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REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS "COLLECT & CONNECT" ANTI-MONITOR
By Thomas Wheeler

Some would say that the deadliest villain in the DC Universe is Darkseid. Certainly, the malevolent ruler of Apokolips has hatched many a scheme to bring domination or destruction to the universe. And yet, there was a foe, an enemy of all life throughout the multiverse, against whom even Darkseid had to take a stand, and briefly ally himself with the heroes of the DC Universe.

That enemy's name is -- the ANTI-MONITOR, and he was the main antagonist in the epic CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. And -- he's the Collect-and-Connect figure for Wave 17 of Mattel's DC Universe Classics figure.

Seemingly destroyed at the end of the Crisis, along with the Multiverse itself, when the Multiverse was resurrected, the Anti-Monitor came with it. So he's been causing more recent trouble here and there as well, and he did play a part in both the Sinestro Corps War, and the Blackest Night, which would explain why he's the Collect-and-Connect of this particular wave, which focuses on some of the top heroes that were, however, briefly, inducted into the respective colored Corps throughout the universe. Flash became a Blue Lantern, Wonder Woman joined the Star Sapphires, Atom became part of the Indigo Tribe -- granted not all of the participants were heroes. Lex Luthor gained an Orange Lantern ring for a time, and the fear-based Sinestro Corps inducted the Scarecrow.

Suffice to say, it is not at all inappropriate for the Anti-Monitor to be the Collect-and-Connect figure in this particular assortment, and certainly the character has more than enough recognition to warrant being an action figure in the superb DC Universe Classics line.

Let's consider the history of the Anti-Monitor: He first appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths #2 (although he remained in shadow until Crisis on Infinite Earths #5), and was destroyed in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12, only to return after a long absence in Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1 in 2007.

The Anti-Monitor is an enemy not only of the Green Lantern Corps, but also of the entire Multiverse.

Billions of years ago, on the planet Maltus, there existed a race of beings, blue-skinned and immortal. One of these beings, Krona, was a scientist obsessed with the origins of the universe, even though a taboo existed amongst the ancient Oans concerning the viewing of the origins of the universe.

Krona created a machine that allowed him to see into the moment of creation. Somehow, his experiment disrupted the process of creation, with terrible consequences. The exact consequences have been rewritten over the years; originally, it was the unleashing of evil itself in the universe; later, it was assumed to be the creation of the evil antimatter universe of Qward.

During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was also revealed to be the cause of the existence of all parallel universes in the Multiverse; several villains were sent back in time to stop him, but were defeated by Krona and the other Oans. In a final revision, it was established that it increased entropy in the universe, shortening its existence by a billion years.

In any event, two beings were created, one on the moon of Oa and the other on the moon of Qward. On the moon of Oa, the being known as the Monitor was instantly aware of his counterpart, the Anti-Monitor (although his official name is the Monitor, and he is often addressed as such, the name Anti-Monitor is used to distinguish him from his heroic positive matter counterpart). By this time the Anti-Monitor had quickly conquered Qward. In searching for other places to conquer, he also became aware of his counterpart. These two beings battled for a million years, unleashing great powers against each other, but to no avail. At the end of their stalemate, they simultaneously attacked one another, rendering both inert for nine billion years.

In more modern times, the being known as Pariah performed an experiment similar to the one Krona attempted long ago on a parallel Earth. This experiment resulted in the reawakening of both the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, and the destruction of Pariah's Earth and his universe. The Anti-Monitor rebuilt his army, taking over Qward and using the Thunderers as his own private army, as well as creating the Shadow Demons from the elite of the Thunderers.

The Anti-Monitor then released a massive antimatter wave, absorbing the energies of the destroyed positive matter universes and growing stronger even as his counterpart grew weaker, and employed the second Psycho-Pirate, using his emotion control powers to terrorize the populations of the planets he sought to conquer and destroy. The Monitor, along with his aide Harbinger, gathered a group of heroes and villains from various alternate universes in order to combat the threat of the Anti-Monitor. One of Harbinger's duplicates was taken control of by the Anti-Monitor and apparently killed the Monitor.

