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By Thomas Wheeler

Sometimes I wonder if the "Information Age" with everything available on one bit of cyberspace or another, is really a good idea. We seem to have lost our capacity for being surprised. Now, some surprises are better than others. A pile of Christmas presents under the tree on December 25 -- that's a good surprise. A pile-up of cars on the freeway when we're already late for wherever we're going -- not so much.

Still, I used to be surprised, fairly often, and generally pleasantly, when I'd take a walk through the toy departments and toy stores in my area. These days, I'm surprised when I'm surprised. But, every once in a while, it happens.

And it happened with the discovery of a new line of action figures from Mattel, based on DC Comics' JUSTICE LEAGUE, a line exclusive to Target stores.

What surprised me about this line was that it clearly wasn't based on any particular established "look" for the Justice League. The figures have a somewhat animated-looking style to them, but they're clearly not based on the Justice League animated series from a few years ago. That line of action figures was popular enough to distinctly outlast the animated series itself, but it's also pretty well run its course.

These figures were more along the lines of a BATMAN line of action figures that cropped up in 2012 -- although not as a Target exclusive -- that clearly wasn't derived from the most recent live-action movie, nor any of Batman's various animated incarnations.

In fact, although this Justice League line is not size-compatible with that Batman line, the register receipt did list the Justice League figure that I bought as a "Batman" figure.

Mattel has gone on record as saying that this new Justice League line is aimed more at kids than at adults, but that's no reason that collectors can't enjoy it. Unfortunately, there is one big whopping negative to this line, although it's not the toys' fault.

The line is based on the "New 52" designs of characters. Superman has that modified "S" symbol and no red trunks, Flash has lightning bolts all over him, and so forth. That, as far as I'm concerned, makes the vast majority of this line a source of avoidance and annoyance, to put it mildly.

I'll say this, Mattel's put a lot of work into it. I initially say a handful of carded figures, but there's a couple of vehicles, as well as a boxed seven-pack that includes the seven core members of the Justice League in the "New 52", including three -- Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg -- that aren't available individually -- yet, anyway.

It's a shame, too, because the package art is nicely done. Mattel has come up with a Justice League logo that actually looks more like the last pre-New-52 logo the Justice League used, instead of the drab, flat thing they have now.

Still, I didn't want to ignore the line entirely if I could help it. One figure made the grade, and that was GREEN LANTERN, who was the least altered in his appearance of the core heroes. Then I saw another one that I could manage to fit in -- and his name is LEX LUTHOR, thus far the only villain of the piece.

Let's consider some of the history of Lex Luthor, and then have a look at this action figure of him.

Alexander Joseph "Lex" Luthor is the archenemy of Superman, but given his high-status as a supervillain, he has also come into conflict with Batman and other superheroes in the DC Universe.

Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, he first appeared in Action Comics #23 (April 1940). Luthor is described as "a power-mad, evil scientist" of high intelligence and incredible technological prowess. His goals typically center on killing Superman, which he has articulated as a stepping stone to domination of the universe, demonstrating a truly unbridled level of megalomania. Though he periodically wears a powered exoskeleton, Luthor has traditionally lacked superpowers or a dual identity.

The character was originally depicted as a mad scientist who, in the vein of pulp novels, wreaks havoc on the world with his futuristic weaponry. In his earliest appearances, Luthor is shown with a full head of red hair; despite this, the character later became hairless as the result of an artist's mistake. A 1960 story by Jerry Siegel expanded upon Luthor's origin and motivations, revealing him to be a childhood friend of Superman's who lost his hair when a fire destroyed his laboratory; Luthor vowed revenge.

Following the 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, the character was re-imagined as a Machiavellian industrialist and white-collar criminal, even briefly serving as President of the United States.

In recent years, various writers have revived Luthor's mad scientist persona from the 1940s. Luthor is also described as a "megavillain" by comic book critic Peter Sanderson, one of a few genre-crossing villains such as Professor Moriarty, Count Dracula, Hannibal Lecter, Doctor Doom and Darth Vader, who also fit this description.

