REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE SIGNATURE SERIES LARFLEEZE
I can honestly say that I am sincerely grateful for Mattel's DC Universe Signature Series of action figures, offered through MattyCollector.Com. Here, there is no sign of the horrible "New 52" -- with the exception of that awful new DC logo on the boxes. Here is where the DC Universe as it should be still flourishes, unlike the misnamed "DC Unlimited" line at retail, which is anything but, with its narrow focus on the "New 52" and a video game called "Injustice" with equally peculiar character designs.
And here, we finally find somebody that nearly got canceled. He did get pulled out of one assortment of retail figures. I was hopeful that (a) the Signature Series would be renewed for 2013, which it was, and that (b) this certain someone would make his way into it, which he did.
His name is LARFLEEZE, sometimes known as AGENT ORANGE, keeper of the Orange Lantern in the spectrum of emotional colors established in the Green Lantern titles over the past several years. Orange represents avarice, or greed, and that certainly describes Larfleeze. This guy makes Quark the Ferengi from Star Trek look like a philanthropist. Next to Larfleeze, Gollum might as well be handing rings out like party favors.
As vicious as the guy can be at times, he's also good for laughs. His package calls him "darkly comedic", which is -- well, probably taking him a little too seriously. Admittedly, I'd rather emphasize some of his lighter moments. On one of his trips to Earth, a planet he knew very little about, he ended up, much to his delight, squarely in Las Vegas, where he loudly declared "Viva Las Vegas!" after causing a fair measure of chaos in a casino. Right after that, he discovered an "All You Can Eat Buffet" and that was the last we saw of him for a while. Need it be said, his favorite word is -- "MINE!"
I've gotten a kick out of the character ever since he was introduced, and was really hoping for a DC Universe Classics-style action figure of him. Over the past several years, due in large part to the efforts of Geoff Johns, we've seen the development of a wide range of Lantern Corps, and a host of new characters introduced. The Sinestro Corps, the Red Lanterns, the Indigo Lanterns, the Blue Lanterns, and more. Some of these characters have made it into action figure form. Some haven't. I'd still like to see an Indigo-1 at some point.
Unfortunately, thanks to the New 52 and its effect on the action figure side of things, a lot of these characters, including some of the most prominent, have had to wait their turns. With the demise of the DC Universe Classics line, some of them had to be shifted into the one-figure-per-month Signature Series. Thus, we got the leader of the Red Lanters, Atrocitus, midway through 2012, and the leader of the Blue Lanterns, Saint Walker, kicked off 2013. Now, finally, it's Larfleeze's turn.
Let's consider some history of the character, and then have a look at his action figure.
Larfleeze, although it's been stated in the comics that this is not his real name, usually appears as an antagonist in books featuring Green Lantern and the Green Lantern Corps. He is the primary wielder of the Orange light of avarice, derived from the emotional spectrum, and does not voluntarily allow others to wield that orange light. He first appeared in DC Universe #0 (April 2008), and was created by writer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver.
Writer Geoff Johns developed Larfleeze as a key participant in the "Blackest Night" plot line, explaining at Comic-Con International 2009 that he came up with the name "Larfleeze" by combining the words "lard" and "sleaze."
Johns states that Larfleeze is one of his favorite characters to write because of how "out of touch" the character seems, adding that, other than greed, emotions have no value to him because they do not provide him with anything material.
After his brief first appearance in DC Universe #0 (April 2008), the character went on to be shown in smaller teaser appearances within the Green Lantern series until his first extended appearance in Green Lantern #39 (April 2009). The issue leads into "Agent Orange" (named after the codename Larfleeze is given by the Guardians of the Universe), the storyline detailing the character's origin that also serves as a prelude to the "Blackest Night" storyline. Larfleeze's story includes an appearance in Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2 (July 2009).
Larfleeze is the first and for a long time the only individual to wield the power of the orange light. Little is known about his past except that he comes from an incredibly long living species, as Larfleeze is said to be over several billion years old (although one might wonder if the orange light has extended his life span). His original homeworld has been stated to be a planet called Ogatoo. To the best of my knowledge, we've only ever seen it in brief flashbacks. Its present-day status is unknown.
