Author Archives: Troy Brownfield

It’s Sword-and-Sorcery Infused with The Terminator. David Pepose Talks Savage Avengers

Savage Avengers #1

Announced in February, Savage Avengers returns this May with a whole new lineup and a whole new creative team.

Writer David Pepose guides Conan the Barbarian, Daredevil (Elektra), Anti-Venom, Black Knight, Cloak & Dagger, and Weapon H along with Carlos Magno in a whole new adventure. They’ll fight their way through the Hyborian Age with an evil Deathlok hot on their trail!

We got to talk to David about what we can expect from his Marvel ongoing series debut as well as his upcoming take on Moon Knight.

Graphic Policy: David, for the people out there that haven’t met you yet, please introduce yourself and tell them about your various minis and Ringo Award-winning exploits.

DP: Sure thing! I’m David Pepose, and I’m the writer of books like Scout’s Honor at AfterShock Comics, Spencer & Locke and Going to the Chapel at Action Lab, and my Ringo Award-winning Kickstarter series The O.Z. I’ve been reading comics my entire life, and it’s been a real honor to work in the independent comics scene — and a tremendous privilege to now be making my Big Two debut at Marvel.

GP: And now you’re on Savage Avengers. You’ve commented before that a few particular team books were favorites and influential in your approach. Let’s talk about when you first encountered those books and the particular elements that affect how you yourself write a team.

DP: For sure — some of the big influences behind Savage Avengers were Al Ewing’s work in Mighty Avengers, Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, and of course Grant Morrison’s seminal JLAJLA was probably the earliest book I’d encountered, and I really enjoyed the way Grant found creative ways to utilize their cast’s powers, but while still distilling their voices and establishing really fun character dynamics amongst their roster. 

I think Al Ewing did a similar thing in Mighty Avengers, which was a book that I nearly passed over — but I’m so glad I gave it a shot, because he did such an incredible job at taking characters I didn’t have any knowledge or affection for (especially newer legacy heroes like White Tiger and Power Man) and made them into a cohesive unit that you really cared about. Al’s work is probably the biggest influence on Savage Avengers, and it’s always a comfort to know you’re being inspired by the best.

Rick Remender’s work in Uncanny X-Force, meanwhile, has always influenced me in terms of rhythm — his voice is so singular because of the pacing and intensity of his writing, and that’s something I’ve tried to incorporate into Savage Avengers as well. But there’s also that throughline in his Marvel work of dysfunctional groups having to hash it out and learn to cooperate, and that plays a big role here, too.

GP: You had a hand in picking most of the team members you’re using in Savage Avengers. Can you describe how you approached that process, and what kind of give-and-take goes into (forgive me) assembling a team for Marvel?

DP: When my editor Tom Brevoort first reached out to me about potential ideas for Savage Avengers, my first instinct was to see if we could establish a permanent roster for the book, since Gerry Duggan’s spectacular run had more of a rotating cast of characters that would cross paths with Conan during his wild adventures in the Marvel Universe. So I approached this roster with two directives: how do I speak to Gerry’s iconic original roster of Conan, Punisher, Elektra, Wolverine, Venom and Doctor Voodoo, but how do I do that in a way that lets me put my own stamp on the book?

With that in mind, I figured I could have my cake and eat it, too — on the one hand, we’ve got legacies of the core original Savage Avengers, with Conan, Elektra, Anti-Venom, and Weapon H. On the other hand, we’re building up this really cool sword-and-sorcery element to the team with Black Knight, Cloak and Dagger. But ultimately, they all share a similar throughline — these are all characters struggling with their dark side, and they’re going to wind up having to help each other navigate through that darkness.

Back-and-forth is a great way to describe how a roster like this comes together. Especially when you’re a new writer taking a swing this big, you’ve got to be flexible — that doesn’t mean you need to settle, but it means you need to come up with backup plans that have just as much love and affection as the number-one thing you’re pitching. There are very, very few characters that I’d consider “bad” — there’s always a way to make someone everyone else is overlooking and polish them into a show-stopping, A-list-quality character. And maybe that’s the real throughline for this entire roster, y’know?

But the thing is, there’s a ton of other books going on, and when you’re just starting out like I was, you’re never going to be privy to everything — so you wind up putting together a massive list of characters that you think could be a potential fit, and you work your way down. Is Flash Thompson busy? What about Elektra as Daredevil — is there a way to fit her in that doesn’t mess with Chip Zdarsky’s plans? There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination, but I was honestly pretty fortunate in getting just about everything I wanted on the first pass. The only characters I told Tom that I’d go to the mat begging for were Cloak and Dagger, and thankfully I didn’t get any pushback on them. (Laughs)

Savage Avengers

GP: You’ve developed a reputation for both being really good with a pastiche, weaving in satire, and punctuating things with dark humor. In what way does the “Pepose brand” manifest itself in the book?

DP: The “Pepose Brand” for Savage Avengers is really in the high concept, since this series feels almost like a sword-and-sorcery-infused version of The Terminator. As a warrior hailing from the Hyborian Age, Conan the Barbarian is now a man out of time in the modern Marvel Universe… and that puts him head-to-head with Deathlok, who has charged Conan with crimes against the timestream.

