REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS SINESTRO CORPS LOW/MAASH
Almost without question, the one corner of the DC Universe that has just exploded in the past few years has been that of Green Lantern. With the return of Hal Jordan and the re-establishment of the universe-spanning Green Lantern Corps, under the guidance of the Guardians of the Universe, readers expected to see some all-new, grand, cosmic adventures.
One wonders if they had any idea what Geoff Johns had in mind. Over the past several years, Johns took Green Lantern's greatest foe, Sinestro, and made him the head of his own Corps of yellow-ringed marauders. Then he revealed that the Green and the Yellow, as well as the Violet of the previously-established Star Sapphires, were only part of a seven-color emotional spectrum, whose power could be, to varying degrees, harnessed by power batteries and power rings.
A newly-established villain, retconned into the early history of Hal Jordan and his predecessor, Abin Sur, the alien who gave Jordan his power ring, was introduced. Named Atrocitus, he had it in for Abin Sur, Sinestro, Hal Jordan, and pretty much everybody else. Driven by rage, he became the leader of an entirely new Corps, the Red Lanterns, arguably even more dangerous than the Sinestro Corps.
Two Guardians, Ganthet and Sayd, broke off from the Guardians of the Universe, to form their own Corps of Blue Lanterns, based on the emotional aspect of hope, even as the Controllers, an offshoot of the Guardian race, first encountered the ever-greedy Orange Lantern, Larfleeze. And along the way, the mysterious Indigo Lanterns, their power supposedly based on compassion, arrived on the scene.
As if all of this wasn't enough, these various Corps were the focal point of the "Blackest Night" storyline which encompassed the entire DC Universe, bringing a new level of prominence to Green Lantern which has maintained itself even in its aftermath. There is soon to be a live-action Green Lantern movie, and Mattel's superb line of DC Universe Classics figures is producing a few assortments of Green Lantern specific figures, under the working title of "Green Lantern Classics", although the packages still bear the full DC Universe logo.
Within this line, Mattel has opted to do something that, admittedly, wouldn't likely be possible anywhere else. Offer the possibility of two figures within a single package. Most members of a given Corps tend to dress pretty much alike. The Sinestro Corps, the Red Lanterns, even a large percentage of the Green Lanterns, tend to wear the same uniform -- within the limitation that they be relatively humanoid, which admittedly not all of them are. But those that do fit this basic description, whatever their heads and hands may look like, tend to bear a strong resemblance to one another.
And granted, especially within the relatively recent Sinestro Corps and Red Lantern Corps, with the exception of their respective founders, Sinestro and Atrocitus, few members of these massive gatherings have risen to significant prominence. We're not talking Batman here, character-wise. So it's not inappropriate in my opinion for Mattel to realize that they could take the standard humanoid body molds available to them within the DC Universe Classics line, and package them with a certain head and hands, and include a second head and set of hands, which could be swapped out to create an entirely second member of the same Corps.
This also allowed the superb and masterful sculpting and design people known as the Four Horsemen to have some fun and an interesting challenge coming up with some of the wilder heads and hands that have turned up in these Corps. When the Sinestro Corps first appeared en masse, you couldn't've asked for a freakier, weirder, scarier-looking pack of aliens. That is, until the Red Lantern Corps turned up. We're not talking Wookiees and Klingons here, folks.
Among the first assortment of Green Lantern Classics figures is a character, or characters, known as Low and Maash. Both are members of the Sinestro Corps. Interestingly enough, the figure(s) come packaged both ways -- either having Low's head and hands on the figure, with Maash's head and hands packaged as accessories, with only Low's name on the front of the package; or with Maash's head and hands on the figure, with Low's head and hands packaged as accessories. Nice touch, I must say, since it gives you an immediate idea of what the figure will look like as both characters.
Granted, it's good marketing, too. If you want both Low AND Maash, you have to buy the figure twice. I have every reason to expect supplies of Low's and Maash's heads and hands to turn up on auction websites.
The Sinestro Corps has gotten a lot more attention in the DC Universe Classics line to date than the Red Lanterns, or any of the other Corps except for Green. This is to be expected, since its leader, Sinestro, is the best established of these other Corps. Although some Red Lanterns are in the works, there's no word yet that Atrocitus is among them. He could be difficult, as he is larger than the average humanoid, but may not be quite large enough to warrant a Collect-and-Connect. I sincerely hope we see him at some point, given his prominence in the Green Lantern universe.
