REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS "COLLECT & CONNECT" IMPERIEX
In early 2010, Walmart received a second exclusive assortment of Mattel's highly impressive and highly popular line of DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS action figures. This particular assortment is known as Wave 10, and features such characters as The Joker, Power Girl, Beast Boy, Robotman, Forager, Man-Bat, and a black-costumed Batman. Any of these remarkable figures definitely have my recommendation, and you can likely find individual reviews for many of them here on the Web Site.
Six of them include parts to form a very interesting Collect-and-Connect figure. The black-uniformed Batman comes with a clear display base. The character's name is IMPERIEX, and although he is perhaps not as well-known as some powerful individuals in the DC Universe, he is nevertheless an imposing-looking character, no doubt made for an interesting challenge for the sculpting and design team known as the Four Horsemen, and has made distinct impacts in both the comic books and on a particular DC-related animated television series.
For those who read the comics, Imperiex is best-known as the primary force that led up to the 2000 storyline, "Our Worlds at War". For those who follow the various DC animated series, Imperiex will ring a bell as the primary villain of the second season of the Legion of Super-Heroes series.
If those two manifestations sound a little unrelated, well -- they are. But there's a reasonable explanation for it, which can be found in the overall WikiPedia entry on the character. Let's see what they have to say about Imperiex.
Imperiex first appeared in Superman #153, (February 2000), and was created by Jeph Loeb and Ian Churchill. He was the main villain for the Our Worlds at War crossover.
The embodiment of entropy, Imperiex takes the form of pure energy contained inside a humanoid set of armor, colossal in size. He is first mentioned when Mongul, the son of the deceased villain of the same name, arrives on Earth stating that Imperiex has destroyed his Warworld and is heading for Earth. Mongul convinces Superman to help him fight Imperiex, and the two apparently manage to defeat it.
However, it transpires that the "Imperiex" they encountered was no more than a probe, whereas Imperiex Prime, leader of the Imperiex probes, is himself a much larger and more powerful being. He has detected imperfections in the fabric of the universe, and his ultimate plan is to destroy it and create a new, perfect one.
To do so, Imperiex Prime heads for Earth- the planet which holds the universe together after being the center of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, in order to destroy it and thereby induce a new Big Bang.
Before arriving on Earth, Imperiex obliterates countless other planets including Kalanor, Karna, and Daxam. Whole galaxies are also targeted for demolition.
After destroying Karna, Imperiex arrives at Almerac, the home of Maxima, and not only destroys Almerac but "hollows" the whole galaxy.
After this, the survivors of the dead worlds, along with Earth, Apokolips and Brainiac 13's new Warworld, form a coalition, with Darkseid as its commander, to fight against Imperiex Prime and his probes.
Finally arriving at the Milky Way Galaxy, Imperiex sends in numerous probes. On Earth, Imperiex's machine-colony "Hollowers" destroy Topeka, Kansas (as well as seven other places on Earth's seven continents and Atlantis) when they began to dig into Earth to ready it for Imperiex's final demolition.
Then-President Lex Luthor rallies the super-heroes of Earth, the U.S. military, and other countries, such as Pokolistan, together. Luthor decides that Superman alone does not have enough power to lead a strike force, and instead arranges for Doomsday to be released from captivity and brainwashed to see all Imperiex probes as Superman. They fight the probes and manage to destroy several until Imperiex Prime himself is finally drawn to them. Doomsday is outmatched and vaporized, only his skeleton remaining, though Darkseid saves Superman from a similar fate.
Thanks to the sacrifice of Strange Visitor and General Rock, Earth's forces managed to crack Imperiex's armor, intending that Darkseid would subsequently use Boom Tubes to transfer Imperiex's energy back to the galaxies he'd destroyed to prevent them triggering a new big bang.
However, Brainiac-13 appears on the battleground with Warworld, absorbing the Imperiex energies and vowing to use them to rule everything.
Superman dives into the sun to acquire a sufficient power boost to oppose Brainiac, but when it is discovered that Warworld cannot be destroyed without releasing Imperiex and triggering another Big Bang, he has the Martian Manhunter form a telepathic link with other combatants to explain a last-minute plan.
With his powers weakened following Brainiac's attack, Darkseid uses Tempest as a magical focus for his abilities, empowered by the faith and strength of the Amazons, focusing his energy through Steel's new 'Entropy Aegis' armor (created from a burned-out Imperiex probe).
Meanwhile Lex Luthor activates a temporal displacement weapon on Earth, combining the weapon's energies with the Apokolips energy to create a temporal boom tube.
