Todd McFarlane’s Batman Black & White statue was limited to 5,000 pieces and it sold out quickly. So quickly that version 2 (which we’re talking about here) was announced before the original batch even shipped. And it achieved all of this while being sold at a higher price than other Batman Black & White figures. Not that that’s much of a surprise, of course… Here was the 100th statue in the 15-year-run of an incredibly popular series of collectibles, its announcement was timed to the celebration of the character’s 80th anniversary, and it’s based on an iconic cover by one of the most celebrated comic book artists of all-time. That’s a recipe for “shut up and take my money” if I’ve ever heard one! Even at one-hundred and thirty-five smackaroos. But, like I said, it’s gone now. Sold out. Sure you could be a sucker and buy version 1 statue second-hand for $300+ on eBay, but why would you do that when version 2.0 is here and looks just as good if not better than version 1 ever did?
The statue was sculpted by Jonathan Matthews with a design by Todd McFarlane and it was all made possible thanks to the art direction of Jim Fletcher. McFarlane’s Batman stands 10 inches tall (from the bottom of the hand-numbered Bat symbol base to the highest point of the exaggerated cape) and weighs in at a hefty 3 lbs. 15 oz. which makes it one of the heaviest figures in the Black & White lineup. And that’s one solid piece, too, with no assembly required (unlike most other Black & White statues). Here’s a look at it with another Black & White statue for scale:
The famous cover to Batman #423 (1988) features The Dark Knight mostly in shadow, so Matthews, McFarlane, and Fletcher had to work together to convey the essence of that two dimensional image in a three dimensional space where silhouette ain’t an option. The girl Batman was comforting is, of course, gone, and so is the hand that once caressed her shoulder. What was once just narrow slits of white eyes suspended in shadow is now a scowling mug that feels surprisingly natural, like it was there all along even though it was truly 32 years in the making. Oh, and the emblem on his chest is visible as well, and they went with an era appropriate oval design, which I dig. But the detail that truly defines the cover of Batman #423 and, let’s be honest, is probably McFarlane’s 2nd most famous flourish (behind his Spider-Man webbing) is the cape. If DC Direct had failed to get the cape right, the whole statue would have been a loss.
See, when Todd McFarlane draws a cape it feels like a second character. He takes the accessory and gives it personality, and it’s not just about drawing the cape really long. Look at it. Have you ever seen fabric look like that? Move like that? Heck no. When I spoke with McFarlane at San Diego a few years ago he explained why he hates a more natural looking fabric cape in his comics. He doesn’t want wrinkles. The cape is a vital part of the iconography of the superhero and it should be as solid and powerful as the hero itself. So he makes it larger than life, angular, jagged even. He described the texture of his capes as being akin to the folds of a paper airplane, and it’s evident now that I look at it through that lens. But do those paper airplane folds work in a 3D medium?
The whole process of making a polyresin statue for the Black & White line begins with 3D modeling software, and the program needs to look at things logically otherwise the 3D printers are going to produce something that has zero structural integrity. So every swirling undercut of the cape has to be taken into account. And that means we lose a jagged edge hear and there. Every furl and unfurl has to be accounted for and that means that the folded paper quality of the McFarlane cape has to be softened. This would be worrisome, but you’ve already seen several pictures of the statue already so you know this story has a happy ending. To cut to the chase, DC Direct accomplished a difficult balancing act by retaining the as many elaborate swirls and jagged edges as possible while still making some semblance of believability. The cape is toned down a degree or two, but is still instantly recognizable as McFarlane’s Dark Knight. However, if I have one misgiving, it’s that I wish that the points of the Batman’s shoulders had retained their dangerous sharpness. Mine just isn’t quite as pointy as the promotional photos.
To round out the review I’ll touch on the paint. This piece features the same matte black finish as the version 1 statue, but the gray highlights and gray cape lining are a slightly darker hue. So slight that even side-by-side it can be tough to recognize the difference if you the lighting isn’t right. And, keeping with McFarlane’s belief about wrinkles being a detriment to the superhero uniform, the piece features very, very few highlights that resemble a wrinkle in the fabric. If anything the sparingly used lines of charcoal emphasize the taught, jutting extensions of the untamable cape. Elsewhere you might find a subtle blemish or two, as was always the case with DC Direct figures and statues. My own features some minute bubbling along the outline of the chest, but nothing that is noticeable from a proper viewing distance.
The only difference between the Deluxe 2.0 model and the original edition is that the cape lining and highlights are a slightly darker shade of gray. That’s it. If you already own the original, you don’t need to pick up the 2.0 version, but if you missed out on the initial wave then you should absolutely take advantage of this second chance DC Direct and Sideshow Collectibles has given you. Todd McFarlane’s Batman Black & White statue is one of the biggest and best examples of the Black & White line.
Disclaimer: Batman News was provided a sample of this statue by Sideshow Collectibles for the purpose of this review.