REVIEW: DC DIRECT BRIGHTEST DAY JADE
I'll readily admit, when it comes to super-hero action figures, I tend to put Mattel's DC Universe Classics figures, currently also known as the Signature Series, way ahead in first place. At the same time, I am well aware of the fact that Mattel is not the only manufacturer of super-hero action figures. They're not even the only manufacturer of DC Universe action figures.
There's also been, over the years, an extensive product like from DC DIRECT, now known as "DC Collectibles", yet another alteration since the abhorrent "New 52" took over.
I have not been in the habit of picking up much of DC Direct's product line. This doesn't mean I have any objection to it, it's just that there hasn't been all that much of it that has been of specific interest to me, or that I didn't think was done better by Mattel.
The various DC Direct figures, over the years, have tended to have a few fallacies in my opinion. Their articulation has tended to be somewhat limited, and certainly rather variable. They've been a little too "theme" oriented, occasionally even presenting multiple versions of core characters just because they can make that character look different based on figures that are based on one or another artist's interpretation in the comic book. Frankly, I think that's ridiculous. If I want a good Superman figure, I want as straightforward a Superman figure as possible. I'm not looking for "Superman as drawn by -- " fill in a name here. And, ultimately, the DC Direct figures have occasionally had rather significant price tags, although these days, they're not that much more expensive than Mattel's products.
I don't want this to sound like I'm down on DC Direct. Really, I'm not. It's just that their character and design choices have been of less interest to me than what Mattel has produced. However, I made an exception and purchased a figure of a super-heroine from the DC Universe, from DC Direct's line based on the Brightest Day stories, by the name of JADE.
So, why Jade? Why would I make an exception for her and buy her DC Direct figure? Several reasons. For one thing, I like the character. For another, the figure appeared to be nearly compatible with Mattel's DC Universe figures. It wasn't based on any particular artist's style or anything, it was just a good, straightforward version of the character.
And the biggest reason is, I have no idea if Mattel will get around to this character in the foreseeable future. Certainly it doesn't seem terribly likely in their current DC Unlimited line being marketed at retail. That line is almost completely devoted to the "New 52", and to a forthcoming video game called "Injustice". I have no great interest as such, and as it stands, Jade doesn't even exist in the "New 52" universe -- lucky her.
And while there is the DC Signature Series through MattyCollector.Com, which is not devoted to the "New 52", it is nevertheless a line which is restricted to one figure a month, and the last I knew, Jade wasn't on the list. One can hope that the Signature Series will continue for a generous number of years to come, and the DC Universe will get back on track in the books AND in the toy stores, but until any of that happens, and I see Jade on a Mattel list -- well, I decided to get this DC Direct figure, since from the outside of the package, I was impressed with what I saw.
So, let's consider some of the history of the character known as Jade, and then have a look at her DC Direct action figure.
Jade -- real name Jennifer-Lynn Hayden first appeared in All-Star Squadron #25 (Sept. 1983). Known affectionately as "Jennie" or "Jen", she is the daughter of Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern. Her mother is Rose Canton, the Golden Age villain known as Thorn. Jennie-Lynn has a twin brother, Todd James Rice, who is the superhero Obsidian.
Along with Obsidian, Jade was a founding member of Infinity, Inc. She has worked with both the Justice League and Justice Society of America, as well as most recently being a member and eventual leader of the Outsiders. She was also a member of the resurrected Green Lantern Corps after being given a spare power ring. She has been romantically linked with Hank King (Brainwave) and with Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. She was the first female Green Lantern from Earth. She was also ranked 34th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
Jade's mother, Rose, was briefly married to Alan Scott, but fled upon conceiving their children, fearing she would harm them. She gave them up for adoption and they were separated. Jennie-Lynn was adopted by a couple in the Milwaukee suburbs. Jennie did not learn she had a twin brother until she was in her late teens. Shortly after she and Todd met, surmising they were the children of Alan Scott, they attempted to join the Justice Society. They were rejected, but joined with other children and protégés of JSA members to form Infinity, Inc.
Due to her father's exposure to magical energies, she and her brother were born with metahuman powers, although Jade's only manifested themselves when she was defending herself from being assaulted as a child. Jade's powers greatly resemble her father's: she is able to generate green energy and shape it into constructs according to her will.
Jade left her modeling career in California to pursue the field of photography in New York City. She became Kyle Rayner's roommate and the two eventually developed a romantic relationship. She once lost those powers when she fought the Starheart, the source of her powers.
Following this, Kyle Rayner gave Jade a spare power ring and battery and she became Earth's first female Green Lantern and a member of the Green Lantern Corps, both objects powered by the green of the emotional spectrum of willpower. Her powers were eventually restored by Rayner during his first, short tenure as Ion. Her ring eventually passed to John Stewart.
