DC Collectibles has made some fun and surprising choices with their latest wave of figures. Doing the unexpected, they’ve diverged from the usual friends an foes and thrown in some packaged sets inspired by both Batman Beyond and a fan-favorite 5-minute tribute to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns  featured in The New Batman Adventures. So while you’ll need to wait a little longer to get your BTAS Two-Face and Scarecrow (I want a damn Kyodai Ken), it’s cool to see DC Collectibles is already looking to expand the line even further than we originally thought.

Legends of the Dark Knight

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According to the episode’s audio commentary, “Legends of the Dark Knight” came at a time when the creative team was getting a little burnt out on their version of Batman, and they were eager to try something new. The same crew was working on Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond simultaneously and both shows were proving to be more fertile ground for fresh and exciting stories. But then came the idea of doing an episode celebrating the lighter and darker interpretations of Batman, “Legends of the Dark Knight.” The concept was just the thing to get the TNBA squad energized again and the enthusiasm of the writers and animators led to one of the most beloved episodes in the entire series.

Each vignette was to be drawn and colored in a different style with Dick Sprang and Frank Miller being the top two sources of inspiration. Co-creator Bruce Timm also wanted to do a Neal Adams short, but there just wasn’t enough time in one episode. He even said that he wished they had cut their Batman’s confrontation with Firefly and gone with the Adams idea instead, but I rather like how well the “real” Batman of the finale balances both elements of Sprang and Miller. It works thematically. Anyway, before going into production, DC Comics had Bruce Timm get permission from Sprang and Miller, who not only gave their approval, but ultimately adored the finished product.

The brief scene lifted from The Dark Knight: Triumphant‘s climax was only five minutes long, but was one of the most re-watched scenes in any episode of TNBA. As high as demand for a movie was, it would be another 14 years before a full-length The Dark Knight Returns animated film was released. You can read my full review of that film HERE.

Batman

You can practically hear Michael Ironside (also the voice of Darkseid) taunt you as you look at this behemoth. The Batman figure is huge. Bigger than the BTAS Batman or the TNBA Batman. Hell, he’s bigger than the similarly molded Etrigan figure. He’s so large and sturdy that you won’t even need the included plastic stand to keep him upright.

Batman’s design keeps with the angular style of TNBA, but with duller blues and grays, and a muted yellow rubber belt. The cape cascading down his massive shoulders is also rubbery plastic so as not to inhibit arm movement, and don’t let the size fool you, there’s quite a bit of potential movement here. the Dark Knight sports a ball joint head, arms that hinge outward, elbow bend, rotation in the forearm, and hands that rotate and bend on a hinge. These hands can also be swapped out to your liking as the set includes clenched fists and open mitts for grappling in the mud with Mutant Leader. Other movements include a waist swivel, forward/back/out leg motion, a hinge in the knee, and rotation at the foot. There’s no hinge in the ankle, but it makes for a more solid foundation great for posing.

Carrie Kelley

Carrie would be a tiny figure displayed side-by-side with the other TNBA collection, but she is absolutely dwarfed next to Miller’s Batman and Mutant Leader. She’s not quite as exciting as the brawlers, but it’s still a really well-made figure. She’s essentially the Tim Drake body with itty-bitty Catwoman/Poison Ivy/Harley hands and a really sharp, clean paint job. I really like the tinted plastic lenses in her glasses and the slingshot accessory was a wonderful touch as well. She’s more articulate than Batman, but since she’s so dainty you’ll have trouble getting a good pose without using the included stand. Her head swivels on a ball joint, identical leg and arm movement as The Caped Crusader (plus the ability to swivel the gloves), and she comes with four interchangeable hands. There’s no stomach crunch and the feet have both a hinge and swivel.

The Mutant Leader

Mutant Leader joins the growing list of figures from DC Collectible’s animated line that I wasn’t that stoked about upon announcement, but now consider to be one of my very favorites. The Mutant Leader voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson (who also portrayed The Joker on WB’s “The Batman” cartoon) is remarkable. The pale bluish white skin, crisp blacks of the clothes and nail polish, the recessed mouth and protruding fangs, and spikes at the belt and nipples (rubber)– every detail is accounted for brilliantly. Mutant Leader is a fresh new mold and he’s taller than Miller’s Dark Knight with more articulation to boot. My only complaint about him would be that he didn’t include a torch accessory or a 2D Rob and Don to post in the background. However, if you have patience and a pair of scissors you could probably cut out your own using the black backdrop of the set’s packaging.

Mutant Leader comes with a stand, two extra hands (open palms and closed fists), and he can bend almost any way you like. The head and torso both turn on a ball joint, and arms spin around in full and hinge outward as well. Forearms rotate, hands hinge and rotate, legs move in every direction, knees bend, and feet operate on a hinge, but lack a swivel. It’s all good.

Overall

This set kicks ass. Not only is it a fantastic addition to the Animated Series line, but since it’s an homage to The Dark Knight Returns, you can easily display these figures on their own without feeling like you have to include other New Batman Adventures figures on your desk or shelf space to achieve a complete look. At around $70 it’s pricey, but worth it. If your budget is tight right now, I’d wait for the price on Amazon to drop under $60 and then jump on it. I can’t stress enough how much larger these are than the usual BTAS and TNBA figures. And I also must say that I consider this 3-pack to be among the very best released so far for its phenomenal sculpts, excellent paint job, and versatile articulation.

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