REVIEW: DC DIRECT BLUE LANTERN BROTHER WARTH
I certainly regard myself as a major fan of the DC Comics Universe -- at least pre-New-52, anyway. However, while I have also been a dedicated collector of Mattel's excellent DC Universe Classics line, later the Signature Series, I haven't really bought very many DC Direct figures, despite considerable offerings from that company.
Why? Several reasons. The figures have generally not been as consistent as Mattel's line. I'm not really one who needs to collect a dozen different versions of Superman just because this figure is sculpted to look like this artist's work or that version represents a particular storyline. Just give me a good, straightforward Superman figure. That's what Mattel did. And I think there's a lot to be said for the talent, detail, and consistency that the Four Horsemen brought to Mattel's line -- not to malign the designers and sculptors of DC Direct. They were simply taking a different approach.
Additionally, DC Direct's figures simply don't tend to be as well articulated as what Mattel offered. Now, I know I've criticized Mattel from time to time for going a little overboard on articulation. I will never believe that double-jointed elbows and knees look good or even work especially well. But with DC Direct, there frequently just wasn't enough.
And, ultimately, since I regarded Mattel's DC offerings as my primary collecting focus when it came to DC characters, the DC Direct figures just weren't -- quite -- compatible. They were close, size-wise, but just not quite there. And I'm just nit-picky enough to consider that a factor.
That said, I've been known to make occasional exceptions. And I made one recently. Among the well-received Green Lantern offerings that DC Direct produced, when the multiple-colored Lantern Corps were appearing, and everything led up to the spectacular "Blackest Night" and "Brightest Day" storyline, I discovered a figure that I knew was someone that Mattel just wasn't likely to get around to, even if they hadn't announced the end of the DC Universe line following the quarterly non-subscription offerings in 2014 -- definitely something to be mourned right there.
The character was simply too unusual. For Mattel to have done this figure, they would have had to design him from the ground up. And that's something that just didn't happen very often. This was the reason Mattel used for never getting around to Granny Goodness of the New Gods. She was simply too unusual. So was this guy.
But DC Direct did him, and I saw no reason why the figure wouldn't make a good fit in my DC Universe collection, simply because he was different enough to blend, as contradictory as that sounds, and because I knew full well that no one else was likely to get around to him.
He is the second most prominent member of the BLUE LANTERN CORPS, and his name is -- BROTHER WARTH.
Let's consider some of the history of the Blue Lantern Corps, and of Brother Warth in particular, and then have a look at his action figure.
The Blue Lantern Corps debuted in Green Lantern vol. 4 #25 (December 2007) and were created by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver. Their powers are fueled by the emotion of hope.
The Blue Lantern Corps are one of the nine corps empowered by a specific color of the emotional spectrum within the DC Universe. They filled an important role within Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps as major participants within the Blackest Night crossover event. First formed by the banished former-Guardians Ganthet and Sayd, they were based on the planet Odym and their powers are fueled by the emotion hope.
The creation of the Blue Lantern Corps is rooted in the events that transpired during the Sinestro Corps War story line. During the first half of the event, Ganthet and Sayd serve as a dissenting voice among the Guardians as they acknowledge that the Blackest Night prophecy within the Book of Oa is coming to pass.
Their willingness to embrace emotions and the love they have for one another leads to the two being banished from Oa. Soon after their exile, Ganthet reveals the Blackest Night prophecy to Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner. In his description he says: "Elsewhere, a flicker of hope will shine from deep space, like a lighthouse warning the ships away from the rocks. The blue light will hold the line in spirit if not in strength".
It is revealed at the end of the issue that Ganthet and Sayd have settled on a planet, later named as Odym, have created a blue power ring, and intend to form their own Corps.
In the Rage of the Red Lanterns storyline, Ganthet and Sayd's Blue Lanterns are finally introduced. The Green Lantern Corps have just been ambushed by the Red Lantern Corps, kidnapping Sinestro from their custody. Hal Jordan, reeling from the effects of an attack from newly added Red Lantern Laira, finds himself being healed by the powers of Saint Walker.
Saint Walker introduces himself to the Green Lanterns as the Blue Lantern of Sector 1. By being in his emotional proximity, Jordan's power levels are boosted as long as Walker hopes for his well being. Though Stewart is suspicious of Walker's intentions, Walker's ring creates an illusion based on Stewart's psyche, freeing him from the effects of the Red Lantern attack that caused it.