Luthor's personal history has been reworked and expanded upon several times. Superman: Birthright, a limited series written by Mark Waid in 2004, offers an alternate look at Luthor's history, including his youth in Smallville, and his first encounter with Superman. The story has similarities to the 2001 television series Smallville, which follows Clark Kent's life as a teenager and into early adulthood. One plot element shared by the comic and the show is Lex Luthor's problematic relationship with his wealthy father, Lionel.

Birthright also reinvents the Silver Age concept of Luthor befriending Clark Kent as a young man. During a failed attempt to communicate with Krypton, an explosion erupts which singes off Luthor's hair. Waid's original intention was to jettison the notion of Lex Luthor being an evil businessman, restoring his status as a mad scientist. However, he ultimately conceded that the CEO Luthor would be easier for readers to recognize.

In Birthright, Luthor remains a wealthy corporate magnate; in contrast to Byrne's characterization, however, LexCorp is founded upon Luthor's study of extraterrestrial life, thereby providing a link between himself and Superman. In the retrospective section of the Superman: Birthright trade paperback, Waid explains: "Despite my own personal prejudices, I say we leave Lex the criminal businessman he's been for the past 17 years. The Lois & Clark producers liked it, the WB cartoon guys liked it... so clearly, it works on some level. My concern is that, at least in my eyes, the fact that Luthor's allowed to operate uncontested for years makes Superman look ineffectual."

Birthright was initially intended to establish a new origin for Superman and Luthor. However, to Waid's disappointment, the canonicity of the series was eventually discredited by stories which followed it. A concise biography for Luthor, later outlined in Action Comics #850, first appeared in the 2007 limited series Countdown to Final Crisis Luthor's current origin appears to be a synthesis of aspects from the Silver Age continuity and the The Man of Steel mini-series. Recent changes to DC Comics continuity were revealed to have been a result of the 2005 Infinite Crisis mini-series, and some elements also came forth in the "Superman: Secret Origin" mini-series by Geoff Johns.

As outlined in a backup profile in the 52 weekly series, the post-Action Comics #850 Lex Luthor in this continuity is the son of business mogul Lionel Luthor and his socialite spouse, Leticia. As shown previously in Superman: Birthright and the pre-Crisis stories, he spends part of his adolescence in Smallville, Kansas, where he meets Clark Kent, Lana Lang, and Pete Ross. However, in the 2009-2010 series Superman: Secret Origin, Lex, his father, and his sister Lena Luthor are poor and Lionel is an abusive alcoholic.

In both versions, Lex Luthor leaves Smallville "under a cloud of rumor and suspicion", when his father is mysteriously killed. Luthor leaves behind his sister and migrates to Metropolis, where he founds LexCorp. Luthor becomes so powerful that he controls all the media in Metropolis and uses it to reinforce his public image as a wealthy benefactor. Rival newspaper Daily Planet had always stood free, condemning Luthor's actions in an outrageous editorial signed by Perry White. As a result, when Clark Kent is first inducted into the Planet, the newspaper is almost bankrupt, dilapidated and unable to afford new reporters. Thanks to Clark Kent's appearance as Superman and Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen being given exclusive interviews and photographs, the paper's circulation increases 700%.

The paper's return is interrupted when the US Army, led by Lois's father, General Sam Lane, forcibly shuts down the business. General Lane attempts to force Lois to tell them everything she knows about Superman, who is now a fugitive after he fled a military interrogation. Thanks to Jimmy's help, Lois manages to escape to help Superman. Sam arrives and orders Superman and Lois arrested. However, the crowd turns on the Army, and Superman orders the crowd to stop, telling them that they, not the Army, not Lex Luthor, nor himself, are meant to be Metropolis's saviors.

