REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS DEX-STARR/DESPOTELLIS/B'DG THREE-PACK
The popularity of Green Lantern in the comics, combined with his live-action movie, served to result in two special assortments of Mattel's superb DC Universe Classics line of action figures, derived specifically from the world of Green Lantern.
One development in Green Lantern's corner of the DC Universe that has certainly had a major impact has been the development of other-colored Corps. No longer is the universe patrolled solely by the Green Lantern Corps, with their power rings operating on the basis of the wearer's willpower.
It has been revealed that there is an entire emotion-based spectrum in the universe. Sinestro's yellow power ring functioned on fear, and he has built an entire Corps around this. The purple energy of the Star Sapphires is derived from love, and the alien Zamarons, an offshoot of the Guardians of the Universe, have been building a Corps based on this.
Then there are the newcomers -- Agent Orange, whose real name is Larfleeze, had hidden himself away for millennia, keeping the power of avarice to himself. Exiled Guardians Ganthet and Sayd developed the hope-based Blue Lantern Corps. The mysterious Indigo Lanterns, and their power of compassion, were revealed. And Atrocitus, a longtime enemy of Sinestro and the Guardians, found a way to channel the power of rage, and created the highly dangerous Red Lantern Corps.
As a longtime fan of Green Lantern, I greatly enjoyed these new developments. And I've been pleased to see some of them make their way into the DC Universe Classics action figure line. I sincerely hope for more. We seriously need figures of Blue Lantern Saint Walker, Red Lantern Atrocitus, and definitely Larfleeze.
Meanwhile, though, the ranks of the various Corps grow nevertheless, and one of the most interesting additions in the figure world is a three-pack of relatively but not inappropriately small figures, representing three of the Corps, that feature two animal-type characters, and a germ. Sound weird? That's Green Lantern's corner of the DC Universe for you. You never know what's going to turn up.
This set features Red Lantern Dex-Starr, Green Lantern B'dg, and Sinestro Corps member Despotellis. Let's consider them individually.
DEX-STARR - Initially, I was under the impression that he was some sort of alien that just happened to bear a very strong resemblance to an Earth housecat. I mean, it wouldn't be the first time some alien being resembled an animal from Earth. For that matter, Green Lantern artist Ivan Reis wanted to work in a Sinestro Corps member that had a head that looked like a particularly crazy and nasty dog. A Sinestro Corps member, from a group whose power is based on fear, that looks like a large dog, isn't that much of a stretch as far as I'm concerned.
Well, as it turned out, Dex-Starr is NOT an alien! He's an actual, Earth-born domesticated cat, whose original name was Dexter. His story was told as a back-up feature in an issue of Green Lantern a number of months ago. And one can certainly see where all of that rage and anger came from.
Dexter was initially part of a litter of abandoned kittens that turned up at a shelter. He was adopted by a rather lonely single woman, and doted upon as her sole companion in life. She said that he made her life happy. The amount of time Dexter spent in her company is uncertain, but it had to have been at least a year, as Dexter went from kitten to full-grown cat in this time.
One night, there was an attempted burglary in the woman's home. Dexter scratched the home invader, who cried out in pain. This awakened the woman, whereupon the burglar pulled a large knife, and viciously murdered her.
In the next scene, we see Dexter sitting outside the woman's apartment, while the authorities analyze the crime scene. One of them sees Dexter and, apparently not realizing (or not caring) that the victim was Dexter's former owner, says that the cat could contaminate the crime scene. He kicks Dexter and shoos him away from the area.
Dexter makes his way to a dimly-lit back alley, where he is discovered by a gang of teenagers, who decide to have some "fun" with the apparently abandoned cat. They manage to capture Dexter, stuff him in a bag, and take him to a nearby bridge overlooking a wide river, and proceed to toss him off.
At this point, in mid-freefall, a Red Lantern ring comes along. It misinterprets Dexter's name as "Dex-Starr", declares that the cat has "great rage" within him -- and honestly, who can blame him, really? -- and the ring attaches itself to Dex-Starr, provides him with a Red Lantern uniform, and thereupon Dex-Starr becomes part of the Red Lantern Corps.