With Stewart placated, Walker takes Jordan to Odym. There, we are introduced to the second member of the Blue Lantern Corps, as Walker and Jordan watch Warth of Sector 2 being given a blue power ring by Ganthet and Sayd. After which the two former-Guardians ask Jordan to aid the Blue Lanterns in rescuing Sinestro from Atrocitus, as his survival is important in the upcoming War of Light.
Jordan reluctantly accepts Ganthet's request and goes with the Blue Lanterns to the Red Lantern home planet of Ysmault. Along the way, Walker tells Jordan that the Green Lanterns are nothing but a police force, and that Jordan would lead the Blue Lanterns. Though Jordan tells him he has no intention of leaving his Corps, Walker tells Warth that it was imperative that Jordan become a Blue Lantern.
On Ysmault, Jordan locates Sinestro but is promptly ambushed by the Red Lanterns. He's captured by Atrocitus' forces, and though Atrocitus tells Laira that Jordan's flesh and blood belong to her, her attack is interrupted by the arrival of the Sinestro Corps. Chaos ensues, during which Walker and Warth come to Jordan's aid. They are shown not only boosting Jordan's power, but also capably handling the two battling Corps. Warth easily keeps the two from fighting one another, while Walker keeps Atrocitus himself at bay, though admittedly is unable to douse his red fire.
During the conflict, Jordan seems to be able to appeal to Laira's true self despite the red power ring's control on her. Any true reversion of its effects are halted as Sinestro kills her. Outraged, Jordan attacks Sinestro and is so overcome with rage that Laira's red power ring chooses him as its new host. Atrocitus welcomes him to the Red Lantern Corps.
Despite Walker's claim that the power of the blue light is the greatest in the spectrum, Atrocitus reveals the weakness behind the Blue Lanterns: hope is nothing without willpower to enact it. Walker concedes that with Jordan's green power ring inactive and no other green aura influencing them, he and Warth are reduced to the basic abilities of flight and aura projection. Despite his disadvantage, Walker holds true to his earlier assertion that Jordan would join his Corps as he places his own ring on Jordan's hand. The red power ring is destroyed, and Jordan is released from its influence.
Feeling their powers drained by the coalescing blue energy, the Sinestro Corps flee. Surging with blue and green power, the outpouring of energy from both of Jordan's rings defeats the Red Lantern Corps. In the aftermath of the conflict, Ganthet and Sayd are shown talking with the third Blue Lantern, Hynn.
After the conclusion of Rage of the Red Lanterns, the Blue Lanterns and Jordan return to Odym. Jordan is unable to remove the blue power ring and finds that it was interfering with the use of his green power ring. Ganthet explains to Walker that they did say Jordan would lead the Blue Lanterns, but not as a Blue Lantern himself. As a Green Lantern, Jordan's will would have been capable of charging the entire Blue Lantern Corps. Sayd says that a new blue power ring will need to be made for Walker, as they are unable to remove his original one from Jordan. Ganthet tells Jordan that, in order to remove the ring, he must use it by finding something to hope for.
Jordan leaves for Oa, and Ganthet tells Walker and Warth that they must continue to recruit others to their Corps. The Blue Lanterns have a new mission: to locate those who wield the indigo light, for hope and compassion must work together.
On Oa, the Guardians find that they are unable to remove the blue power ring from Jordan as well. Distracted from the blue power ring by terrorist demands from Agent Orange, the Guardians launch an assault on Okaara in the Vega system. Jordan's blue power ring continues to cause problems as the Green Lanterns come to conflict with Larfleeze's Orange Lantern constructs. Becoming separated from the group however, Jordan's blue ring does attract Larfleeze's attention. Larfleeze lusts after the blue ring, but finds that his constructs are not immune to the blue light as they are from the green. The blue power ring refuses to be stolen by Larfleeze, claiming that hope is selfless.
Jordan goes on to battle Larfleeze with the Green Lantern Corps. During the battle, Jordan's blue power ring continues to repeatedly ask him what he hopes for. In frustration, Jordan says that he hopes that once the battle with Agent Orange is over that it will stop asking him that question. The blue ring registers this as a sincere hope, recharges all of the Green Lantern Corps' power rings, and allows Jordan to subdue Larfleeze. After Jordan gains control of his ring, it removes itself from him and leaves to find a new recipient.
