REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE SIGNATURE SERIES MIRROR MASTER
Every good super-hero needs a super-villain -- or even better, quite a few of them. It would be rather dull if Superman only ever went up against Lex Luthor, without Brainiac or Mr. Mxyzptlk dropping in from time to time. As deadly as the Joker is, Batman would probably get a little stale if it weren't for the Penguin or Ra's al Ghul turning up.
And then there's the Flash. He's got such a group of enemies that they're known as the Rogues, and are even somewhat organized as a group. Not all of the Flash's enemies are organized into this little mutual admiration society, but quite a few of them are. The core group generally consists of Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, Heat Wave, Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang, and Trickster, although others have been known to turn up from time to time.
And quite honestly, they've been rather grievously ignored by the DC Universe Classics line.
It's surprising, because the Rogues have actually fared much better in other DC-based lines. Quite a few of them made it into the 4" DC Infinite Heroes line. They've also had a considerable presence in the Justice League Unlimited line. It's only been in the top of the line DC Universe Classics series that Flash's Rogues just haven't been able to break through all that well.
Gorilla Grodd, a prominent Flash enemy but technically not a member of the Rogues, was the Collect-and-Connect figure for Wave 2. Captain Cold turned up several waves later, and unfortunately, wasn't a very popular figure. I tend to wonder whether that was the reason more of the Rogues didn't make it into the line. Captain Boomerang, resurrected at the end of the Blackest Night, was brought into the line rather late on. And Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, also technically not a member of the Rogues, since they're no fan of speedsters for obvious reasons, squeaked through in the final retail assortment.
That still leaves a lot of potential figures, but with the DC Universe Classics line now mostly an online monthly series through MattyCollector.Com's Club Infinite Earths, now dubbed the DC Universe Signature Series, it could be a while before we get very many of them.
However, one more Rogue has made his way into figure form, thanks to the Signature Series. His name is MIRROR MASTER, and this review will take a look at him.
Let's reflect on the history of Mirror Master -- and after that one, I'll try to keep the mirror puns to a minimum.
Technically, there have been several Mirror Masters. The current one, and the one represented by the figure, is Evan McCullough. However, we need to take a look at the first Mirror Master, Sam Scudder, to get a full origin.
Scudder, as the first Mirror Master, debuted in Flash #105, in March of 1959, and was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino.
Sam Scudder was a simple convict, but had the goal to learn how to get inside the reflection of a mirror -- for whatever peculiar reason. Let's keep in mind that during the Silver Age, villains didn't need quite the same sort of motivation that they need today, let alone scientific explanations.
Stumbling into a hall of mirrors, he experimented and discovered a way to get in his own reflection. He used this power to become the criminal Mirror Master.
He battled the Flash several times. Scudder died around the same time as Barry Allen, alongside the Icicle during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Scudder was part of a group of villains, temporarily allied with the heroes, who were sent into the past to try to keep Krona from learning the secret of the origin of the universe, fracturing it into the multiverse in the process. Scudder, Icicle, and one other died while arguing over who should have the honor of destroying Krona's machines, when Krona himself showed up and dispatched the group.
Later, Captain Boomerang briefly assumed Scudder's identity, becoming the second Mirror Master. He used this as an alternate identity with which to commit crimes, thus not alerting his teammates in Suicide Squad to his extracurricular activities. Pre-Crisis, he studied mirrors after someone's reflection was held inside a mirror he was working on in the prison workshop. He then learned how to create creatures of light.
In Blackest Night event, Sam Scudder was reanimated as a Black Lantern during the Blackest Night and was part of an attack against the Rogues, alongside other Flash villains who had perished.
Evan McCullough, oddly enough, did not debut in the pages of The Flash. He first appeared in Animal Man #8, in February 1989, and was created by Grant Morrison, although the costume was largely identical to the original.