After defeats from various heroes, including the Flash and Supergirl sacrificing themselves to destroy an antimatter cannon and to save Superman respectively, the Anti-Monitor absorbed the entirety of the antimatter universe and traveled to the beginning of time, intending to stop the formation of the positive matter Multiverse and to create a Multiverse where antimatter prevailed. When the heroes followed him there, he began to drain the power from most of them.

However, the actions of the Spectre, empowered by the sorcerers of the surviving Earths, brought the Anti-Monitor to a stalemate. The villains of said Earths, sent to stop Krona from viewing the origins of the universe, failed due to squabbling, allowing Krona to see the hands of the Anti-Monitor and the Spectre struggling for domination, which collapsed the current Multiverse.

From the ashes rose a new, singular universe. While various persons adjusted to the newly singular Earth (including those whose worlds and histories had been destroyed with the loss of the Multiverse), the Anti-Monitor, enraged, drew this new Earth into the antimatter universe, intending to destroy this last bastion of positive matter once and for all. What followed was the Shadow Demon War, wherein many heroes and villains lost their lives against the Anti-Monitor's forces. Finally, the combined efforts of various superheroes and villains destroyed the Anti-Monitor by punching him into a star. The star went nova and caused anti-matter waves to erupt, threatening to destroy the entire antimatter universe.

Kal-L (the Earth-2 Superman) and Superboy-Prime were willing to resign themselves to their final fates, when Alexander Luthor, using his power to open dimensions, revealed that he had created a "paradise dimension", and he used it to prevent the Lois Lane Kent of Earth-Two from being erased from existence when the post-Crisis universe was formed, as he foresaw how events would unfold and refused to allow Superman to have to deal with such a terrible loss. Using his own body as a portal, Alexander Luthor, Kal-L, and Superboy-Prime went into the "paradise dimension" alongside Lois.

They were revealed to be observing the events of the newly-formed universe as well as the actions of its heroes from their home in this pocket universe. Upon observing the events leading up to Infinite Crisis, the heroes returned to the universe in an attempt to restore Earth-Two's existence, at the expense of Earth-One, which they believed had become hopelessly corrupt.

The Anti-Monitor's remains were then used as part of a tuning fork, similar to the ones used during the first Crisis. This construct then created the vibrational frequency that Earth-Two was on prior to its nonexistence, which in turn recreated Earth-Two with no visible expense to Earth-One, save the movement of characters who originated on Earth-Two to the recreated Earth-Two. Alexander Luthor then recreated the other Earths with his tuning fork, with their respective heroes forcibly migrating to said Earths.

It was revealed that the Anti-Monitor was reborn following the recreation of the Multiverse and that he had been fueling Sinestro's ideology since the return of Hal Jordan, acting as the Sinestro Corps' "Guardian of Fear". His body was rebuilt by the Manhunters, and in addition, he recruited Superboy-Prime, the Cyborg Superman, and Parallax, who was using Kyle Rayner as its host, along with Sinestro as his heralds.

During the war between the Sinestro Corps and the Green Lantern Corps, the Anti-Monitor contacted Cyborg Superman to inquire about the status of New Warworld. The cosmic tyrant stated that he would soon abandon Qward.

When the Lost Lanterns made their way to the Antimatter universe to save Hal Jordan and the Ion power, they inadvertently stumbled upon the Anti-Monitor in a basement chamber of his stronghold on Qward, He was seemingly experimenting on or torturing the Ion entity previously inhabiting Kyle Rayner. He proceeded to kill Ke'Haan before the other Lanterns forced him back. The Anti-Monitor pursued the Lanterns for a short while, long enough for Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and the other Lanterns to learn of his return. Having this vital information, they then leave Qward.

Shortly after, the Sinestro Corps launched its attack on Earth. The Anti-Monitor traveled to the planet aboard New Warworld, and landed shortly thereafter, along with Sinestro. He was attacked by Sodam Yat and other members of the Green Lantern Corps, but the tyrant killed the two other Lanterns and severely injured the Sodam Yat.