Knowing Luthor's role in the Army's attack against him, Superman confronts him and tells him that Metropolis doesn't belong to him: "You don't own us." Lex objects, since Superman isn't from Earth. Superman replies, "This is my home", and leaves. Luthor holds Superman responsible for Luthor losing his complete grip over the people of Metropolis, a grudge that lasts for an eternity. In both "JLA" and "52," Grant Morrison states that Luthor's ego leads him to believe that the only reason Superman commits good deeds is to somehow strike at Luthor and prove who is better, arguing that it is impossible for Superman to be as good as he appears to be.

Many times, Luthor has stated that he could have aided the entire human race if not for Superman's interference, claiming that he gives humanity a goal that they could realistically strive to duplicate, while Superman makes them reach for the impossible. However, both Superman and Conner Kent have called him out on the hypocrisy of this statement, noting that he has regularly turned down easy opportunities to willingly help others, simply because he would have sacrificed an opportunity to kill Superman by doing so. They believe this shows that Luthor's ego is more important to him than humanity.

Even when Superman was depowered after the Battle of Metropolis and remained out of sight for a year, the only thing Luthor accomplished in that time was the self-sabotaged 'Everyman' project. This idea was further reinforced fairly recently in the "Black Ring" storyline, when Luthor was briefly merged with a near-omnipotent entity that sought peace after its difficult 'childhood'. While merged with the entity, Luthor had the power to bring peace and bliss to the entire universe, potentially becoming a hero greater even than Superman, but Luthor fought against that power simply because he would have had to share that bliss with Superman as well.

In the pre-Crisis continuity, Lex Luthor's driving ambitions are to kill Superman and enslave Earth as a stepping stone to dominating the universe. In Action Comics #271 (1960), Superman acknowledges that Luthor "could have been a mighty force for good in the world, yet he chose to direct his great scientific brain into criminal channels." Although none of his attempts to kill Superman work permanently, Luthor routinely manages to escape from prison and threaten the world again.

During the 12-issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, Luthor allies himself with fellow Superman foe Brainiac to recruit an army of supervillains spanning the DC multiverse, intending to take advantage of the confusion caused by the Crisis. However, once it becomes clear that it is as much in their interests to save the multiverse as anyone else's, Luthor and Brainiac reluctantly ally their faction with Superman and the other heroes. At the conclusion of the series, reality is altered so that each of the different universes fall into their proper place, converging into one. Afterward, Luthor is subsequently returned to prison with all his memories of the alliance forgotten. Luthor's trademark battlesuit from this era—a heavily armored, flight-capable suit with kryptonite fixtures embedded in its gauntlets — was designed by George Pérez as part of the Super Powers toyline in the early 1980s. It has reappeared in recent continuity, most notably during Infinite Crisis.

As part of the continuity changes which followed The Man of Steel and Superman: Secret Origin, Luthor is shown actively participating in the creation of three Superman villains, Parasite (indirectly), Bizarro (the failed result of an attempt to clone Superman), and the cyborg Metallo. Upon discovering that Metallo is powered by a 'heart' of kryptonite rock, Luthor steals it in order to fashion a kryptonite ring for himself. He wears the alien ore around his finger as a symbol that he is untouchable, even to the Man of Steel. Luthor eventually suffers from severe cancer brought on by long-term radiation exposure to the ring; before this, kryptonite was mistakenly assumed to produce a "clean" radiation that is harmless to humans. His hand requires amputation to prevent the cancer's spread, but by then it has already metastasized, and his condition is terminal.

Luthor decides to fake his own death by piloting a prototype jet on a proposed trip around the world and crashing it in the Andes; this is merely a cover for the removal of his brain from his cancer-ridden body and the growth of a cloned body around it, whereupon he passes himself off as his hitherto unknown, illegitimate 21-year-old son and heir, Lex Luthor II. His deception is benefited by a vibrant new body with a beard and full head of red hair, as well as assuming an Australian accent as part of his fake backstory.