As a baby, Scottish mercenary Evan McCulloch was left on the doorstep of an orphanage run by a Mrs. McCulloch, with nothing but his first name and a photograph of his parents. He grew up fairly normally, but around age 8, Evan was assaulted by an older boy, whom Evan killed, and drowned in a creek, in self defense. Never caught, Evan left the orphanage at 16 with his parents' photograph.
He settled in Glasgow, taking up a life that led to crime and eventually took up employment as an assassin. He became one of the most renowned mercenaries in the United Kingdom.
One day, he had two hits scheduled, and due to an eye injury was barely able to make out his second target. After firing his shot, he recognized the target as his father. At the funeral, Evan saw his mother.
Over the next few days, he tried to work up the courage to see her, but visited her too late, discovering that she had committed suicide. Stricken with grief at the loss of both parents, Evan decided to turn himself in, but was instead picked up by a consortium of U.S. government and corporate interests, who offered him the costume and weapons of the original Mirror Master in exchange for his services.
His first assignment was to scare Animal Man into abandoning his animal-rights stance, a mission he failed at thanks to the hero's wife. After being fired and replaced for refusing to kill Animal Man's wife and children, McCulloch helped Animal Man track and fight the same men who gave McCulloch his weapons, but his heroism was short lived.
He continued to work as a criminal and a supervillain-for-hire. On occasion, he has also worked out of costume as a mercenary in Britain.
He moved to Keystone City, and came into conflict with Wally West, now the third Flash. He discovered a "Mirror Dimension" which enabled him to travel through any reflective surface.
During the events of Underworld Unleashed, the Rogues accepted him as Scudder's successor. After being betrayed by Neron, McCulloch and four of the other Rogues were killed, only to return after a confrontation between Neron and the Flash.
For a brief time, McCulloch was a member of Lex Luthor's initial Injustice Gang and fought the Justice League of America, but he abandoned the team when Batman offered to pay him twice what Luthor was offering, which was sent as a donation to the orphanage where McCullough grew up.
During a brief team-up with Captain Cold, Mirror Master was contacted by Brother Grimm about a plan to permanently get rid of the Flash, but when Grimm betrayed Cold and McCulloch by trapping them in a pocket mirror universe in Linda Park's diamond ring, they joined forces with Wally to escape this dimension and confront Grimm's theft of Keystone City, with Wally even briefly lending speed to the two Rogues so that they could ensure that Keystone's citizens were all in the city when it returned to Earth while Wally fought Grimm.
He briefly with Blacksmith in her takeover of Keystone and Central City. When her plan failed, he joins Captain Cold's Rogues, during which time he battled a cocaine addiction. He has since sobered up since the death of Captain Boomerang.
McCulloch joined Alexander Luthor's Secret Society after the Rogue War. He, Captain Boomerang and Captain Cold battled the Outsiders before Infinite Crisis. In Infinite Crisis #7, they all participated in the Battle of Metropolis, and were ultimately defeated by Martian Manhunter.
One Year Later, Evan was a member of the new Suicide Squad.
The Rogues were then persuaded by Inertia, an enemy of Bart Allen, Flash IV, to kill the Flash. Although successful, the Rogues were outraged when they discover that they have killed a youth.
Mirror Master is one of the exiled villains in the Salvation Run along with fellow Rogues: Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard, and Abra Kadabra.
Later, McCullough joined Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains, and teamed with Doctor Light to recover Metron's chair, and are challenged but defeat the League of Titans, a Teen Titans spin-off team. Ultimately, Evan and the rest of the Rogues rejected Libra's offer, wanting to stay out of the game, and took their revenge on Inertia.
Mirror Master has managed to make quite a few appearances in other media, as well.
Mirror Master appeared in an episode of Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show entitled "Reflections in Crime" voiced by Casey Kasem. Interestingly enough the Flash doesn't appear in this episode. In the episode, Mirror Master sets about trapping the Super Friends in this particular episode inside mirrors called the sixth dimension. The Super Friends managed to escape and trap Mirror Master in a House of Mirrors.