So we’re able to take elements that you might be familiar with, but subvert them in some really cool and exciting ways — Conan is a natural-born warrior, but he’s going to find himself pushed to his limits against this soldier from the future. Meanwhile, the rest of the Savage Avengers are going to find themselves way out of their depths as the Deathlok’s rampage takes some surprising turns. Mashups are something that really interests me as a writer, as it lets me cover a pretty wide spread narratively and can make some really unexpected and fun sparks start to fly.

GP: Conan the Barbarian has a mammoth cultural history. Was it intimidating to take on that character? What are the elements that you believe must be in a Conan story, and what are the challenges and/or exciting parts of bumping him against the members of your cast?

DP: Hugely intimidating. (Laughs) But I think having Conan in the mix is part of the reason why I was so excited to tackle this book in the first place — it’s the mashup ethos, it’s having a team of scrappy Marvel superheroes alongside one of the biggest icons in sword-and-sorcery! But my favorite Conan stories are both dramatic and just purely fun escapism — like, living in the Hyborian Age is hard… but it’s also kind of fun to vicariously live through Conan’s adventures as a sword-swinging badass, y’know? So figuring out Conan’s unique voice was a really cool experience for me — sometimes he’s got this amazing bravado in the heat of combat, other times he can be hostile and even selfish. He’s complex, but he’s also larger-than-life, and that makes him a perfect leading man for this series.

That quality also makes him the perfect foil for the rest of our roster. Conan’s closest with Elektra, having interacted with her throughout Gerry Duggan’s run on the series, and he’s also teamed up with Black Knight briefly in the tail end of that run — but Conan is unapologetically himself, and as the target for Deathlok, the rest of the cast is going to be inherently curious as to what kind of man is worth all this hassle. Conan’s also very good at cutting through B.S., and his bluntness is a great way to either strip our Savage Avengers of their self-deceptions, or to make them rise to the challenge and defend their beliefs.

GP: The villain, at least initially according to advance information, is a version of Deathlok. Why Deathlok, and what makes him different than other versions of the character that have played a villain’s role?

DP: Deathlok, in a lot of ways, is the elemental opposite of Conan as a character — whereas Conan is this mountain of muscle from the distant past, Deathlok is this hard-edged metal machine from the far future. They’re both men out of time, and Deathlok has this laser-focused mad-on for Conan that is going to put every bit of the Cimmerian’s strength and strategy to the test. But since this is also a team book, I needed to find ways to stack the deck, to make sure this Deathlok could conceivably take down a whole roster of superheroes — and I’m really happy with the various ways we’ve done it.

But I’ve always appreciated the inner duality of Deathlok as a character — I thought Dwayne McDuffie did such an amazing job with the Michael Collins incarnation of Deathlok, which was the version of the character that I grew up with. So to me, there’s always been this question of morality at the heart of Deathlok as a concept — he’s ultimately someone committed to doing the right thing, but what does that look like? How do his circumstances as a cyborg zombie dictate what the right thing even is? And what about the vaguely sinister implications of conscripting corpses as a multiversal peacekeeping force? Without spoilers, Deathlok’s mission in Savage Avengers is perhaps more complicated than even he knows, and his growth as an antagonist is one of my favorite elements of the entire series.

GP: Your partner in savagery is Carlos Magno, who has done KangAvengers Forever, and Fantastic Four, among others. The preview art looks fantastic; what does Carlos bring to the book, and how does his art affect the way that you write?

DP: I couldn’t be more fortunate or grateful to be working with somebody as incredible as Carlos Magno. He is as gracious as he is talented, and the thing I like most about working with him is he’s clearly as hungry for this book to succeed as I am. He’s a diehard Conan fan, and it’s been a real treat watching him crush every page that our legendary Cimmerian is on — but boy, seeing the way he’s translated the rest of our cast has been so inspiring. In particular, the way he draws Cloak is an absolute show-stopper, and I downright adore the way that he draws Anti-Venom, especially in Flash’s feral state. It’s a really fun way to take John Romita, Jr.’s unique visual iconography, but in a way that makes it his own, y’know?

But Carlos’ work evokes bits of Phil Jimenez and Bryan Hitch, which honestly has just inspired me to keep thinking of more larger-than-life scenarios to really play to Carlos’ style. The craziest part of all this, though? He keeps raising the bar for himself — like, seeing the jump just from Issue #1 to Issue #2 blew my mind. So I hope that readers recognize just how much effort Carlos is putting into these pages, and I really hope to keep working with Carlos as long as he’ll have me. He’s absolutely the Real Deal.

Savage Avengers

GP: I know that you interned at the Distinguished Competition years ago, but this is your first time working for Marvel and your first time writing for the Big Two. Your work for smaller companies and Kickstarted books have all been creator-owned. What’s the adjustment of being the captain and commander of the story to being the custodian of major players like Conan and Elektra? And what’s it like working with an editor like Tom Brevoort, who knows a thing or two-hundred about the process?

