REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES COLOSSAL BOY
As I've related in some of my previous Legion reviews, I've been a longtime fan of DC Comics' legendary LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, like since the late 1960's. Granted, the comics have had their ups and downs -- and even a few sideways -- but I've always been a fan of the basic concept and characters.
However, the Legion has never really had a major presence in the action figure world. I've tended to believe that one of the reasons for this is because, hailing as they did from a thousand years in the future, despite the periodic presence of Superboy and Supergirl, they were always somewhat isolated from the present-day DC Universe. Mego never did anything with them. Neither did Kenner or Hasbro. There was a line of them from DC Direct, but it wasn't really one of their high points, and the figures were in their very original costumes, which weren't my personal favorites.
A while back, there was a special Justice League Unlimited four-pack featuring the Legion, but that seemed to be about it. Until, at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con, Mattel announced that the Legion of Super-Heroes would be joining the line-up in their flagship line -- DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS. As if there hadn't been tons of campaigning on the part of Legion fans for this to happen.
It would be, explained Mattel, a very special set. Not a two-pack, not a three-pack, not a five-pack. No -- it would be a TWELVE-pack. And even at that, the speculation as to who would be included from a membership that over the years had consisted of several dozen characters ran wild for some time until Mattel introduced the line-up.
The final dozen would include Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl -- the three founders of the team; Superboy, mostly so Mattel could turn out a classic Superboy figure; Brainiac 5, one of the most popular non-founding members; joined by Ultra Boy, Wildfire, Timber Wolf, Colossal Boy, Karate Kid, Chameleon Boy, and Matter-Eater Lad, in part for a little comic relief there at the end. The set also includes a figure of Proty, a semi-sentient protoplasm pet once belonging to Chameleon Boy, and a Legion flight ring.
I knew even before Mattel announced the line-up that this was a set I had to have, but then they had to go and include some of my most favorite characters. The set, after a few delays, was finally released in October 2010, as an exclusive to MattyCollector.Com.
The package is superb. It is a seven-sided stylized version of the Legion's original headquaters, a yellow rocket-like building with red fins at the top. The twelve figures are displayed within in what are designed to look like teleportation tubes, two to a section. The central section features the far larger Colossal Boy figure, and a smaller space for Proty and the ring. This does leave one empty space among the other six sections, however. This has been labeled for Legion member Invisible Kid. Little joke on Mattel's part...
Now -- there is no way that I can fairly review the entire set in one review and maintain my usual style of presenting a decent amount of backstory on the given character before reviewing the specific figure. Not without this review running the length of a doctoral thesis. And I'm not going to compromise my usual style by shortening this to a brief look at each figure and leaving it at that. There will be other such reviews elsewhere on the Internet, I'm sure.
As such, I am going to give each Legionnaire an individual review. I feel that to do less would be to do an injustice to this very cool concept, and this extremely cool set of figures. This review will take a look at COLOSSAL BOY. But first, an overview of the Legion itself.
The Legion of Super-Heroes is a fictional superhero team in the 30th and 31st centuries of the DC Comics Universe. The team first appears in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), and was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.
Initially, the team was closely associated with the original Superboy, and was first portrayed as a group of time travelers who frequently visited him. In later years, the Legion's origin and backstory were fleshed out, and the group replaced Superboy as the focus of their stories; eventually Superboy was removed altogether, except as an occasional guest star.
The team has undergone several major reboots during its publication. The original version was replaced with a new rebooted version following the events of Zero Hour and another rebooted team was introduced in 2004. A fourth version of the team, nearly identical to the original version, was introduced in 2007. As a result, Superman (both as an adult and a teenager) and the current version of Supergirl have been reincorporated into Legion history.
Superboy was the featured series in Adventure Comics in the late 1950s. In Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), he was met by three teenagers from the 30th century: Lightning Boy, Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy, who were members of a "super-hero club" called the Legion of Super-Heroes. Their club had been formed with Superboy as an inspiration, and they had time travelled to recruit Superboy as a member. After a series of tests, Superboy was awarded membership and returned to his own time.