As for the Sinestro Corps, to date we have seen Sinestro, in both his classic and Sinestro Corps uniforms, a two-pack featuring Sinestro Corps members Romat-Ru and Karu-Sil, that was an online exclusive, and a Sinestro Corps version of Batman, which was something of an aberration, since while a Sinestro Corps ring did try to attach itself to the Dark Knight, he dispensed with it in fairly short order.
And now we have Low -- and Maash. Since their individual histories and relatively brief, let's consider a bit of a history about the Sinestro Corps itself.
Sinestro was once considered the greatest Green Lantern of all, until he abused his power to take control of his homeworld of Korugar, which he ruled with a tyrannical iron hand, believing that order must be the dominant factor of a society, imposed through authority -- in this case his authority.
After Sinestro's behavior was revealed and he was considered a rogue, he was banished by the Guardians of the Universe to Qward in the anti-matter universe. When he returned, he wielded a power ring which used yellow energy. After various encounters with Earth's Green Lantern Hal Jordan, he was imprisoned within the Central Power Battery of the Green Lanterns, on Oa. There he was able to use his ring which harnessed the power of fear, as opposed to the willpower of the Green Lanterns, as a power source, to awaken the imprisoned Parallax, the embodiment of fear, from hibernation. Sinestro and Parallax were able to influence the fall of Hal Jordan and that of the Green Lantern Corps.
Years later, after the Green Lantern Corps was restarted with the return of Hal Jordan, Sinestro began actively recruiting for his new Sinestro Corps. In a very odd aside, the name of the Sinestro Corps and possible even the idea of it might lay with, of all people, Booster Gold, who once encountered Sinestro in the past, and explained that the yellow Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring that he wore was a tribute to Sinestro. When asked what Corps he belonged to, in order to avoid affecting history any more than he already had, Booster replied, "The... Sinestro Corps", a name which clearly pleased Sinestro.
Sinestro began offering yellow power rings and involvement in his new Corps to those who could "instill great fear". Members of the Corps are immediately taken to the planet Qward to be "subjected to psychological and physical reconditioning". Let's face it, a bunch of psychotic nutjobs the likes of which Sinestro recruited aren't going to function well together unless they're given some sense of order.
The members of the Sinestro Corps work in sectors throughout the universe like the Green Lantern Corps. Also, Qward has a huge yellow Central Battery on its surface, just the the green one on Oa. Although the Sinestro Corps use fear and oppose the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians, Sinestro has stated that their goal is to bring order to the universe, which Sinestro believes can best be done through fear.
There was a prophecy known to the Guardians that after untold millennia, the Weaponers of Qward, Ranx the Sentient City, the Children of the White Lobe, and others would rise united against the Green Lantern Corps. This was largely ignored up until upgraded Manhunter robots started to appear throughout the universe, under the leadership of the Cyborg Superman, Hank Henshaw, who revealed to the Guardians that he somehow knew about the 52 different universes comprising the reconstructed multiverse. After this, the Guardians started taking the prophecies of the Book of Oa more seriously, and it was barely in time.
The Sinestro Corps, accompanied by the Anti-Monitor, Superboy-Prime, and others, launch an all-out assault against the Green Lantern Corps and the universe itself. As the war spreads throughout the cosmos, the Guardians make the grave decision to add a set of ten new laws to the Book of Oa, governing the behavior of the Green Lanterns. The first of these is that the Green Lanterns' power rings can now be used to inflict lethal force against any member of the Sinestro Corps. The Green Lanterns win the Sinestro Corps War -- barely -- and Sinestro is captured. He claims later to Jordan that he has won, since the Lanterns can now use lethal force, and will be feared for it.
In the aftermath of the war, the remaining Sinestro Corps members continue to spread fear in the galaxy, even as the Red Lanterns under Atrocitus begin their plans to destroy them all. This leads to a multi-Corps confrontation, with every color Corps getting involved to some degree, and the dust has barely settled before the events of "Blackest Night" begin, requiring that all of the Corps declare a truce in order to stave off the Black Lanterns and the possibility of every being in the universe being killed.
At the present time, an uneasy truce exists between the Green Lantern Corps and the Sinestro Corps. Neither side will attack the other. Should one do so, the truce is broken.
Some online research reveals quite a considerable list of Sinestro Corps members. Granted not all of them are humanoid, but if Mattel so desired, they could doubtless keep us well supplied in assorted freaks for some time to come.