The Anti-Monitor began to siphon the positive matter of New York City to create his Antimatter waves. However, he was attacked by the Guardians of the Universe, angry at being impotent during his first war.

John Stewart and Guy Gardner brought down New Warworld and the Yellow Central Power Battery, which were detonated next to the Anti-Monitor, and contained by a shield created by hundreds of Green Lanterns to contain the explosion; even this was not enough to kill him. Superboy-Prime, seeing an opportunity to defeat the now-weakened Anti-Monitor, flew through the Anti-Monitor's chest and hurled his shattered body into space.

The Anti-Monitor's crash landed on the planet Ryut in Sector 666, where a voice acknowledged him and told him to rise. Before he could escape, the Anti-Monitor found himself imprisoned inside a large Black Power Battery. Soon afterwards, the Guardian Scar, corrupted by the Anti-Monitor's energies, dispatched the Green Lanterns Ash and Saarek to locate and recover the Anti-Monitor's body.

Green Lanterns Ash and Saarek find the Black Central Power Battery on Ryut and try to escape just before two monstrous hands emerge from below them and drag them into the planet, killing them.

When the Black Central Power Battery is later brought to Earth, the Anti-Monitor stirs within, demanding to be let out. He begins draining the white energies of Dove in order to affect an escape. The Anti-Monitor is revived as a Black Lantern independent from Nekron's control. The Anti-Monitor is attacked by the various Lantern Corps just as he is about to put itself out of the battery. Combining their energies, the various Lantern Corps use Dove as a human bullet shooting the Anti-Monitor through the head and pulling it back into the Battery.

The Anti-Monitor is eventually resurrected by a White Power Ring, and breaks free of the battery, fighting Nekron in revenge from imprisoning him. Nekron then banishes the Anti-Monitor back to the Antimatter universe.

The Anti-Monitor resumes his duties in the Antimatter Universe. He also prevented Deathstorm, the Black Lantern version of Firestorm, in his attempt to destroy the White Lantern Battery and instead commands him to bring the lantern to him as well as an army.

Deathstorm eventually brought the White Lantern Battery to him, and he tried to access the White Lantern power, however his efforts are prevented by Firestorm who after engaging in battle with the Anti-Monitor and the Black Lanterns is able to regain the White Power Battery from the Anti-Monitor.

As to his appearance, powers, and abilities, the Anti-Monitor, who appears quite monstrous, barely resembles the Monitor, who bears a physically near-human appearance. The Anti-Monitor has empty, sometimes luminous eye sockets, and a wide, wrinkled mouth, which shows energy roiling within. When his armor is destroyed by Supergirl, his form appears not dissimilar to that of the Monitor, but unstable, and surrounded by a coruscating aura of radiant energy - his life force, leaking out like water from a failing vessel, explaining the need for the armor. The Anti-Monitor himself refers to the armor as his "Life Shell". When the Manhunters re-build his armor, it is revealed his body is little more than a churning mass of energy.

Anti-Monitor was one of the most formidable foes ever faced by the heroes of the DC Universe. He is directly responsible for more deaths than any other known DC supervillain, having destroyed nearly all of an infinite number of universes. He was powerful enough to kill a distracted Supergirl almost effortlessly.

In addition to possessing vast size (varying from about nine feet, to hundreds of meters tall), vastly superhuman strength, extraordinary durability, the ability to project destructive bolts of energy, and greatly augmenting another beings' powers (as he did with Psycho-Pirate, whose powers were increased to levels too much for him to handle), the Anti-Monitor also possessed reality-warping abilities, which he displayed by removing Psycho-Pirate's face. The Anti-Monitor also commanded an army of Qwardians and shadow demons, and had access to highly advanced technology capable of shifting, merging, or destroying entire universes.

By far, his most devastating power was the ability to absorb the energies of his surroundings into himself, once he fused with his antimatter universe, he went even as far as absorbing the energies of entire universes. In addition to devouring the energies of untold numbers of universes, he also absorbed the energy of "over one million worlds" in his own anti-matter universe in order to gain the power to travel to the beginning of time, to attempt to stop the creation of the positive matter universe.