DP: The thing is, I’m approaching this series as not just a fan of Marvel, but as a fan of these particular characters — I’d hand-picked this entire roster, because I want the comics-reading populace to love them as much as I do. There’s so much potential to this roster, and because I know these characters and their voices, Savage Avengers as a whole has been this really fun dance between reclaiming cool personality traits and dynamics, while simultaneously finding new angles to build on all these characters in some really additive ways. Sometimes that’s figuring out new ways to exercise their powers, sometimes it’s finding surprising commonalities or massive conflicts in their personalities — but it’s been a fairly straightforward process for me because I know in my heart of hearts, none of these characters are broken. There’s just pure potential, and I’m excited to be part of the team showing it off.

Beyond that, really the biggest learning curve is figuring out the traffic grid of it all — especially when you’re starting out like I am, you have to really trust your editors to be able to tell you if something works within everything else going on in the general Marvel constellation, or if you need to think of a different angle because it’s bumping up against something else that’s already in the works. 

But that’s where I’ve been really fortunate to be working with my editors Tom Brevoort, Martin Biro and Annalise Bissa, who have honestly made this as painless of an experience as I could have imagined. Tom in particular is… honestly, the best way I can describe Tom is he’s an editorial Jedi master. (Laughs) And that’s a good thing! I tend to overthink a lot of my story elements, and while that’s led to what I think is a career of pretty good writing, that means I tend to have a lot of questions, backup plans, alternate options to agonize over… and he gives me such well-considered responses to all of it. It’s been such a great experience working with someone who’s given me an immense amount of latitude, while also nudging me in the right direction if the story isn’t adding up. So yeah, I’m very grateful — there’s a lot of moving parts to navigate working at Marvel, so I’m really lucky that I’m in good hands with all of it.

GP: I’d be remiss if I didn’t also ask about your forthcoming Moon Knight story.

DP: Our Moon Knight story is so much fun. I’m teaming up with Leonardo Romero on a story that’s a day in the life of Marc Spector — as well as his other personalities, which makes it a little bit of a mystery as well. With a 10-page real estate, you either get into a short and punchy adventure, or you dive deep into a character study — but with a character as rich and layered as Moon Knight as well as an artist as insanely talented as Leo, I got to do both. That story will in Moon Knight: Black, White & Blood #2, which is currently scheduled to hit stores the same day as Savage Avengers #1!

GP: What separates Savage Avengers from every other book on the stands, and why, in your estimation, is it something that readers shouldn’t miss?

DP: There’s a sense of scale to our adventure that I think is really engaging, and I think one that’s accessible for anyone, whether or not they’ve read any previous Conan adventures or even any adventures with the rest of our cast. And there’s a real intensity to it all that I hope stands out amongst the pack, tempered with a real sense of heart that I think people might not expect from a book called Savage Avengers. But ultimately, I think the big draw for this series has to be the unexpected dynamics that we’re building amongst our roster, and Carlos Magno’s exceptional artwork — I think we’re really firing on all cylinders for this series, and if you want a superhero adventure that tackles both sci-fi and fantasy, and you’re definitely going to want to check out the genre-crossing jam band that is Savage Avengers

GP: Last thing: tell the good people what else is coming up and where they can find you and your work online.

DP: For sure — I’m working on a lot of different stuff right now that I can’t talk about quite yet, including my ongoing work on Savage Avengers, a few more hush-hush projects, as well as a brand-new original series that’s scheduled for later this year, as well as the return of The O.Z. to Kickstarter closer to the end of 2022. I’ve also got my new short story The Master of Kung Fthulhu in Russell Nohelty’s Cthulhu Is Hard To Spell: Battle Royale Kickstarter, which you can order today at cthulhuishardtospell.com. As for me, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @Peposed, as well as on Facebook at @DavidPeposeComics, on my personal website at davidpepose.com, and you can subscribe to my newsletter PEP TALKS. But no matter what, I’m just so grateful for this opportunity, and I’m excited for people to see what else we’ve got coming down the pike in 2022!

Super-Articulate: Whole Lotta Legends

We remain in the era of a veritable tsunami of Marvel Legends. Even as I write this, I’ve just gotten word that the Spider-Man/Armadillo BAF assortment is en route to my house, along with the X-Force multipack. The Excalibur multipack should arrive any minute, and the second assortment of Age of Apocalypse awaits its turn on the fabled Air Hockey Table of Figure Opening. I still have the Retro FF to open, although I did take the two villains to include today. Here, then, is a massive catch-up.

World Domination Tour M.O.D.O.K with The Captain

This is really a hilariously niche set. Nextwave: Agents of Hate ran for 12 gloriously insane issues between 2006 and 2007, and those issues serve as the inspiration for this HasCon exclusive. The two included figures are The Captain and a repurposed deluxe M.O.D.O.K. that can be modified with, yes, Elvis parts (so, M.O.D.Elvis, if you prefer).

The Captain is a well-executed figure, but he probably won’t be that recognizable to anyway that didn’t follow the original series or his handful of appearances since then. The design is based on the art by the great Stuart Immonen, and they’ve done a great job of capturing the likeness. I took some shots of The Captain next to his various Nextwave teammates, but I was, frankly, too lazy to put them all together. I think that The Captain would actually appreciate that.

As for the M.O.D.O.K., I’m just delighted that something this batshit crazy exists. Figures are supposed to be fun, right? This is ridiculously fun. Yes, it’s the earlier Deluxe version with extra Elvis parts, but what else would you expect? The touring case box design is a real work of art. If you’re a M.O.D.O.K. fan, I hope you got this.