An episode of the live action The Flash TV series, "Done with Mirrors", featured Samuel "Sam" Scudder, played by David Cassidy, a criminal nicknamed the Mirror Master, who used holograms projected by small mirrored disks to commit his heists. Boy, from the Partridge Family to this...
Mirror Master appeared in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Flash and Substance" voiced by Alexis Denisof. The character seems to be a mix of Scudder and McColloch. He is clearly American and thus not the Scottish Mirror Master, as well as being a simple criminal and not a hitman; however, his mirror powers are tilted more towards the enhanced, almost supernatural McCulloch skills, including a Mirror Dimension.
It was mentioned by Captain Boomerang that the Flash made Mirror Master eat his own "Laser-Kaleidoscope", though Mirror Master dismissed this as being false saying "That's a rumor! A complete exaggeration. Besides, it was a laser pistol". (Still, either way, that can't have been pleasant...)
This incarnation seemed to act as the de facto leader of the Rogues, convincing the others to exact revenge upon the Flash for repeatedly thwarting their plots, joining forces with Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, and Trickster to attack Flash and later demolish the newly opened Flash Museum upon entering through Linda Park's compact mirror. In his battle with Flash, Batman, and Orion, Mirror Master ended up trapped in the broken shards of the mirror after Batman threw his Batarang at Linda Park's mirror. Forensics were shown collecting the pieces of the mirror. He also had a cameo as a member of the Secret Society in JLU episode "The Great Brain Robbery".
Mirror Master appeared in the fifth season of The Batman voiced by and modeled after John Larroquette. This Mirror Master is referred to as Dr. Sam Scudder, a brilliant but mad optical physicist. In "A Mirror Darkly," he employed mirror versions of Batman, Flash, and Robin to steal components for his Mirror Portal Ray. He used it to trap Gotham's citizens in any reflective surface--mirrors, windows, even a silver serving tray.
Mirror Master appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold voiced by Tom Kenny. Judging by his Scottish accent, this Mirror Master is the Evan McCulloch version. He and Captain Cold are mentioned as having been recently defeated by Batman. He makes a non-speaking cameo in "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster" where he traps Batman and Barry Allen in a trap only for Batman to cut him and Allen out of the trap and then for Flash to redirect a beam back to Mirror Master, supposedly knocking him out. In the anthology only episode "Four Star Spectacular!" in the vignette "Double Trouble." He traps the Flash using a mirror maze and attacks him with a horde of mirror duplicates. Flash eventually realizes which of the images is the one real Mirror Master and knocks him out.
The Sam Scudder version of Mirror Master appears in Justice League: Doom. He is recruited into Vandal Savage's Legion of Doom before the events of the film begin. He sneaks into the Batcave using the rear view mirror of the Batmobile and steals Batman's contingency plans from the Batcomputer.
And Mirror Master even appears in the DC Universe Online video game, voiced by Brandon Young.
Guy gets around, doesn't he? About time he made his way into the main DC Universe action figure line, after all of that.
So, how's the figure? Really outstanding, but I would first like to say a brief word about the packaging. The illustration of the character on the box is remarkable. I continue to be very highly impressed by the superbly rendered paintings of these iconic DC Universe characters that appear on the DC Signature Series boxes, and Mirror Master may be the best I've seen yet. I have no idea who the artist is or what techniques are used, but my definite admiration and commendations are hereby tendered.
Okay, as to Mirror Master himself. Mattel has done a really excellent job here. Mirror Master's costume has gone largely unchanged since the character's debut, and ultimately, how do you dress a guy called Mirror Master? One supposes he could be dressed entirely in silver, perhaps, but drawing a metallic finish like that in the pages of a comic book is not always easy. Just ask anyone who's had to draw the Silver Surfer over the years.
For reasons known only to Sam Scudder -- and by extension Carmine Infantino -- Mirror Master's costume has always been mostly yellow-orange, with green trim. Nothing all that dramatic about it, but when you maintain a costume for over fifty years, it tends to become rather iconic, which I suspect can be fairly stated to be the case with Mirror Master.