The Guardians realize that if they take the orange power battery from Larfleeze, someone else would inevitably find it, becoming a new Agent Orange. Preferring to know where Agent Orange is, they decide to negotiate with Larfleeze once more. The issue ends with Larfleeze launching an attack on the Blue Lantern Corps.
During the Blue Lanterns' struggle against Larfleeze, a number of black power rings come to Odym. Unable to detect any dead bodies on the planet's surface to attach themselves to, the rings hover in the sky, waiting for a death to occur.[ Hal Jordan, Sinestro, Carol Ferris, and Indigo-1 arrive on Odym during the conflict between the Blue and Orange Lanterns in order to recruit Saint Walker to help form a white light composed of the seven lights of the emotional spectrum that will defeat the Black Lantern Corps.
Under the influence of Jordan's green power ring, the Blue Lanterns' rings are charged by Jordan's willpower and capable of combating Larfleeze's constructs. The constructs suddenly disappear as Larfleeze finds himself being attacked by the reanimated corpses of his Orange Lanterns, now members of the Black Lantern Corps.
Saint Walker, Ganthet, and Sayd join the team Jordan and Indigo-1 have assembled, and accompany them to recruit Larfleeze and Atrocitus. Despite saving him from the Black Lanterns, Larfleeze is resistant to join the group due to the nature of his power and an interest in obtaining his own Guardian. In order to secure his participation, Sayd offers him her servitude in return for his compliance. Atrocitus is also unwilling to assist the team, attacking Jordan and Sinestro in his rage. To calm Atrocitus, Saint Walker shows him an illusion where he and a female of his species are happily being invited to the Blue Lantern Corps. When the illusion proves insufficient, Saint Walker convinces the Red Lantern to join them by relating the story of how his family died in an effort to save his world.
While on Earth battling the Black Lanterns, Saint Walker's ring was activated by Ganthet to deputize Barry Allen the Flash as a Blue Lantern. Barry Allen under Saint Walker's tutelage rescued Bart Allen from being a Black Lantern. The rest of the Blue Lantern Corps worked with the Green Lantern Corps to destroy the millions of Black Lanterns coming from the Black Lantern-recreated planet of Xanshi.
Later, when Saint Walker was trapped in the Book of the Black by Lyssa Drak, Hal passed his ring on to Kyle Rayner so that Kyle could use it to fight off the Green Lanterns under Krona and Parallax's influence. Kyle was later able to use the blue ring to purge Guy Gardner of the side-effects of his use of a Red Lantern ring. With Guy cured, Kyle returned to his green ring, Walker reclaiming his blue ring after Krona's defeat. He later assisted Ganthet by treating his injured hand before he was forced to depart from Oa.
Sadly, within the New 52, things have not gone so well for the Blue Lanterns. When Kyle Rayner becomes a 'magnet' for other power rings, Saint Walker is the only member of the other five Corps who shows up to help him rather than demanding his ring back, helping Kyle escape the others' attacks and travel to Oa to try and seek the aid of the Guardians. Unfortunately, this plan backfires when it is revealed that Ganthet has been stripped of his emotions by the other Guardians, to the extent that he attacks Walker when Walker tries to help Kyle directly after he is briefly overwhelmed by the rings, Ganthet proclaiming that the Blue Lantern Corps were a mistake that he will now rectify.
Saint Walker joined the New Guardians in investigating the Orrery that has appeared in the Vega system, even forming the beginnings of a tentative friendship with Sinestro Corps member Arkillo after he healed Arkillo's tongue. After Saint Walker returns to Odym, the Blue Lanterns are attacked by the Reach, enemies of the Lantern Corps, prompting Walker to send a desperate message for help to Kyle Rayner and the other New Guardians, while teaching other Blue Lanterns how to draw on their aura to enhance their defensive powers and fight back without a Green Lantern's presence.
As Kyle finally arrives at Odym, he sees the planet swarming with Reach ships. He is quickly joined by Fatality, Arkillo and the Weaponer as Saint Walker and the Blue Lanterns are still trying to defend the Central Power Battery. Yet even with the arrival of the reinforcements, the Reach gets the upper hand overall.
