Spirit Iron-Knife, Agent Courtney Krieger, Hannibal Reborn
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of the new sculpt Joes that have been released since 2000. It’s true that there have been some “not so perfect” figures and that some of the design concept have been a bit odd, but overall the figures that have been part of the GvC relaunch of the line have been terrific! In fact, I find that my collecting habits have trended much more toward the newer sculpts than they have the classic RAH designs in the past few years. So when Hasbro and Devil’s Due Press announced the “Fan’s Choice Comic Pack Poll”, I was thrilled. Not only would I get some minor say in what pack got produced, but also it was guaranteed to provide three new sculpt figures for my collection! Well, the votes were cast and I was shocked to see that my pick actually won. However, the pack was delayed for what seemed to be an eternity. Now, trickling out slowly but surely, Comic Pack #16 is hitting stores and, in my opinion, is completely worth the wait!
I sound like a broken record when I type this in review after review but “what a difference a repaint can make”. Initially debuting in DTC Wave 1, this mold has already made its debut as a Spirit Iron-Knife single carded figure. As such, many of my comments about the original release still hold true—and yet I keep looking at this figure in a whole new light. This is the “new millennium” Spirit sans pigtails, headbands, or sub-team color schemes. This is the leaner, meaner “best tracker in the world” figure that was given new life in the Devil’s Due run of GIJoe: A Real American Hero. The uniform design is basic and Spartan in accoutrements—ideal for a tracker who might find himself running through thick vegetation or moving silently behind his prey. The uniform is both military and traditional, with a necklace of what appear to be talons around the neck and fringed boots. The facial expression is both serious and intelligent, belying an intellect as a well as fierce determination. In other words, everything I liked about it the first time still holds true. However, what makes this figure worth owning is the comic-accurate color scheme. Whereas the previous release was sporting green and beige hues, this one is all black, brown, and gray. Now, it may seem that ole Charlie is having a serious case of “Snake Eyes envy” with his choice of uniform yet there are enough differences to make him stand apart from the infamous “Silent Master”. As such, the design works and makes this version my default new-sculpt Spirit.
Spirit has two real problem areas, as far as figures go. First off, the proportions of the figure are identical to the earlier release of this mold, meaning that Spirit is another victim of “short torso syndrome”. However, this figure is a straight repaint so I honestly didn’t expect that this would be corrected. Had the torso been lengthened ever so slightly, the proportional problem would have been fixed. The second issue is found in his choice of accessories. The first release of this figure came equipped with a sniper rifle, knife, and eagle. Apparently Charlie and Freedom are experiencing a “trial separation” and Freedom retained custody of the rifle as Spirit is armed with his knife and that’s it. Now, this could be taken as a sign that he doesn’t need anything other accessories yet I’d prefer for him to have come equipped with something else besides just a single knife. One of the shining points of the comic packs have been the accessories included in each set and unfortunately Spirit gets the shaft in that department.
Agent Courtney Krieger:
I’m just going to come out and say it: the original Cover Girl figure is quite possibly THE ugliest figure released in the original RAH line. Courtney Krieger was originally a fashion model before joining the military—a career move that had to have baffled her peers before they went back to rampant dieting. As such, you’d think that a figure of her would be attractive, stunning, gorgeous, or even just a little bit pretty. Instead, we received a figure that the less said the better. However, when Cover Girl reappeared in issue #16 of the Devil’s Due run, many a Joe fan was floored. Her first full panel was a stunning piece of artwork—showing her as the beauty we were always told she was. Even Spirit seemed a bit flustered when speaking with her—a fact that has always amused me. After 20+ years, Courtney has finally received star treatment in a figure that is now my definitive Cover Girl!
I’ll be honest—I’ve always had a soft spot the character of Cover Girl. See—Courtney is not only an Illinois native but she’s a Peorian. She grew up in the same area of the US that I did and managed a successful career in spite of that fact! That being said, it’s about time that Courtney received a full overhaul. At first glance, this figure will appear to have stepped right out of the included comic—from the first full-length panel to feature Cover Girl. What’s even more impressive is that her sculpt is also a wonderful homage to the original figure design. Still present is the leather jacket only now it’s longer and has a wool lining. She’s still wearing a tan shirt and pants, only this time around the shirt is slight un-tucked and a bit more stylish. (Also, note the dog tags around her neck!) She’s still wearing boots—just that now that don’t appear to be a pair of Heavy Duty’s. She’s even got a small pouch strapped to one thigh—now complete with actual painted molded straps! Much like the Spy Troops Shipwreck, the DTC Salvo, the VvV Gung Ho and the Wave 7 Viper, Cover Girl is an update that is both modern and classic. The addition of a ball-jointed neck and full head of long flowing hair just makes this figure about perfect in my book. She’s even got the new elbow articulation first seen with the Wave 6 Torch figure and the shoulders that debuted with Venomous Maximus. While she doesn’t fit in with the rest of my “comic pack shelf” she’s a perfect addition to my “active roster” display.