As Luthor II, he inherits control of LexCorp. Luthor's clone body eventually begins to deteriorate and age at a rapid rate, a side-effect of a disease that affects all clones. Meanwhile, Lois Lane discovers proof of Luthor's clone harvesting and false identity; with help from Superman, she exposes the truth, and Superman helps to apprehend Luthor. In the end, Luthor becomes a permanent prisoner in his own body, unable to even blink, and swearing vengeance on Superman.

Aid comes in the form of the demonic Neron; Luthor is offered full health in exchange for services and his soul. Not believing in the existence of souls, he agrees. Returning to Metropolis, Luthor freely turns himself over to the police and is put on trial. He is acquitted on all counts when Luthor claims to have been kidnapped by renegade scientists from Cadmus Labs, who replaced him with a violent clone that is allegedly responsible for all the crimes with which Luthor is charged.

Deciding to turn to politics, Luthor becomes President of the United States, winning the election on a platform of promoting technological progress. His first action as president was to take a proposed moratorium on fossil-based fuels to the U.S. Congress.

Luthor is assisted by the extreme unpopularity of the previous administration's mishandling of the Gotham City earthquake crisis (as depicted in the No Man's Land storyline in the Batman titles), and his own seemingly heroic efforts to rebuild Gotham. After six months, Gotham is restored and rejoins America. Ironically, Batman ultimately learns that the entire debacle was the fault of Luthor alone as he attempted to take control of Gotham by forging deeds for the land in his name.

The initial story arc of the Superman/Batman ongoing series depicts the fall of Luthor's reign as U.S. President. Commonly referred to as "Public Enemies", a cadre of superheroes eventually break ranks from the Justice League to oppose Luthor. Batman, who had previously forbidden any attempt to unseat Luthor from office by force, led the storming of the White House. This was predicated by an attempt on Luthor's part to link Superman to a kryptonite asteroid that is hurtling toward Earth, claiming that he had "evidence" -- which he declined to share while claiming that it would make the public laud his actions if they knew it -- that the asteroid was being drawn to Earth by Superman, offering a billion dollar reward for Superman's capture that pitted Superman and Batman against an army of villains, all of whom they defeated.

Luthor, in an enraged and desperate gambit after Superman's rapid defeats of his plans, used a variant combination of the "super-steroid" Venom (a chemical associated with the Batman villain Bane), liquid synthetic Kryptonite, and an Apokoliptian battlesuit to fight Superman directly.

During the ensuing fight with Superman and Batman, Luthor admits he had traded the creature Doomsday to Darkseid in return for weapons during the Our Worlds at War crisis; in doing so, he inadvertently provides a confession which is captured on video by Batman.

In the Infinite Crisis storyline, Alexander Luthor, Jr. (the son of Earth-Three's version of Luthor) returned to the DC Universe along with other survivors from Crisis on Infinite Earths as part of a scheme to create a perfect Earth, under the pretense of restoring Earth-Two. To this end, he assumed Luthor's identity and created a new Secret Society of Super Villains. In response, the real Luthor took on the identity of Mockingbird and formed the third incarnation of the Secret Six in order to counter Alexander's organization.

Luthor confronts his impostor in Infinite Crisis #3, but is intercepted by Superboy-Prime, who is allied with Alexander. At the end of Infinite Crisis #7, Luthor oversees Alexander's execution at the hands of the Joker.

One year after the events of Infinite Crisis, Luthor has been cleared of over 120 criminal counts ranging from malfeasance to first-degree murder. However, his role in the massacre has permanently ruined his public image and thanks to the machinations of Doctor Sivana, he has lost most of his wealth and all of his control over his newly reformed LexCorp, which is now being run by Lana Lang. He blames Clark Kent for writing several articles unraveling his schemes and pledges vengeance on Metropolis after an angry mob jeers him on the courthouse steps. After amassing large quantities of Kryptonite, including kidnapping the supervillains Metallo and the Kryptonite Man, Lex uses it to power a Kryptonian battleship controlled through a "sunstone" crystal. Superman manages to destroy the Kryptonite-powered ship and recover the crystal- simultaneously confronting Lex with the fact that, despite his claims that Superman has been 'holding him back' from helping humanity, the only thing he accomplished with Superman being absent for a year was to find a large robot that he used to try to destroy everything-, but Lex manages to escape custody yet again.

