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By Thomas Wheeler

It has become increasingly evident that, with the securing of the master DC license, Mattel is determined to take full advantage of their ability to turn out as wide a range of action figures and other toys based on the legendary characters of DC Comics as possible. To which I say -- more power to them.

Although I am of the opinion that the most popular of these will be the 6" scale DC Universe Classics figures, there's still no shortage of other interesting products, including the ongoing Justice League Unlimited line, not to mention the DC UNIVERSE INFINITE HEROES figures, a line of realistically-designed (as opposed to the animated style of
JLU) 4"-scale action figures.

Most of these figures are available on individual cards. However, Mattel is also producing multi-packs, including three-packs. This review will take a look at one of those three-packs, that features FLASH, MIRROR MASTER, and WEATHER WIZARD. Basically, the set as a whole features the Scarlet Speedster and two of the more notorious members of his "Rogue's Gallery". Unlike most heroes, who may have many villains, but one or two standouts, such as Joker, Lex Luthor, or whomever, the Flash seems to have attracted a fairly even retinue of troublemakers to deal with. I'll review these figures individually.

FLASH - The number of heroes that have gone by the name of "Flash" in the world of DC Comics is considerable. However, the one offered in this action figure set is the third -- Wally West, according to the information on the back of the package. But to deal with Wally West, we also have to deal with his predecessor, Barry Allen.

Barry Allen became the Flash during the so-called "Silver Age" of comics, debuting in Showcase #4, in 1956. Barry Allen was a police scientist, who gained the power of super-speed after being soaked by an assortment of chemicals that had just been struck by lightning.

Barry Allen remained The Flash until 1985, when the character was killed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Interestingly enough, my research into these characters led me to a bit of news I had not heard -- DC plans to bring back Barry Allen. He's already popped up a couple of times, and a six-issue mini-series planned for 2009, entitled "The
Flash: Rebirth", will re-establish Barry Allen as The Flash, while Wally West will retain his powers, but assume a different identity.

For the moment, however, Wally West is still The Flash, and we should have a look into his history. Wally West was introduced in 1959, and is the nephew of Barry Allen, and according to his modern origin (at least the last time I knew it), got his powers the same way as his uncle. When West was about ten years old, he was visiting his uncle's police laboratory, and the freak accident that gave Allen his powers repeated itself, bathing West in electrically charged chemicals. Now possessing the same powers as his uncle, West donned a copy of his uncle's outfit and became the young crime fighter Kid Flash.

At a later point, he modified his costume to be more individualistic. The head-to-toe red was gone, replaced by a costume that was yellow from head to waist, and red for the legs. The costume sported red gloves and yellow boots, and left the top of West's head open, showing off some of of his hair. He kept this costume through two distinct incarnations of the Teen Titans, but after Barry Allen was killed in the Crisis, West dropped the "Kid Flash" name and the costume, and took on the identity of The Flash, along with a slight modification of the original costume.

West's history since that time has been -- chaotic. His speed has ranged from just able to break the sound barrier to faster than light speed. He is married, with two kids that have their own problems with super-powers. He's been everything from a lottery winner and borderline playboy to among the ranks of the unemployed. His heroic history has generally kept him in good standing with almost every version of both the Titans and the Justice League that have existed, perhaps the one moderate consistency in his life.

The Flash figure is an excellent representation of the character. The Infinite Heroes line has been making substantial use of mold sharing, and one can hardly blame them for that. I mean, really, how many muscle-bound bodies do you really need to sculpt? However, it is worth noting that Mattel HAS created more than one set of body molds. If you stand up a number of these DC Infinite Heroes figures, and as of this writing I have Superman, Flash, Shazam, Black Adam, Mirror Master, Guy Gardner, and Weather Wizard among the males, they do NOT all have the same body. Some have a larger and more muscular torso, others have more muscular-looking legs (and Superman really should have been given these). No one's scrawny, but there is more than one set of molds out there.

And there are some parts that do need to be done individually. Apart from -- obviously -- a distinctive head, Flash has rather distinctive boots, so the lower legs of the figure are individualistic, with a distinct sculpted boot line and little wings sculpted to the sides. I suspect he probably shares these with Professor Zoom. My only real complaint is that, compared to a number of the other figures, Flash's head is pretty small.

The figure is obviously molded in red, with the lightning bolt belt and glove lines painted in yellow. The Flash insignia on the chest looks a little big, to be honest, but it's well done. The headsculpt, size notwithstanding, is an excellent likeness of the character, and has a properly determined look on the face. The eyes are very nicely painted, which can't be easy.