She later discovered that she had her mother's plant manipulation powers, when she caused roses to attack a mugger. While on a date with Kyle on an alien world, she told him that her skin actually contains chlorophyll (the source of its green hue), and she can photosynthesize sunlight like a plant.
Her internalized powers function much like those of her father. She can create 'solid-light' constructs out of green energy emitted from the star-mark on her palm, and she can fly. She shares his weakness to wood and cellulose, but has no need to periodically recharge her powers. When wearing her power ring, it gives her a similar capability to her internal powers but requires twenty-four hours of recharge from her power battery.
When Kyle Rayner left Earth for a time, Jade opted to come along with him; however, after several missions, Jade decided that she wanted to go back to Earth. She recently served as a member, and eventual leader, of the new Outsiders. Around this time, Jade helped Donna Troy and a collection of Titans alumni in battle against the Titans of Myth.
In Green Lantern: Rebirth, Jade and her father assisted the Guardians of the Universe and the Green Lantern Corps in defeating and imprisoning the parasitic fear entity Parallax.
In Infinite Crisis, Donna Troy led a group of Earth's heroes, including Jade, into space, where they try to deal with a growing rift in space. The Green Lantern Corps, represented by Kyle Rayner and Kilowog, also responded to this threat.
In the Rann-Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special, Jen died trying to stop Alexander Luthor, Jr., from tearing the universe into a Multiverse. Her consciousness lingered within her power until her Starheart powers merged with Kyle. This merge awakened the slumbering Ion entity that Kyle unknowingly had within him, and subsequently made him much more powerful.
One year after the Infinite Crisis, Alan Scott was in a coma after an attack by the Gentleman Ghost. Jade appears to him to say goodbye. She grants her father another portion of her green energy, which replaces his lost eye. It had been lost during a Zeta Beam malfunction during the Infinite Crisis. As part of the "Origins and Omens" backup event, which hints at future events in several DC titles, an image of Jade is shown.
During the Blackest Night crossover, Jade is reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps after an arrival of a black ring powered by death. This seemingly undead construct attempts to use Kyle's affection for her against him, claiming that his undying love for Jade brought her back.
However, Kyle, earlier witnessing the onslaught of the undead Black Lantern Corps on Oa, is painfully aware that the woman present isn't truly Jade. In a rage, he tries to destroy the Black Lantern Jade, as he sees it as an abomination and a disgrace to the memory of a woman he loved. However, Jade recovers and, after capturing him, begins to torment him with the black energy constructs of Alexandra DeWitt, Donna Troy, his mother Moira Rayner, and herself, to remind Kyle of his past failure to save the women who were important to him.
Jade and Kyle's battle is interrupted by the arrival of Soranik Natu, a Green Lantern with whom Kyle had become romantically involved. Jade and Soranik fight (physically and verbally), with Jade making several rude comments. Eventually, Soranik just punches Jade in the mouth and activates her ring. At that moment, the Black Lantern's rings registered that their power levels had reached one hundred percent. As such, the Black Lanterns were given a new directive: to devour Oa's Central Power Battery.
Completely disregarding her opponents, Jade flew off to her objective. All Black Lanterns, however, meet their ultimate doom with the arrival of Mogo, which increases its gravity to such a degree that all of the Black Lanterns, Jade included, are pulled down to its surface and absorbed into its core. The superhot magma within continually burns up the Black Lantern's bodies, keeping them from regenerating their forms. Mogo describes this as, "They will burn, for all eternity."
During the finale of Blackest Night a handful of heroes and villains are permanently resurrected and restored to their true forms. Jade is among this select group and is shown joyfully embracing and kissing Kyle in Coast City. Writer James Robinson stated that Jade will be a member of his new Justice League roster as part of DC's Brightest Day event.
During the Brightest Day, as Jade trying to adjust of being among the living once more, she gives her blessing to Kyle and Soranik Natu. She also shown to have an unknown connection with Deadman, a former ghost who is now a newly-appointed White Lantern, who was also resurrected during the Blackest Night event.
Sometime later, Jade is found unconscious inside of a green crystal meteor that crashes in Germany and is found by the Justice League. The green crystal is revealed to be actually the Starheart, the legendary crystal that gave Alan Scott his powers, and by extension, gave Jade her abilities as well. After waking up, Jade reveals that while staying on Oa, the Starheart kidnapped her and brought her to earth in order to find her father. She later uses her abilities to defeat Power Girl after the Starheart drives Power Girl insane, and then decides to help the JLA stop her father after learning that the Starheart has taken control of his body.