Although intended as a one-off story focusing on Superboy, the Legion proved so popular that it returned for an encore in Adventure Comics #267 (December 1959). Lightning Boy had been renamed Lightning Lad, and their costumes were very close to those they wore throughout the Silver Age of Comic Books. The Legion's popularity grew, and they appeared in further stories in Adventure Comics and Action Comics over the next few years. The ranks of the Legion, only hinted at in those first two stories, were filled with new heroes, such as Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid, Colossal Boy, Star Boy, Brainiac 5, Triplicate Girl, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Bouncing Boy, Phantom Girl, and Ultra Boy. Even Supergirl was recruited as a member.
In Adventure Comics #300 (September 1962), the Legion received their own regular feature, cover-billed "Superboy in 'Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes'". While they would share space with Superboy solo stories for a couple of years, they eventually displaced Superboy entirely as their popularity grew.
It was this run which established the Legion's general workings and environment. A club of teenagers, they operated out of a clubhouse in the shape of a yellow rocket ship inverted as if it had been driven into the ground. The position of Legion leader rotated among the membership, sometimes through election, and sometimes by more arcane methods. Each Legionnaire had to possess at least one natural superpower, in particular a power which no other member possessed. Despite this, several members had overlapping powers, particularly Superboy, Supergirl, Mon-El, and Ultra Boy. The Legion was based on Earth, and protected an organization of humans and aliens called the United Planets. The regular police force in the UP was the Science Police. The setting for each story was almost always 1000 years from the date of publication.
In 1973, the Legion returned to cover billing on a book when Superboy became Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes with #197 (August 1973). Crafted by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum, the feature proved highly popular. Cockrum was later replaced on art by Mike Grell. With #231 (September 1977), the book's title officially changed to Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Following a wide range of epic storylines, and several rather confusing reboots, largely tied in with certain "crises" of the time, a far more familiar Legion returned on the heels of Infinite Crisis. The "Lightning Saga" crossover in Justice League of America and Justice Society of America features the return of the original versions of Star Boy (now called Starman), Dream Girl, Wildfire, Karate Kid, Timber Wolf, Sensor Girl, Dawnstar, and Brainiac 5. Though several differences between the original and Lightning Saga Legions exist, Geoff Johns has stated that this incarnation of the Legion shares the same history as the original Legion up to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, with Clark Kent having joined the team as the teenage Superboy prior to the start of his career as Superman.
This version of the Legion next appeared in the "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" storyline in Action Comics #858-863, and next appeared in the 2008 Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds limited series, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by George Pérez. The mini-series features the post-Infinite Crisis Legion and Superman teaming up with the "Reboot" and "Threeboot" incarnations of the Legion to fight Superboy-Prime, the Legion of Super-Villains, and the Time Trapper. Geoff Johns stated that the intent of the mini-series was to validate the existence of all three versions of the team while simultaneously restoring the pre-Crisis Legion's continuity as well. This Legion would then go on to star in its own title, which, although renumbered following the repugnant "DC Relaunch", is proving to be one of the titles least affected, although mention of the "Flashpoint event" closing off time travel to Superman's era has been made. Be nice if it turned into some sort of loophole at some point to put things right.
As for the character of COLOSSAL BOY, let's consider some of his background. Colossal Boy, real name Gim Allon, first appeared in Action Comics #267. In the 1990s, the entirety of the Legion of Super-Heroes were changed in what was referred to as a "reboot" of those characters continuity, including Allon. Later on, these superheroes were again restarted in what has been referred to as the "threeboot" of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and once again rebooted a few years ago, back to something more akin to their earlier incarnation.
The name was Gim Allon was probably devised as a science-fiction version of "Jim Allen"; but later its similarity to the standard Israeli surname "Allon" led writer Paul Levitz to identify the character as Jewish in 1980.
Gim Allon, a native of Earth, not some other world, was mutated by a radioactive meteorite, gaining the superhuman ability to increase his size, and went by the superhero name of Colossal Boy. With his parents' blessing, he joined the Legion of Super-Heroes, becoming a member in good standing. He had an unreciprocated crush on fellow Legionnaire Shrinking Violet; this crush was only returned when Violet was replaced by a shapeshifting impostor, a Durlan named Yera. The two were married; when the deception was exposed, he discovered that he was still in love with Yera, and they remained married. For a time, Colossal Boy's mother Marte Allon was the President of Earth.