Luthor plays a large role in the Countdown to Final Crisis tie-in event, Salvation Run. Having been sent to the prison planet after his Injustice League was defeated, Lex quickly assumes control of the amassed villains, receiving competition only from Joker and Gorilla Grodd, who convince half of the villains to join them. He does fight the Joker until the battle was interrupted by an attack by Desaad's Parademons. After the attack, Luthor manages to get the villains off the planet with a makeshift teleporter, secretly powered by Neutron, Heatmonger, Plasmus, Warp, and Thunder and Lightning. When called a "monster" by Thunder, Luthor claims it is the ones who sent them there who are the real monsters, and that he is the hero. He later sets the teleporter to self-destruct after he uses it, killing the attacking Parademons, and his living batteries.

Later, leading in to the Final Crisis stortline, in Justice League of America, Luthor can be seen associating with Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains and placed in its Inner Circle. Lex Luthor wanted Libra to prove himself, so Libra sends Clayface to blow up the Daily Planet building. As Lex Luthor attempts to ambush Libra after learning that he is a prophet of Darkseid, Lex Luthor soon ends up surrounded by Justifiers. Libra tells Lex Luthor to make a final choice... swear an oath to Darkseid or become a mindless slave. In Final Crisis #5, Lex Luthor is seen when Libra blames Calculator for cracking the computer codes that will help the resistance. Lex Luthor is silent on the matter, but has been picked to lead the rearguard action against the heroes at Blüdhaven. He assumes it's an honor, but he doesn't look very pleased. Libra later figures out Luthor had been the mole in the Society of Super Villains. Luthor, in league with Doctor Sivana, seemingly destroys Libra and overturns the Anti-Life Equation being broadcast into the Justifiers' helmets. He subsequently assists Superman in leading the assault against Darkseid's forces, noting that Superman can consider this a legendary first team-up between "good" and "bad" -- with Luthor's side taking the credit for the win-, Superman accepting the deal due to the stakes. Luthor later assists Superman and his remaining allies in constructing the new Miracle Machine to reset the universe and recreate the universe without Darkseid

As part of the New Krypton storyline, Luthor ended up imprisoned for his crimes, but rather than going to jail General Sam Lane had him serve out his sentence working for the secretive Project 7734. While still forced to wear chains, Luthor was assigned the job of accessing the knowledge stored within the captured Brainiac, who had recently been defeated by Superman. After his success with Brainiac, Luthor was given the seemingly dead body of Doomsday, who had been defeated by the Kryptonians, to study.

As part of his participation in Project 7734, Luthor sends a robot double of himself with Brainiac on a mission to attack New Krypton. While there, the Luthor robot tampers with the body chemistry of the previously captured Reactron. Shortly thereafter, Reactron kills himself, initiating a chain reaction which ultimately destroys New Krypton and all but a handful of its 100,000 Kryptonian inhabitants. For his efforts, Luthor receives a pardon for his past crimes.

During the Blackest Night event, when word got out that apparently everyone around the world who have died are rising as undead Black Lanterns, Luthor isolates himself in his safehouse in fear that all the people he had murdered over the years would also reanimate and seek revenge on him. His fear is justified as his victims, including his deceased father, arrive. However, Luthor escapes after receiving a power ring fueled by the orange light of avarice and becomes a deputy of the Orange Lanterns. Luthor arrives at Coast City and joins the battle against the Black Lantern Corps. Luthor engages battle with the Black Lantern versions of Superman and Superboy. However, the Agent Orange Larfleeze wants Luthor's ring off, as the alien does not want to share his power with him, resulting in them battling each other for it despite all of the dangers around them.