Jade joins forces with the JLA and JSA in order to take down the various metahumans under the control of the Starheart while Mr. Terrific searches for a way to weaken its power. After defeating Klarion the Witch Boy, Jade visits her stepmother Molly Mayne, and takes up Alan's old lantern, using it to form a brief connection with Alan; it reveals that he is hiding out on the moon. After Starman is captured while breaking into Alan's lunar fortress, Miss Martian is able to get a mental description of his prison, explaining that Alan has incorporated Fourth World technology into his defenses. After Mister Miracle guides the heroes through the defenses, Kyle arrives and meets with the heroes. Jade asks Kyle if he is there to help her father, but he simply scoffs at the notion and states that he has come to kill Alan at the behest of the Guardians of the Universe.
Jade is told by the Entity to help her brother, Obsidian, to "balance the darkness" and save their friends from an unidentified threat which was speculated to be Eclipso, as the Entity reveals to Jade her assigned "Brightest Day" labor, a grinning vision of Eclipso appears behind Jade. Afterward, as Jade tried to rescue her brother from the Starheart's control, both siblings ended fused together, forming an entity with the powers of Jade and Obsidian, all the while in Starheart control. Both siblings attacked the Justice League and the Justice Society until Jade is contacted by the White Light Entity, who reveals Jade's true labor. Jade resisted the Starheart control, trying to balance the darkness inside the both of them. Jade and Obsidian were eventually separated by the Entity so Jade could completed her task; however, Obsidian became paranoid and tried to force Jade to fuse with him once again. Jade managed to prevent the fusion, but at the cost of Obsidian, who was restrained by Kyle in a green bubble and taken far away from Jade. Jade then used her powers to restore her father's Starheart, which was revealed to be the unidentified threat. In the end, Jade is reunited with her father, who returns to normal. As a result of her fusion with Obsidian, Jade is also no longer able to be in close proximity to her brother without risking further threat from the Starheart.
Jade remained with the Justice League until the team's dissolution during Flashpoint.
As to her powers and abilities, Jade has the same Starheart energy manipulating powers as her father, Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern with the difference that her powers do not come from a ring or lantern, but are channeled through her body (specifically, the star shaped birthmark on her palm). As with all Green Lanterns, she can will green energy constructs to "life" and can use this energy in almost any way possible; the only limitation being her will, imagination and endurance. Of the many things she can do with her powers, the most common uses are shields from bodily harm, flight, flying unaided through space, great speed and, as said earlier, willing constructs to life of any shape and size. She is technically a mutant, having been born with her powers as well as green-hued skin, dark green hair, green eyes and the aforementioned star shaped birthmark on her palm.
Due to their shared mystical connection with the Starheart, with even the slightest focus, she can sense where either her twin brother or her father is anywhere on Earth at any time. One of the major distinctions between the Green Lanterns of Oa and herself (and her father) is that the emerald energy she wields is often manifested as green fire surrounding her. Secondly, while regular Green Lanterns have to charge their rings after a time, Jade has access to near unlimited stores of power and has no need to recharge.
Jade has also begun to cultivate a recently discovered ability to affect plant life like her mother. She can cause super-accelerated growth and manipulate the movement of most, if not all, plant life. This ability manifested itself later in her life and she has just begun to learn how to properly use this new power.
I'd rather not get into the whole Brightest Day storyline, but I encourage you to look into it on your own. I also wasn't aware of her ability to affect plants in this fashion. Maybe I should put her near the fern on my porch. It could use the help.
So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive. Really very outstanding.
Jade's head sculpt is especially a standout. If I didn't know that the Four Horsemen studios, the master craftsmen, sculptors, and designers responsible for Mattel's DC Universe and Masters of the Universe figures, had an exclusive contract with Mattel, I'd think that someone on their staff was moonlighting.
I'm not saying that there aren't plenty of talented toy sculptors in the world -- certainly there are. But this Jade head sculpt looks so close to something that they would've come up with it's uncanny. The hair, perhaps, isn't quite as meticulously detailed as their work -- and that's the sort of thing they tend to obsess over -- but it's very close.
Green skin seems to be something that has presented a challenge for toy companies over the years, possibly because comic book color schemes don't always translate well to plastic, and because -- as far as I know -- there aren't any actual green people in the world. It's easy enough to match the normal colors of skin found in humanity, but deviate from that and it can apparently be a challenge.
Going all the way back to the Hulk figure that Mego came up with in the 1970's. A decent product, and really an excellent facial likeness. But I always thought that figure was a bit too dark a green. Even in more recent years, Mattel's green-skinned DC figures have been all over the map. Their pink-shirted classic Brainiac figure was frankly too dark. Beast Boy, Martian Manhunter, and Braniac 5 from the Legion of Super-Heroes set were all much better, but at the same time, they were all slightly different shades of green. And compare the DC Universe Classics Martian Manhunter to the Martian Manhunter figures from the Justice League animated line. Very different.
