REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS GREEN LANTERN KATMA TUI
Many of the various assortment waves of Mattel's excellent DC Universe Classics figures have tended to have one female character per wave if at all possible. This commenced with Wave 2, when Harley Quinn signed up. Wave 4 gave us Wonder Woman, Wave 7 produced Big Barda, Wave 8 gave us Hawkgirl as well as the Collect-And-Connect of Giganta, Wave 9's Black Canary, and the Walmart exclusive Wave 10 featured Power Girl.
Wave 11 also has a strong Green Lantern focus. Kilowog, a massive alien Green Lantern, is the Collect-and-Connect figure. Green Lantern John Stewart also appears.
So, with that combination, who would the likely female character be in this wave? Mattel chose to provide us with the earliest known female Green Lantern -- KATMA TUI.
Arguably, she is the most prominent female Green Lantern, even though within the pages of the comic books, she's unfortunately been dead for some time. But she's still well-known, she had a couple of notable appearances in the Justice League animated series, and anyway, since when did a little thing like death stop any comic book characters for any length of time?
It's worth mentioning that the package for Katma has a special sticker on it that reads, "First Time in 6-Inch!" That's a friendly little reminder that, thanks to Katma's appearance in the Justice League animated series, she's already been rendered once in plastic in the Justice League line.
So, just who is Katma Tui? Here's some background information I tracked down.
Katma Tui is an extraterrestrial from the planet Korugar, and a member of the Green Lantern Corps. She first appeared in DC Comics' Green Lantern #30 (July 1964), and was created by writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane.
Katma Tui hails from the planet Korugar, in the area of space designated Sector 1417 by the Guardians of the Universe, the extraterrestrials from the planet Oa who oversee and administer the Green Lantern Corps. Korugar was also the home planet of the renegade former Green Lantern Sinestro.
Tui eventually led a rebellion against Sinestro, and even testified against him before the Guardians. Green Lantern Tomar-Re nominated Tui as Sinestro's replacement as Green Lantern of Sector 1417, and Tui accepted.
Tui went on to become an exemplary Green Lantern on a number of adventures, including a prison breakout on the Guardians' prison planet, her struggle against the telepathic influence of the alien Ffa'rzz the Mocker and her kidnapping by a group of terrorists who mistook her for Hal Jordan's love Carol Ferris. She is involved in the war against Krona, Nekron, the Weaponers of Qward, and the Anti-Green Lantern Corps. Tui successfully recruits Rot Lop Fan who has no concept of 'color', being sightless. Tui helps defeat the extra-dimensional entity known as Maaldor, who had cut off the Lanterns from the Main Battery on Oa that powered them. She is involved with the seminal event known as Crisis on Infinite Earths and many subsequent conflicts with Sinestro.
When Hal Jordan resigns from the Corps for Carol Ferris, Tui is infuriated, given that Jordan had persuaded her to give up Imi Kahn for the Corps. When John Stewart initially turns down the offer of replacing Jordan as Green Lantern of Earth, Tui, projecting her anger towards Jordan upon Stewart, dismisses him as a coward, which provoked Stewart into changing his mind. Tui would eventually train him, and work closely with him on a number of missions. The two eventually fall in love, and they marry.
Tui works with a large contingent of Lanterns who find themselves based on Earth. This grouping includes Kilowog, Ch'p and Arisia.
Katma Tui was slain by the villain Star Sapphire. Katma, at the time unpowered, is sliced to death while in her kitchen. Star Sapphire, insane at the time, did this simply to make a point to Hal Jordan. (Action Comics Weekly #601-602)
During the Green Lantern: Mosaic series, John Stewart becomes involved with a new society, various alien citizens placed together on one planet by an ex-Guardian, who had gone insane from loneliness. His efforts elevate him to become the first mortal Guardian of the Universe, known as The Master Builder. As his reward for this new level of awareness, John is reunited with his late wife, Katma Tui. However, tragedy struck once again and Hal Jordan, possessed by Parallax, destroys both the Guardians and the Central Power Battery, robbing John of his newfound powers and his resurrected wife.
During the Blackest Night storyline, in Green Lantern #36, Saint Walker uses his blue power ring to calm John Stewart's rage. By reading his psyche, the ring is able to discern that creating an image of Katma Tui would best serve this purpose. After being surrounded in an illusion of flying with his late-wife for several moments, Stewart emerges with the belief that he would be able to see Katma again.