"The Black Ring" storyline explored Luthor's more aggressive lust for power in the wake of his exposure to a power ring in the Blackest Night event. After being infused with the Orange Light of Avarice, Luthor begins a universal quest to locate the energy of the Black Lantern Corps. Certain flashbacks of this story expanded further on his background, indicating that he might have spent some time in his younger years training under both Darkseid and Ra's al Ghul.

While searching for the energy of the Black Lantern, and advised by a robotic duplicate of Lois Lane, Luthor encountered Brainiac in space while attempting to alter the last of the Black Lantern energy, acting upon an unspoken theory of his. Brainiac revealed that Loisbot was an unwilling pawn in his bid to hijack Luthor's quest. Luthor then replied that he had anticipated this for some time, and he then attacked Brainiac and snapped his neck, temporarily incapacitating him. Loisbot pleaded for Lex's forgiveness, and he accepted her apology. However, he opened a Phantom Zone portal which unleashed an extremely powerful, monstrously large being which prepared to kill all life in the universe, because the negative emotions of sentient creatures hurt it.Grappling with the creature, Luthor's body and mental essence suddenly fused with it, learning that it evolved in the Phantom Zone and now seeks to escape from the grief and anger of the Zone prisoners.

Using his new power, Luthor draws Superman to him, attempting to drive Superman mad by forcing him to experience the human emotions that he believes the alien merely fakes to blend in. However, Luthor is outraged when he learns that not only is Superman's mission genuine, but his defining moment of tragedy is the loss of his father. Luthor is unable to cope with the fact that not only was his greatest enemy raised by humans, but he also had a father he would actually mourn, compared to the anguish Luthor endured in his own relationship with his father. As Luthor becomes one with the creature, Superman and Mr. Mind, who has been aiding Luthor's search, realize that the creature allows Luthor to create a feeling of peace and bliss throughout the entire universe, at the cost of never allowing him to cause any harm to another being at the same time.

Superman attempts to appeal to Luthor about the potential of doing something even he never accomplished, but Luthor is unable to let go of his hate for Superman, costing him control of the entity as well as his memory of everything he learned or did while he was merged with it and it departs for another part of the universe. Luthor is ultimately defeated when he falls into one of the Phantom Zone holes created by the creature.

In the "New 52" DC Universe, Luthor appears as a representative the government has recruited to investigate and bring down Superman. Based on background signage seen throughout the New 52 books, LexCorp also exists. And that's all I care to say about that.

And yeah, it's a lengthy background, but hey, it's Luthor -- the guy gets around.

So, how's the figure? Not bad at all, but perhaps the question should be, since this Justice League line is taking its cues from the New 52 -- why would I buy it?

Think about that armored battlesuit. Although originally appearing in the 1980's, it, not unlike Tony Stark's Iron Man armor, has undergone a number of revisions and assorted upgrades over the years. The main common points of Luthor's battle armor have tended to remain consistent however, in that it is (a) somewhat on the bulky side, (b) has Luthor's big bald head sticking out of the top -- presumably protected by a force field, and (c) - is green with significant amounts of purple trim.

Hey, depending on who you ask and what continuity you're looking at, the guy's a ruthless billionaire industrialist, a former President, and a scientific/technological expert and inventor. Nothing in his resume about being a fashion designer or color expert.

Technically, the figure doesn't totally resemble any specific battle armor that I've seen Luthor wear. That's not to say he couldn't come up with something that looks like this, and it certainly looks enough like several of his previous armors in its basic appearance so that he most definitely could have. I honestly have no idea if the "New 52" Luthor has donned any sort of battle armor and whether it might more closely resemble this figure.

Given the fact that the other male figures in the individually carded assortment -- Batman, Superman, Flash, and Green Lantern -- all share a common body mold, I thought that perhaps Luthor might share parts with Cyborg, but after seeing the Cyborg figure in the seven-pack, this is not the case. Luthor appears to be an entirely unique figure.