What If? Sylvie, Zombie Captain America, Captain Carter

This is a rare assortment that I didn’t complete. Maybe eventually. But for now, we’ll take just a quick look at these three.

Sylvie: A solid likeness, and the cloak looks good, but the figure’s poseability is definitely hampered by the cloak. Accessories include the dagger and extra hands. It fits well with the earlier Disney+ figures, but it’s not the most visually striking.

Zombie Captain America: This is just great. There are a lot of tremendous details here, including thigh wounds that go all the way through. The skin color is a near-exact match for the animation. This is a figure that’s a winner based on the obvious care and forethought that went into design and execution.

Captain Carter: This is a near-perfect representation of the character. Captain Carter was a great idea, and the original character design with the Brittania shield is terrific. It translates amazingly well to the figure. What a great flagship for What If? in general. My only knock is that the figure is occasionally a bit hard to balance in the posing department. But it looks outstanding.

Retro FF – The Bad Guys: The Retro-carded Fantastic Four assortment contains Reed, Ben, Sue, and Johnny, with Sue and Johnny variants available at Hasbro Pulse. I’ll be getting to those soon, but today we’ll hit the other two figures: Psycho-Man and the High Evolutionary.

Psycho-Man: Psycho-Man has the distinction of having appeared on the original version of this FF card in the Toy Biz FF animated line of the ‘90s. The Hasbro team has captured the character in all of his Kirby craziness right here, and I’m delighted to see it. I believe that the first time I saw Psycho-Man in a book myself was Micronauts #17 (volume 1, from 1980), which saw the titular heroes team with the FF against the emotion-manipulating bad guy.

Probably the best feature of this figure is the care given to the exo-tubing. This could have been an easy dodge, but the design team actually figured out how to make these structures work on the figure. They also did a bang-up job on the Control Box, which projects fear, doubt, and hate. I also dig the metallically tinged paint apps on this. An excellent addition to the Legends line, which is, curiously overall, generally lacking in FF villains.

High Evolutionary: Again, I’m always happy to see the lesser-known character get a spotlight. And yes, the Evolutionary is NOT actually lesser-known in the comics sphere. The character has had his hand in a number of big events over the years  in addition to creating the Knights of Wundagore. The figure finally making the line is definitely an “about time.”

This is another rock-solid job that captures the comic-accurate look of the character. The head-ridge is well-sized, the tunic doesn’t totally impede leg movement, and the individual rivits on the outfit are painted. Like Psycho-Man, we have some metallic finishes and extra hands. My only regret is that they didn’t figure out a way to give him the “captive Avengers globe” from the cover of Avengers Annual #17.

Retro-Carded Avengers: That’s not necessarily in the name of this expression; the Hasbro gang referred to it previously as the Marvel Super-Heroes card. But with Wanda and Vision getting a West Coast label, and these two having been Avengers . . . it just seems appropriate.

Tigra: I know that there had been a lot of anticipation over this one. The original Tigra was, IIRC, a Walmart exclusive and was generally hard to find. I have one and I like it, but there was room for improvement. I’m happy to report that they done a generally terrific job with this.

The figure comes with swappable heads (one with wild hair and a feral expression, the other more of a resting-Tigra face) and hands (gotta have claws), although I feel like the regular head could have maybe used a little more volume in the hair. Regardless, the sculpt is really good overall. Of course, Tigra does indeed slot in with the West Coast Avengers, being one of the original five. The presence of this figure and the upcoming cards for Vision and Wanda (as well as context clues in a certain Disney+ show) have me holding out hope that we might finally get a classic Mockinbird.

Hercules: Admittedly, I wasn’t quite as enthused about Herc, as we just got a good modern version not long ago. However, I have to say, this is awesome. The happy head sculpt in particular is great, and the sheer mass of the figure gives him a rather mythic look. There’s a lot of finely expressed detail, too. Look at the sandals and toes! This was a well-considered and well-rendered new version of the character. It’s a substantial upgrade from the very first version of Herc we got (though I still have that guy parked with my Champions set-up). I won’t mind too terribly about repeated figures if they’re going to be this good.

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Eternals

Talk about a contentious group. Not only have audiences and critics been divided on Eternals (I personally really enjoyed it), there has been a strong current of bitching about the Marvel Legends figures since the first glimpses leaked. Granted, there is a solid component of ML fans that have no interest in MCU figures, but also take a profound interest in telling everyone that they have no interest in MCU figures. For my part, I generally get both comic-based and MCU figures, so that wasn’t a problem for me. However, figure buyers have been as sharply divided on the look of the figures as movie people have been divided on the film itself. Whatever your proclivity, the figures have dropped, and in generally available numbers. I’m going to start with the two exclusives and the deluxe, and then movie into the BAF wave.

Thena (Target Exclusive): Like many of you, I used to curse the sky in the name of Target exclusives. However, in the past year or so, Target has done a much better job of making stuff orderable online and in their app. Combine it with a Red Card for 5% off and free shipping, and it becomes easier and cheaper to grab one. I’ve successfully done it several times now, including last year’s Rogue and Gambit, Katy from Shang-Chi, Mobius from Loki, and now Thena.