But, for now, let's focus on two freaks in particular, Low and Maash. Doubtless they were logical choices for Mattel, since regardless of their prominence among the known members of the Sinestro Corps -- which frankly isn't much relative to quite a few other characters -- both possessed fairly straightforward human bodies that required only newly sculpted heads and hands, a relative rarity in the Sinestro Corps.
Let's start with LOW. He is described as the Sinestro Corps member representing Sector 3308. Called the most dangerous parasite in the universe, Low can drain every drop of blood out of nearly any being in seconds. As if that isn't disgusting enough, he replicates by laying "eggs" in the bodies that he kills, allowing for the birth of up to a thousand parasitic slugs from a single carcass.
Maybe it's just as well that we haven't had all that much focus on this guy, except to see him turn up in group battle scenes. I don't think this is something I'd particularly want to see. Probably it's been shown at some point somewhere. With a little luck, I just turned the page rather quickly.
So, how's the figure? Impressive, in its own weird way. Although obviously possessed of a largely human-type body, that categorically does not include what passes for Low's head. Rather than anything resembling a human head, or face, emerging from the top of Low's torso is a thick blue appendage, with a texture resembling wrinkled elephant skin, and ending in a circular mouth, with two rows of jagged teeth within. There is absolutely no indication of eyes, or even a nose or ears. How Low can see where he's going, or hear orders given to him, is anybody's guess.
The headsculpt -- for lack of a better term in this case -- is impressively done, and as I said earlier, doubtless gave the Four Horsemen a little more variety than usual. The base of Low's -- head -- is decidedly broader than a human neck, and so a collar has been sculpted to the base of it, as it fits over the upper torso of the Sinestro Corps body. The head itself is extremely wrinkled and textured, with a highly-detailed sculpt.
Then there's that circular mouth. It's open, and it's surprisingly deep. At first I wondered how a mold could possibly have been made to allow for that deep a maw, until I noticed, very subtly, that the end of Low's head, including the mouth, is actually a separate piece, glued in place during assembly. The wrinkled texture of Low's head does a superb job of disguising it, and the end effect is impressive. Weird, but impressive. The head has no articulation of its own, but I can't imagine what one would want it to do, anyway.
Then there are the hands. Matching the texture and color of Low's head, they are blue, and rather scaly in appearance. Unlike the thick neck Low has, the fingers of his hands are rather narrow. He has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, with black, claw-like fingernails at the tips. The hands are molded from a very flexible plastic, allowing for the fingers to move of their own accord, and each one is separate from the others, but they don't hold a pose. They'll move, but return to their original position. Of course, Low has a Sinestro Corps ring on the second finger of his left hand.
His blue skin is an interesting offset to the yellow and black of the Sinestro Corps uniform, but really, none of the various Corps have been overly concerned about coordinating colors with their representatives.
Now, let's consider MAASH. He is listed as the Sinestro Corps member of Sector 863. Conceived as triplets, Maash was later fused into one body (process unknown), with three faces stacked one on top of the other, each with its own distinctive identity. The top head is an innocent personality, tragically unable to stop the two more vicious personalities from controlling their shared body.
Wow. I mean, talking about the living personification of a split personality. I wonder if he talks to himself? Can you imagine if he talks in his sleep?
So, how's the figure? Well, once again, we have to focus on the headsculpt, of course, which is a doozy. This one must have really been an interesting challenge. Maash's faces are, if not specifically human, then at least moderately humanoid, in that they have two eyes side by side, with a nose between and below the eyes, and a mouth below the nose. Times three, all wedged into one compacted, if rather lengthy, head.
Maash's skin tone is a dark pink, or light burgundy, whichever you might prefer. The detail on the head(s), as well as the merging points between the two, is remarkable. The chin of the top head becomes the forehead of the next one, and you're barely past the lower lip of the middle head, which has a very wide open mouth, when you get to the furrowed brow of the third head.
Here's another thought -- which of these mouths does the most eating? I mean -- they're so close together. Does the lowest-most head get a headache if the middle head chews too fast? Or does the sound of chewing that close to his forehead get on his nerves?
Each of the heads has an open mouth, that's fairly deep, and a sculpted tongue, and two rows of teeth within. I compared the head to the head of a standard DC Universe Classics figure (Green Lantern Kyle Rayner from the same assortment), and each of the faces is roughly the same proportions as Rayner's own, so it's not like Maash has "shrunken" heads, or anything. They're more compacted in the back than they are in the front, and there are these little protuberances out to the sides, which I'm assuming are ears, that look distinctly non-human, but otherwise, the overall sculpt is incredible.