Starting off right at the top we have Luthor's big, bald head. Given the somewhat cartoonish style of the figure, Luthor's been given a somewhat pushed in nose, and a decidedly pronounced jaw line. Not just his chin. The entire jaw juts out a fair bit, both in the front and on the sides. Looking at this figure, you sort of thing you're looking at a figure representing an animated series that you somehow missed seeing.

As one might expect, there isn't a lot of painted detail on the head, but what there is -- the eyebrows and eyes -- is very neatly done.

The torso of Luthor's battle armor is fairly ornate, with a huge chestplate layered over the basic body, and riveted into place. Most of the torso is green, but two of the rivets in the center have been painted metallic purple. It's a nice detail touch, and in an area that could use it. The torso also features a high collar.

There's an odd emblem in the center of the chest, a purple outline with a yellow center, that looks something like an upside-down "peace" sign inside of a six-sides polygon. I'm not sure what this is supposed to represent, because how you might get Lex Luthor's initials, or even one initial, out of this is beyond me.

The arms have high shoulder armor -- methinks Luthor's seen the Iron Man movies -- with a series of rivets in them. The upper arms are a slightly darker green than the rest of the armor, and the lower arms and hands form massive armored gauntlets, purple in color, with thick, riveted wristbands.

Luthor's armor has a wide purple belt, with a bit of extra green armor draped down across the front. Hey, if I was wearing battle armor, there's some vulnerable areas that I'd want a little better protected, too...

The upper legs, like the upper arms, are a somewhat darker green than most of the rest of the armor, and have thick armor plating sculpted to the sides. The armor is completed with the presence of high purple boots, that come up to knee level, and have pronounced angled tops with rivets around their perimeters. Oddly, the boots have distinct raised heels, and the underside of the lower legs are hollow. This is not the case with the Green Lantern figure or, presumably, the others. It doesn't affect the figure's stance, however. He stands just fine.

As I said, the basic design is not at all unlike many of the armors that Luthor has worn in the comic books, although he does generally tend to go with a somewhat brighter green. The darker green and the purple are about right, however.

Paintwork is neat, but really, only the two purple rivets on the chestplate are metallic in appearance. The rest of the colors are more straightforward.

Luthor comes with an accessory. It's a diamond-shaped missile launcher that he can hold in either hand. What, he couldn't build this into his armor? Oh, well, we're talking "play value" here. There's a little group of three connected transparent green missiles -- obviously intended to be kryptonite -- that fit into a peg on the launcher. The launcher is not spring-loaded and doesn't actually do anything, but it's something for the figure to use, at least.

Articulation of the figure isn't bad, but I wouldn't call it spectacular. Let is remember that Mattel is specifically marketing this as a kids' toy, not a collectible for the likes of us. Luthor is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, waist, and legs.

So, what's my final word? Well, it's mixed. I cannot in good conscience recommend the ENTIRE line, given it's "New 52" basis. On the other hand, I do give Mattel credit for wanting to keep the DC Universe -- in some form -- available in action figure form, and appealing to as wide an audience as possible. There's some preschool-like DC toys out there through their Fisher-Price brand, and I think it would be fair to say that this Justice League line, as well as that Batman line, are the next few steps up. Something for kids that are past preschool age, but not really aimed at collectors.

They're cool figures, and if they weren't "New 52" based, I'd be all over them. But that's a huge strike against them in my book, so I'm being a lot pickier. Green Lantern's appearance was not radically altered with the onset of this disaster, and in the case of this Lex Luthor figure, the armor design, if not specifically like any one of his particular battle armors, certainly fits all the basic criteria. And it's nicely made, well-detailed, and quite cool. If you're a DC fan, or you have a child who is, this figure will be most welcome in your home.

The TARGET EXCLUSIVE JUSTICE LEAGUE figure of LEX LUTHOR definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation!