America). Also there is a much, much better version of this armor in the Iron Man 2 line (to be reviewed soon) which makes this figure even less needed.
The comic included is the classic battle in which Thor cuts loose on Iron Man for his part in the cloning of Thor in Civil War. Thor basically hands Stark his rear in this fight and I think it is richly deserved. What that battle does is really hits home that Thor is on a higher level than Iron Man even though on paper their statistics are nearly equal
I think this pack might have gone over better with me if perhaps Iron Man was unmasked or battle damaged (the comic makes plenty of latitude for both and we did have the Osborn variant of Iron Patriot which used this mold). But at least something different to not make the pack look so dull was defiantly in order on the part of the designers. Still I got to give Thor some high marks if only for the fact I love that mold, but if you have the single pack already, save your bucks for some of the other stuff out there.
Cyclops & Phoenix
This next pack is kind of interesting to me. I had managed to avoid the Hulk/Cyclops pack from Secret Wars as I already had the Wolverine Origins Cyclops and I still feel the Hulk is steps behind the other figures. With this I am introduced to that same Cyclops mold as well as a Dark Phoenix.
Cyclops is pretty decent but I do admit right off the bat I like the Astonishing X-Men look a bit better. As such I doubt he will replace my Wolverine Origins Cyclops. Still the figure isn’t bad either and were it not for the WO version I might use this as my default. Many have complained about the paint job of the highlights even though it is comic accurate. I personally don’t mind it at all and in fact welcome it. I do really like the pointing hand on this figure that can (nearly) reach up and touch the side of the visor, just as Cyclops has done in the comics.
My only problems with this figure might be the costume itself (never one of my favorites) and the fact that he uses most of the same mold as Havok. As I stated in my review of Havok I always thought of Alex being a bit bulkier than his brother. With the same slim mold the two brothers look to have the same body type which is just not the case in my mind. Still if you have avoided this Cyclops he is a decent representation of the old school Cyclops, so I would say get him.
But the star of the pack is Dark Phoenix. I missed out on Jean Grey in the single packs so this is really my first chance to get her. She uses the same standard boring female mold that every female MU figure has. Ignore that one knock and she is a pretty solid figure. I will say that her face doesn’t look crazy at all as Jean does as Dark Phoenix and as such I think the figure should have been painted Green as regular Phoenix. The sash is cool and comic accurate and I like the textured paint job on the hair. Still her expression does not look like she is ready to kill the 6 billion asparagus people as she did in the comic.
The paint job is pretty solid, comic accurate, and even has the Phoenix symbol on her upper chest down pat. But my brain keeps going back to regular Phoenix. I suppose part of the issue is that for the past several times we have received a figure of Dark Phoenix or Phoenix (in other scales of course) we have had the alternate version very close (usually as a variant). However this time it doesn’t appear like regular Phoenix is even a thought.
Add to the fact that her face is very calm and normal looking (She doesn’t even have the blank pupils Dark Phoenix usually possesses) and I have to think this pack was originally just plan Phoenix and Cyclops, probably with the hopes of a Dark Phoenix down the road but was only switched when the “Greatest battles” title was added (and thus her paint could only be changed by color and not design).
Just a hunch but worse things have been said with less information.
And of course when you get Scott and Jean together, the magic happens:
Dark Wolverine/Dark Spider-Man
Finally we come to the pack that quite frankly surprised the heck out of me, Dark Wolverine and Dark Spider-Man.
I confess I know next to nothing about Wolverine’s son Daken. I like the idea that Wolverine has a son who basically turned his back on his dad though, but I never cared enough to try and keep track of who he is and what he was doing.
Much of the Wolverine MU mold is used with this figure and I admit generally I prefer the Wolverine Origins figures over the too tall Marvel Universe versions of Wolverine. Still I have decided Daken is much taller and broader than his dad and as such the mold works for me. This is Daken impersonating his dad in the Dark Avengers of course. As such he works on a great many levels. I was going to pass this set up as it looked like another boring set and I am glad I didn’t.
Daken’s claws are like they are in the comic with two on top and one at the wrists. The one at the wrists is a slightly different color which I assume is to simulate the fact it is made from a different metal as in the comic. Apparently the blade is made from one that can disrupt Wolverine’s healing factor and make permanent marks on him. Of course since Daken has the same healing factor it begs the question of how he can function with the blade coming out of his wrists, ah comic book logic, you have to love it.
At this point Daken no longer has the wrist blades, but the point in which this figure is supposed to represent he still did and thus they are here (uh yeah, you following all that? Good).. The figure is really cool because it causes the casual fan to do a double take and suddenly realize it is not Wolverine they are looking at after all. The figure also sports a new head, to be honest I had to sit Dark Wolvie and Wolvie side by side to see any difference and the difference is barely. Really kind of begs the question of why did they bother since the new head still looks exactly the same almost
Overall this slight variation is enough to warrant a purchase of this comic pack. Fortunately this is not the only incentive.
Dark Spider-Man is of course Venom masquerading as Spider-Man. Venom to me has always been sort of a one trick pony. He shows up once a year in Spider-Man and threatens him but Spidey ultimately wins with some sonic or flame device. However the symbiote apparently kept getting passed around until it landed on the Scorpion of all people. Venom apparently mutated somewhere in there and became the size of a small house.
In the Dark Avengers storyline apparently Venom was given some kind of medicine that made him normal sized and it is at this level that I think Venom does work. As impersonating Spider-Man he ends up transcending the one hit pony problem and becomes a credible threat, a threat to Spider-Man’s integrity. I am not sure if this storyline will ever reach that point but I like the possibility much more than an oversized blob.
And that works great with this figure, obviously he is not Spider-Man but it’s very hard to find anything different as well. The head sculpt is new as (it appears) are the hands. The body is the same Wrecking crew sculpt mentioned before (which seems to be becoming the standard “big guy” sculpt for the line). No toothy maw which works for me. The visceral, growling Venom worked for a bit but I think the whole idea just got stale. This version is great for covert ops and less than direct approaches and that opens up a whole world of possibilities.
Sure the comics may not go there, but now I can which is kind of fun. Another great feature is the shiny purple paint. It’s a nice touch of highlighting that makes the figure go from a bland black to an exciting sheen. The highlights bring out detail and help show off the figure while credibly giving him stealth. This also matches the effect of the black glider Spider-man from the Spidey line and runs counter to the blue highlights of the single packed black Spidey in the MU line. All of which works great for me.
Basically I love this figure, what more needs to be said.
The greatest battles is a mix mash of good ideas, nice variations and repetitiveness. I think some fresher characters are needed to make this concept grow on me. I like comic packs a great deal but I hate seeing repetitive peg warmers kill the idea.