When Earth's heroes followed him to the beginning of time, he then absorbed all of their power and energy; this made him strong enough to alter the creation of the universe until he was opposed by the Spectre. During his final battle in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12, the Anti-Monitor maintained his power by "feeding on" a nearby star; and when his power was drained and he was reduced to a state of near-death, he absorbed his own anti-matter demons to rejuvenate himself.

The Anti-Monitor is not immortal, but may be ultimately indestructible so long as the anti-matter universe exists; having been destroyed with immense effort at the end of the Crisis, he was recreated by his universe, just as he had been formed originally.

So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive. Also extremely big. While they couldn't make him the equivalent of "hundreds of meters" in height, they did make him close to 9-1/2" in height, for a line where a standard adult male is 6-1/2". Additionally, 9-1/2" is very nearly the upper limit for Collect-and-Connect figures. They really can't go a whole lot bigger than that. Giganta still holds the record, at over 10", but she's not as -- bulky -- as the Anti-Monitor. And just for comparison, Darkseid is 8-3/4".

The Anti-Monitor has had more than one uniform, or set of armor, or however one wishes to describe it. After Supergirl trashed his original outfit in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, he obtained a new set of armor, that had some similarities to the original. And yet in some respects, it was also less menacing in appearance. It had somewhat sleeker lines, and just didn't look quite as creepy or evil.

This version of the Anti-Monitor was rendered as a DC Infinite Heroes figure, a special offering, a couple of years ago. There was even a 30" version that was offered in a contest at a convention.

The Collect-and-Connect Anti-Monitor is much closer to the original. One early picture I saw of the proposed figure showed it with the emblem of the Sinestro Corps. I am pleased to report that this component has not been used. Although the Anti-Monitor was certainly a vital part of the Sinestro Corps War storyline, and while it might well have fit the rest of the wave, I am of the opinion that it would have limited the figure to a specific storyline that did not precisely focus on the Anti-Monitor. He is still best known for his appearance in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The Anti-Monitor's color scheme has traditionally been metallic dark blue and silver, and that's certainly the case with this figure. His head -- or helmet, which is dark metallic blue -- is rather bucket-shaped, but rounded on the top. There is some raised gold trim on the top of the helmet, and a small red oval near the forehead, the only such use of this color.

The helmet has angled eyeslits, and his eyes appear to be glowing white orbs framed with orange flares against a black background. I suspect that trying to make an action figure look like it contains what amounts to an energy being is not an especially easy thing to do. Mattel has done an excellent job here.

Much like a cowl, the mouth area on the helmet is open, revealing the off-white, rather ridged and weathered-looking flesh of the Anti-Monitor's skin, such as it is, in the form of a gaping open mouth, and a dark orange interior with black ovals, representing the energy contained within the Anti-Monitor's form. I consider this an especially interesting aspect of the detailing on the figure, because this particular sort of illustrating is a fairly traditional means, within the pages of comic books, of illustrating powerful energy, somewhat uncontrolled. Jack Kirby used it and so have a lot of other artists. How well does it work in three-dimensions? Not bad at all, really, and it's very interesting to see it here.

Anti-Monitor's armor has a broad, dark blue clestplate with flared shoulders, blue upper arms, ridged silver arms, heave metallic dark blue lower arms, with ridged silver gloves. Part of the abdomen is metallic blue, but the remainder is ridged silver. Anti-Monitor is wearing what might be called a futuristic-looking metallic blue loincloth, with gold trim. His upper legs are ridged silver, but his legs above his knees, and his lower legs and feet are all metallic dark blue.

The figure has some significant gold details, including a series of ridged cables. One pair of these run from either side of the collar to the shoulders, another set runs from the upper arms to the lower arms, and a third set wraps around either side of the torso. These are all raised parts, not just molded to the side of the figure.

Anti-Monitor also has some gold trim at the top of his collar, near his mouth; at the top of his abdomen, and ridged lines on his loincloth. There are some distinct raised rivets, for lack of a better term, both large and small, across the blue sections of his armor. These have all been painted in either silver or gold. I am extremely impressed with the amount of painted detail on these tiny details. Mattel has really raised the bar with this sort of thing on both their DC Universe and Masters of the Universe line, and I'm starting to see it reflected on other toy lines even from other companies. It's like, "Okay, maybe we'd better start painting the belt buckles and shoelaces" or whatever.

