REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS SODAM YAT
With the growing popularity of the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe, not to mention the live-action movie, Mattel has chosen to provide us with a couple of assortments of a GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS spin-off of their popular DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS line of action figures.
One of the characters appearing in the second wave of that series is a Green Lantern by the name of SODAM YAT. He hails from the planet Daxam, which in and of itself has a fair history within the DC Universe. Let's have a look at it, shall we?
Daxamites were originally Kryptonians who left their homeworld in order to explore the universe. They are an intensely xenophobic race, oddly enough, and are both fearful and hostile towards aliens. Daxam's inhabitants tend to stay on their homeworld, but a few have ventured into the galaxy. Daxamites are not vulnerable to Kryptonite because the Eradicator, programmed to preserve Kryptonian culture, altered the "birthing matrix" the explorers took with them so that the newborns would instead be vulnerable to lead.
Like their Kryptonian cousins, Daxamites manifest powers and abilities similar to those of Superman when exposed to the light of a yellow star, including vast strength, damage resistance, great speed, flight, enhanced senses, as well as heat and X-ray vision. Their own star is a red giant, so while on their homeworld, they do not manifest such powers.
In the post-Infinite Crisis continuity, the Daxamite race started their life as a more peaceful and less xenophobic offshoot of Kryptonians, choosing to gain the trust of the people living on the planets they found along the way. So, when the Kryptonian explorer Dax-Am discovered a planet inhabited by a peaceful native population, the Kryptonians decided to merge with the native Daxamites, giving birth to a race with inherent Kryptonian powers.
Eventually, the social unrest stirred by both isolationists and explorers exploded into a civil war. The isolationists won, revising history to blame aliens for the ruins of the war. Daxamite society developed along these lines, disapproving of any other form of spacefaring except for conquest and war, outlawing several pieces of technology, and displaying a widespread xenophobia in virtually every inhabitant of the planet. Rare exceptions to this have been Sodam Yat and Lar Gand (known as Mon-El of the Legion of Super-Heroes), who have virtually had to exile themselves from their own homeworld.
Daxam has turned up frequently in DC Comics, well apart from the Green Lantern stories. It was one of a number of worlds involved in the "Invasion!" storyline, although technically, it only sent a small party of observers, who became increasingly disenchanted with the war. Once they realized they had Superman-level powers on Earth, they switched sides, and transmitted a call for assistance to Daxam, which showed up with a formidable force of soldiers, that now all had the power levels of Superman. It put a quick end to the Invasion.
In the 1982 Legion of Super-Heroes story "The Great Darkness Saga", Darkseid takes over the planet of Daxam, mind-controlling the entire population and then moving the entire planet to a yellow sun, creating an army of several beings each roughly equal in power to Superman. He then commanded them to sculpt the entire planet's surface in his likeness! This horrific move effective destroyed Daxam's civilization, as their cities and culture were destroyed in the process. This army was then unleashed upon the galaxy.
After the events of the story, the planet was returned to its original solar system by an incarnation of the Highfather, and its surface terraformed back into something as close to its original as possible.
Sodam Yat's backstory is an interesting one. The character was actually mentioned more or less in passing roughly twenty years before he saw extensive use. He was first mentioned as a prophesied future member of the Green Lantern Corps in a story that appeared in "Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2", published in 1986. He is mentioned in passing to Abin Sur by a creature named Qull, one of the Five Inversions, a group which also gave rise to Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lanterns.
Writer Alan Moore planned to use the character in a proposed story called "Twilight of the Superheroes", which went unpublished. In the proposal, that was later leaked to the Internet, the Daxamite Green Lantern is named "Sodam Yat", and is also referred to as "The Ultimate Green Lantern". The character would subsequently go unused until 2006.
In his modern incarnation, Sodam Yat is seen as a young boy on Daxam, who wants nothing more than to explore the stars. His parents, typically xenophobic for Daxamites, want their son to keep his mind out of the stars, his father going so far as to smash a telescope that young Sodam uses.
