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By Thomas Wheeler

One of the more interesting, not to mention overdue, additions to the Marvel Legends line-up finally happened within Series 10, also known as the Sentinel Series, as each figure comes with a part that can be assembled into a 16" Sentinel robot, the mutant hunters from the world of X-Men.

The character in question is MYSTIQUE, who has quite a considerable
background. The character was first introduced in Uncanny X-Men #141, among the last issues created by the team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Mystique was the leader of a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, along with veteran member Blob, and other newcomers Pyro, Avalanche, and Destiny. Their intention was to kill Senator Robert Kelly, who was proposing legislation to enact a Mutant Registration Act.

Mystique was a shape-changer, able to assume the form of any other person, or even a person of her own design, that she wished. At the same time, her apparent "normal" form bore a significant resemblance to the X-Man known as Nightcrawler, something which was not lost on the mutant hero, especially given the fact that Mystique seemed to know some things about Nightcrawler's background and family that weren't exactly public knowledge.

Over time, Mystique's origin would be revealed. She was far older than she appeared. Unlike Sabretooth and Wolverine, whose longevity could be explained by their mutant healing factors, Mystique's longevity and youthful appearance could be attributed to her shape-changing abilities. Her cellular structure was slightly unstable and in a constant state of "renewal". Thus she didn't experience aging to the same degree as most people.

Her real name, apparently, is Raven Darkholme, and she is Nightcrawler's natural mother. She also adopted the young mutant Rogue, later enlisting her into the Brotherhood, before Rogue's powers went so out of control that she sought out Charles Xavier for help, and eventually joined the X-Men.

Mystique has been, over her long life, a mercenary, a super-villain, and even, for a time, a federally-sanctioned "hero", working alongside initially the rest of her former Brotherhood, sarcastically renamed "Freedom Force", and later working in the ranks of the government- sanctioned X-Factor team.

These days, she's mostly an independent mercenary, and has her own comic book title. She made a failed bid to join the X-Men for reasons of her own, claiming that she sincerely wished to turn her life around. Whether her statements were genuine or not remain unknown. She's had several bouts of mental instability, brought about in part by her unusual powers and the accumulation of identities she has assumed over the years.

Ultimately, Mystique is a highly dangerous and unpredictable individual, who lives according to her own beliefs, and probably shouldn't be trusted by much of anybody. It would be a disservice to call her "evil". But no one's likely to pin any medals of heroism on her, either.

As for the figure, it's actually very nicely made. The likeness is based on the original appearance of Mystique, with the short, straight hair, and white split dress with the "skull head" belt, along with white gloves and boots. If the poster book that came with the figure is any indication, Mystique tends to prefer black leather-like tops and trousers these days, which are probably easier to move around in than the split dress, and she found some good hair conditioning shampoo, too, to take care of that flat look.

Mystique has dark blue skin, which thankfully Toy Biz saw fit to leave well enough alone as far as extra painted detail is concerned. They've been getting a little carried away with that sort of thing lately. Her white dress, gloves, and boots do have some light blue highlighting, but at least it's neatly applied, and manages to actually look like shading rather than dirt or some such.

The figure is very slender, noticably moreso than other recent female figures in the line. The articulation is excellent. Mystique moves at the head, neck, arms, upper-arm swivel, double-jointed elbows, wrists, finger groups, mid-torso, waist, legs, double-jointed knees, and ankles. The figure is well-balanced and doesn't have any trouble standing whatsoever despite rather narrow feet.

I will say this. It wasn't easy finding a good specimen of this figure, and it didn't help that she's the "short-pack" of the assortment. The first one I saw had a severe head-mold-crease problem. The crease ran from the side of the lower lip to the chin and made her look like she was drooling. There was also a glitch in the paint on her dress that made her look like she'd been targeted by a pigeon. The second one I saw also had a severe head-mold-crease problem, mostly around the eyes, making her look like she was on the high side of a hundred years old. She's not THAT old.

Finally, I found a good version of Mystique at K*B Toys one afternoon (I'd seen the other two at Wal-Mart). She was a little more expensive in there, but worth it, and this is a scarce figure. But the fact that it took three attempts just goes that much further to prove my assertion that there's no such thing as quality control in the toy world anymore.

Do I recommend Mystique? Most definitely! It's an excellent figure of a
well-known character within the Marvel Universe. However, she is hard to find, and I definitely recommend giving the figure some very close visual scrutiny before dashing off to the cash register. If you see something about the figure you don't like -- then wait. She'll likely turn up again, despite her scarcity. Marvel Legends is not exclusive to any one store, and generally speaking can be found in fair supply at K*B, Target, Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, and I'm assuming K-Mart (I have to assume since the only one left in this town isn't worth the trip).

Mystique is a very cool addition to the Marvel Legends collection, and any fan of the series, the X-Men, or the character will be pleased with this figure!