During the "Five Year Gap" following the Magic Wars, Gim joined the Science Police and ultimately never returned to the Legion. Earth fell under the covert control of the Dominators, and withdrew from the United Planets. A few years later, the members of the Dominators' highly classified "Batch SW6" escaped captivity. Originally, Batch SW6 appeared to be a group of teenage Legionnaire clones, created from samples apparently taken just prior to Ferro Lad's death at the hands of the Sun-Eater. Later, they were revealed to be time-paradox duplicates, every bit as legitimate as their older counterparts.
After Earth was destroyed in a disaster reminiscent of the destruction of Krypton over a millennium earlier, a few dozen surviving cities and their inhabitants reconstituted their world as New Earth. The SW6 Legionnaires remained, and their version of Colossal Boy assumed the code name Leviathan.
In 1994, following the events of the Zero Hour crossover, the original continuity of the Legion ended and their story was restarted from the beginning. In this continuity, Gim Allon was known as Leviathan and was from Mars instead of Earth. Like his previous counterpart, he was a Science Police officer who was given his powers by being grazed by a meteorite.
He was the first official leader of the team, but resigned after one mission, following the death of the first Kid Quantum and realizing that Cosmic Boy was more suited to the role - although Rokk persuaded him to take on the deputy leadership.
The 2004 reboot version of the character was so different from any previous versions -- technically from a race of giants that had the ability to shrink to "normal" human size -- that I'd just as soon not mention him extensively.
The events of the Infinite Crisis miniseries have apparently restored a close analogue of the Pre-Crisis Legion to continuity, as seen in "The Lightning Saga" story arc in Justice League of America and Justice Society of America, and in the "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" story arc in Action Comics. Colossal Boy is included in their number, along with his wife Yera (who has taken the name Chameleon Girl).
As to his powers and abilities, as Colossal Boy, Gim Allon could increase his size to many times the height of a human, with proportionate increases in strength and mass.
So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive. First off, I'd like to address one aspect of the figure's design -- the costume. Some years back, DC Direct produced a series of Legion of Super-Heroes figures. Among these was a figure of Colossal Boy. However, DC Direct used the earliest known costumes in each case for each Legionnaire. For Colossal Boy, this resulted in a figure of one of what I always thought was one of the least thought-out costumes in the entire Legion, consisting of a green shirt, yellow leggings, and red boots and gloves.
Now, admittedly, something like "growth power" doesn't necessarily evoke any particular color scheme, but really, wearing the same colors as the average traffic signal is probably a fashion no-no even in the 30th century.
Fortunately, when Mattel decided to do a Legion set for DC Universe Classics, they derived the designs from what I -- and I suspect they -- and many other fans -- have always regarded as the best period of costume design for the Legion, the era designed largely by Dave Cockrum in the 1970's. And at the very least, the man saw to it that Colossal Boy got something a little more color-coordinated.
Colossal Boy was a logical contender for inclusion in this Legion set, due in large part -- no pun intended -- to the fact that although he could increase his overall size to massive proportions, his physical form didn't become exaggerated or warped along the way. He still looked like a normal, muscular human being -- just a really big one.
As such, thanks to the "Collect-and-Connect" series of DC Universe Classics figures - that is in any given standard assortment of DC Universe Classics figures, each individual figure came with a -- well, there's no other word for it -- body part -- that could be assembled with others to form an additional, and generally larger figure, there were already molds on hand that could be used to create the better part of a Colossal Boy figure, thanks to the previous inclusion of other growth-powered characters in the Collect-and-Connect series, such as Atom Smasher and Apache Chief.
I hasten to add that Colossal Boy is NOT a Collect-and-Connect figure. He comes fully assembled in the package. The package design for the Legion of Super-Heroes set consists of a huge fold-out box designed to resemble the original Legion headquarters. There are seven double-chambers for the twelve figures. Eleven of these are standard-sized figures, and there's an empty space ostensibly belonging to Invisible Kid. The seventh double-chamber goes to Colossal Boy, who shares the space with the much smaller Proty figurine and the Legion Flight Ring.
The average Legion of Super-Heroes figure stands about six inches in height. This is somewhat shorter than most DC Universe Classics figures, but then these are meant to be teenage heroes. A standard adult DCUC figure is between 6-1/2 - 6-3/4" in height.
Colossal Boy is a whopping 9-1/2" in height! And even that isn't a demonstration of the full extent of his power -- but if Mattel tried to do something like that, he wouldn't've fit in the parcel receptacle in the mailbox area of my apartment complex. I'm honestly not sure just how big Colossal Boy can get, but I've seen stories where he stops starships from shooting at him by grabbing them. Talk about a forced landing...!
