Comic Book 3-Pack Issue #16 (Fan's Choice)
name: Spirit Iron-Knife, Agent Courtney Krieger, Hannibal Reborn w/ Comic Book
Assortment: Comic Book 3-Pack Asst. 5
Price: MSRP $9.99
Availability: December, 2005; Hasbro Direct to Consumer
I hate to say it, but to be frank, this comic pack actually makes me mad. I really have no right to be mad or upset or anything, but the mere idea that we could have gotten incredible Devil's Due inspired versions of the COBRA Trooper, Zartan, Firefly, Overlord or Serpentor and instead ended up with this three-pack...well, honestly, this was my completely last pick of the choices, and when I say last, it was way, way last on my list. It wasn't even close to something I wanted to see. Pretty much every pack that was listed as an option had at least one figure in it I wanted...this one had none that I especially cared about at all. Spirit? Eh, fine I guess, but was never a huge fan of the character...even though DD did a nice re-imagining of him and made him cooler, I didn't really NEED it... Cover Girl? Yeah, the old one was butt ugly, but out of all the female characters, Cover Girl was the one I cared the least about, so I had no real desire for a remake of her either. And Hannibal? Please...who the heck was this kid? They were actually considering making this no name kid instead of someone like Billy, who is essentially the same type of character that collectors have been asking for for nearly 20 years? Makes no sense whatsoever. But...this is a big but... now that I have Hannibal, and more importantly now that I've read his filecard...I actually have a sudden respect for the figure and the character...and I've got some cool plans in mind for him.
Supposedly I'm in the minority on my dislike for this pack initially, though, because apparently the pack I liked the least was the one everyone else liked the most. So instead of a great start to an awesome Coil army we have a duplicate Spirit in darker colors, a civilian teenager, and an absolutely gorgeous version of a character I couldn't care less about. 0 for 3, huh?
Still, my feelings for the history of this comic pack aside, I'll try and cover it from an objective point of view...we'll start with Spirit first.
As I've said in reviews past Spirit is not a character that really ever endeared itself to me. He was fairly heavily featured in the comic book and the cartoon back in the day, and yet still just didn't grown on me and never really impressed me, even though his appearences in the comics did at least give him some street cred. I'm fairly certain it was the plastic versions of the character that eventually turned me off. Twin pigtails don't really spell "macho" to a 10 year old kid, and that original figure was really, really brittle. I think I went through 3-4 of them in the time I've collected, and the last one I just basically tossed in a drawer and tried not to think about it too hard, lest I snap his thumb with merely a wrong thought.
The Air Commando version had a little more life, but was just as strangely conceived, but certainly this one would be better. Well, it had the potential to be, but ultimately, it fails on a few levels.
First of all, the sculpt itself looks like it came from the late Spy Troops era of "long legs, tiny, stubby, little arms". Spirit has some very long legs on him that are even somewhat awkward to pose and stand with. There is some slight bow-leggedness, some floppy knee joints and overall a somewhat strange appearence.
Conceptually, the mold is very nice, with a great covert edge, yet still in keeping with his Native American roots. His face sculpt is very nice, and I love the cross-straps on his torso and the belts and holsters around his legs that bring it all together. He's got some great ancestral jewelry on, and some ruffled fringe on his boots that maintain a sense of his history, yet the figure itself (conceptually, anyway) is much more modern military with a nice back to the basics covert appearence...much better than baby blue.
Of course, all of this was also said, oh...what? Six months ago when DTC Wave 1 came out? Yeah, exactly...this "Fan's Choice" figure got released just a few months ago. Granted the colors are much brighter there and less fitting, but when it comes right down to it 1/3 of this figure pack that we've been waiting over a year for has already been released, and it wasn't that hot to boot. Spirit was actually one of the reasons I was at least sort of looking forward to this pack...but we got him early and I found all of his faults back then, so that gives this release all the less of an impact. Color-wise, this figure is great...much better than the greens and tans. Mostly black and gray with some brown trim on the straps, at least this Spirit looks like he belongs in the night...like he blends with his covert operative comrades. But that's about the only high point here as the sculpt is woefully mis-proportioned...oh and did I mention he barely comes with any accessories? Yeah, he's got a knife. That's it. No gun, no belt/sheath FOR his knife...just his knife. Hrm.
Color me somewhat underwhelmed so far...early pics of these figures gave me some big hope...but an advanced release of Spirit revealing his substandard sculpting techniques broke that open, and even in a much cooler paint scheme, the new version doesn't wow me much either.
"Hannibal Reborn", eh? So let's get this straight...collectors have practically been BEGGING for a Billy figure for the past decade and a half or so, right? So far, nothing, you gotta figure because a figure of a teenage boy simply wouldn't be that appealing. Makes sense, right? So instead of Billy, a central, critical componant to Joe lore and mythos, we get "Hannibal", a cast off, one hit wonder, bit player with no background and no personality. We couldn't get Serpentor in his imposing Coil battle armor, instead we got a teenage clone version of him in a Punisher t-shirt and blue jeans. :/
Can you tell I'm a bit bitter about this pack? ;)
Well, I was bitter, anyway...at least until I read Hannibal's file card and got a somewhat better appreciation for the character, which, in turn, made me enjoy the well-made figure even more.