Most movie figures live or die based on their likeness to the adapted actor, and in this case, the design team did a very good job adapting Angelina Jolie. Here’s a blanket statement for all of the Eternals to follow: Overall, the costume details and color apps on these figures are outstanding. If you’ve seen the film or studied the stills, you’ll see that each character has some very intricate design work in their costume. Hasbro has done an incredible job of transferring those notes into the figures, some of which only become really visible under stronger light. The effect is even stronger when the figures are grouped together, because the metallic finishes and design bits become more pronounced when you have say, Makkari’s red next to Druig’s black, and so on.

For Thena in particular, she comes with the most accessories, four weapons that reflect her ability to manifest same in the film. The figure is fairly poseable, though in Thena and some other figures, the flexible vinylish tunic gets in the way a bit. Still, the armed figure is pretty striking. I might have liked an extra head, given the way that slight spoiler her eyes occasionally change in the film. Overall, a strong figure and one of the best of the bunch.

Ajak (Walmart Exclusive): I preordered Ajak online during Walmart’s fan event, but happened to run across it in-store (I’m aware of the rarity of that), so I picked it up and cancelled the pre. I think that at this point we’re all aware that Salma Hayek made fun of the figure’s expression on Jimmy Kimmel. I have to say that the main head with the headdress has, let’s say, an unfortunate expression. The free-flowing hair look head that’s included looks more like Hayek, but it’s probably not the head most fans would use, given that she appears the other way more often.

Outside of the head/face sculpt, the rest of the figure is pretty great. Ajak’s robes are rendered well, the colors (as noted) are really nicely done, and the general look is good. I also feel that the figure scales nicely height-wise with the others. I do think that it’s unfortunate that Ajak was made a Walmart exclusive, giving the historical difficulty that retailer has with exclusives versus the fact that Hayek has an important role and an essential character for the group.

Kro (Deluxe Figure): Kro’s a little bit tougher for some people to reconcile. If you don’t like the look of the Deviants in the film, then you probably won’t like Kro. The early preview pics did it no favors. However, I do think that the figure looks better in person and out of the box. In terms of successfully representing the character as seen in the movie, the design team did a good job.

In terms of accessories, Kro comes with four sets of tentacle-like attachments. Two fit into the back, and two go on the figure’s arms. It’s important to note that even though the figure has removable hands, these tentacles DO NOT attach at the wrist. The figure has forearm breaks that allow the forearm and hand to be removed on each arm so that the tentacles can plug into those spots. The wider feet give the figure a better base to stand with tentacles attached, but there’s still a bit of tilting and leaning involved to get it to stand.

For my part, I think Kro looks decent enough for what it is, but it’s still of a bit of a let-down for me. I’m not wild about the Deviant design (they remind me a lot of Bay’s original Megatron), and the figure takes up A LOT of room on a shelf for someone that’s really a fairly minor character.

Gilgamesh BAF Wave overview (7 figures and 1 BAF)

I’ll restate the general sentiment: the design details and colors are great. Most of these figures come with, at least, extra hand accessories. I’ll note accessories outside of that in individual character write-ups. Individual notes really come down to likeness thoughts and other accessories.

Sersi: Great likeness of Gemma Chan. The figure really captures her character from the film, and the green sets off well against the other figures. It’s a strong entry.

Ikaris: Another really strong likeness. I like the idea of the extra head with the eye beam effect, but I’m honestly not sure where I land on it. Some days I like how it was depicted, and some days I’m less sure. In general it’s a good sculpt with and a solid representation.

Kingo: Kumail Nunjiani is a really expressive actor. The figure tries to capture that . . . and misses. From a couple of angles, I get what the sculptors were going for, but in execution, it’s not great. On the upside, the “finger guns” and energy effects work well, and the color of the costume is particularly great. It’s just unfortunate that the head takes ahead from everything else that works.

Sprite: The height is great, but this is another head sculpt that leaves a little to be desired. The likeness is okay, but the head feels a little big for the body. This is a figure that could have really used a power effect accessory or something extra. Essential for completing the set, but fairly bland.

Phastos: On the other hand, this is a really good likeness on a sculpt that captures the physical presence of the actor. Another stand-out in terms of costume color, Phastos pops. I also like that you can easily pose Phastos in his signature “creation power” move. One of the better figures in the line.

Makkari: I was great idea to assign one hand for sign language, given the character’s status as the first deaf character in the MCU. The head sculpt is good, but I would have preferred a second one with the braid that Makkari sports for the last third of the film, including the climax. The figure is generally poseable, but is hampered a bit by the tunic. Good effort on this one.

Druig: The red color details on this figure are just insane in the right light; they look great. The likeness is also terrific. However, the poseability is hampered by costume design and there aren’t any other accessories to counter that. I mean, it looks great, and I liked the character in the film more than I expected, but it is, color aside, kind of boring.

Gilgamesh: The Don Lee likeness here isn’t bad, but it’s not as spot-on as, say, Sersi. Still, the figure captures Lee’s physicality and the fists allow him to get in a good boxing pose. The only real let-down is that there’s no accessory for the sort of “energy boxing glove/gauntlet” that Gilgamesh manifests during the action scenes in the film. Overall, it’s pretty solid, but lacks a wow factor.