The story concludes with a shift back to the present day. At the end of the main story, Atrocitus has told Dex-Starr that he is free to pursue his own mission. One assumes that this may be the first time since becoming a Red Lantern that Dex-Starr has been back to Earth. At the end of Dex-Starr's own story, we see that he has retained the memory of his owner, and his rage has inspired him to revenge, something the Red Lantern ring has enabled him to carry out.
Dex-Starr is curled up, asleep in a very cat-like fashion, on a city street. There is a human skull nearby. The captions, clearly from Dex-Starr himself, in a rather primitive English, read, "I find one who hurt you. I kill. I good kitty." There is a tear in Dex-Starr's eye in the last panel.
Needless to say, this tale doubtless helped Dex-Starr's popularity. It's not often we get to see the motivations of a cat. I would also like to extrapolate on something. The Red Lantern rings, given that they are at the far end of the emotional spectrum, tend to have the effect of negating much of the reasoning ability of the wearer. They are overwhelmed with rage and anger, which goes so far as to pour out of them almost uncontrollably in a burning red plasma. Only Atrocitus seems able to control himself fully. An exposure to a Blue Lantern ring can calm the wearer of a Red Lantern ring, but generally speaking, Red Lanterns operate mostly on instinct.
It would seem to me that somehow, Dex-Starr's Red Lantern ring has had, to some degree, the opposite effect, possibly because Dex-Starr is an animal. He showed no indication of having the mental prowess to be able to form thoughts that could even be roughly translated as language before gaining the ring. He was just a cat. Now, he still acts out of rage, clearly, but just as clearly this is not the only emotion he feels. And he acts with an equivalent level of intelligence as most Red Lanterns. That might not be saying much, but the average Red Lantern is still possessed of more intelligence than the average cat. So it's possible, in my opinion, that Dex-Starr's Red Lantern ring may have heightened his intelligence, even as it enhanced his anger and rage.
So, how's the figure? Well - rather small. But I should have expected that. Dex-Starr is more or less to scale with the DC Universe Classics figures. This is doubtless why he's in a set that's a multi-pack (and also includes the single largest piece of the Collect-and-Connect figure, Stel). These figures are not the first small animals in the DC Universe Classics line. That honor goes to Gleek, companion of the Wonder Twins, who was available at the San Diego Comic-Con a few years ago.
Dex-Starr is about 2-5/8" in height. I think his bodily proportions are about those of a typical housecat, but it's a little hard to tell. A typical housecat doesn't wear a spandex uniform (which would mat down the fur), or be designed to look like he's walking upright on his hind legs.
In fairness, Dex-Starr seems to get around mostly by flying. When he does so, he looks like he's in an upright position. However, when he's on the ground, he walks on all fours. Granted, this wouldn't make for a particularly interesting action figure.
Dex-Starr appears to be a bluish cat with gray trim, I have no idea what breed of cat he might be. I'm hardly an expert on such matters, and I'm not that aware of many blue cats. I know that sometimes gray can look somewhat blue, and I assume that's the case here. He has a series of dark gray stripes on his head, and fur that is of short to moderate length, especially around the sides of his face.
Dex-Starr has a particularly long tail, and it is here that the Red Lantern ring has chosen to affix itself. If a tail seems like an odd place for a ring, it should be noted that these rings don't come off easily, and they've been known to kill their previous owners in such attempts.
Dex-Starr's face is extremely well-designed. It looks entirely feline, with yellow eyes and black cat-like slits for pupils, a little pink nose, and an open mouth with very sharp little teeth. One thing about the Four Horsemen team of sculptors and designers -- they really know how to do fur well, and both Dex-Starr and B'dg have benefited from this.
Dex-Starr is wearing a standard Red Lantern uniform. It's mostly black, with a red torso and back, red arm cuffs and boots (although Dex-Starr's little feet are bare), and a small series of red stripes on the sides. He does not have a belt, which some Red Lanterns do.
Dex-Starr's "arms" end in paws that almost look like hands. There's something of a thumb there. His feet are more standard paws, with four "toes". His feet are very tiny, and as such Dex-Starr has some trouble standing up on his own, but it's not impossible. It's tricky, but not impossible.