However, 9-1/2" is more than an adequate demonstration of his abilities, and he certainly towers over his peers. And he's also wearing his best uniform.
Colossal Boy is wearing a headpiece that leaves his face and the top of his head uncovered. He has brown hair. The headpiece is mostly red, with a metallic blue disc on the forehead, and blue metallic discs over the ears. Colossal Boy has a very human face, with brown eyebrows and brown eyes, very neatly painted.
His costume continues red for a while, with flared shoulders, that taper down into a narrow line that reaches his belt. There is a metallic blue circle sound the base of his neck, and a metallic blue line that also tapers down to his belt. In the center of his area is a gold and black emblem that resembles a stylized bird. I've never been entirely sure why this symbol has been used to represent Colossal Boy.
Colossal Boy's shirt is mostly blue, and he has fairly short red gloves. He is wearing a wide, metallic blue belt, with a circular disc in the center, and some sculpted detail on either side.
Colossal Boy's uniform continues, with red trunks, blue leggings, and red boots with distinct cuffs. If you were looking at this figure from below the trunks to the feet, you'd probably mistake him for Captain America initially.
Colossal Boy has a number of distinct parts, apart from the molds he shares with Atom Smasher and Apache Chief. The gloves and boots, especially, are distinctive, but then, both Atom Smasher and Apache Chief have distinct boots of their own. The belt is unique, as well. And the right hand is new, since it bears the Legion Flight Ring, as do all the figures in this set.
Mattel did have one costume dilemma -- the red torso section with the flared shoulders. This was definitely not something shared by Atom Smasher and Apache Chief, and Mattel, understandably, didn't want to have to create an entirely new torso piece -- certainly not at this size. So they came up with a very interesting solution.
They created a flexible plastic shoulder piece, using the same sort of highly flexible plastic that they traditionally use for capes these days, that could be placed over the head, secured on the back, and more or less tucked into the belt in the front. The metallic blue ring around the neck provided a good line of demarcation for this piece, so that right around the neck area, the upper body of Colossal Boy's otherwise blue shirt was painted red, and then this separate piece installed for completion of the costume.
It works quite well, but there is a mild visual matter, which had to be allowed for in order to permit the mid-torso articulation. The separate piece is a slightly loose fit in the front. Now, it doesn't look too bad, and for all we know, this could be how Colossal Boy's "actual" costume was designed. But it is fairly evident. Still, had it not been designed like this, Colossal Boy would've lost most of his mid-torso articulation.
Paint detailing is excellent, but it's also not terribly extensive on this figure. Most of the really fine detail is on the face, and it has been done superbly well. There is also the metallic blue trim, and the bird-like emblem, on the chest, and these have also been done with great precision. Most of the rest of the paint detail is on the gloves and trunks.
Of course, Colossal Boy is very well articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
Essentially, this figure is, in its basic structure, identical to a standard adult make DC Universe Classics figure. It's just a good bit larger. I am, however, extremely impressed with the consistency of design, which I regard to be one of the hallmarks of the DC Universe Classics line.
So, what's my final word? Obviously, I'm hugely impressed with the entire set, and certainly, Colossal Boy deserves to be a part of it. He's been a vital and popular part of the Legion almost since its inception, and I've always enjoyed the character, and the figure certainly adds a distinct variety to the set as a whole.
And without question, this Legion of Super-Heroes set is one of the most astounding masterpieces of action figures that I've ever encountered. Now, I must say that there's still plenty of Legionnaires out there. I realize that in 2012, the DC Universe Classics line will move to an online subscription service, which will also limit the number of figures being produced. But I also sincerely hope we haven't seen the last of the Legion. If I were to list my top five of additional Legionnaires that I would like to see, that list would likely feature Mon-El, Sun Boy, Element Lad, Shadow Lass, and Blok. Let's hope that someday we may see these superb characters as figures.
In the meantime, I am profoundly grateful for this truly remarkable twelve-pack, and certainly for Colossal Boy. I can't imagine any longtime Legion fan or DC Universe fan not wanting to add this set to their collection.
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of COLOSSAL BOY, part of the LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES 12-pack, most definitely has my highest recommendation! Long live the Legion!