All Together Now: Interestingly, this is an assortment that I totally think looks better as a group that as stand-alone figures. Put together, the colors play off each other well and the line-up really captures that sort of cinematic moment of all the Eternals together that appears in both the trailer and the film. I get the disappointment from people that would have preferred some really Kirbyesque comic-based figures, but I also understand the notion of these falling in MCU style for their first figures. I would not be surprised at all to see a comic-based Sersi in the next year, given her status as an Avenger and significant presence in the ‘90s books that the design team seems to dig. A comic-based Ajak would be a good move, given how different that character is in the comics. Still, it was kind of a bold choice for Hasbro to go this way, and I don’t mind them doing things differently on occasion.

Super-Articulate: Nova, Mobius, Aurra, and Tech

The stuff never stops rolling out of Hasbro these days, so here’s a bit of housekeeping before I drop a big Eternals piece in time for the movie. That one will include the entirety of the BAF assortment, the deluxe Kro, and the exclusives Thena and Ajak. For today, we have two Marvel exclusives and two Star Wars figures in general release. We’ll hit those first.

Star Wars Black Series: Aurra Sing

I’ve been waiting on this one for some time. The bounty hunter that popped up in Episode I and had a much bigger presence in The Clone Wars (and also apparently got knocked off before Solo) is a distinctive character with an interesting look. I’m a fan of the bounty hunters in general, so this was a natural for me.

I’ll start with weapons first, for once. Sing comes with two dual-trigger blasters and sniper rifle (is it a Fallan hyper-rifle?). These are the obvious, and a great, choices, though it might have been cool to get some trophy lightsaber handles.

As for the overall look, it’s just right, acknowledging the height, her unique hands, and costume details. Of particular note are the holsters (including that excellent chain) and the vest. It’s really strong work, set off by an excellent face sculpt. The head antenna also looks great; I was a bit concerned that it could be damaged during removal from the package, but it turned out just fine. I have to say that the color is really nicely done; outside of pilot outfits, we don’t get a lot of orange, so it’s nice to see this shade rendered with care. Well-done.

Star Wars Black Series: Tech from The Bad Batch

One more member of the Bad Batch down! Like the other figures, Tech comes with multiple accessories which include a backpack, a blaster, and his helmet. The helmet is my favorite part of the figure, due mainly to those large optics. The blast shield does drop over the eyes, which is a detail that I appreciate. The best detail is the tool pouch on the characters left thigh, with exposed and removable tools. That’s just a great touch.

Overall, the body is comparable to the other clones, but the paint apps do a great job of differentiating the look. Like Sing, the holster is well-rendered. The face sculpt, scene here in a couple of photos, is another fine execution based on the animation. I don’t have a ton to say about Tech overall, but it’s a good, solid figure and a fine addition to the line.

Marvel Legends: Target Exclusive Mobius

Getting exclusives from Target has gotten a lot easier, in my opinion. I use the Target app and I have a Red Card, so preorders get made quickly and come with 5% off. I also use the free pick-up option. It certainly worked great for both Thena (coming soon to this space) and Mobius.

Mobius was a totally logical figure to make. He has a big role in Loki, so of course it makes sense to add him. It’s not a hugely exciting figure, but I’m glad it exists. The suit body is the now-familiar buck. I know some people have made fun of the head sculpt online for looking a little like Alex Trebek, but I think they did a fairly decent likeness of Owen Wilson in the role.

The figure comes with two accessories. The first one is the TVA time baton that the group uses as both weapon and transport device. The other is a TVA TemPad. I kind of feel like Mobius got the accessories and not Loki so as to create a value-add for this figure. Loki is Loki; he’ll sell anyway. Whereas, some might be on the fence about Mobius and go over the edge of purchasing because of the extras. Like I said, not hugely exciting, but cool enough. (By the way, if you want to give him a jetski . . . here.)

Marvel Legends: Walgreens Exclusive Nova

No need to hold back. I loathe the Walgreens Exclusive process. They only sporadically make the ML exclusives available online and social media is alive with tales of how much people hate the distribution. And that was PRE-pandemic.

So while there have been lots of reports on people spotting Nova on the East or West Coasts, I live Indiana. We are about the last to get anything, and that’s certainly been true of Nova. When I saw a seller have one for an extremely reasonable price, I jumped on it. Thankfully, that hunt is over. Now I’m on the lookout for Quasar. Sigh.

At any rate . . . hey! This Nova is excellent! The figure comes with “fight” and “flight” hands, but the best extra is Nova Corps member Qubit with a flight stand. It’s a great touch that Hasbro gives us small characters like this from time to time.

This particular Nova is based on the characters classic look and is just a great sculpt overall. It’s really poseable and has some great paint apps. I also like the blue-glow eye effect; it sets this Nova off from other versions. I got this Nova particularly to display with my New Warriors, which I did. While I could have done without fruitless Walgreens searches, the actual figure was worth the wait.

Super-Articulate: More Infinity Saga and a Big Clone

Figures having been falling like rain for the last few weeks, and I have fallen further behind. In hand and waiting to be reviewed, I have the Eternals assortment (and Thena) and the Star Wars Black Series Tech, among other. Today, I’m knocking off the last of the Infinity Saga and Tech’s teammate.