Dex-Starr doesn't have the same range of motion as a standard DC Universe Classics figure, but then he's not a standard DC Universe Classics figure. He's poseable at the head, arms, legs, and tail. This is about the same as Gleek, and I find it acceptable, especially given the figure's small size.
He also comes with a red plasma stream that can be attached to his mouth.
I'm very pleased that we got Dex-Starr in this superb action figure line. He's an interesting and, in his own way, amusing character. The Red Lanterns are, as of this writing, scheduled to receive their own comic book later in 2011, and I'll be interested to see what role Dex-Starr plays in it.
B'DG - You know, I have no idea how to pronounce this. B'dg is not an especially well-known character in the Green Lantern universe, but he is the successor to a decently-known character, whose name was Ch'p. If nothing else, it's not too hard to figure out how to pronounce that.
Ch'p, who first appeared in Green Lantern #148 in January 1982, was the Green Lantern from the planet H'lven, and represented Space Sector 1014. And he looked very much like a very cartoonish squirrel. Take pretty much equal parts of Alvin and the Chipmunks along with Chip and Dale, and you've got the same basic cartoon "species" from which Ch'p hailed. Same big eyes, more or less humanoid structure, silly grin, the works. Heck, once the Green Lanterns started to take on more individual costumes, he even gave himself a bow-tie.
Ch'p participated in the defense of his homeworld from an invasion by the Crabster arms of Doctor Ub'x. He was captured and sentenced to death, but one of the Guardians of the Universe came secretly to induct him into the Corps with the power ring of his predecessor, who fell attempting to stop the invasion. Using the ring, Ch'p was able to defeat Doctor Ub'x and free his homeworld. Shortly afterward, he traveled to Oa, where he was instructed by Kilowog in the same group of recruits as Hal Jordan.
Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, which also affected his homeworld, Ch'p relocated to Earth, where he served with the team of Green Lanterns that were assigned to protect the planet. He eventually returned to H'lven. Following the destruction of the power battery on Oa, Ch'p's was one of the few rings that remained operational. He eventually relocated to Mosaic World alongside John Stewart, but was subsequently killed by a yellow tractor-trailer truck. Incredibly, an image of Ch'p would occasionally appear to Stewart, but the exact nature of the apparition was never fully explained.
As for B'dg, he first appeared in Green Lantern #4, in 2005. He was one of the first recruits of the reconstructed Corps, and comes from the planet H'lven just like Ch'p. He first saw action when the Spider Guild invaded Oa. He was trained on how to overcome the yellow impurity in the ring in the midst of battle. He later participated in the defense of Oa when it was attacked by Superboy-Prime, and again when it was attacked by the Sinestro Corps. He also participated in the final battle of the Sinestro Corps, helping defend Earth.
So, the little guy has managed to get around a fair bit.
So, how's the figure? Very nicely done, and quite interesting. One has to surmise that at some point, possibly as a consequence of one of the various universe-shaking Crisis events along the way, that the inhabitants of H'lven underwent a considerable physical alteration. If B'dg is a typical representative of his people, and there's no reason to assume he's not, then they're not quite the "funny animals" they used to be, although the package for the figures does make mention of the fact that some still see B'dg as a "funny animal".
However, unlike his very cartoonish predecessor Ch'p, B'dg looks much more like a real-life squirrel. The face and head is very similar to that of an actual squirrel, with large black eyes, somewhat offset to the side of the head, a fairly narrow muzzle, small nose, and the only real concession to a "funny animal" tendency would be two front teeth sticking out of his mouth.
B'dg's ears are notably large. This differentiates him from the standard type of bushy-tailed squirrel that we might see bounding through the backyard. However, I've seen enough "Animal Planet" to know that there are species of squirrel on this planet that do have large ears very similar to this. Off the top of my head, I can't think what their specific species is or where they're located, but I know they exist.
Bd'g's fur is tan, and he has a distinct ruff of thicker fur around his neck, almost like a mane, which fluffs over the top of his Green Lantern uniform.
Below the neck, B'dg gets a little more cartoonish. He has a rather pear-shaped body, with slender arms that are entirely humanoid and end in three-fingered hands, with opposable thumbs. A Green Lantern ring has been nicely detailed on the middle finger of his right hand.
