When you think Batman, you think Gatling gun and roller skates, am I right? Of course I’m not! But I bet I know what you are actually thinking right now: What the hell is this thing?
DC Collectibles’ Batman Black and White line has been delivering stylish monochromatic Batman statues for over a decade, but they’ve never released something as a strange as Kim Jung Gi’s highly imaginative redesign of The Dark Knight. This unique take on the Caped Crusader features no cape at all! In fact, this Batman seems to be more machine than “bat” or “man.” But it’s these bold deviations that make the figure so special. Kim Jung Gi’s design is guaranteed to break up the monotony of any shelf display because, just like you, your guests will stop and say “What the hell is this thing?” And after they’ve been thoroughly jarred, they’ll begin to appreciate the detail, the artistry, the unbound creativity that must’ve gone into such a piece, and they’ll likely walk away remembering it more than any other piece in your collection.
Kim Jung Gi is not a name synonymous with Batman. While most artists who have had their hand-drawn work sculpted in clay and recast in resin for the Black and White line have an impressive bibliography of popular Bat-comics, the internationally acclaimed Kim has little more Bat-cred than a pair of variant covers from the New 52 (none of which come from a true Bat-title). However, Batman Black and White (both the collectible series and the comic mini-series it’s based on) is all about celebrating great artists and just one glance at the few examples I provided above makes it clear that Korea’s Kim Jung Gi is indeed one of the best. Now, that said, I’m not sure which I’m more impressed by: the fact that Kim Jung Gi designed something so weird for his first Bat-statue or that DC actually okay-ed it.
First, we’ll start with the box. Packaging is pretty traditional for the Batman Black and White line. Logo on top, images of the statue and ads for other currently-shipping statues adorn the sides. Inside is a pair of foam trays taped together, sandwiching both parts of the statue: the figure and the base. I found there to be a little too much wiggle-room for the figure, which could be a problem. One of Robo-skater-bat’s over-sized pockets had actually detached during shipping, but since the backside is simply a peg I was able to reinsert it and the collectible looked good-as-new. And judging by how thin the scythe-like wings are and how slim the grips of the Gatling gun are, you’ll want to be extra careful with this statue. The elaborate design could also make it vulnerable to breaks.
So what do we have here? It’s not anything like the original Bob Kane drawing or the work of Sprang, Adams, Capullo, Breyfogle, etc. etc. This is Batman like we haven’t seen him before, which is something you’ve probably heard said about a lot of different Bat-designs over the years, but come on! This is Batman through the lens of… I guess I would say it’s in the vein of mecha anime with a splash of something even more quirky. This is Batman if he was a battle-hardened machine or maybe it’s a guy in robotic armor? It’s a suit that’s barely recognizable as “Batman” and if it were fully realized as something wearable it definitely wouldn’t be very functional for a long list of reasons. In short: it’s utterly bizarre and outrageous and, above all, fun. Sure, Batman doesn’t use guns or wear skates (and yes, I’m aware there are countless examples of Batman using guns and wearing skates) but if you were to assemble all of the Batman Black and White line together, what would you see? An ocean (pond, I suppose, each figure is only around 7 in. tall, after all) of Batmen, some fanning their capes, some brooding, some smiling, some with long ears, and some with short ears– but mostly it’s all the same icon. And then there’s this. This wildly creative take that sticks out like… well, I won’t say “a sore thumb” because that doesn’t quite capture how profoundly noticeable this little guy is. If there was a sore thumb protruding from your shelf and right next to it was Kim Jung Gi’s Batman I would still find myself saying “What the hell is that roller-blading, heavy-weapon-toting robot?”
Anything but simple, this beautifully painted sculpt by Jon Matthews is definitely not short on detail. Where most Black and White Batman statues show the Caped Crusader in a fresh suit striking some iconic pose, this dirty mech is covered in armor plating blemished with scratches, dents, and scorch marks. Making it all look a little more convincing are a few bolts, rivets, and a hinge or two– you’ll have to use your own imagination to concoct a function for the scythe-like “wings.” The Gatling gun is its own piece that could be pried loose from Batman’s grip, if you really wanted. This heavy weapon, like the extra-large skates, is dirtied with splatter marks, making it look like our hero has fought through the mud… or maybe that’s blood? Painting in hues of black, white, and gray can make it hard to tell just how violent this– ya know what, it’s probably blood.
I like the overall pose with Bats gearing up to open fire and I dig how one foot is stepping off the detachable Bat-symbol base. Just that little touch makes the figure feel that much more alive. The face is rather expressionless, but it works fine since he’s either 100% a robot or some kind of mech suit-wearing Wayne.
Make sure you watch the time-lapse video of Jon Matthews transforming Gi’s sketches into a three-dimensional model. The level of skill it takes to do that for one artist is really impressive, but the fact that he is able to fully realize the styles of so many other artists (the world’s best artists) who have contributed to the Batman Black and White line is absolutely awe-inspiring.
I wouldn’t recommend it as your very first Batman Black and White statue unless you’re here because you’re a fan of Kim Jung Gi more so than The Dark Knight. I would, however, recommend adding it to your collection if you want to show off just how incredibly versatile the Batman is. It’s a fine example of how Batman continues to shine in a wide-range of increasingly unique interpretations.
You can find this statue in comic shops and online now for around $70.
If you’d like to check out more of Kim Jung Gi’s work, you can browse his Instagram by clicking HERE.