DC Direct's Jade figure is a distinctly lighter, and brighter green than any of Mattel's green-skinned heroes. And honestly, I really like the color. It fits the character, somehow. I'll admit, green has long been a favorite color of mine -- before it started being used as a catchphrase for the eco-movement. This Jade figure is an excellent shade of green, even if it's a rather different shade than anything Mattel has yet to use on anybody. Her head is also molded in this green color, not painted. I always appreciate that.
Impressively, DC Direct gave Jade a little bit of slightly darker green eye shadow. It's very subtle, but it does bring out her eyes, which are astoundingly neatly painted. Jade also has dark green lipstick, and dark green hair. I'd wonder where she might have gotten dark green lipstick, but given some of the cosmetics I've seen some people wear in various public and retail locations, it's probably not that hard.
Jade's costume is mostly white, and DC Direct has painted it as a pearlescent, almost metallic white -- no easy feat with this particular color. The costume features a high neck, and the white color covers her entire torso. A small fraction of her upper arms are bare, but she has very high gloves, and high boots, that are also white. The top part of her leggings are black, interestingly enough, painted a very flat, matte black.
Jade has a green emblem on her chest, which looks like an eight-sided atom-like symbol. This has been very neatly designed and imprinted on the figure.
The costume is very reminiscent of Jade's original costume, before she got involved in the Green Lantern Corps. In fact, the costume is very nearly identical, except with regard to her original costume, the leggings seemed to be more of a very dark green, the symbol on her chest was different, and she didn't wear gloves. While I wouldn't have minded seeing a bit more green on this Jade, i.e. no gloves, I can't complain about the new costume design, as it's certainly very respectful to the original (something that can't be said about much of anything in the current DC "New 52" Universe), and it's certainly been well-rendered on this figure.
Now, let's discuss articulation, because certainly Mattel's DC Universe figures have a great deal of articulation, and it's been something that DC Direct has been known to skimp on. One of the reasons I bought this Jade figure was that it looked like they didn't skimp on her articulation quite as much, and indeed they did not. That said, she's not quite up to the level of a Mattel DC Universe figure. But, she's not bad, either.
Jade is poseable at the head -- and her hair, although about shoulder length, is fairly rigid, it's not that serious a hindrance to a normal range of motion. She is poseable at the arms, upper arm swivel (this is unusual for a DC Direct figure), elbows, wrist, legs, knees, and a lower leg swivel at about the point of typical boots.
How does all the articulation work? Quite well. The figure feels heavier than a Mattel figure. Either it's more solid somehow, or it's made from a different type of plastic. The arms move forward and back, and outward somewhat, but it took me a while to realize that they did so, and it's a different sort of design. I would be hesitant to push it too far. The swivel arm looks just like a Mattel figure design.
The legs move forward and back a bit, but not outward. There is no articulation at either the mid-torso or the waist, which might also explain the more solid feel of the figure, since the torso could be molded more "whole" and not have to have a lot of connection points. And, somewhat disappointingly, Jade does not have ankle articulation.
The articulation is a bit on the stubborn side, too, at least relative to a Mattel figure. Now, I'm all in favor of decently tight articulation. There's nothing worse than a floppy action figure. But when it's so tight that you wonder if you're going to break a limb off trying to get it to move, that might be going the other way a little much. Honestly, I'm inclined to fault the fancy semi-metallic paint as much as anything, since it seems to be at the places where most of the articulation is. Her head, for example, moves very easily.
The final question -- How well does Jade work with Mattel's DC Universe figures? And the answer is -- not too badly, for a figure that wasn't designed to. Obviously, the articulation isn't quite there. She certainly has an overall look that works well with Mattel's DC Universe line, especially the head sculpt.
The only thing is -- she's just a little taller than she ought to be. Jade stands almost precisely 6-3/4" in height. That's roughly the height of an adult male in the Mattel line, and the females tend to be a bit shorter. Jade is actually taller than Wonder Woman! That's just not quite right. On the other hand, she's not an inexcusably bad fit. Put her in with a crowd and she doesn't exactly stick out like a green thumb.
So, what's my final word? I would love it if someday Mattel says that Jade is going to become part of the DC Signature Series lineup. I mean, come on, they've done her father, Alan Scott, and her brother, Obsidian, in the DC Universe Classics line. Let's get the entire family out there.
I'd love it even more if Mattel took this DC Direct figure of Jade, handed it to the Four Horsemen, and told them to get as close to it as possible, right down to the color scheme, molding the head in this exact same shade of green. If Mattel wants to do a very impressive Jade figure, they could hardly do better than to give DC Direct a little flattery and imitate this one.
But, until that day comes, I'm glad that I made an exception and added this DC Direct figure to my action figure collection. It's impressively made, with excellent detail, truly superb colors, decent enough articulation, and it just about fits with my Mattel-based collection.
The DC DIRECT figure of JADE from their BRIGHTEST DAY collection definitely has my highest recommendation!