After the Wrath of the First Lantern storyline, it is revealed that the Blue Lantern Corps have found the new planet, Elpis, to settle on. However, the new planet is soon targeted by the cosmic entity known as Relic who began a quest to rid the universe of its ostensible "lightsmiths", as he considers it the only way to keep the universe safe. Kyle Rayner, Carol Ferris and the Templar Guardians arrived to help the Blue Lanterns, yet they couldn't prevent Relic from draining the Blue Central Battery of its power, rendering all Blue Lantern rings powerless. Kyle, Carol and the Guardians managed to flee from the planet with an unconscious Saint Walker, while the rest of the Blue Lantern Corps members were all killed by Relic.
One more reason to hate the New 52 as far as I'm concerned. And it certainly won't stop me from owning this Brother Warth figure.
Brother Warth is described as an elephant-like alien who bears a strong resemblance to the Hindu mythological being Ganesha. Not being terribly conversant in Hindu myth, and being moderately curious, I decided to look that one up.
Ganesha, also spelled Ganesa, also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka is a deity in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and Nepal. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India.
Why this mythological entity was chosen, I assume deliberately, as the inspiration for Brother Warth I haven't the slightest idea. Brother Warth also put in an appearance in the second season of the sadly too-short Green Lantern Animated Series.
So, how's the figure? Really extremely impressive. I do tend to feel that DC Direct figures are a bit more variable in look and quality than Mattel's DC Universe Classics offerings, but Brother Warth is really outstanding.
The figure stands almost precisely 7" in height. This makes him slightly taller than the average DC Universe figure from Mattel, which is often the case with DC Direct figures, but in Brother Warth's case it's not at all inappropriate. He's a pretty big guy, so the modicum of extra height works well.
As expected, Brother Warth has an entirely elephantine head. His ears are interesting, in that while they fan out very much like elephant ears, there's a certain internal structure to them that's just a little more human. Especially notable is the fact that Brother Warth's ears are pierced, and he has three little circular earrings in each ear. Very impressively, these little earrings are actual metal, and they're fitted through small holes in the ears!
While I do have other action figures here and there that are wearing earrings, these are typically molded onto the ear and painted. I believe Brother Warth is the first action figure I've ever purchased that has ACTUAL pierced ears. And I have to say I'm impressed that DC Direct took this step. While Mattel has shown a willingness to provide actual metal accessories with some of their figures from time to time -- Phantom Stranger, Lobo, Vikor in Masters of the Universe Classics, these have tended to be chains. I find myself wondering if they would've done this had they done a Brother Warth figure.
Brother Warth's eyes have been painted a metallic blue, which isn't really accurate to the character in the comic, but they don't look bad, and it's not the only liberty the figure took. I'll get more into that in a few paragraphs. Warth has a long, elephantine trunk, and no visible mouth. His trunk has a series of ornate tattoos on it. Well, you know, if you've got that prominent a feature, and you're inclined towards tattoos in the first place, what else are you likely to have inked? As with his mythological counterpart, Warth has one complete tusk, and one broken one.
His body is far more humanoid, even to having human-looking hands and feet, rather than some sort of odd elephant-human hybrid appendages. However, much in keeping with his Hindu counterpart, Brother Warth has a pretty good-sized gut. Here, as much as anything, is one of the reasons I'm convinced Mattel would never have gotten around to this figure. Except for his arms, he completely lacks the muscular build and for the most part lacks the tight-fitting costume typical of the average super-hero. Even his arms have some unusual features.
Brother Warth is also an interesting opposite number of Saint Walker, the first Blue Lantern. Although both are humanoid, despite having quite inhuman heads, Saint Walker is typically portrayed as a rather slender individual, although having a decent musculature. Brother Warth, in contrast, is definitely on the hefty side, although still has good muscle definition where it shows, despite the prominent abdomen.
Brother Warth's costume consists of a pointed oval headpiece, blue in color with black trim, a fairly tight-fitting sleeveless top with flared shoulders, mostly black except for the blue shoulders and a vertical stripe down the front, and high blue wristbands.
His belt, if it can be called that, is wide and quite draped in appearance, and has the Blue Lantern insignia as its buckle. Brother Warth is wearing very loose-fitting black trousers. Who knows -- maybe he has skinny little chicken legs under those pants. Really, that's embarrassing for anybody, let alone if the rest of you resembles an elephant. The pants end in tight blue cuffs around the ankles, and Warth is barefoot.
