DC Icons Figures Bring Out the Best in DC Comics History [Review]
The DC Icons series has been an interesting experiment from DC Collectibles. Following the lengthy run of New 52 figures, shaking things up by putting out characters from the vast DC Comics catalog from all different eras has proven to be quite an exercise. Though the figures in the Icons line are just out of scale with most of its contemporaries, that doesn't diminish the quality of the figures... even if it does make them look just out of place on display with other toys.
We got a look at the latest additions --- John Stewart, the Joker, and Firestorm --- just in time for their release this month. All three candidates are strong additions, and give us versions of these characters that have been sorely lacking representation on the toy front.
John Stewart is unarguably the greatest Green Lantern. He doesn't get the attention of that other guy from Earth he replaced, but his turn on Justice League and in a lot of the Green Lantern comics has shown him to be one of the greatest heroes in the DCU time and again. With the Icons version of the figure, DC Collectibles is transporting us back to one of Stewart's more memorable turns in the costume, the Green Lantern: Mosaic era.
The early '90s design has been reinterpreted by Ivan Reis, who's had an hand in designing just about every DC Icons figure, and sculpted by Joe Menna. Stewart has had a number of different costume designs, but the Mosaic style has influenced nearly every single outfit since he first started wearing it. One look at the design, and there's little reason to wonder why. In figure form it looks just as fantastic, and the paint app mixes the sparkling green with the matte black very well. Sometimes the Green Lantern figures have been too shiny, and the contrast between the color and black ends up being too dramatic. Here there balance is near perfect.
What helps set the Icons line apart from other DC Collectibles figure lines to this point is the number of accessories included. John Stewart's figure is no slouch in that department. In addition to his power battery, John comes with a few ring projection effects that plug into an alternate ring hand. The battery is a little big for this scale and looks just a tiny bit awkward when in his hands, but the effects look great (if a bit fragile) when used. There's also a second set of gloveless forearms to use, but you can only use the effects with a gloved hand.
Now ordinarily, I'd be setting John Stewart in the lead by default of awesomeness, but the latest Firestorm figure (based on Trinity War) is a piece of art. Sculpted by Paul Harding (as was the Joker in this wave), I've yet to see a Firestorm figure that looks better and has better atomic effects. In fact, the additional atomic power effects are probably one of the best "powers" I've seen sculpted or added as an accessory in a $25 action figure. These don't just snap lazily onto his wrists either. Firestorm's forearms detach, allowing you to slide these nuclear explosions into place, and then fasten them in with additional translucent hands that are included, too.
The overall effect is wonderful, and makes Firestorm even more of a standout figure in the Icons line as a result. Not that he needs much assistance in the matter though. The figure's sculpt is already one of the best in the line, let alone one of the best Firestorm figures DC Collectibles has released. Do I wish DC had decided to pull from another era in Firestorm's history other than Trinity War? Yeah, but that's more because I like the throwback style of the other Icon figures versus a version that's just a few years old.
The paint app and articulation is strong, and the translucent flame on his head a a great touch. The only real detractor I have with Firestorm --- and this is true of the Joker as well --- is the digital painting application on the portrait. At first glance the face doesn't look bad at all, but when you get close there's a lot of pixelization and loss of detail. That's the trade-off with digital painting, and it often leaves figures a little worse off than if more traditional methods were used.
When it comes to the Joker, there's no shortage of action figures with his pasty visage. Whether it's DC Collectibles, Mattel, Hot Toys, or whoever, the toy world cannot get enough of Batman's most iconic enemy. To be fair, the fans keep buying these figures up, so there's no reason why any company shouldn't pump out as many Jokers as they do Batmen. Interestingly enough, there are few Joker figures available that call back to the '80s. Most are more modern takes, which makes this "A Death in the Family" Joker a bit of a standout.
Jim Aparo's version of the Joker (and Batman) is one of the most iconic interpretations of the character, and this figure (by way of Reis and Harding) pays Aparo's art proper tribute. The head sculpt is terrific, with the exaggerated facial structure paving way for the larger-than-life grin. The long, thin eyebrows add just the right amount of menace, and hiding it all under that hat makes him much more devious. Unfortunately it's not removable, and this Joker comes with the least impressive accessories of the bunch.
I suppose you could argue that including that crowbar would be enough, but a few hands and a machine gun hardly evoke the character's more toyetic arsenal. There will be some accessories offered in a stand-alone pack with other Icons extras down the line, but that doesn't do this figure any favors in the short term. Still, it's a good sculpt that perfectly calls back to the original comic, and that's exactly the kind of thing the Icons line has been so successful at pulling off.
All three figures in this wave (not counting the delayed Static Shock) were worthwhile additions to the DC Icons line. I'll never turn down another chance for a new John Stewart action figure, the Firestorm is an elite level figure for the character, and the Joker is a fitting tribute to Jim Aparo's work on Batman. The Icons line might not mesh perfectly with existing collections from DC Collectibles, but as a line on its own, it's only bested by the Batman: The Animated Series line DC Collectibles also produces. The Icons are legit, and I hope DCC sticks with this direction for the foreseeable future.
The DC Collectibles DC Icons John Stewart, Joker and Firestorm are available now at hobby stores and your LCS. These figures were provided by DC for review.