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By Thomas Wheeler

The second assortment of Mattel's line of action figures based on the popular JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoon has turned up in stores recently, and seems to be doing quite well -- when you can find them.

Mattel has created something of a glut of Batman, possibly as an intended intro to their Batman-specific line, but one wonders if it might backfire. With so many of the Dark Knight on the pegs, it's difficult to squeeze in any more. Even the second most common figure, Superman, has been in scarce supply lately. And I haven't seen Flash or Green Lantern hardly at all recently.

But there is a new assortment available. Unfortunately, it includes another Batman and Superman. Both are outfitted in black uniforms. Superman has a red cape and symbol, whereas Batman has a silver symbol but is otherwise black. On Superman, this look just doesn't work. On Batman, it's actually pretty good, but one wonders with all of the grey-uniformed Batman figures available whether anybody's going to want this variant.

But there are two new figures, as well -- MARTIAN MANHUNTER and WONDER WOMAN. Neither of these are easy to find. In fact, Wonder Woman is practically impossible. Not surprising since she has had very few action figures over the years, at least in comparison to the other two, and is generally regarded as one of DC's more major characters.

The Wonder Woman figure looks excellent, a dead-on match for her animated counterpart. I was initially worried that the figure's waist might be too tiny -- hers and Hawkgirl's -- but it was either corrected slightly or doesn't look as severe in figure form as it did in the early photos. Wonder Woman is colorful and very well detailed, and is a superb addition to the JUSTICE LEAGUE line.

Martian Manhunter is a cool figure, and I've liked the character for many years, but it does strike me that he's a little too dark green. I find myself wondering why, over the years, have toy companies found it so hard to do characters with green skin. They almost always get it either too dark or too neon.

Mego's 8" Hulk figure from the 70's -- too dark. Toy Biz's initial Hulk figure from the early 90's -- too bright if I recall correctly. Personally, I think the best and most accurate "greenskin" action figure in recent times has been the 9" Martian Manhunter from Hasbro, which was a K*B exclusive.

But the JUSTICE LEAGUE version of Martian Manhunter is still a cool figure, and looks very much like his animated counterpart, and no Justice League collection would be complete without him.

Which brings me to my NEXT point -- Hawkgirl. I still don't know what the intended fate of this figure might be. I keep hearing everything from an exclusive to two or three different outlets, to an eventual general release. Of note is the fact that on the back of the package cards for the black-garbed Superman and Batman, while these versions of these two characters have taken the place of the originals in the line-up photo -- Hawkgirl has ALSO been added to the line-up. What this exactly MEANS, I honestly don't know.

I can't imagine that Mattel would make the colossal blunder of NEVER releasing the Hawkgirl figure SOMEHOW. She's the seventh ongoing member of the Justice League, and we now have all of the other six. It would simply be too big of a mistake.

Overall, I've been quite pleased by this Justice League line. I've heard a few criticisms that the figures' rather basic stance is too dull, that they need to have more action in them, but I disagree. They're well articulated enough for a fairly standard range of motion (head, arms, legs) and if you want more action in them, give them to a small child to play with, and see what his imagination can come up with. That's sort of what toys are for, right?