He was taken from his parents for reasons yet to be revealed and forced to work as a slave. His time as a slave was cruel and harsh: his cruel and sadistic masters starved Larfleeze and his fellow slaves in order to weed out those too weak to work in the hellish conditions they were forced to toil in. This cruelty and deprivation deeply affected Larfleeze, who at some point escaped and became a wanted thief and criminal, with several of his species.
Billions of years ago, Larfleeze belonged to a small guild of thieves which stole a number of artifacts from the planet Maltus, including a mysterious box supposedly worth an entire star system to the right buyer. In retaliation, the Guardians of the Universe sent their Manhunters to pursue them. Those that escaped discovered a map belonging to the Guardian Krona that told of treasure.
The guild followed the map into the Vega System to the planet Okaara. There they discovered a temple, inside of which was a Power Battery containing the orange light of avarice. Feeling its power "speak" to them, the criminals fought amongst themselves for it. Eventually the Guardians and their Manhunters found them, however, because of its proximity to Larfleeze and the others, the Guardians could not get within reaching distance of the box.
The Guardians and Manhunters who tried were incinerated by the Orange Light of Avarice. Fearing the power of the orange light, the Guardians offered the two surviving guild members (Larfleeze and Turpa) a deal: in exchange for the mysterious box, the Guardians would trade the orange light with two additional conditions. First, as long as the orange light remained within the Vega system, the Guardians would agree not to interfere with it. Then secondly, for the safety of others, only one of the two thieves would be allowed to keep the orange light for themselves. Larfleeze explained that the Guardians were desperate to get the box back because it contained the fear entity Parallax. Agreeing to these terms, the two guild members fought to the death for the right to own the orange light, and Larfleeze emerged victorious.
In Green Lantern vol. 4, issue #28 (April 2009), the Controllers are shown discussing their previous failures in forming a force matching the Green Lantern Corps. They soon became interested in pursuing a comparable power source to the green light that they've discovered: the orange light. The Controllers follow the orange light to Okaara where they descend into an underground palace and eventually come across the orange lantern power battery deep inside. As soon as they try to take it, the Controllers are overcome by Larfleeze's Orange Lanterns and are destroyed.
Larfleeze is enraged at this perceived violation of the agreement he has with the Guardians, as he is unable to see a distinction between them and the Controllers. At the time, Green Lantern Stel pursues a member of the Sinestro Corps, but is given pause when he crosses into the Vega system for sanctuary. Not willing to be stopped (despite the fact that Green Lanterns are barred from entering the system), Stel continues after his target. Upon entering the system, the Sinestro Corps member is devoured by Agent Orange's construct of Blume. Larfleeze's ring enables him to absorb the life-energy of others, and then recreate them as Orange Lantern constructs, Blume being a massive being and one of Larfleeze's most powerful constructs.
Blume captures and seriously damages Stel, branding him with the symbol of the Orange Lantern Corps. When the Green Lanterns recover Stel and return him to Oa, a construct of Larfleeze bursts forth from the brand and confronts the Guardians about the attempt to steal the orange battery. Although the Guardians point out that the Controllers are the source of his anger, Larfleeze refuses to listen. He declares the treaty is null and void, and that the Guardians will submit to his demands or face his wrath. In response, the Guardian Scar destroys the projection and states that the Guardians do not negotiate with terrorists.
This conflict marks the beginning of Green Lantern's next phase in its prelude to the Blackest Night crossover, aptly titled: Agent Orange. The story goes on to show the Guardians adding a fourth law to the Book of Oa: the Vega system is no longer outside of Green Lantern jurisdiction. This allows the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps to begin an assault on Vega.