I will say this -- I had a bit of a time finding a neatly painted set of this threesome. This is an area where Mattel has improved, but still needs to deal with to some degree. Granted, multi-packs can be more difficult than individual figures to find THREE as perfect specimens as possible, and I'm nit-picky. But it really seemed that I had a heck of a time with this set. Somebody always looked a bit off. I saw one Flash where the flesh-tone on the lower face had somehow been smeared halfway up the head. That just shouldn't happen.

Articulation of the figure is excellent. This line has taken some grief from collectors for not being well-articulated enough, but sometimes I really think that if you throw in a level of articulation that would allow the figure to beat out a circus contortionist for his job, the overall look of the figure is hurt because it gets increasingly difficult to work that much articulation into a figure in this size range and have it look decent.

Flash is poseable at the head, arms (forward, backward, and outward), elbows, waist, legs, and knees. And that's a perfectly respectable level of articulation for a figure in this size range, who's wearing tights and you're not going to really be able to conceal a lot of excessive articulation points on that.

MIRROR MASTER - There have been several people that have gone by the name of "Mirror Master", although the current one, and the one named on the package, has the real name of Evan McCullough. The "Special Abilities" information on his package profile says "Can teleport through a mirrored dimension", which doesn't really explain all that much. McCullough does so through technological means.

As a baby, Scottish mercenary Evan McCulloch was left on the doorstep of an orphanage run by a Mrs. McCulloch, with nothing but his first name and a photograph of his parents. He grew up as a fairly normal child, until one night he got in a fight with a rapist bully and killed him. He was never caught, and, at age 16, Evan left the orphanage, again with nothing but his parents' photograph.

He settled in Glasgow, where he took up a life of drinking and partying that eventually led to crime. Robbery and extortion eventually led to murder, and Evan began to hire himself out as an assassin. He was an excellent killer, and quickly became one of the most renowned mercenaries in the United Kingdom.

One day, he had two hits scheduled. His eye was injured in the course of the first, leaving him with impaired vision. Evan couldn't shake the feeling that the second target seemed familiar, but only after he pulled the trigger did he recognize the man as his father from the photograph. At the funeral, Evan saw his mother.

Over the next few days, he tried to work up the courage to see her, but by the time he had, she had committed suicide. Stricken with grief, Evan was about to turn himself over to the authorities when a shady consortium of U.S. government and big business interests offered him the costume and weapons of the original Mirror Master in exchange for his services.

He later moved to Keystone City, and came into conflict with the third Flash. He discovered a "Mirror Dimension" which enables him to travel through any reflective surface.

Mirror Master uses mirrors that produce fantastic effects such as hypnotism, invisibility, holograms, physical transformations, communications and travel into other dimensions. Evan McCulloch uses a laser pistol.

Which would explain the two pistols at his side. Mirror Master uses the standard male body molds that a lot of figures in this line utilize, but a separate belt has been attached during assembly (it is not glued in place, but neither is it removable) with two gun holsters attached to it. Obviously his laser pistols.

So, how does one do a costume for someone named "Mirror Master"? Apparently this was something of a conundrum when the original Mirror Master was introduced in 1959, and DC decided to simply outfit the figure with an orange bodysuit with green details. Admittedly, it was an unusual color scheme that is not often encountered in the comics.

Mirror Master's uniform is predominantly a medium orange in color, with a dark olive green helmet-mask, a fairly wide green collar, on the figure clearly a separate piece glued to the standard male body, green belt, high green cuffs around the lower arms (his hands are not gloved), and green boots. The overall effect is, shall we say, understated? It's a cool design, if not especially remarkable, but the color choice is unusual and distinctive enough to give Mirror Master a decent look of his own.

The headsculpt is nicely done, showing the details of the helmet-mask, with neatly painted eyes and lower face. As with the Flash, Mirror Master is nicely articulated at the head, arms, elbows, waist, legs, and knees.

Mirror Master seems to get around a fair bit. There's also been one in the animated style from the Justice League Unlimited line. Mirror Master did appear in that series during the course of its run.

Interestingly enough, the character has infrequently worked on the side of the law, acting as a paid spy, hired by Batman, to infiltrate one of Lex Luthor's super-villain gatherings in some of the earlier issues of the "JLA" title. The money went to benefit the orphanage where McCullough had lived. He's also been forced to operate for the Suicide Squad, a government-organized "work team" of super-villains doing heroic "dirty work", as much as anything. But more often than not, Mirror Master is one of the bad guys.

WEATHER WIZARD - This character was first introduced in late 1959. Escaping a prison transport, Mark Mardon fled to his brother's house only to find him dead. Mardon's brother, Clyde, a scientist, had just discovered a way to control the weather before dying of a heart attack (although recent evidence implies that Mardon murdered his brother and either lied about or blocked out the memory of finding his body). Mardon took Clyde's notes and used them to make a wand to generate weather and embarked on a criminal career as The Weather Wizard, sometimes using his powers on a small scale (such as zapping someone with lightning) and sometimes a larger scale (imprisoning a town in winter), almost always facing defeat by The Flash (Barry Allen).

