DC Super-Villains: Black Manta by DC Collectibles

I’ve been slowly working my way through the TPB releases of DC ReBirth and having a great time. So far nearly all the books have been enjoyable, but the one that totally took me by surprise was Aquaman. Great story, great characterizations, and beautiful art and coloring. It’s also one that beautifully captures what a badass Black Manta can be. So much so, that I had to go back and pick up his action figure from the DC Super-Villains line. And this is a particularly pertinent review as with Irma bearing down on me in a couple days, I may soon be under water! Yeah… let’s check him out!

I’ve reviewed several of the DC Super-Villains series, so the packaging offers no surprises. The figure comes in a mostly black window box with a swipe colored to match part of the character’s deco. In this case the red of Manta’s eyes. The box also includes an extended back flap with a J-hook so it can be displayed standing on a shelf or hanging on the wall. The window shows off the figure very well and everything here is collector friendly.

Out of the box, Black Manta looks absolutely fantastic. By nature, his design is fairly minimalist when it comes to color and details, but DCC still packed a great amount of love into him. The nearly all matte black body suit features some rather subtle panel lining around the chest and there’s some nice musculature sculpted in a swell. The neck guard, boots and gauntlets are painted with a glossy finish, which can look black or purple depending on how the light hits it. He also features the red gill-like slashes on either side of the suits neck-guard. All in all, this figure captures the look of the suit perfectly.

The only other detail of note on the suit is his right gauntlet, used to fire his energy beams or micro torpedoes. It’s a great sculpt and features some nice silver paint.

From the back, Manta is wearing his jetpack/backpack, which is painted in the same silver as his gauntlet. The backpack not only serves to propel him in water, but in this case also stores his extra weapons, which I’ll touch on in just a bit.

My favorite thing about Black Manta’s look has always been his squat, bulbous helmet and it looks fantastic on this figure. The red paint and texture on the giant buggy eyes is particularly well done. The back of the head connects to the backpack with two soft plastic hoses. They do allow for neck movement, but sometimes have a habit of bringing the head back to the center position.

Articulation on the Super-Villains line isn’t the best and mostly adheres to the standards set by DCC’s earlier “New 52” style figures. The biggest restriction here is in the hips, where we get a disappointing t-crotch as opposed to ball jointed hips. The arms are overall decent, with rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs feature hinges in the knees, but no articulation in the ankles, and no swivels in the thighs. There’s no articulation in the torso at all, and the neck is ball jointed. There’s still some fun to be had here, but for the most part, Black Manta is designed to stand on the shelf and look menacing.

What Manta lacks in articulation he makes up for with accessories. First off, he has what is sometimes called his hand-trident, although two blades does not a trident make. This is a simple weapon, but looks great in either hand and is stored by clipping it to the center of the backpack.

The other weapons are twin short-swords, and these aren’t really shown off in the package as they come sheathed in the backpack. Again, these are fairly simple, although they do have some detailing on the grips.

For the most part, the Super-Villains line has been one that I pick up when I find the figures at decent discounts, so rarely have I ever paid the full $20 that these are intended to sell for. Black Manta would have been an exception, as I went hunting for him after reading just a the first few issues of Aquaman ReBirth. To my surprise, he was already going for pretty cheap, and I was able to grab him for about $12. He looks great, and the accessories are a welcome treat that you don’t often see with this line, but the fairly limited articulation dampens (HA!) the fun a little bit. Still, I’m certainly glad I got him, as he displays beautifully with the Aquaman from my “We Can Be Heroes” Justice League set.

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DC Icons: (#11) Aquaman by DC Collectibles

Apologies that today’s DC Friday Feature is going up so late. It’s been a bitch of a week and I’m glad to put it behind me. But after a detour last week, I didn’t want to delay wrapping up Wave 3 of DC Icons any longer. Yes, today’s figure is Aquaman, and while he tends to take a lot of guff from a lot of people, I’ve always had a soft spot for the guy. I was happy to see him getting a slot in the DC Icons line, as the series continues to alternate between classic versions of cornerstone characters and more fleeting appearances of back-benchers. And so some may shake their head when a wave goes from Harley Quinn and Superman to Atomica and back to Aquaman, but scoff if you will, this is what Universe building is all about.

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We’ve seen this packaging many times over by now. It’s clean, attractive, and collector friendly. Aquaman’s box is branded with orange coloring, indicates that he is the 11th figure in the line, and the side panel notes that this figure is taken from the pages of “The Legend of Aquaman,” a limited run origins story that was published in the late 80’s. I actually remember reading that one way back when, it was probably one of the last comic series I read before the 90’s hit and I started drifting away from comic books for a time. I revisited it after getting this figure, but unlike my re-reading of “Man of Steel,” it completely failed to capture my interest.

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Nonetheless, the book features a very classic look for Aquaman and a great basis for this figure. But is there really a lot to say about this guy? With a few exceptions, his costume has changed the least out of anyone over the years and whether I’m looking at the original DC Universe Classics version or the New 52 Justice League version from DC Collectibles, there’s not a lot new here to talk about. You get the gorgeous gold fish-scale patterned top and dark green gauntlets and legs. From the back you can see the sculpted fins on the back of his lower legs. This is a fine treatment of the character, but I don’t think it’s really anything we haven’t seen before plenty of times.

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You get two portraits with the figure. The regular head is one of the better ones I’ve seen in the DC Icons line. At the risk of overusing the word here, it just looks very classic Aquaman. The paint is very clean and the figure features a strong jawline.

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The alternate head features a hole in the forehead to insert his telepathy effect part. I like the look of this piece and I’m glad DCC included it, as it’s one of the few things that makes this figure truly stand out as something genuinely new and different. The head sculpt is virtually the same, and I’m not sure why they bothered to make the effect piece removable. It’s not like anyone is going to use the head without the cone telepathy cone pegged into it. Maybe it was just cheaper to do it that way.

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If you’ve been collecting this line, or reading my Features on it, the articulation here should present no surprises. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, double hinges in the elbows and knees, hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, ball joints in the hips, an ab-crunch hinge just above the waist, a ball joint under the chest and again in the neck, and swivels in the biceps. It’s all pretty good stuff, but the lack of a waist swivel in this figure really irks me, as does the lack of thigh swivels. The wrists are on hinged pegs, allowing for swappable hands. Aquaman comes with a total of three pairs, including fists, relaxed hands, and trident-holding hands.

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And conveniently, you also get a trident for those-trident holding hands to hold! I have my share of Aquaman figures and I can safely say this is the best trident that’s come with any of them. The prongs are super thin and fragile, but I think that’s what makes it look so good. The head will pop off the shaft to help slide it through his closed grips.

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If you’re in the market for a very classic and solid Aquaman figure, you can’t go wrong here, and thanks to the timelessness of this look, he works fine as a modern version of the character too. I should also note how cool it is that Icons has so far been pulling the core Justice League characters from appearances published in the 80’s and that gives me a very classic and cohesive looking team so far. And this Feature also gets me current on DC Icons, but I’ll be anxiously awaiting Wave 4 to ship with Firestorm, John Stewart, and The Joker. Unfortunately, it looks like they’ve been delayed well into 4th Quarter.