Using his new power boost, Superman is able to literally push Warworld itself through the boom tube, sending both Imperiex Prime's and Brainiac's consciousnesses back to the Big Bang, destroying both villains through a combined effort while negating any effect they would have had on the present.
In his final moments, Imperiex Prime realizes, in an ironic twist, that the imperfection he had detected in the universe was himself.
At least 8 million people on Earth die during the war. The total number dead in the DC Universe is stated to be countless.
Imperiex later appeared in the Legion of Super Heroes animated series, voiced by Phil Morris. The character was deemed to be a big enough threat to be used as the primary villain for the entire second season, but enough of a blank slate that his "real" DC Universe history could be modified for the TV version.
In the show, Imperiex was originally an alien (presumably from the planet Apokolips) raised in a gladiator lifestyle; over time his body was modified by the technology created by a scientist named Abel that allowed a perfect union of organic tissue and cybernetics.
In the 41st century, Imperiex has wiped out nearly all resistance that stands in his way, with only a a clone of Superman named Kell-El left to oppose him. Unable to stop Imperiex and his army, Kell-El travels back to the 31st century to recruit the Legion of Superheroes to help stop Imperiex.
Although Brainiac 5 comes up with a plan that appears to stop him by taking advantage of his weak point, Imperiex is able to take the device Kell-El used to travel through time to escape to the Legion's timeline.
After escaping to the 31st century, Imperiex secretly frees the Fatal Five and the Legion of Super-Villains from prison, recruiting Validus. He hacks into Computo, downloading information about the Legion's arsenal at the time as well as acquiring some data that he offers to the Dominion.
Outside of Validus, the Dominion, and his Destructo-Bots, Imperiex works with and recruits villains such as Mekt Ranzz, Ron-Karr, and Grimbor the Chainsman to aid him, although he was perplexed by those villains who left him.
In "Unnatural Alliances," the cybernetic villain Terra-Man was targeting a younger Abel which Imperiex wouldn't allow. In the final fight with Terra Man, Kell-El and Imperiex worked together to destroy Terra-Man. In "Message in a Bottle," Imperiex and his armies invade the Fortress of Solitude so he can steal "The Messenger" from the shrunken city of Kandor.
Brainiac 5 was forced to tap into his ancestor's knowledge and used it to turn the sun yellow, the Kandorians managed to fight back and caused Imperiex's army to retreat. However, Imperiex intended Brainiac 5 to do that in order for him to become an ideal member of his campaign. Ultimately, however, Imperiex ends up being impaled and killed by Brainiac 1.0 (in Brainiac 5's body), who thanked him for his part. Brainiac then attempted what amounted to the "digitization" of all the worlds of the galaxy, before he was stopped by the Legion in the series finale.
As opposed to his comic-book incarnation, this Imperiex instead relies on physical, direct combat. He can fly, is stronger than Superman, and is virtually indestructible. The only time that he is vulnerable is when he uses a cannon mounted in his chest, which is also his most powerful weapon. In addition, he has extendable claws and he wields a pair of powerful swords that can fire out waves of energy. He is also exceptionally intelligent and cunning.
So, how's the figure? Really big. I was actually surprised as to just how large Imperiex really was, and wasn't entirely sure it was appropriate. If memory serves, his size was something that was open to a bit of artistic interpretation in the comics. I certainly don't object to a larger action figure, and I appreciate the fact that Mattel is willing to go to the effort and expense of creating one, but I was still just a little surprised.
Imperiex stands roughly 9" in height. This puts him on a par with Atom-Smasher, the second tallest DC Universe Classics figure to date (Giganta has the first spot). However, since Imperiex's physique is more powerful in appearance than Atom-Smasher's, he appears even larger. Atom-Smasher's overall proportions are essentially identical to most of the male heroes in the DCUC line. He's just larger. Imperiex is of entirely a unique design, and his proportions are somewhat different and certainly bulkier.
However, when I looked up the Imperiex entry on WikiPedia, the first graphic image to come up was the cover to Superman #153, and it shows Superman fighting Imperiex in space, and Imperiex is clearly distinctly larger than Superman, by a considerable margin. So a 9" figure of this guy, in a line whose average height for its male heroes is roughly 6-1/2", is not at all inappropriate.
WikiPedia states that Imperiex was designed by Ian Churchill. That may well be, but Imperiex looks like something that Jack Kirby might have come up with, if Kirby wanted to come up with someone that looked even meaner than Darkseid, and was a good bit more overdressed than any of the "New Gods" characters Kirby ever developed. There's a lot of the same sort of jagged detailing to Imperiex's costume that Kirby liked to use -- lots of straight, angular, complicated lined, just all over the place.