Cover Girl’s head sculpt is light years ahead of her RAH sculpt. No longer sporting a moon-sized noggin, Courtney Krieger has a head that is both proportionate and feminine. Whereas previous updated head sculpts of characters have had some issues (Lady Jaye’s tiny noggin, Scarlett’s de-aged VvV sculpt), Cover Girl seems to have escaped that fate. Her features are soft, decidedly female, and yet don’t appear to be those of a teenager. In fact, one particular detail that caught my attention is her eye color: green. Hasbro actually took the time to give her a distinctive eye color instead of just black pupils on a white background. It works for me—and it will probably work for my Shipwreck figure as well! (Did I really just type that? I need to get out more.) While the head sculpt is a bit thicker than the comic artwork shows, it doesn’t put me off of the figure. In fact, this figure is just about perfect in every way. Some Joe fans may complain about the length of her forearms—an issue that many collectors had with the Bombstrike figure but I’m okay with that. I only wish that my figure didn’t have the paint chip on the tip of her nose. Otherwise, I’d be completely satisfied. Cover Girl’s a bit light in the accessories department, however, as she is packing only a single pistol.
It’s funny that the “Return of Serpentor” arc was one of my favorite storylines of Devil’s Due’s GIJoe run as I was never a big Serpentor fan as a child. I think that a lot of my youthful dislike of the character came from his overblown performance in the Sunbow cartoon series (Yet I still think Bruce Campbell would be perfect to play him!) or his rapid deterioration in the comic series. As such, I went into the Serpentor arc just expecting to hate the storyline. Instead I was blown away by the dialogue, story, and artwork that DDP was able to produce. One of the characters that I gained an appreciation for was the clone of long-dead would-be Roman conqueror Hannibal.
As figures go, Hannibal is a true “franken-joe”. Comprised of Salvo’s torso, Destro’s legs, and I’m thinking VvV Shipwreck’s arms, only his head and coat are unique to him. However, this motley combination of parts captures the likeness of the character almost perfectly. In the issue, Hannibal wasn’t clad in military or stealth attire—he was a young man in jeans, t-shirt, and black leather jacket. In other words, he was completely decked out in civilian attire. This combination recreates that look almost flawlessly—giving him a very normal yet dangerous appearance. You could walk by someone in these clothes at a local mall and never think that underneath that jacket beats the heart of a conqueror. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal of Hannibal is that he could blend into a crowded and just disappear. Either way, the very basic nature of this parts combination works. I have only two real issues with this figure: his jacket, and his legs. The jacket is made of a similar material to the dreaded rubber skirt used on the VvV Kamakura figure. It’s nicely detailed but not the most flexible substance in the known universe. When I first took him out of the package, Hannibal would only stand in a slightly hunched position. However, after some adjusting of the head and collar (slipping the long hair OVER the collar) I was able to get him into a tall standing position. It’s possible but it’s going to take some work. My issue with the legs is simple: I feel that they’re too long. Hannibal borrows his lower torso from the Spy Troops “casual Destro” figure—which was a 4” Joe. The use of these legs means that Hannibal is one tall figure—especially when compared to some of the smaller VvV figures. Much like my complaint about the DTC Major Bludd, I just feel that Hannibal is a bit too tall. I like the figure, but wish his stature was a bit more in fitting with his appearance in the comic.
Hannibal is blessed with an all-new head sculpt and it’s one that befits his character. The face is reminiscent of the Devil’s Due artwork for Serpentor; his expression is cold yet calculating. There is a glimmer of intellectual arrogance in his eyes as if he sees all of those around him merely as tools to be used to further his own ambitions. His resemblance to the child clone seen on the cover of issue #16 is uncanny. In other words, he’s right off of the page of the comic! For a lesser-known and probably never again seen character, Hasbro really did a bang-up job recreating his likeness. However, the head sculpt, while terrific, isn’t the best part of this comic pack. Whereas Spirit and Cover Girl are light on accessories, Hannibal is not. Included with this clone general is a serpentine dais with a clear dome that houses the new helm of history’s most dangerous commander- Serpentor! While not appearing in the comic in any way, the dais is a fantastic display piece, and includes a slot in the back for Serpentor’s sword. The weapon itself evokes images of a Roman short sword used by the centurions of the greatest empire in history. The helm, however, is the real gem of the set. It is a perfect replica of the updated headgear used by Serpentor in his final comics appearance. It is a more streamlined cowl than the one included with Comic Pack #49 and one that fits more into the modern world. It also will fit on the heads of many of the new sculpt Joes but, regrettably Hannibal isn’t one of them. My only hope is that this helm appears in one more comic pack—one that includes Devil’s Due versions of both Serpentor and Overlord!
So, after reading all of that ranting dialogue you’ll hopefully see why this comic pack was worth the wait. Spirit is finally given a comic-accurate color scheme that truly highlights his latest sculpt. Cover Girl no longer looks like the product of a bizarre experiment to crossbreed a human and Sonic the Hedgehog and Hannibal possesses one of the most innovative accessories I’ve seen with a Joe figure in a long time. In my opinion there really is NO bad to this set. Sure two of the Joes are light on gear but the third more than makes up for that deficiency. Okay, Hannibal is a character that many Joe fans could live without but the figure itself is rock solid and would work for either a Billy or Serpentor custom. I get the feeling that Hannibal is going to pop up in many Joe fan’s collections as a young Serpentor clone, winning the hearts and minds of men from the side of Cobra Commander and causing havoc for the Joes. Either way, this is one of the best comic packs released to date and hopefully the first in a long line of new-sculpt comic packs!