His legs are a little less cartoonish, and closer to those of an actual squirrel. His legs start out somewhat humanoid, but then bend at the knee, and then again on the way down to long, narrow feet, which could also act as an additional leg section depending on his stance. His feet have four small toes, one on each of which is somewhat recessed, not unlike a thumb.
B'dg also has a long tail. It's not especially bushy, but it's nicely sculpted, and interestingly, has a series of brown spots along its length, outlined in black. I'm not certain this is reflective of any known Earth species of squirrel, long-eared or not.
B'dg stands about 2-1/2" to the top of his head, but the ears bring him up to 2-5/8", the same as Dex-Starr. Like Dex-Starr, B'dg's articulation is somewhat limited. He is poseable at the head, arms, legs, and tail. But for the type of figure he is -- and size -- it works well enough.
What I especially get a kick out of is the facial expression. There's nothing especially human about it, and yet he still looks -- determined, even a little peeved. That's not easy for a figure that's otherwise reasonably cute.
DESPOTELLIS - Here's someone -- or something -- that's definitely NOT cute. Despotellis is a sentient virus, who joined up with the Sinestro Corps. He's said to be responsible for wiping out entire planets, and is definitely responsible for the death of Kyle Rayner's mother. He also managed to make Guy Gardner extremely ill during the Sinestro Corps war, to the point where Guy was coughing up yellow blood. He was defeated when a similar-sized Green Lantern, another virus-type of creature, went in and drove Despotellis out.
The figure of Despotellis is definitely NOT to scale. I mean, he tends to enter people through their noses. Consider how small the nose of a DC Universe Classics figure is. I don't think you could even mold plastic that small.
In fact, at 1-3/4" in height, he's probably larger than real life. And no, I didn't try to stick him up my nose, and I'm almost surprised that there isn't a warning to that effect on the package. I still remember, back in the 1990's, seeing a "Batman Armor Set" that included a fabric cape as well as a plastic chestplate and Bat-helmet for kids to wear. There was a sticker placed on the box after the fact, that read, "Warning: Chestplate does not provide any actual protection, and cape does not enable wearer to fly."
The figure is an accurate representation of the character from the comics. Despotellis has a -- head -- that looks like some sort of unpleasant vegetable that your parents insisted you eat as a child because it was good for you. This sits atop a stalk that makes the top half or so of Despotellis look like some sort of transparent yellow alien mushroom.
The head actually reminds me a little of this race of plant-based aliens called Phylosians, from the animated Star Trek series -- which, being animated, could get away with designing any sort of weird aliens that could be readily drawn, and frequently did so. But that's about the extent of the resemblance.
The lower portion of Despotellis is a series of six, almost insect-like legs, that stretch out, and then down. Needless to say, unlike Dex-Starr, Despotellis doesn't have any trouble standing.
As near as I can tell, Despotellis has no articulation. It almost looks like his head should turn -- it's certainly a separate piece -- but I can't get it to move, and I'm not inclined to force it. I don't want to break the figure.
Despotellis is very neatly sculpted, but has no paint details. He is molded from translucent yellow plastic, which, given the uneven and somewhat faceted nature of the figure, does tend to catch the light rather interestingly at times, especially in the head. It almost looks like some sorts of "sparks" are going off in there.
Conspicuous by its absence is any sign of a Sinestro Corps power ring. One would assume that he has one, admittedly it would have to be an extremely small one, and I'm not even sure where he'd wear it, but I just don't see one.
So, what's my final word? This is a cool set. Dex-Starr is certainly a significant member of the Red Lanterns, B'dg has proven himself a worthy successor to a very notable member of the Green Lantern Corps, and Despotellis definitely caused all kinds of trouble as a member of the Sinestro Corps. All three figures, although small, when combined, readily make for an agreeable and very well-made set on a single package. And you also get the very vital Collect-and-Connect piece of Stel's torso (see separate review).
And, on the whole, the set serves to build up the ranks of the three most prominent Corps in the Green Lantern universe. Nothing wrong with that, either.
The DC UNIVERSE GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS set of DEX-STARR, B'DG, and DESPOTELLIS definitely has my highest recommendation!