After Barry Allen's death during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Weather Wizard went into semi-retirement for a while, until, during Underworld Unleashed, he teamed up with other Rogues which included Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Captain Boomerang, and Mirror Master, as part of a ploy for greater power.

Weather Wizard later joined up with Blacksmith and her rogues. Through her, he learns he has a son from a one night stand with Keystone City police officer Julie Jackham. Their son, Josh, had exhibited internalized weather-controlling abilities and Mardon wanted to have the same ability without the use of his wand. He tried to kidnap Josh and dissect him to understand out how his son gained that ability, but hesitated to harm the child when he notice that the child had "my brother's eyes." He was stopped by Flash and sent to prison, but escaped.

Mardon was later a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains during the "Villains United" storyline.

Later, he and several other Rogues are approached by Inertia with a plan to kill the Flash (then Bart Allen). Inertia destroyed Weather Wizard's wand and used 30th century psychological therapies to remove the mental blocks which prevented him from using his powers without it.

He was most recently seen as the member of Rogues who joined the Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains. In "Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge" #1, however, Weather Wizard and the rest of the Rogues reject Libra's offer, wanting to stay out of the game. Before they can retire, they hear of Inertia escaping and decide to stick around long enough to get revenge for certain misdeeds during the previous alliance. In #3, Libra kidnaps Mardon's son Josh and tries to get him to join the Society, threatening to kill the boy if he doesn't. Mardon says that if he was capable of killing his own brother, there's no way he wouldn't kill his son. Inertia then kills the boy himself, and Mardon joins his fellow Rogues in defeating and killing Inertia.

I went into a little more character history here because, to the best of my knowledge, unlike Flash and Mirror Master, this is the first-ever action figure of Weather Wizard. One wonders that the character hasn't made more of an impact than he has. Being able to control the weather would be a powerful ability. In theory, you could affect the entire planet. And yet generally speaking, Mardon is hardly ranked up there with the big guns of villainy.

Weather Wizard has appeared in animation, and had a rather ignominious live-action appearance in the late 70's "Legends of the Super-Heroes" TV specials, including an appearance at a superhero "roast", where he stirred up a windstorm that seemed to be created on the set by turning on several large fans offstage and throwing everything that wasn't nailed down that wouldn't actually hurt anybody into the breeze, including what looked like several rolls of toilet paper. This guy just can't get any respect.

The figure is an excellent likeness of the character. One does have to wonder just a bit -- what's up with that hair? Weather Wizard's hair seems to be backswept and upswept a bit, but it ends in this -- curly point near the back of his head. Okay, look, we get it. You're capable of creating windstorms and all sorts of ill weather. That can be horribly damaging to hair. But -- seriously, man, cut down on the mousse.

Weather Wizard's costume has a rather high collar, and since the figure uses the same basic make body mold, this collar had to be attached as a separate piece. Mattel did a good job with this, though. No complaints.

I'll admit it was a slight challenge to find a set in which they HAD been neatly done, but it wasn't impossible. If there's one slight paint glitch in this, it's that the topmost diagonal band does go over the shoulders, and since this is at an articulation point, always a tricky place to paint on any action figure, the neatness level comes up just a little short here. But aware of the difficulty involved, I can cut that a little bit of slack.

Weather Wizard is also wearing a yellow mask over his eyes, that looks like two yellow diamond shapes. His eyes are painted white, but are outlined in black, in some very fine and nicely done detailing.

As with the other figures in this set. Weather Wizard is articulated at the head, arms, elbows, waist, legs, and knees.

All three of the figures stand up superbly well. Interestingly, unlike the Superman/Supergirl/Wonder Girl set, which I purchased at about the same time as this, and whose members do have a little trouble standing up because of back-heavy capes, and as such display stands are included, there are no display stands included in this set. But really, the figures don't need them.

So what's my final word here? These are cool figures. They might not be quite as impressive as the DC Universe Classics, but they're still cool figures. I will advise you to shop around a bit. Without giving away any specific details, plugging one store or slamming another, these three-packs especially seem to have a rather surprising price range, from the reasonable to the distinctly disagreeable. And you should definitely shop the paint jobs, as well. It's a little difficult to find a really neat set, but not impossible.

However, if you can get them in the more reasonable price range, you'll have some cool super-hero and super-villain figures around, all of whom have pretty extensive histories in the DC Universe. The DC INFINITE HEROES FLASH/MIRROR MASTER/WEATHER WIZARD THREE-PACK definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!