Hal Jordan, a new recipient of a blue power ring created by Ganthet and Sayd, is included in the assault team. Upon arriving on Okaara, the Green Lanterns are met with opposition from Larfleeze's Orange Lantern constructs. During the fight, Jordan is separated from the group and comes face-to-face with Agent Orange. Larfleeze, upon seeing Jordan's blue ring, immediately wants it for himself. Larfleeze touches the ring in his desire for it and is forced back by the power of the blue light (the ring itself claiming that "hope is selfless"). This enrages Larfleeze, who bargains with Jordan over it. Though Jordan agrees to give the ring to Larfleeze, he finds he is unable to remove it. Not finding this to be an acceptable answer, Larfleeze creates an axe from orange light and seemingly removes Jordan's hand by force. No longer attached to Jordan, the blue power ring welcomes Larfleeze to the Blue Lantern Corps. For a moment the constant hunger he feels as Agent Orange is pacified, however its soon revealed that the blue ring has created, after sensing Larfleeze's hope for relief, an illusion to deceive into believe he has gained the blue ring he desires by cutting Jordan's hand when in actuality he hasn't cut off Jordan's hand at all. Jordan returns to battle Larfleeze with the Green Lantern Corps. During the battle, Jordan is possessed by the overwhelming orange power of avarice after briefly seizing Larfleeze's power battery (assuming that by stealing it, Larfleeze would no longer be able to power his army of constructs). Unfortunately, it's explained that Larfleeze has been in contact with the orange battery for so long that it's as much a part of him as the main power battery in Oa is a part of the Guardians.
Jordan is able to subdue Larfleeze by finally gaining control over his blue power ring. The Guardians realize that if they take the battery from Larfleeze, someone else will inevitably find it, becoming a new Agent Orange. Preferring to know where Agent Orange is, they decide to negotiate with Larfleeze once more. The details of the negotiation aren't fully revealed; however it is shown that Larfleeze asks the Guardians where he can find a blue power ring. The issue ends with Larfleeze launching an assault on the Blue Lantern Corps by sending a group of his Orange Lantern constructs to Odym.
At the onset of the Blackest Night crossover event, a new Corps powered by death (rather than a light of the emotional spectrum) is introduced to the DC Universe: the Black Lantern Corps. As the other seven Corps battle one another, Black Hand releases black power rings that reanimate the deceased in order to recruit members to their ranks. In Green Lantern vol. 4 #45, Larfleeze is shown delighting over his Orange Lanterns attempting to steal the Blue Central Power Battery from Odym. His celebration is premature, however, as black power rings invade his chamber and reanimate the bodies of those whose identities he's stolen in order to create his constructs. Larfleeze responds to this with a simple and timid "Yuh-oh!"
He is next seen fleeing his reanimated Orange Lanterns, distracting him to such a degree that his energy constructs on Odym dissipate. Larfleeze is saved by the timely intervention of Atrocitus, who demands that Larfleeze hand over his power battery. The two characters quarrel over the Orange Central Power Battery before being overwhelmed again by the reanimated corpses of Larfleeze's constructs. They're saved by Saint Walker, Hal Jordan, Carol Ferris, Indigo-1, and Sinestro, who have arrived to recruit them both to assist in destroying the Black Central Power Battery. Both antagonists prove difficult to persuade, with Larfleeze more preoccupied by the other Corps having their own Guardians. In order to secure his compliance, Sayd agrees to be his personal Guardian at the end of the conflict if he cooperates. Larfleeze agrees and ultimately accompanies the group to Earth, which becomes the setting for the end of the Blackest Night event.
During the events that transpire on Earth, Ganthet duplicates Larfleeze's ring to bolster the ranks of the light-wielders against Nekron's forces. The duplicate orange power ring is able to choose someone to become a deputy Orange Lantern for a 24-hour period. Though Larfleeze protests anyone else wielding the orange light, the duplicate ring chooses Lex Luthor as its wearer. Despite the immense conflict going on around them, the two characters repeatedly clash due to their insatiable greed. In the final issue of Blackest Night, Luthor is stripped of his power. Larfleeze hands him over to the heroes of Earth in disgust, prompting Sinestro to point out that this is the first time Larfleeze has given anyone anything. As promised, Sayd agrees to become Larfleeze's personal Guardian when he demands payment for participating in their plan.
Larfleeze later seeks out Luthor, demanding to know what is important to the people of Earth. Luthor responds with "land", which Larfleeze decides he wants. Larfleeze is shown to have taken up residence in a small, upper midwestern town. He sends his Orange Lanterns into town to steal things for him. When Hal Jordan confronts him and tells him to leave the town alone, Larfleeze tells him that he won't need to ransack the town anymore because he has learned of the legend of Santa Claus. Larfleeze intends to make lists of all the things he wants and send them to Santa Claus.