When a spacecraft crashes on Daxam, Sodam rescues the pilot. The pilot, whose name is Tessog, and Sodam become friends, despite not speaking the same language. Eventually, Sodam's parents discover Tessog and have him killed, and then have Sodam brainwashed into thinking that his friend was a violent menace. Some time later, while on a school field trip to a museum, Sodam freezes at the sight of an anti-alien diorama, featuring Tessog's stuffed and preserved body attacking a Daxamite. This discovery causes Sodam's memory to resurface. Enraged and disgusted by what has happened, Sodam spend years rebuilding Tessog's ship in secret, planning to leave Daxam forever. On the night of his planned departure, a Green Lantern ring comes to him, and Sodam becomes a member of the Green Lantern Corps, gladly leaving his homeworld behind for the stars.
Sodam makes his first appearance in regular DC continuity in Green Lantern Corps #12, and During the Sinestro Corps War, in GLC #14, when Kilowog gathers a group of Lanterns to strike back against Sinestro's forces in Space Sector 2263, Salaak singles out Green Lantern Arisia to keep an eye on the newly graduated Sodam Yat, although she wonders why Yat is so important. Salaak has been charged by the Guardians of the Universe to keep Qull's prophecy from coming to pass, but keeps this to himself, only saying that one day she may know why he is so special.
In Green Lantern Corps #17, Yat is chosen as the new host for the Ion entity by the Guardians of the Universe -- previously hosted by Kyle Rayner -- and fights Superboy-Prime. The two battle each other through different areas of New York Under the yellow light of Earth's sun, Ion begins to unleash Superman-like powers, such as heat vision, to injure his opponent. While the two continue to battle, Ion is thrown into a nuclear power plant. The lead lining the walls causes Ion to weaken, and Prime takes the opportunity to spear him with several uranium rods, severely injuring him. Although Ion battles courageously, the lead poisoning and the loss of blood begins to affect him, and he is beaten unconscious. He is later seen receiving medical attention from Green Lantern Soranik Natu.
After the events of the war, the Guardians request the Kyle Rayner assist Yat in adjusting to his new role as Ion. It is also revealed that Sodam Yat must now permanently wear a power ring, despite his possession of the Ion powers, to prevent the lead in his body from killing him.
Some time later, Yat and Arisia receive word of Mongul's and the Sinestro Corps' invasion of Daxam from Yat's mother, who escaped using the ship that her son was going to use to escape Daxam. She is shocked when Yat refuses to return to Daxam. Instead, he lashes out at her, citing to Arisia his reasons for leaving his homeworld. Ultimately, he agrees to return to Daxam. After sending his mother to Oa, Yat and Arisia set out for Daxam. When Arisia asks him why he agreed to return, he states that his oath as a Green Lantern supersedes his hatred of Daxam and its people.
The two arrive at Daxam and once on the surface, they find Yat's father, who is promoting mass suicide as an alternative to living as Sinestro Corps slaves. The two Green Lanterns are able to save some, but not all of his followers, who have jumped from a high cliff.
Yat takes on Mongul, requesting that his ring give him access to the Ion power. The power, however, is being blocked by the Guardian Scar, and that the only way to get past the block would be to remove his ring, which would be fatal to him. The ring goes on to say that a massive power jolt could give him access to the Ion power. With that, Yat drops his shields and takes the full power of a blast from Mongul. The power jolt works, and Yat, armed with 95% of the Ion power, rockets into the sky and heads for Daxam's sun. He removes his ring and gives it to Arisia, and then plunges into Daxam's red sun and turns it yellow, giving the people of Daxam a power boost to rid their world of Mongul and the Sinestro Corps.
Sodam Yat is later confirmed to still be alive inside Daxam's sun, kept alive by the Ion power. Krona, searching to trap and capture all of the emotional spectrum beings, including the Ion entity, exorcises Ion from Sodam, Alive but unconscious, Sodam Yat crashes on Daxam, as the planet's sun turns red again.
Sodam Yat's adventures since then have been less then fortunate, for the most part, and Sodam Yat has turned his back on the Green Lanterns and the Guardians in particular. I won't get into those details since they don't really apply to the figure.