Not a lot of Imperiex's face can be seen, and this is probably just as well, given what portions of his face CAN be seen. This is mostly the eyes, mouth, and lower jaw. The skin around these areas is pale pink and looks withered. Imperiex has deepset red eyes with no visible pupils or any other color except the red. His teeth are clearly on display, as if his face has no lips whatsoever, which is perhaps well within the realm of possibility.
Imperiex is wearing a black helmet with metallic gold trim, thick lines bordering the eyes, mouth, and perimeter of the helmet. There are hour large attachments to the helmet, above the eyes and where one would expect the ears to be, that look like huge bolts. These are also painted metallic gold, and there are additional lines on the helmet intersecting these bolts.
Finally, there's a little dark red -- something or other -- on the top of the helmet getting towards the back. It looks like it could be either a topknot or a small brush. Precisely what its purpose is I have no idea. Just some sort of additional ornamentation on Imperiex's part, I suppose, although one does sort of have to wonder what the original designer of the character was thinking when he three this in. Granted, it does add a slight additional "regal" look to the character.
Imperiex is wearing a massive black chestplate, that goes over the shoulders and well down the back. I wouldn't quite call it a cape, though. More like layered armor. The entire thing is bordered in gold. The front almost looks like a letter "M", in a way, while the back tapers off in several angled layers, each bordered in gold. The chestpiece includes a high collar protecting Imperiex's neck. There are also eight more of the circular "bolts" on the piece, surrounding the head, with a jagged gold line intersecting all of them. This is perhaps the most Kirby-esque detail on the entire outfit.
Just below the collar, on the front, is a small additional detail. It looks like a cross between a ninja throwing star and a weather map's graphic for a hurricane. I suppose it could represent a spiral arm galaxy. What's unusual about it is that it is colored in metallic blue, the only place on the entirety of Imperiex where this color appears.
Imperiex actually has a fairly limited color palette. Apart from his face, his armor is black with metallic gold borders, and sections of ridged uniform that are dark red. Setting side the blue emblem, that's it, color-wise.
Imperiex has a waistpiece of similar configuration to his chestpiece. It wraps around his waist, and is black, bordered in metallic gold, with some jagged details to the perimeter, and some jagged gold lines within. As this piece is connected to the upper torso, I make this recommendation for the assembly of the figure. Attach the legs to the lower torso piece FIRST, and then secure the entire lower assembly to the upper figure. Not the first time this has been recommended. Giganta is most easily assembled this way, as well.
Imperiex's arms are heavily armored in black, but the interior side of the arms are dark red and heavily ridged, much as the torso underneath the black chest and back piece is. The outer region of the arms is armored, with metallic gold between the black and red areas, and three more of the circular bolts on each arm, with jagged line details intersecting them. Imperiex's gloves ate black with gold knuckles, and jagged gold detailing. Trust me, no one would want to take a punch from someone wearing gloves like this.
Imperiex's legs feature some additional ridged red uniform, but he is wearing very high, black boots, with gold knee-pads, and additional gold line detailing. Interestingly, the circular bolt-like details so prevalent on and around the head, and on the arms, are absent on the legs.
The figure, of course, features excellent articulation. Imperiex is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel (cleverly hidden at the top of the boots), knees, and ankles. His overall bulk and the extensive armor is a slight impedance to some movement, but not seriously. I don't think we'd want to see him in a limbo contest or trying to do the Macarena, regardless.
The painted detail is all superbly well done, an given how complex it is, and how precise it needs to look to look right, Mattel really did an excellent job with this. Putting together the painting masks and stencils for this figure cannot have been an easy job. The last DC Universe Classics figure I saw with this many crazy lines all over the place was the gold variant of Captain Atom.
So, what's my final word here? Okay, Imperiex isn't the most prominent villain in the world. He's got two claims to fame, and they're somewhat different ones, and he ended up obliterated in one form or another in both of them. Skewered in the Legion, and sent back to before time began in the comic books. I doubt he's coming back anytime soon (although one never knows...) However, he's certainly an imposing presence, had a major impact in a major storyline at the time, and he makes one heck of an impressive action figure.
As a "Collect and Connect", you can't just go out and buy him whole. On the other hand, he's part of an impressive wave of DC Universe Classics figures that includes some major players like The Joker and Power Girl, and longtime favorites like Beast Boy and Robotman. It's not exactly a great hardship to bring these figures in to your collection anyway. And -- there's likely the secondary market, as well...
With all that, I would readily say that the DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS "COLLECT & CONNECT" figure of IMPERIEX certainly has my enthusiastic recommendation!