REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS MOVIE PREVIEW GREEN LANTERN G'HU
With the live-action Green Lantern movie, the world -- or perhaps more accurately, the universe -- of Green Lantern has been brought to live-action at last.
Although there is of course a specific Green Lantern line of action figures based on the movie, Mattel decided to slip a preview into the DC Universe line of Green Lantern Classics figures that emerged prior to the movie. In the second assortment of this limited spin-off was a Green Lantern by the name of G'hu, who was specifically touted as a movie figure, and certainly looks the part.
The movie takes its cues from the origin of Hal Jordan as Earth's first Green Lantern. Upon finding the dying Abin Sur, Jordan is granted the power ring of the Green Lantern. And as one would expect, not terribly long after that, he has his first encounter with the universe-spanning Green Lantern Corps.
For those a little in the dark about the Corps, let's consider for a moment its established history from the comics standpoint.
The Guardians of the Universe, a race of immortal beings, dedicated themselves to combating evil and creating an orderly universe. In their first attempt to enforce their will and guard against evil, about 3.5 billion years ago the Guardians created a legion of robotic sentinels called the Manhunters. At first serving faithfully to enforce order, in time the Manhunters came to resent their servitude and the moral restrictions the Guardians decreed of them. They were also found to be inherently flawed due to their inability to recognize or feel emotions. They rebelled against the Guardians and fought a millennia-long war that culminated with an attack on the planet Oa. The Guardians overcame their android servants, stripped them of their power, and banished them across the universe.
Chastened by the failure of the Manhunters, the Guardians decided that their newest force of soldiers for good would consist of living beings, ones who had free will and strong moral character. To arm this new legion of celestial knights, the Guardians created the Power Rings, rings of inconceivably-advanced technology that allowed their wearers to project green beams of energy with which the bearer could conjure objects of any size or shape, limited only by their imagination and willpower.
The Green Lantern Corps is an organization of 7200+ Green Lanterns who are chosen by the ring for being able to overcome great fear, with two assigned to each sector of space that require the protection of more than one Green Lantern. Heavily populated Sectors like 2814, where Earth is located, can have several Lanterns.
Each member has a great deal of autonomy as to their methods in their jurisdiction, subject to review by the Guardians if they feel the Green Lantern in question has abused their assigned authority. The individual Lanterns are responsible for arranging their replacements (when possible) if they are near retirement or death. If a Lantern dies before that obligation is met, the ring will find and seek another trainee on its own. The planet-sized Green Lantern named Mogo plays a key role in this, helping to direct the rings to suitable recruits.
In rare circumstances, Guardians will personally go out into the field to recruit a replacement, via telepresence. Upon recruitment each Green Lantern in the original Corps received a Power Ring, a Power Battery shaped like a lantern (with which the ring is recharged), and a uniform.
As to the Green Lantern movie and the characters involved -- okay. Let's discuss that. I'll be honest, I tend to be extremely skeptical when it comes to super-hero movies. In my opinion, too often the movie's production staff -- writers, directors, producers, whomever -- take far too many liberties with the source material. To these people I would say -- "Look, there's REASONS that this character and his supporting concepts have endured for as long as they have, for you to be here now making a movie out of it all. DON'T MESS WITH IT!"
The degree to which a given character gets -- messed with -- has tended to vary, and honestly, in recent years, I think producers of such movies have showed a greater degree of respect for the source material. The Iron Man movies have worked well. Spider-Man looked great in his first movie. Thor worked. I didn't care for Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in that Batman movie, no disrespect intended towards the memory of an otherwise fine actor. The X-Men? Eh, good movies, too much black leather costuming for my taste.
So now we have Green Lantern. Definitely a sci-fi superhero with no shortage of cosmic overtones. All of those alien Lanterns. No great surprise, they were filled out with an abundance of computer animation. Also no great surprise, the computer animators decided to take more than a few liberties here and there when they could. Kilowog didn't look too bad. I thought Tomar-Re was a bit of a stretch, as were Hannu and the Green Man. Still, I can understand the reasoning behind it, even if I don't necessarily agree with it, and in fairness, the Green Lantern Corps, even in the comics, has enough bizarre alien members to it to make the Mos Eisley Cantina look like a meeting of the local Garden Club.