Star Wars Black Series: Wrecker

I pre-ordered Wrecker the day he came available on Hasbro Pulse many months ago. There was a brief spate of the figure showing up in stores, but then I saw a lot of reports of it being difficult to find. Mine finally arrived, for which I’m glad, but I not sure what prompted the various shifting dates.

Wrecker got the Deluxe treatment, so it’s a higher price point ($29.99 on Pulse). The figure IS larger, fitting the character’s nature, which is the right decision. I like that Wrecker has some mass, and it makes him stand out next to (for example) Hunter.  The face sculpt is strong, and the overall paint app is really good. It might be the best of the three Bad Batch figures I’ve reviewed so far. I found the poseability to be fairly strong. Both larger characters and armored characters can sacrifice articulation at times, but Wrecker has a good balance.

The figure comes with four accessories: a helmet, backpack, vibroknife, and blaster. The helmet has a very good, show-accurate deco, the backpack has some good detail work, and the weapons are the usual dependable Hasbro Star Wars quality. This is another good-looking new character for the line, and I look forward to getting Tech opened and set up with the others.

Marvel Legends: The Infinity Saga Avengers Endgame Iron Man LXXXV & Thanos two-pack

Yes, I open this review acknowledging that a good many of you are Thanosed out after repeated BAFs and releases since 2018. There’s been the unarmored BAF, a tweaked version of same in a three-pack, the armored BAF, the Deluxe comic version, and now this one. Part of the reason for this version of Thanos existing is rather simple: there is stuff here that would have been major spoilers in 2019.  I was pretty uncertain about it myself. But I have to say that the team did a really fine job here.

The basics: two figures, seven (!) heads, and a bunch of accessories. If you look closely, you’ll see that this two-pack is basically meant to cover every stage of the final battle from Endgame, beginning when Thor, Capt, and Iron Man engage Thanos on up until the Mad Titan’s dusting. You have the weapon that Tony first uses to attack Thanos, Tony’s energy shield, and four additional Iron Man hands (one of which is for the climactic snap). There’s an unblemished Tony head, an Iron Man head/helmet, and the wounded Tony for the snap. On the Thanos side, there’s his rotor blade, a helmeted head, two unhelmeted heads with different expressions, and an oh-shit-I’m-dusted-now head. Thanos has closed fist Stark Gauntlet with stones, and a snap-gesture Stark Gauntlet with the stones removed (that, my friends, is attention to detail).

Overall, the details and paint apps here are killer. Take a look at some of the pictures to see the fine notes on each set of armor. Both are well-articulated, and the posing potential is really strong. Of course, I put Tony on the shelf in the final “I am Iron Man” kneel. If you’re happy with previous versions of the characters released over the life cycle of the film, then by all means, enjoy those. But these are some top-notch efforts that make me feel like the scenes are complete on my shelf in a way. Really nice work all around.

Marvel Legends: The Infinity Saga Thor:Ragnarok Surtur

I love this guy. I love him because he’s huge and crazy. After Ragnarok passed, I didn’t think we get cinematic Surtur (or any Surtur), but I was delighted when this was announced. It’s hard to conceptualize how big 13” is against other Legends, but Surtur is pleasantly huge. He’s also got an insanely big Twilight Sword (which even huge-sword-wielding Guts from Bezerk must admire).

Take a look at the pics to see Surtur next to Thor. Sure, he’s not as big as he gets in the climax of Ragnarok, but that’s impressively large in non-HasLab Legends terms. I know some didn’t like the overall color appearing, but I like the face and flame details here. The figure is pretty poseable overall, but balance is an issue with the figure’s size.

I feel like putting out a big figure like this at an elevated price point ($52.99 initially) was kind of a risk for Hasbro, but I’m glad they did it. Recent years have seen them show a willingness to stretch the notion of bigger or Deluxe figures with releases like MODOK. I’m glad that they’ll take chance just because there are fans out there that have off-the-wall stuff that they want to see. I like that this guy even exists, and I appreciate the work that went into it.

Super-Articulate: The Infinity Saga and More

You don’t need me to tell you that supply chains have been wacky. As such, not everyone is getting their figures at the same time, whether by in-store or pre-order. Sometimes, they come like a chain of fireworks. That’s been happening to me, as I had a number of figures from the Marvel Legends Infinity Saga arrive one right after the other. To that end, today I’ll be cover the following figures from that expression: Happy Hogan/Iron Man XXI, “Endgame” Thor, Odin, Quicksilver, and the Captain Marvel/Rescue two-pack. I’ll also throw in the Diamond Select/Marvel Select Titanium Man, which arrived in August but took a little more time to get to me. Let’s dive in.

The Infinity Saga Overview
The Marvel Legend Infinity Saga subset is an expression consisting entirely of MCU figures. It contains a few characters that have never been done before (Quicksilver, Odin, Surtur, Obidiah Stane, Happy Hogan), different undone versions of familiar characters (Endgame versions of Thor and Captain Marvel), and some that are more seen as updates (Rescue). On a personal level, I decided to give a few a miss (the individual Iron Man, the redo of Infinity War Cap, the Obidiah/Iron Monger two-pack). I remain curious about some characters that weren’t put into the Infinity Saga subline (notably Wong and Kraglin), but I suppose they could be tucked into a regular assortment down the road. As an overall concept, it’s a good idea for people that try to make as complete an MCU as possible, and I feel like quite a bit of work went into a few figures in particular.