The costume consists of a yellow-orange body-suit, which for the figure has been darkened very slightly -- not an uncommon practice on these figures. It is tight-fitting, and as such uses the standard male body molds created by the Four Horsemen for the DC Universe line. I've said this before, but I do appreciate the consistency that these molds provide to the line, and certainly the design and detail are absolutely superb. Even, well-proportioned musculature, realistic-looking within the context of the character and the line, really as faultless as you can get.
Mirror Master is wearing a green headpiece, a cowl of sorts that leaves his eyes and lower face exposed. The sides and back of his head are protected further by additional covering, and the back of the cowl, on the top of his head, has several ridges in it.
One of the most distinctive parts of the costume is the loose-fitting green collar, which on the figure has been sculpted in such a way as to resemble a hood, although I don't recall any occasion where Mirror Master has ever raised it up over his cowl.
Mirror Master is not wearing gloves, but he does have high, ridged green wristbands. I initially thought that these might have been derived from one of the Sinestro Corps figures, given an apparent similarity in design, but they were not a match. I then checked my Captain Marvel (Shazam! Sort of feel obliged to throw that in...) figure, but again, this was not a match. It's entirely possible the lower arms are distinctive to this figure.
Mirror Master is wearing a green, ridged belt, with a wide section across the front, and two holsters on the side. I'll discuss the contents of those holsters shortly. And he has green boots. These are distinctly sculpted, not just painted onto the figure, and the boots have slightly raised heels. This is a pair of boots that turns up every once in a while in this line. The last time I distinctly recall them appearing was a few waves back in the DC Universe Classics retail assortment, on Samurai, one of the "Super Friends" characters brought into the line.
Now, as to those holsters. Mirror Master typically uses a pair of special guns in order to carry out his various mirror-based tricks. Precisely how these guns work I haven't the slightest idea, but they do apparently allow him access to this "mirror dimension". And, of course, the figure comes with the guns. But they both have a very interesting feature.
The guns, in the comics, are noted for sort of "fanning open" at the end of their barrels. It's an interesting effect. The guns accompanying the figure each have switchable barrels, tiny attachments for the ends of the guns, which let them appear either closed or open.
They're nicely made, and it's an interesting feature, and certainly impressive attention to detail. Closed, the guns do fit in the holsters on Mirror Master's belt. I would also recommend that whichever barrel tips you're not using in displaying or playing with your Mirror Master figure, you place them safely in a Ziploc bag. I usually reserve that recommendation for the tiny accessories that tend to come with G.I. Joe figures. Mirror Master is a good bit bigger than that, of course, but the gun tips are pretty tiny, and you wouldn't want to lose them.
Paint detailing on the figure is relatively minimal, mostly on the head, including the flesh tone on the face, and the detail to the eyes, which has been done with a great deal of precision and intricacy.
Of course, Mirror Master is superbly articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
Any complaints? No, not really. Just a sort of indirect concern. Several of my DC Universe and Masters of the Universe figures in recent months have had noticeable, narrow creases in the plastic -- unfortunately most often on the head. Rocket Red and Sir Laser-Lot were especially problematic in this regard. There's a slight crease on Mirror Master's head, and it's also visible on his boots, but it's not as severe as the other two figures I just mentioned.
Nevertheless, this is a serious quality control issue that can, and needs to, be corrected as soon as possible, and I mention it to bring it to Mattel's attention. These figures are too cool and too impressive to have this sort of thing happening to them, and there's no reason it should.
So, what's my final word? This is an extremely impressive, and in my estimation, long overdue addition to the DC Universe collection. And he's not the only one from that particular neck of the DC woods that I'd say that about. There are others. Now that we have Mirror Master, how about Weather Wizard? Heat Wave? Heck, the Top?!?
Still, I'm immensely pleased to have Mirror Master in my collection, and if you're a fan of the DC Universe, and these magnificent figures from Mattel, then you'll be pleased to add him to your collection as well.
The DC UNIVERSE SIGNATURE SERIES figure of MIRROR MASTER definitely has my highest recommendation!