The top head has a facial expression of obvious distress. This is the so-called "innocent" personality, the one that has no power to stop the actions of his two more violent siblings. The middle head has an angry brow, and a wide open mouth, almost in the form of an angry scream. The lowest head also has an angry-shaped brow, but his wide open mouth is formed as an evil grin.
The paint work is impressive. The head has some crevices and wrinkles on it that have been highlighted with a paint wash. The eyes of all three heads are pupil-less and yellow, outlined in black. The teeth are off-white, and the interiors of the mouths are a very dark red. I can only imagine what the factory painters must have thought, working on this one.
Maash's hands are, understandably, simpler than his head. Like Low's, they have three fingers and a thumb each, but are clenched into fists. A long black thumbnail is visible on each hand. If you ask me, the Sinestro Corps could use a good manicurist. As with Low, Maash has a Sinestro Corps ring on the middle finger of his left hand.
Let's consider the body for a moment. For the most part, it uses the standard male body molds common to a lot of DC Universe Classics action figures. The only really distinctive parts are the lower arms, which have ridged wrist bands sculpted into them, and the lower legs, which have distinctive boot tops.
The Sinestro Corps uniform is patterned after Sinestro's original uniform, which was mostly black, with a sort of blue "sunburst" around the collar, tapering down the uniform. Sinestro has modified this for the Sinestro Corps, and himself, with a larger "sunburst" that tapers further down the uniform, and which is now colored in yellow. The rest of the uniform remains black, except for the gold wrist bands, the yellow boots, topped with a gold cuff, and a silver ridged belt around the waist. Sinestro Corps members also wear a yellow armband around their left arm, that has the Sinestro Corps emblem imprinted on it. This emblem also appears in the center of the chest.
The uniform is a cool design, and it can't have been that easy to implement on an action figure. It's been my experience over the years that one of the trickiest things to do, for whatever reason, is to paint yellow on top of black plastic. Other colors don't seem to be as difficult, although admittedly painting almost any color onto black is not going to be easy. But yellow especially seems to be difficult. As such. I'm impressed with how well the figure's uniform has turned out.
Swapping the parts -- varies. The head is a fairly easy swap, the hands less so, especially when trying to remove Low's hands. The fingers are narrow and flexible, it's difficult to get a decent grip on them, and I was honestly worried about damaging the hands before they would finally release from the lower arm. Maash's fists are somewhat easier to work with in this regard.
Articulation is excellent. The figure is fully poseable at the head (well, Maash's, anyway), arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. I had heard some reports online from people who found this assortment before I did that the Kyle Rayner figure had a rather loose waist. Mine didn't, but this figure does. It's nothing intolerable, though -- as long as it doesn't become a habit.
The one thing I will grouse about a bit is that the right leg is somewhat turned inwards below the knee, a result of how it was posed in the package, and being forced to hold that pose all the way from the factory, to the warehouse, to the store, etc. Now, I can understand wanting these figures to look impressive in their packages. It's called marketing. But when the pose starts to adversely affect the structure of the figure -- and this is hardly the first time I've encountered it in this line -- then it's time to be a little less dramatic with the poses.
I am very pleased to report that Low/Maash does NOT have the double-articulated knees-and-elbows that are being inflicted on certain characters in this line, starting with this first wave of Green Lantern Classics. I don't really know how extensive this practice is going to be, but I sincerely hope it is short lived. One figure that does have it, in the knees, anyway, is the Manhunter Robot (see separate review), and frankly, it looks awful. There's just no need for it with these figures. Frankly, I have yet to see many action figure from any line or any company where I thought this double-articulation stunt looked good or worked well. But these DC Universe Classics figures are such superb pieces that it's really that much more disturbing here.
Thankfully, Low/Maash was spared. Hopefully this double-jointed articulation will be a short-lived aberration in the line.
So, what's my final word? Call him Low, call him Maash, buy two and have them both, whatever you decide. He's an impressive, if weird, figure in both incarnations, but then that does seem to be the hallmark of much of the Sinestro Corps, and certainly the highly detailed, and highly unusual sculpts, of the heads and hands of the individual identities definitely set both Low and Maash apart from the usual DC Universe crowds, as well as showcase the considerable abilities of the sculpting and design team known as the Four Horsemen.
If you've been following the adventures in the Green Lantern titles over the past several years -- which you well should if you're looking for the finest in cosmic-level super-hero entertainment -- then you'll be very pleased to add Low and Maash to your DC Universe collection of action figures!
The DC UNIVERSE GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS figure(s) of LOW and MAASH definitely have my highest recommendation!