Monday, 14 August 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Hasbro Marvel Legends Marvel’s Sandman Series Ms. Marvel

Hey it’s the first Marvel Legends figure to get a Quick Crappy Review! That’s because I hold the uncommon and unpopular opinion that Marvel Legends are often a bit shit, which should do wonders for my already terrible view count.  In truth some of it’s me, I have a lot of emotional baggage and some of it is connected to superhero collector’s figures (because of course) but some of it is the same issues Marvel figures have had since Toy Biz: unappealing art style (sculpt style?), horribly obviously joints, ridiculous muscle definition, terrible faces and ugly paint washes, troubles that Hasbro has only been overcoming once or twice a wave in the last two years or so. Please don’t hate me.

Anyway Ms. Marvel is from the Marvel’s Sandman wave of Marvel Legends because Hasbro decided the best thing for their Legends series was to forgo silly shit like numbers and name ‘em after the build-a-figure. Sometimes a wave also uses a character name or film title (e.g. Captain America: The Winter Soldier) but this series doesn’t, it’s themed around Spider-Man and considered a Spider-Man wave but the web-swinger’s name or logo doesn’t’ appear anywhere on the packaging bar the names of the figures (cos there’s a figure called ‘Spider-Man’ in this wave). Ms. Marvel is this wave’s ‘guest star’, Hasbro have settled on a nice habit of throwing in a roughly thematic but mostly unrelated character or two per wave as a way of getting those characters out i.e. Death’s Head II in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 wave or Sister Grimm in the Doctor Strange wave. Funnily enough, those ‘guest stars’ are usually the ones I buy.

Meet Kamala Khan, Kamala is the current Ms. Marvel after Carol Danvers, the regular Ms. Marvel (there was another one, she became She-Thing, I like her, everyone else doesn’t, let’s move on), FINALLY got promoted to the Captain Marvel moniker1 where she has rightfully stayed. Kamala is a Pakistani American, a huge fangirl, fan-fiction writer and Inhuman from Jersey City and the most loveable Marvel hero since Kitty Pryde, seriously everything about her is wonderful, she is the little sister we should all have. Kamala debuted amidst a blitz of publicity and I was sceptical, I always am when Marvel and DC replace a pre-existing character with a minority character, I question their motives to say the least, turns out I’m right to do that just not with Kamala Khan, in fact I’d argue she’s the perfect way to introduce a minority character: she fills a vacant moniker so no one is replaced, her book was well written and well-drawn with someone from the minority as part of the creative process (Sana Amanat in this case) and her ‘push’ has equalled her popularity rather than y’know, being pushed like Hulk Hogan when everyone considers her Brutus Beefcake at best. I promise to not make any more wrestling metaphors.

Hasbro have gotten into the habit of using metallic whenever they can and while I’m not sure Spider-Man should be metallic but it means that Kamala’s gold is really gold, her shiny bits stand out - though they’re sadly broken up by the ab-crunch. Hasbro are starting to learn about overlays and Kamala’s rocking one but I wish her entire Shalwar kameez-y dress thing (it was made from a burkini wasn’t it?) had been one, Hasbro could have reused more parts and the figure’s lightning bolt wouldn’t look strange every time she reaches down. On part reuse (my favourite thing and yours) as far as I can tell, under the blue everything from the diaphragm downwards is parts from elsewhere in the line, I don’t buy enough to judge for certain but they’re generic enough and sure look like parts I’ve seen before. This would also explain my one sculpting gripe body-wise which is the muscle definition on her thighs - there’s too much of it, it’s a problem Hasbro has: their thighs tend to look like a naked bodybuilder’s way more than they should, in this case the material on Kamala’s legs (and the artwork depicting it) should mean even if she did have legs this toned you wouldn’t be able to see this amount of definition. While I’m looking at teenager’s body (and it’s not creepy, reviewing is fun) articulation run-down:  ball joints at the shoulders, ab-crunch, wrists and hips aren’t uncommon but she also has them as her elbows (to facilitate part swapping?); her neck joint is fantastic – she has a ball joint and a hinge up there which not only gives her a better range but does a lot to negate the unavoidable joint-blocking her hair would create, well done Hasbro desig; her legs are unnecessarily jointed - she has ankle hinges, double jointed knees, boot swivels and thigh swivels – why? Why does she need to swivel joints when she already has ball joints by the vag? I shouldn’t really complain as they’re both concealed fine (one by the boots, one by the skirt) so we’re really getting extra joints with no downside but it allows me to complain about superhero collectors figures again because they have a horrible habit of throwing in every joint possibly regardless of how it effects the aesthetics of the figure or if it even makes sense. I feel better now. Ms. Marvel’s mush looks a little too old but pleasingly she also looks very Indian, some artists have the habit of drawing her (and any non-white female) as a white person and letting it up to the colourist to make them look anything but a cracker, but Hasbro’s sculptors have seemingly put some effort into giving her Asian features (that roughly match her facial design in-comic, her nose is a little different shaped) and design have seemingly put some effort into actually matching her skin-tone to a real Asian person and not just picking a colour somewhere between a White character and a Black panther, which I’m still certain is how Disney colour (and cast) everyone who isn’t explicitly one or the other or CGI2.