When Hal tries to explain to Larfleeze that Santa Claus isn't real, Larfleeze comments that the mountain of stuff that he has stolen is evidence to the contrary. Frustrated, Hal reveals that he has come to Larfleeze to find out how he was able to trap the orange entity in his lantern, so that they can trap the other entities to keep them out of the hands of the one trying to collect them. Before Larfleeze can tell him Hector Hammond arrives. After struggling with Larfleeze and Hal for the battery, Hammond ends up swallowing it. This frees Ophidian and the entity of avarice takes Hammond as its host. Larfleeze shows a great deal of concern at Ophidian's freedom, particularly because it seems that Ophidian doesn't like him very much.
The battle with Ophidian doesn't go very well for Hal or Larfleeze. While fleeing Ophidian, Larfleeze admits that he wasn't entirely honest about his ownership of the orange lantern and that he and Ophidian have a rather antagonistic relationship; however, he is quick to blame Ophidian for starting whatever it was that came between them. Ophidian states that Larfleeze was the only being in the universe capable of resisting his temptations, thereby allowing Larfleeze to subdue him and become Agent Orange, and that now its Larfleeze's turn to be subdued and used by Ophidian. Ophidian then attempts to devour Larfleeze, but this is prevented by Hal.
After that the desires of Hector Hammond begin to override those of Ophidian and he leaves to search for his ultimate desire, Carol Ferris. Hal has to get to Las Vegas to save Carol, and Larfleeze (who is in a state of near hysteria, telling Hal that he can't live without his lantern) demands to come. Once there Larfleeze seems to forget entirely about Ophidian and his lost lantern (which appears to have had no effect on his ability to spawn orange lanterns) and instead revels in the rich culture of Las Vegas. He is stopped by the avatar of the Star Sapphires, who forces him to experience the sadness of his empty heart, briefly causing him to think of his family.
He is later taken to Zamaron by the Star Sapphires along with Hal, Carol, the avatar, and Abraham Pointe (the man possessed by the avatar). Larfleeze is present when Carol is named the new Queen of the Star Sapphires, and states that he wants to be queen. While watching over Pointe, Larfleeze is shaken to discover that Pointe knows of his past through the Predator that he was taken from his family, and that "Larfleeze" isn't his real name. Larfleeze almost kills Pointe to keep him from speaking his name, before returning to Earth with the others to meet a young woman who has been possessed by the hope entity, Adara. Adara reveals to a shocked Larfleeze that his parents are still alive, and that they miss him.
On Christmas Day, Larfleeze is outraged to discover that Santa Claus hasn't brought him anything that he asked for. He attacks every costumed Santa in the nearby town, and tries to melt the North Pole, only to be stopped by Hal Jordan. Jordan tells Larfleeze of Christmas spirit, and how it comes from giving. On Hal's suggestion, Larfleeze gives away every item in his mountain of possessions, but afterwards declares that he doesn't like Christmas spirit. Jordan then suggests that he look over his Christmas list and see if he actually needed anything there. That night, Larfleeze stares at a part of his list, on which he had written "my family"
When Krona's attack traps the other six New Guardians in the Book of the Black, Hal is able to escape with their rings. While trapped inside the Book of the Black, Larfleeze is forced to relive a childhood memory of slavery. Larfleeze is later freed from the book by Kyle Rayner. When his orange ring returns to him, Larfleeze is initially fearful, saying "Keep it away from me!" Once the ring is on his finger, however, he returns to his usual mindset, declaring it "Mine!"
Most recently, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner had apparently become a magnet to the other Lantern Corps rings, which forced Kyle to face off with the second-in-commands from the Sinestro Corps, Red Lantern Corps, Earth's Star Sapphires and Indigo Tribe. Kyle with the help of Saint Walker from the Blue Lantern Corps tried to reach Oa for some answers, but on their way an orange ring approaches Kyle. It is subsequently revealed that Kyle's orange ring was actually the Glomulus construct, one of Larfleeze's most prominent "Orange Lanterns", posing as a ring when Larfleeze appears to attack the Guardians, claiming that some unknown force attempted to steal his ring and send it to Kyle only for Larfleeze to send Glomulus to investigate when his strong connection to his ring allowed him to retain his hold of it.