As I said before, his hands and feet are very human in appearance, with four fingers and a thumb on each hand, superbly sculpted and very nicely detailed, and five toes per foot, also nicely sculpted.
Brother Warth's skin, where it shows, which is on his head, arms, hands, and feet, has been given a texture very similar to that of actual elephants, with leather-like creases and cracks visible.
The blue aspects of the costume have been given a metallic finish, which does make him stand out from the Blue Lantern figures produced by Mattel, which include Saint Walker, and temporary Blue Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Barry Allen (the Flash), who do not have metallic finishes, except for Rayner's mask. But it looks good on Brother Warth. I have no complaints.
I do have a couple of critical points to raise. In the comics, and for that matter in his animated appearance, Brother Warth was portrayed as having white skin. No "white elephant" jokes, please, they're too obvious. However, the Brother Warth figure has distinctly GRAY skin. Now, this might make him look a little more realistic. Sometimes really bright colors don't work well on action figures. It CERTAINLY makes him look more elephantine. But -- it's not really right.
I'm honestly not sure why DC Direct made this call. Maybe they initially painted the figure white and it looked too ridiculous. I'm not about to whitewash mine to find out. But it is a definite departure from the character's look in the comic book.
Then we have the articulation. For the most part, it's excellent. The figure is poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivels, elbows, wrists -- heck, the arm structure is effectively identical to what Mattel does, and I do mean identical. Brother Warth is also poseable at the waist -- and it's a very considerable waist on a very versatile ball and socket design. And he can pose at the legs, and his ankles rotate.
Frankly, that ankle rotation is more ankle articulation than most DC Direct figures get. If there's one annoying aspect to the articulation of DC Direct figures, it's that. No articulated ankles. That and the fact that the legs typically move forward and backward, but not outward. If DC Direct, now known as DC Collectibles, would step up their game just a little bit more in these articulation aspects, I might be more interested.
But you'll notice what I didn't mention. Knees. The knees are not articulated. Now, on the one hand, it might have been too tricky to find a way to articulate those baggy-pants knees without breaking up the look of the figure too much. But personally, I don't quite buy that. I think it could have been done, and hey -- this isn't Ben 10, with its variable articulation all over the place depending on how the figure is structured. Most DC Direct figures do have articulated knees, and I do think some way should've been found here.
My only other criticism is really a nit-picky little detail. The Blue Lantern ring in Brother Warth's right hand has no real sculpted detail to it. It's just a circle, painted metallic blue. Mattel made sure that anyone wearing a power ring had a decently detailed one, with the requisite logo sculpted into it. If they can do it, DC Direct should've. The detail work on the rest of the figure is really outstanding, so this little omission did surprise me.
I'll admit, it's tough to come down too hard on this figure. He looks really great, the detail level is superb, and he fits alongside his Mattel-made fellow Lanterns just fine. The belt is made from a very flexible plastic that doesn't hinder the leg articulation in the least, and I wish Mattel had made more of their capes this flexible.
Brother Warth comes with a very nice Blue Lantern Power Battery, as well as a very nice Blue Lantern display base -- which admittedly he doesn't need all that much since he stands superbly well on his own, is an extremely sturdy and decidedly heavy figure even for his size and bulk, and I doubt he's going to topple over all that easily.
So, what's my final word? I'm sincerely pleased to have brought this figure into my collection. The end of the line for Mattel's DC Universe Classics/Signature Series figures has me more outraged and upset than I can readily express -- although I expect I'll try in some reviews of the remaining figures from that line. But Brother Warth wasn't likely much of a contender for Mattel anyway. He's just to odd. I think the only reason we got Arkillo was because we'd already gotten Kilowog. Brother Warth is just too different.
Fortunately, if you can accept the articulation limitations, the DC Direct Brother Warth is a more than agreeable fit. It's a superbly sculpted and detailed likeness of the character, the glitches are relatively minor, and speaking as a decided fan of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern stories that brought all of these other Lantern Corps into Hal Jordan's corner of the DC Universe, I'm glad to have one more representative of those amazing tales in my collection.
The BLUE LANTERN BROTHER WARTH figure from DC DIRECT'S GREEN LANTERN COLLECTION definitely has my highest recommendation!