Kamala comes with three accessories but it wasn’t until I sat down to write this review I noticed that my one didn’t come packaged with the Sandman build-a-figure parts because the seller had clearly bought the whole wave, made Sandman and then sold off the figure he didn’t want, I imagine he’s the sort of person who complains about how social justice is ruining Marvel Comics3. I’d feel ripped off but as the sandman figure encapsulates everything I hate about super-hero collector’s figures (the nice list in my opening paragraph) really all it’s done is save me the time of embaying him and saved you the time of reading about me moaning again. So if you didn’t get ripped off and got a complete figure she should have come with the torso and crotch of Spider-Man enemy Sandman and two embiggened hands/forearms to swap in - out of the box she comes with her regular sized parts. The embiggened parts are essential and the hands are lovely sculpt-wise but they’re bafflingly crap, they don’t have sculpted in cuffs for her sleeves despite being unique pieces and they don’t have wrist articulation – the latter I can just about understand as it saves money but a sculpt line doesn’t cost shit. The lack of articulation is slightly compensated for by the ball jointed elbows but not enough, you gave her 25 leg joins but no wrists joints, this makes me cross and Kamala Khan should never make readers cross, she should make them feel only love and the need to buy awesome hats.

"Do you even know who I am?"
"Know you? you were the main villain in my Captain Marvel/She-Hulk:
Green and Blonde fic!
Conclusion? Far from a disappointment - some baffling construction choices bring the figure down but generally this is a nice figure, wow that sounded almost professional! 

This is funny if you've read the fist two TPBs
1 as far as I’m concerned Carol should have been Captain Marvel from the start but if she hadn’t been Ms. Marvel she may very well have never become a superhero at all (she was previously a Captain Mar-Vell supporting cast member). Ms. Marvel was created to secure the ‘Ms. Marvel’ trademark for Marvel Comics, without that necessity it’s unlikely Carol would have come back. So I’ll amend my opinion to: Carol should have become Captain Marvel as soon as Genis-Vell stopped using the name, now she’s been Ms. Marvel so long I find it hard to refer to her as anything else (I never got used to Binary or Warbird).
2 Disney own Marvel, this tangent is totally not a tangent, honest, really. 
3 just to throw my two cents in; it isn’t diversity or ‘social justice’ that’s the problem, it’s how Marvel are implementing it into their comics , replacing beloved, popular and movie star characters for instance, never goes down well and is generally best to be avoided – especially when you’re making millions off their movies – it puts the new characters at a disadvantage right out of the gate (and ultimately scuttles any chance of the change being permanent  - the likes of Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers and Thor Odinson will be brought back as the main Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor at some time its inevitable)  and causes resentment from the start, not good if you’re using those replacements to diversify your roaster, it also makes them feel forced on the reader which creates more resentment. It’s an easy and lazy way to go about doing what Marvel are doing and shoots them in the foot, they’re far better off elevating the minority characters they have (which they’ve done – see Squirrel Girl, Luke Cage, Captain Marvel, Black Panther), creating minority characters to fill empty roles (like Kamala Khan, Moon Girl or Miss America) to avoid getting resentment from the get-go or creating new stand-alone characters and putting the time, patience and writing quality into them to allow them to reach the same status as their white male characters. 

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