Review: DC Direct Dark Victory Commissioner James Gordon
When we think of Batman's allies, Commissioner Gordon has an unfortunate tendency of getting overlooked. And that's a shame: after all, he's been around longer than Robin, Alfred, or anyone else. James Gordon is the only character, besides Batman himself, who appeared in Detective Comics #27 and still plays a major role in the comics.
I've been meaning to pick up a figure for a while now, since there are a few options out there. Honestly, I expected to pick up the Hush version, not this one, since I prefer the traditional 70's version of the character with the long trench coat. But I know a deal when I see one, and I wasn't about to pass up a perfectly respectable James Gordon action figure for less than three bucks.
I've been talking a lot about Gordon, but have yet to really discuss the book this is from. Batman: Dark Victory is the follow-up to The Long Halloween. These books are both by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, and, to be honest, I'm kind of surprised they haven't gotten more public recognition. Why? Because they're more or less the inspiration for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.
While I certainly respect Frank Miller's Year One story, it doesn't hold a candle to these sequels, which created a nuanced, atmospheric Gotham. I've long been of the opinion that a phenomenal live-action series could be made using these as a template.
The toy is made by DC Direct, and you can still find it at comic shops, online retailers, and some toy stores. I can't shake the feeling DC Direct made a few more of these than they've been able to sell, so keep your eyes open for deals.
I love the art in the comics, but this is the first of the toys I've picked up from this series. Why? Because, while I like the art in two dimensions, I don't like how it translates in most cases. This is particularly notable if you see a Batman from this line: I find the head utterly repulsive.
Fortunately, Gordon doesn't have this problem. He's still stylized, but only in innocuous ways. He sculpted and painted in grey, muted tones, creating the impression that he's drawn. In some ways, it's a similar effect to what NECA achieved with their recent line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures.
There's a great deal of texture sculpted here: I imagine this took some time to get right. The head, in particular, is very effective.
The costume also demonstrates a great deal of effort. I love that the letters "GCPD" are sculpted onto the back of Gordon's coat rather than just painted. Add to it a soft rubber wire going to Gordon's radio, and you've got a cool figure.
Be aware that there are no eyes beneath Gordon's glasses. Normally, this shouldn't be an issue, since they really aren't supposed to come off.
But they came off anyway. Fortunately, they slid right back on, almost as if they were supposed to (which is why I'm mentioning this here, rather than deducting any points).
It's also worth noting that Gordon seems a little short to me, at least for a seven inch figure. This isn't an issue for me, since I plan on putting him with my DC Universe Classics toys, but I figuring it was worth mentioning.
It's always hard to grade a figure like this: stylization means that whatever I go with here is going to be pretty arbitrary. With that in mind, Gordon feels like an eight to me.
Packaging and Extras: +1
The packaging is a simple box with a clear window. Personally, I've grown conditioned to like getting boxed figures from DC Direct: I've had far better luck with the toys surviving than I've had from other packages. I guess the glasses snapping off could mark an end to that streak, but seeing as they go back on without a trace, I'm inclined to let that pass.
The graphics are somewhat minimalistic, but that's in line with the comic. There's some character information on the back, and nothing jumps out at me as offensive.
Gordon comes with a few goodies, more than I'd expect, to be honest. Really, his extras come down to a base and two accessories. Lets start with that base.
Looking like a chunk of Gotham sidewalk, this is a style of base I've seen before from DC Direct. Don't take that as a complaint, though: short of a complex display, this is pretty much my favorite kind of base. You really get the best of all worlds with something like this: nice detailing that doesn't distract from the figure, good size (including some added height), and versatility. You can put just about any figure down on one of these, and they'll work great.
And, as is common for these, the base comes with a few accessories of its own. You get a single foot peg. While I'd prefer to get a spare, it needs to be mentioned that this is a better design than what I'm used to. This peg actually attaches from the bottom, sticking through the base into the foot. This is an improvement for several reasons. First of all, it's not quite as easy to lose. This may seem like a trivial detail, but I, for one, can never find these when I want to move figures around. In addition, this design is far easier to remove from the base. Take it from someone who's needed pliers in the past: this is better.
When I first saw the gun I didn't expect to like it: there's no paint and it's gray rather than black. But when I put it in Gordon's hand I was pleasantly surprised. It's still nothing spectacular, but it actually looks pretty good.
As I mentioned earlier, mine kind of comes with a third "unintentional" accessory, in the form of eyeglasses that broke away. While this didn't really hurt my figure, it doesn't really help, either, so I'm certainly not counting this for anything.
I almost went to two bonus points here, between the above average base and the two accessories, but, in the end, I felt like that would be more reflective of my preference than anything objective.
Play and Display: ----
I was going to give Gordon a point here, but, at the last minute, I took it away.
Here's my dilemma: this is one of the best articulated human figures I've ever gotten from DC Direct. Considering that we're taking about a pool of around thirty toys, that's pretty high praise.
If the balance had been just a little better, I think I could justify it. So close. But in a world where I didn't give Mattel's Flash anything for FAR superior articulation and balance, I just can't justify it.
Lets discuss why Gordon nearly received the highest honor a DC Direct figure could ever hope to achieve. First of all - and this one shocked me - he came with a ball jointed head. While this isn't unheard of, something about the sculpt just shouted out "cut joint". But, low and behold, he's got an impressive range of motion which looks perfectly natural.
Gordon also comes with ball-jointed shoulders, which work well enough, but certainly aren't surprising. You also get the usual pin elbows and knees; again, not surprising, nor is the T-hip. The wrists are cut joints, however, which should be standard for DC Direct, but just isn't. But it's the ankles that really let the figure shine. These are cut joints, but they're not level. That may sound problematic, but in actually it opens up several posing options that otherwise wouldn't be possible.
Price Tag and Final Analysis: 9/10
Gordon is almost a ten, but he couldn't quite make it. And, to be honest, I think that's a pretty good assessment of the figure. It's really good, but just a hair away from great.
As to value, I'm guessing these started around sixteen dollars, since that's what DC Direct figures generally go for. And, while I do like him, he's certainly not worth more than ten bucks.
If you get him for what I paid - a whopping $2.75 - you can consider it a Free Comic Book Day miracle. Otherwise, you'll of course need to weigh your interest in the figure against whatever the price might be. Be aware that I have seen these floating around closer to the ten dollar range for a while now, so I'm guessing there's more than one shop out there anxious to unload some of these.
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