And then there's G'hu. As it turns out, this character, although the figure style is definitely that of the movie, did not in fact debut in the movie. He has some history in the comics. I wasn't able to turn up a lot of information on him, so we'll rely on what the back of the package card has to say.
G'hu first appeared in the modern Green Lantern Corps title, in the first issue, in August of 2006. He represents Sector 2937, and hails from the prison planet Takron-Galtos. He was invited to join the ranks of the Green Lantern Corps after displaying great courage during a massive riot on his homeworld. He has unusual dexterity, sharp talons, and can use the "braid-tails" on his head as whips and spears.
So -- how's the figure? Impressive, but seriously bizarre. He's described as a "humanoid" on his package card, but I'd have to say that he just barely fits that description. The figure is entirely unique. No parts from any previous DC Universe Classics figures have been used to make G'hu. Honestly, I don't know if the sculpting and design team of the Four Horsemen is even responsible for this figure. He's intricate and detailed enough so that I'd say he probably is, though. And it's probably just as well that he's turned up in the DC Universe Classics line, because he's so intricate that I think they would have had a heck of a time getting a decent 4" version of him made for the basic movie line.
G'hu is about the same height as a DC Universe Classics figure, standing 6-3/4" in height. And that's about all that he's got in common with anybody from that line. The head is smaller, and that's honestly the least of the differences.
Describing G'hu is not easy. On the most basic level, I'd have to say that what we have here is a semi-humanoid creature that has elements to his form that could be compared to one degree or another to insects, lobsters, and an octopus.
His face is -- well, not especially human, but there's at least two eyes affixed to either side near the top of what could be described to be a face, even though there's no visible nose, and I'm not even entirely sure about a mouth. The eyes, recessed within large sockets, aren't especially human looking, but they do have a lighter section, with distinct black pupils. There's at least something there that you can make eye contact with.
G'hu's skin is a metallic lavender. It's an impressive color. He has a fairly long and rather wrinkled neck, perched inside of a narrow, ridged torso with what looks like a high collar. This continues down to narrow, almost skeletal trunks.
G'hu has two arms that are more or less in the proper place for a humanoid. That is, they emerge from the sides near the top of the torso, at shoulders. His arms are very slender, and below the elbow, expand into a sort of carapace-like protection, and are wider at this point, before ending in somewhat human-looking hands, that are nevertheless almost skeletal in appearance, and look rather sharp, that consist of a thumb and four fingers, with the fourth finger on each hand looking more like a curved claw than an actual finger.
In addition to this, however, there are two protrusions emerging from the chest in front of the shoulders. These as much as anything resemble insect-like legs. They are very narrow, and jut down, then back, then down again. They end in rather sharp points that look like they could be extremely dangerous in close-quarters battle. Fortunately for toy safety concerns, on the figure they're made from a very rubbery, flexible plastic.
G'hu's legs start out reasonably normally. Like the rest of the figure's body, they are very slender, but they taper downwards normally, until one gets to the knees. Then the legs almost jut sideways a bit, but nevertheless continue downwards. Much as with the lower arms, the lower legs are wider than the upper legs, and seem protected by a carapace.
The feet are unreal. Emerging from the lower leg carapaces are three long, segmented toes, that as much as anything look like some sort of strange crab legs or something. One of these toes, the largest, points forward, while two smaller toes point backwards. This effectively gives G'hu a tripod stance on each foot. It's easily one of the most bizarre alien designs I've ever seen.
Trailing down from the back of G'hu's head is the meanest set of dreadlocks you'll ever set eyes on. Not so much hair as tentacles, each one ends in a nasty spear point. There are eight of these, and yet not all are entirely independent. Four of them are, but the four on the right criss-cross as part of the mold design, so they're a little more limited in movement. Nevertheless, it's an impressive and detailed sculpting and molding job, ad from the look of it, three entirely distinct pieces were needed to create these dreadlocks, and all had to be assembled to the back of the figure's head.
G'hu's skin is metallic lavender, as I said, but it doesn't show up all that much. His head, the tips of the insect-like whatever-they-are emerging from his shoulders, and his toes, for lack of a better term, are all that show.
Then there's the uniform. And here's where things get a little tricky. I know that in the movie, even the more human Green Lanterns, such as Hal Jordan, have CGI costumes. Doubtless this was to make the Green Lantern uniforms look as impressive as possible, and as much as anything, like extensions of the Power Rings, which they are in the comic book -- not so much fabric, but some sort of energy creation, and clearly form fitting. In G'hu's case, that's a pretty interesting form.