In the first issue of Blackest Night, black power rings are sent throughout the universe reanimating the bodies of the deceased. Katma Tui's name is among the first to be called out by a black ring, and she is shown reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps.
In the animated continuity of the Justice League series, Katma seems to be the primary trainer of new Lantern recruits - taking the job over from the cartoon's version of Kilowog - and is portrayed as one of the more senior members of the Lanterns. John Stewart was among her students when he first joined the Corps. They fell in love, but were separated when their assigned sectors were too far away from each other.
At the beginning of the episode, Katma is first seen leading a group of Lanterns in a losing battle with the forces of Despero, whose Py'tar energy seems to match and even exceed the Lantern energy. Katma seems to sacrifice herself so as to allow Kilowog to get away, which permits him to make it to Earth and tell John of her plight. Katma managed to survive and infiltrated Despero's ranks on his home planet, Kalanor, secretly funneling information to the resistance forces opposing him. John, in his search for Katma, ends up engaging and losing to Despero, which affects his ability to use his ring.
Katma is forced to try and retrain him, an activity John took to very poorly. Angered by Katma's seemingly dispassionate treatment of John, Hawkgirl none-too-subtly implied that Katma's affair with John was her merely using him as a "boytoy".
When Despero was finally defeated, Katma offered John a place alongside her to help rebuild Kalanor, but John gently declined so as to remain a member of the League and fulfill his current assignment of patrolling Sector 2814.
So, how's the figure? Very nicely done. Extremely well done, if I may say so.
Mattel has two basic female body molds which are used for DC Universe Classics. There is a somewhat larger and taller one, which is generally used for more prominent characters, and to date has been used for Wonder Woman, Power Girl, and Black Canary, with modifications in each instance. Big Barda, it should be noted, was created entirely from scratch given her heavily armored uniform.
There is a slightly shorter set of body molds which has been used for other characters, including Jayna of the Wonder Twins, Harley Quinn, and now, Katma Tui. This is not inappropriate. And I would surmise that there's been a few modifications here and there, if for no other reason than she has a 2010 date stamped on her. However, Katma Tui's uniform is of the type where it can use a basic set of body molds without a lot of modification. Green Lantern fashion styles have tended to be rather interesting over the years. Initially, the Corps all pretty much dressed alike -- at least as far as certain alien physiognomies allowed. But even so, the basic Green Lantern uniform as worn by Hal Jordan was pretty much the standard for all Green Lanterns.
In later years, the styles of Green Lantern uniforms became more individualistic, and yet still retained the basic colors of green, black, and some level of white. More recently, the variance level of Green Lantern costumes has reigned in somewhat. They're still not as uniform as they used to be, but they're a bit more similar. John Stewart's uniform, for example, is mostly black with a green collar and boots. This design was introduced in the Justice League series and was later transitioned into the comic book. Kilowog, despite his massive size, wears a uniform that is very traditional.
As for Katma Tui, her costume is one of those that sort of splits the difference. It's not QUITE traditional, but it's not as far off the map as some of the outfits that cropped up here and there. I am reasonably certain that it's the uniform design she had when she was married to John Stewart, and is very reflective of the costume that he had at that time.
Katma's uniform is significantly black, but it has white gloves, green boots, green around the shoulders, and a vertical green stripe down the front and back that lead into green trunks.
The Green Lantern emblem on the chest is somewhat more stylized than usual. Rather than being a basic white circle with the Lantern emblem in green in the center of it, the insignia takes advantage of the narrow vertical stripe down the front of the costume. This strips almost seems to bisect the white circle, tapering in towards the center of the circle on both ends, leading to a green circle in the center of the white, thus creating an interesting variant of the traditional Green Lantern emblem.
As indicated in the background story, Katma Tui is from Korugar, the same planet that gave us Sinestro. Initially, as such, both characters had very red skin. However, that's been tempered somewhat in recent years, I suspect due to an improvement in printing techniques, an increase in other alien species of a wide variety of colors, and a general desire to make those that were more humanoid than most look a little more plausible, and a straight red color was pushing it a bit.
As such, both Sinestro and Katma Tui tend to be presented as having rather deep pink, almost magenta skin. In the Justice League animated series, Katma was presented as having a sort of reddish-tan skin, but really, the magenta shade is more accurate.