Anti-Monitor also has a cloth cape. He is only the second character in the DC Universe Classics line to come with a cloth cape. The other was Trigon, another Collect-and-Connect figure from several waves ago. Unlike Trigon's cape, Anti-Monitor's doesn't include any wire sewn into the hem to allow "posing" of the cape. However, the cape is also not as large as Trigon's. The cape, somewhat unusually, is pale purple in color.

Of course, articulation is excellent. The figure is poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, glove tops (substituting for wrists), mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.

Paint detailing is excellent, and I would especially like to mention the fact that Anti-Monitor's chestplate is molded from a very flexible plastic, and yet it has a metallic finish. I consider that somewhat unusual, and very impressive.

Any complaints? Well, just one, and it's not a very significant one. There's one design element that I think somehow neglected to take a certain aspect of the figure into consideration. It is necessary to snap the head onto a post sitting at the top of the neck of the torso. This post is contained within the high collar of the chestplate. Unfortunately, the top of the cape is also contained within this area, as the cape technically goes underneath the back section of the chestplate and shoulder armor, before emerging and draping down below the knees.

Here's the problem -- the tab to which the head is supposed to snap doesn't really allow for the fabric. It's pretty much impossible to snap the head all the way onto the post. At least I haven't had any success doing so, and I'm afraid that if I try too hard, I might break the figure. Fortunately, the collar on the chestplate is high enough and form-fitting enough to the helmet so that it's just about enough to hold the head in place on its own. But I still feel like I should be able to snap the head in all the way, and I just haven't been able to manage it. An additional factor may be that the cape is hemmed on all four sides. Certainly I commend this, since I wouldn't want the Anti-Monitor to have a frayed cape, but the hem does add further thickness at the collar.

The only other assembly note is that it's a little tricky to get the arms in. It's difficult to get proper leverage, given the flared shoulders of the chestplate. I will say this -- once you get the figure assembled, everything (except the head) fits nice and tight. Anti-Monitor is not going to be falling apart on anybody.

So, what's my final word? I'm extremely impressed with this figure, and certainly the character deserves to be part of this line. His impact on the DC Universe has been considerable, even if his more recent appearances haven't been quite as universe-shaking as his first go-round. But there's no question that he is a legendary character within the DC Universe, and the memory of the devastation that he caused is more than sufficient to give any other inhabitant of the DC Universe a case of the shivers.

Now, you can't buy the Anti-Monitor separately. He comes in pieces as part of Wave 17, and there have been some critics of this wave, calling it a "recolor" wave at best, with versions of characters that existed only briefly. The last part of that sentence may be valid, but "Blackest Night" was a significant storyline in the DC Universe, and honestly, the only character in the entire wave that's "just" a recolor is Blue Lantern Flash, and he's still extremely cool. The others -- Orange Lantern Lex Luthor, Star Sapphire Wonder Woman, Indigo Lantern Atom, and Sinestro Corps Scarecrow -- are either entirely new, or have significant new parts to existing molds, especially Indigo Lantern Atom.

Honestly, the only figure in the wave I wasn't especially impressed with was Black Lantern Hal Jordan, possibly because he was a Black Lantern for about two seconds, partly because I'm not that fond of the Black Lanterns, and maybe because mine had a misassembled arm -- and there's a trend I don't want to see recur! But I'll admit, even with a new headsculpt, he's the least impressive figure in the wave by a considerable margin.

However, unless you can trade for the parts here and there -- which is certainly possible -- you'll need all six figures in this wave to bring the Anti-Monitor together. But seriously, fear not -- Wave 17 is a much cooler wave of DC Universe Classics figures than some people are claiming it to be. And certainly, the Anti-Monitor is an extremely impressive addition to the collection!

The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS "Collect-and-Connect" figure of the ANTI-MONITOR definitely has my highest recommendation!