Happy Hogan & Iron Man XXI: Let’s face it. I straight up ordered this for Happy. Jonny Favs is the man behind the scenes; after all, he made Iron Man work and he co-brought us The Mandalorian (and Swingers!). And I’ve particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Happy and Spider-Man in the movies.  The design team absolutely nailed Favreau’s face here. That, coupled with Happy’s ever-present phone, makes for a great figure that can lend itself to some comedic posing. Parts of the body build have been used before, but there’s nothing wrong with repurposing suit elements.

Speaking of suit elements, I thought the XXI was a little meh until I looked at it in person. The thing that I like the most is use of gray in the joints. It adds a touch of color that a) you don’t see in most pictures and b) breaks up the monochrome. I know that some people tire of Iron Man versions, but I’m never down on another suit, given their ubiquity in both the comics and Iron Man 3 in particular. Would I like to see Igor someday? Of course, but this one is pretty cool if you get a close look, and fairly poseable.

Endgame Thor: Here’s a figure people have been asking for pretty much since Endgame premiered. Call him Final Battle Thor if you want, but it’s the version of the Odinson that we get near the film’s end. Having been on his traumatic journey and attempting to emerge on the other side, Thor summons both Mjolnir and Stormbreaker, adoring himself in armor once again and throwing in a great Vikings-inspired beard to boot. This is a tremendous figure. This wasn’t just slapping a belly on Thor and calling it a day. There is considerable new work in the heavier torso, the arms, the legs, and the intricacy of the armor design. We see quite a bit of detail in the face, beard, and hair. The powered-up blue eyes were a good choice as they sort of reflect the exact moment that Thor becomes this version of himself. Obviously the figure comes with the two weapons, as well as attachable lightning effects and an extra pair of hands. Putting this figure on the shelf really felt like I was adding a missing piece. It’s great.

Odin: It’s been 10 years since Odin appeared in the MCU for the first time, so . . . better late than never? Odin comes with two heads (one helmeted, one not and with his hair down) and his spear, Gungnir. I chose to go with the helmeted look. The figure looks nice; it’s certainly a good sculpt. And I’m glad there’s pop of red from the cape, because the brown, while fairly accurate to some of Odin’s onscreen scenes, is fairly drab here. I like the figure well enough, and I’m glad that it exists, but it’s not the most exciting of the batch.

Quicksilver: Turning back to missing pieces . . . Quicksilver made his MCU debut in the post-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014 and finally makes it into the Legends line here. Don’t let anyone dissuade you: this is a GREAT figure. While it certainly looks good (and the multi-toned hair is well-done), the major reason for its success is poseability. It rivals the recent MCU Shang-Chi on that level. You can do a number of running and fighting poses (the two sets of hands also lend themselves to sprinting and action). This guy just looks REALLY good. It struck me that there’s actually no Marvel Legends AoU Wanda counterpart for Quicksilver; Wanda’s film figures prior to WandaVision come from the very end of AoU or Civil War. Regardless, this Quicksilver is, again, GREAT. Well done, team.

Captain Marvel/Rescue: I sort of ordered this for completeness/accuracies sake in terms of my Endgame shelf, but I’m ultimately really glad I did. I like this set a lot. Captain Marvel accurately reflects the color-flip that the character’s costume got in Endgame, and the headsculpt over course recognizes that hairstyle that she sports after the five year jump. Like Quicksilver, the figure is very poseable, and the loose sash hangs well. The best accessory is the Stark Gauntlet, which can be tucked under Carol’s arm just like in the film. I like that they made this take on Carol; you really do need her for your Endgame set-up.

As for Rescue, this is basically a re-do. The body is similar to the original movie-time release, but the helmet sculpt has been improved and the pack includes two additional heads. One is a helmetless pony-tailed Pepper (essentially the look when she joins Captain Marvel in the “She’s got help” scene) and the other is the flipped-up faceplate look from when she enters the Assemble scene and lands by Tony. The biggest addition is that expanding set of weapon attachments that connect to the backpack. Special note here: there are two backpacks. You have to use the one with highlighted silver panels, and those panels have to come off in order in attach the expanded weapon array. With all that on, it’s a fairly impressive figure; for display purposes, I used the pony-tail head because that was the look my wife preferred.

And here’s another thing . . .

Diamond Select/Marvel Select Titanium Man: I don’t normally pick up Marvel Select figures, but I saw a couple of people online displaying this late-August arrival with their Winter Guard and I had to pick it up. This figure is monstrous. I mean it’s HUGE. In package, it was bigger than the steering wheel on my Hyundai. I took a picture of the package next to the Expanded Version of The Stand because it’s almost comically big. But wow, does it look great. There’s a ton of detail here. The Boris head is suitably angry, and the “helmet head” captures the original feel of the character. Lots of care was taken with the sculpt, from the bumps on the armor to the treads on the boots. It’s also surprisingly poseable for such a big figure. It might not be to everyone’s tastes and purists may want a Legends-only display, but I think he looks great with my own Winter Guard and adds a dimension and density to it that I otherwise would not have had.