Mattel got this color right on the money back when they did Sinestro, and they must have kept good notes, because Katma is precisely the same color, and it's certainly an interesting offset to the green of her costume. About the only thing that female natives to Korugar seem to lack that male natives -- assuming Sinestro is typical -- is the slightly enlarged cranium. Apart from the skin coloration, Katma Tui looks otherwise entirely normal.
The paint work on Katma's face is excellent. She has blue eyes, neatly painted eyelashes, and black eyebrows. There is some slightly darker pink lipstick around her lips, and a small sign of teeth in a slightly open mouth.
There's one little molding glitch -- I'm assuming that's what it is, and I've seen it on more than one Katma. One side of her mouth, very slightly, looks like it's lost some of the sculpted detail. It's almost like someone tried to give her a fat lip right at the corner of her mouth and wasn't entirely successful. I have no idea what caused this, but the fact that I've seen it on two separate Katma Tui figures tells me that it's in the mold, and not a glitch in a single head casting.
Although it's minor, it worries me because that's the sort of quality control issue that REALLY needs to be caught before production begins. DC Universe Classics has had its issues over the course of its run, more than it should have had, and although many of these matters have or are being dealt with, something like this is nevertheless a cause for concern because of the nature of it. This isn't like a loose or stuck arm on one figure out of who knows how many -- it affects likely ALL of them.
The only other glitch on the figure is a little "hole" on the left hand, as if not quite enough plastic was pressed into the mold. This was fixable, but again, it's a quality control issue.
Anyway -- although Katma Tui's hair is short, as opposed to the longer hair of characters such as Wonder Woman or Black Canary, it has nevertheless been molded as a separate piece and attached to the head. I think the mail reason for this is the way the hair is brushed forward on either side of her forehead. It would have been difficult to get that sort of depth-of-sculpt out of a single mold. Katma Tui's hair is black. Looks like the only part of it that was actually molded as part of the "main head" were the curled "sideburns".
Of course, Katma Tui is superbly well articulated. She is poseable at the head -- and given her short hair there is no hindrance to this articulation point as there sometimes is on longer-haired characters -- arms, upper-arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
I would like to make one observation. The arms on this particular mold set are rather thin. Is this a problem? Visually -- not too much. The areas where it can cause a problem is that sometimes the arm will get a little warped in the package. Katma Tui's right arm doesn't quite want to come down all he way. But additionally, sometimes the entire arm has been turned around, since it's just a little hard to tell which way the elbow is supposed to swing. The female molds don't have the same level of muscle definition as the males, obviously, but there is nevertheless a distinct right arm and left arm assembly. And I was briefly worried that I had gotten a misassembled figure -- something which hasn't happened for some time and I fervently hope never does again -- until I realized that all that needed to be done was for the arm to be turned around at the upper swivel 180 degrees and the elbow reposed a bit, and the hand turned around at the wrist.
I'm not saying we need a whole new set of body molds, or that I want to see female figures that look like bodybuilders. All I'm saying, to Mattel as much as anything, is -- please watch the assembly. It wouldn't take much to goof it, especially here.
Of course, Katma Tui is wearing a Green Lantern ring. It's molded as part of her right hand, and has a bit of a metallic finish to it. Very nicely detailed and very well painted for something so small.
Accessorywise, somewhat surprisingly, Katma Tui does not come with a Lantern Power Battery. Then again, neither did John Stewart. I think Hal's is going to be working overtime if this keeps up. However, Katma Tui did come with a couple of cool accessories, "ring manifestations" as much as anything.
One is a shield, in transparent green, and the other accessory, also in transparent green, looks like a fancy sword. If it were made from more rigid plastic.
So, what's my final word here? I'm impressed. The complaints that I have listed here are concerns as much as anything, as usual related to overall quality control which this line truly deserves the best of. This is, on the whole, an excellent DC Universe Classics figure representing a slightly obscure character. It's just as true that Mattel has shown they're not afraid to add rather obscure characters into this action figure line. To me, that makes this line that much cooler, and shows that Mattel knows that a high percentage of the audience for this line is among those of us who are major and longtime fans of the DC Universe.
It is my sincere hope that Mattel continues its DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS line for a great many years to come. In the meantime, GREEN LANTERN KATMA TUI definitely has my highest recommendation!