The costume follows the pattern of Green Lantern uniforms to a reasonable degree, as much as any of the movie costumes do, in that the torso is green, as are the lower legs (I hesitate to call them "boots") and the gloves, while the lower torso, upper arms, and upper legs, are not black, as they would be traditionally, but instead, a very dark green.
The green areas of the costume have been given a very metallic sheen to them, even moreso than the lavender areas of G'hu's skin. It really looks extremely impressive, especially over the ridges on the torso, which looks like a prominent ribcage as much as anything. The traditional Green Lantern emblem is imprinted on the chest.
Paintwork on the figure is, for the most part, excellent. The Green Lantern emblem is a little off, but I believe it was some sort of imprinting process, rather than painted on, and it had to be placed on an extremely uneven part of G'hu's anatomy (not that he has any significant smooth sections). I suspect it's as good as it could be.
And of course, G'hu also has a Green Lantern ring, on the second finger of his right hand, painted a slightly darker metallic green than his glove.
Let's discuss articulation, because it's almost as strange as the design of the figure. G'hu is articulated at the head, of course, but it's almost a sort of ball-and-socket design that gives G'hu's head a considerable range of motion. The arms move forward, backward, and outward. The elbows have a sort of diagonal swivel, which on a standard human-type figure wouldn't work at all well, but it actually works reasonably well on G'hu. The knees have a similar design to this. He has a swivel just about at his waist, that is well concealed by the carapace design, and his legs move forward and back. Oh, and those weird secondary arms or whatever they are also move forward and backward.
Technically speaking, he's not quite as well articulated as a standard DC Universe Classics figure. But at the same time, there's nothing at all standard about G'hu. I'd have to say that he's as well-articulated as his extremely unusual physiognomy allows. I was a little surprised that his wrists don't move, but I'm not going to quibble.
He stands well enough on his own, but I will say that he has a slight balance problem. He's a little top-heavy, and the tripod-like feet don't work quite as well as one might hope. For one thing, they're made from the same rubbery plastic as the dreadlocks and some other parts of the figure. This means that they don't bear weight quite as well as they would if they were solid. G'hu has a tendency to fall forward unless he's posed leaning slightly back. Even then, I noticed that after a few days of standing, his feet were starting to curve a bit. I find myself wondering if it might be possible to pose this figure sitting down, but I'm not entirely sure he can sit down, and I'm just as unsure as to what a chair for this guy would look like!
My recommendation is to display him standing up, but to give him periodic breaks so that the feet do not permanently warp.
I honestly have no idea how much of a role G'hu will play in the movie. As of this writing, it has yet to premiere. The movie was given a healthy budget, and was even given a bit more after principal filming was completed, in order to tweak the special effects, which certainly the movie is highly reliant on. There's some thought of possibly getting a trilogy out of the concept, if the first movie does well enough, which I for one certainly hope that it does. If they have any sense, the second movie will see the introduction of the Sinestro Corps, and the third movie will bring in the Red Lanterns. DC Comics has been closely involved with the production, especially Geoff Johns, who happens to be the writer of the Green Lantern title, and the fine fellow who brought the Sinestro Corps and the Red Lanterns into existence.
Done well, a Green Lantern movie could rival Star Wars. I hope this movie has been made well, and will do well. Likely by the time you read this review, we'll know one way or the other. I'm looking forward to it -- and there's not a lot of movies I say that about.
As for G'hu? He's an interesting figure. Admittedly, he's not the best fit in the DC Universe Classics line. There is a "Movie Masters" line of Green Lantern figures, that to date featured Green Lantern, Tomar-Re, and one other whose name escapes me just now. He'd probably be a better match with those.
Nevertheless, it was cool of the well-established DC Universe Classics line, and it's Green Lantern branch, to give us an early taste of the movie. G'hu is certainly an unusual action figure, and character, regardless of what line he's in, but such is often the nature of the Green Lanterns. Ultimately, he's a well-made and interesting figure, and certainly an impressive addition to Green Lantern's corner of the DC Universe.
The DC UNIVERSE GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS figure of G'HU from the GREEN LANTERN MOVIE definitely has my highest recommendation!