With the rise of the Third Army, Larfleeze was forced to teach Kyle how to utilize the Orange Lantern power to ensure his own survival, but he was subsequently caught by Volthoom, the returned "First Lantern" who sought to wield all powers of the emotional spectrum. To this end, Volthoom attempted to trap Larfleeze in various illusionary realities granting his greatest wish -- including a world where Larfleeze never fell victim to the Orange light and was still with his family, or a world where he successfully stole Hal's blue ring -- but these illusions have always failed due to the extent of the orange ring's influence on Larfleeze.
As to his powers and abilities, Larfleeze exclusively wields the orange light of avarice using his orange power ring and power battery. Some of his basic abilities are shared with other Corps: flight, aura projection, and the ability to create constructs made from light. However, the most notable and unique aspect of Larfleeze's abilities is his power to steal the identities of those he kills. After these individuals have died, orange light constructs resembling them rise from their corpses, adding new members to his Orange Lanterns. The Orange Lanterns are able to steal the identities of others for Larfleeze in the same way. The orange light also has the power to absorb green light constructs and mystical energies.
Conversely, it is depicted as being unable to absorb blue or violet light constructs. When Larfleeze faced the New Guardians -- a team consisting of representatives from all six of the other Corps -- the only Lantern able to damage his constructs was Munk of the Indigo Tribe, which was only accomplished when Munk tapped into the Orange light himself.
Larfleeze's power is amplified by being in constant contact with his power battery. As a result of this, he can maintain an entire corps of constructs, even when separated from it. His control over his ring is so great that he was the only being able to retain control of his ring when a mysterious external force turned Kyle Rayner into a "ring magnet" that caused the rings of one member from each of the other five Corps to abandon their wielders and travel to Kyle. However, Larfleeze is burdened with insatiable hunger that is never quelled as a side-effect of wielding the orange light (which can be nullified while in the presence of a Blue Lantern).
Larfleeze also appeared in the Green Lantern: The Animated Series episode "Larfleeze" voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. In the episode, Razer tells Kilowog and Hal Jordan of the Orange light, and the three decide to seek it to fight their former ally Aya, who has taken over the body and duties of the Anti-Monitor. Finding the Orange power battery, Hal becomes close to it and steals it from an enraged Larfleeze, who calls it his "shiny". As they are about to leave, Jordan becomes paranoid that Kilowog and Razer were planning to take the lantern from him, and becomes an Orange lantern himself. With Larfleeze's aid, Kilowog and Razer try to make Jordan come to his senses, only succeeding when they convince him to reject the orange light in favor of saving the universe from Aya. Jordan returns the lantern to a joyful Larfleeze, who tries to reward them, but is unable to, merely wishing them a safe journey, prompting the three Lanterns to simply leave.
Larfleeze has also had his own backup feature in the current title "Threshold", and as of this writing, will soon be starring in his own title, written by Keith Giffen, whose oddball style may actually be ideally suited to the character. Might be the only "New 52" title I bother with, too.
So, how's the figure? Outstanding! I'm truly pleased to be able to add this character to my collection.
Although Larfleeze is humanoid, he certainly isn't human, and his head is very definitely inhuman. It's a little hard to put in any sort of recognizable comparative terms, but if I had to try, I'd say that Larfleeze's head looks like it's equal parts human, goat, and warthog, with maybe a little rat thrown in depending on who's drawing him.
Larfleeze more or less has a human-sized skull, at least if we take the figure sculpt, and the Four Horsemen doubtless had something of a challenge here given that the character has had a number of artistic interpretations, but his face is another matter entirely Larfleeze has a prominent, downturned brow, small eyes, and more of a muzzle than a nose and mouth, with a ridged, flattened nose with huge, almost simian-like flared nostrils, and an angry snarl of a mouth with two rows of narrow, sharp teeth.
Perhaps Larfleeze's most unusual facial feature is a series of short tusks, three on each side of his head. Two of these seem to protrude from the sides of his head, while the foremost appears to jut out from the edges of his mouth. At the very least, it's a very alien look, and you sort of get the impression that he wouldn't be very good at chewing bubble gum.