Well, when it boils right down to it, the Hannibal figure itself is fairly simple, yet very cool. The head sculpt is new and different and looks pretty nice, with a realistic hair style and a distinctive face sculpt...the rest of his body is sculpted well with a nicely "civilian" look to him. His proportions seem to fit...he is a little long-legged like Spirit, but his arms are long enough to kind of make up for it. He uses the Spy Troop's Destro's waist and legs, and I have no complaints there, because it looks like a pair of blue jeans, as it should, and again, the figure looks remarkably "normal".
The paint applications are pretty nicely effective, too, with a great blue wash for the jeans, and a pretty straight forward black for the torso and arms. The skull logo is an interesting choice, I must say...
The sculpt of the coat works to some degree as well, although the rigid material tends to make the figure a little hunchbacked. I am, however, pretty confused as to just how this figure is going to integrate into peoples' Joeverses. At first look and first thought, this character seems to be somewhat of a cast-off. A teenage version of Hannibal, one componant of Serpentor who ultimately doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose other than as a plot device.
However, once I got the figure and read the filecard, I really got an appreciation of this youthful Serpentor-clone (sort of) and am currently working out a way to get him into my Joeverse. Imagine that someone with Hannibal's lust for battle and desire for conquest was alive and well this day and age? Imagine if this same person had access to Dr. Mindbender and COBRA's virtually unlimited resources? Imagine if this determined and cunning individual wanted to use COBRA Commander and his access to try and enact his own sinister plans of domination? Also imagine this current version of Hannibal had some of the same traits as Serpentor, with increased reflexes and strength due to the recombined DNA of history's greatest leaders and warriors. On the surface you have a young man, but underneath you have a diabolical dictator-in-training with the capability and the desire to do almost anything to conquer the modern world.
Sound dangerous to you, too? His filecard was pretty short and non-specific, but in those few paragraphs, I immediately got a picture in my head of COBRA's next great leader. He sees himself as the next COBRA Emperor, but is looked down upon by many due to his age, a fact that enrages him. Only COBRA Commander senses the greatness within and has sort of latched on to the boy as the world-conquering son he never had. While Hannibal's desire for world leadership is obvious to the Commander, he dreams of steering him towards that goal, and is not currently concerned that his own leadership may be in jeaopardy. While I think Serpentor's time has possibly come and gone, Hannibal makes for a perfect follow up and introduces a fantastic new leadership dynamic, and I find myself liking this figure and character all the more, a fact which, quite honestly, baffles me.
To top it off, Hannibal comes with a very cool Serpentor-esque helmet and broadsword. Both accessories come in a neat display case and can be removed from the case, however the awesome looking helmet simply will NOT fit on Hannibal's head, mostly due to his hair. It does fit on some heads, although on a lot of the new sculpt heads it looks a little big and cumbersome. I have a pic of some figs with the helmet on at the end of the review, and when it does fit, it looks pretty darn cool.
Now, whether or not I even like the Cover Girl character, there is no arguing that this figure is excellent. From head to toe, quite simply the best sculpted female figure in G.I. Joe's long and storied history. Her head sculpt is remarkably female in appearence, and the swept hair is a nice effect, looking dramatic, but not so much so that it doesn't look real.
The body itself is nicely feminine, but also effective with the fur-lined leather coat, nicely detailed shirt underneath and understated female figure. Cover Girl looks like she could have been a model in years past (like she was) but is also sculpted and designed like she could be a current member of the Joes. Her proportions are pretty accurate, even with the long legs. The sculpt is quite simple, but very effective, and I really, REALLY love this figure. Even the jacket is sculpted in such a way to give the appearence of free motion, although it is glued to her back and is ultimately not removable.
Cover Girl's colors are nicely chosen and applied, very reminiscent of her earlier figure, with different shades of brown and tan. They all maintain a nice sense of realism and homage, but are modern enough to work as a current member of the team. She comes with a simple pistol, which I guess is fine, since she doesn't need much.
Ultimately, Cover Girl ends up being, figure-wise, the gem of this set. I know she has a strong fan following, and many fans out there have been waiting a long time for a Cover Girl that had long hair, and heck, actually looked like the former model she was supposed to represent. I can appreciate that feeling, but personally, it seems like a waste to me, even though Cover Girl ended up being a terrific figure. I never really used her as a character previously, and while this figure does make me want to incorporate her in the future, ultimately, there are characters, many of them choices in the Fan's Choice poll, who I would have wanted to see first.
I found myself somewhat surprised at my own reaction to this set. When it was first announced and when pictures first started appearing, I was prepared to hate it. I longed for Coil versions of Overlord and Serpentor, and Devil's Due inspired designs of a wealth of other characters, and ultimately, this pack fell short. However, Hannibal's surprising appeal and the fantastic Cover Girl figure do somewhat redeem this 3-pack in a way. I still wish we had gotten a different pack as a result of the fan's choice polling, but even though this pack is somewhat forgettible on the surface, it does serve some purpose if you look down deep. The incredulous lack of accessories kind of throws me for a loop, too, but I'm not sure we would have gotten any exciting ones with the other packs either.
Not a bad pack ultimately...but there could have been some better things.
Ratings (out of 10)
Paint Apps: 7.5
Overall score (not an average): 7
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