Larfleeze has tan skin, and the impression one gets from many of the artistic takes on him is that he's somewhat furry. He has longer fur, or hair, on the top of his head, that on the figure has been styled into three rather flat spikes. Really, in a way, this is designed to resemble flames, as in many of his appearances, flame-like orange energy seems to emanate from the top of his head.
The paint details on Larfleeze are superbly well done, including a very detailed mouth, and exceptionally small eyes that have orange "whites", yellow irises, and black outlines.
Larfleeze has a human-like body, with human-like musculature, but he tends to be rather on the slender side. There are body parts within the DC Universe inventory that can accommodate this, and they have been used, especially for the legs, but Larfleeze's uniform is distinctive enough so that an entirely new upper body and arms had to be created for him. I must say, I'm impressed with the effort.
Larfleeze's uniform is almost entirely orange, with black mid sleeves, and a large area of black around the abdomen and back. His uniform has a rather high collar, and the emblem of the Orange Lantern appears on raised circles, sculpted into the design of the figure, on his chest and shoulders. He has high ridged cuffs around his wrists that go a fair ways up his lower arms.
Larfleeze's hands have rather long fingers, that have a slightly gnarled look to them. The hands are slightly closed, and for the most part, each finger is separate from the others on both hands, although the third and fourth fingers on his left hand are merged. Both hands are able of holding onto the metallic Orange Lantern accessory that he comes with, which is a good thing, since he hardly ever lets go of it.
The second finger of Larfleeze's right hand has the Orange Lantern ring on it, neatly sculpted and detailed with the emblem of the Orange Lanterns. Impressively, the sculpt of the ring can be seen on both sides of the finger, and has been fully painted.
Let's discuss articulation, because here, unfortunately, as much as I wish I didn't have to criticize this figure in the slightest, I do have to raise an issue. Larfleese has an excellent range of articulation, but there are a couple of odd points about it. He is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivels, knees, and ankles.
Notice what I didn't mention? Upper arm swivels, a standard feature of DC Universe Classics-style action figures. To make matters more frustrating, Larfleeze has double-jointed elbows, a thoroughly pointless and generally poor-looking feature that has worked its way into this line from time to time.
What's surprising is how much the upper swivel arm is missed. It really hinders the types of poses Larfleeze can do with his arms. Fortunately, his elbows are posed slightly inwards, so for the range of motion that he does have, it's fairly natural-looking. And he can effectively grasp his Orange Lantern, which he is doing in the package.
But what really gripes me is -- this is an entirely new arm design, and I think that Mattel traded out the upper arm swivel for the double-jointed elbows, and it's hardly a fair trade. Moreover, there's a perfect spot in the design for the upper arm swivel, right where the slightly loose-fitting orange sleeves end and the more tight-fitting black sleeves begin.
I don't want to overstate this, but this is really inexcusable. The double-jointed elbows are as worthless as this articulation design is wherever it appears, and his arm movement is hindered by the lack of the swivel, which had a perfect point, appearance-wise, for its insertion. This was, ultimately, a very bad judgment call on somebody's part that had a distinct detrimental effect on the figure's poseability.
However, I can't get too angry over it. If it had been anybody other than Larfleeze, I probably would be. But I've been looking forward to this figure for too long to get too ticked off about it. I just hope that nothing like this ever happens again.
So, what's my final word? In my opinion, Geoff Johns did a great service in expanding the Green Lantern universe to include these other-colored Corps, and Larfleeze is certainly one of the most interesting additions. I certainly can't be the only one who thinks so, if a point was made to work him into the animated series while there was still a chance, and if he's going to be receiving his own title soon.
The figure, one glaring articulation situation notwithstanding, is truly superb. It's an excellent likeness of a character that's had more than a few artistic interpretations, and I believe that the Four Horsemen have worked out a good straightforward likeness for him. I'm sincerely pleased to have added Larfleeze to my collection, and I'm certain that you will be, as well.
The DC UNIVERSE SIGNATURE SERIES figure of LARFLEEZE definitely has my highest recommendation!