In a possibly alternate future shown in the mini-series Legion of Three Worlds, Sodam Yat is revealed as being still alive in the 31st century, having been kept ageless by the Ion power, and residing in the ruins of Oa. After the death of the last Green Lantern, Rond Vidar, Mon-El and Shadow Lass travel to Oa where they find Sodam Yat still alive, keeper of thousands of inactive Green Lantern rings, and ask for his help against Superboy-Prime. Yat aids the Legion, and, realizing that the universe still needs to be defended from evil, returns to Oa and begins to send out rings to begin a new Green Lantern Corps.
So, how's the figure? Really very nicely done. Daxamites, like Kryptonians for that matter, are virtually identical in appearance to humans, so Sodam Yat was able to use the same male body molds that many DC Universe Classics figures use. Thankfully, he does so, and there were no pointless modifications like the double-jointed elbows and knees that have afflicted a number of recent figures, to their distinct detriment.
Although Sodam Yat looks more or less human, there is one notable difference. It seems there is some sort of branch of Daxamites with an unusual physical trait -- the whites of their eyes are actually black. This is just a tad creepy, as far as that goes. While one might think it is a reflection of his Ion power, it really isn't. When Sodam Yat's backstory was illustrated in one issue of Green Lantern Corps, he had the strange eyes even then, at least in most of the pictures of him. (The handful that weren't probably should be chalked up to artist error.)
So while for the most part Sodam Yat looks like a fairly typical, Caucasian male human, he'd need dark glasses to completely pull it off. His eyes are black, with bright green irises, and no visible pupils. The green probably can be attributed to his status as a Green Lantern, and/or a reflection of the Ion power.
Sodam Yat's hair is interesting. It is black, and he wears it combed back and up. It is shown as extremely short on the sides and back, essentially a style which I believe is called a "fade", where the hair is cut increasingly shorter until it's trimmed all the way to the scalp.
While the Four Horsemen sculpting and design team did a really great job sculpting this, a whole lot of credit needs to go to those who painted the action figure -- and this really cannot have been a thing easily done in mass production -- for completing the look of this "fade". Although the sculpt shows Sodam Yat's hair sort of gradually emerging from the sides and back, and combed upward, and while he has a very distinct border to his hairline across the front and at his temples, in the sides and back of his head, a gradual airbrush of black has been applied between the black hair and the flesh-tone scalp. The end result is an extremely effective haircut, and certainly an impressive means of carrying it out.
Sodam Yat's costume is quite distinctive. Although Green Lanterns are allowed greater latitude in their costume designs these days, some tend to be more innovative than others. Generally speaking, a Green Lantern costume will consist of a fair amount of green, quite a bit of black, and a little bit of white trim. There is no white on Sodam Yat, and he actually uses significantly more green than most Green Lanterns tend to.
Sodam Yat's costume features a fairly high collar, black, with an angled black section that runs partway down the front and back of the costume. Most of the rest of the costume is green, except for the boots, which are black, and the sleeves below the biceps, which are also black, although there is a wide area of green around the lower arms to the wrists. Sodam Yat is wearing black gloves.
Most distinctive is Sodam Yat's emblem, which isn't the traditional Green Lantern insignia, but rather is reflective of the Ion power. It is similar to the Green Lantern emblem, but not identical. It features two narrow horizontal lines on either side, top and bottom, (but detached from) a solid oval. The lines and the oval are a very bright green, distinctly moreso than the green of the costume.
Sodam Yat does have a Green Lantern ring on his right hand, neatly sculpted and given a metallic green finish. What's interesting is the accessory that he comes with, if in fact it can be called that. He comes with a second right hand -- and technically it's the one he's "wearing" in package. This second hand has a beam of green "energy" emerging from the ring, molded as transparent green plastic. The end of this beam, if looked at head on, is the traditional Green Lantern emblem.
It's an innovative idea, but I was pleased that Sodam Yat came with a standard hand, as well. That beam would tend to get in the way after a while, whacking other figures on the head, tripping them up, whatever. But as an "accessory" and as a display of Sodam's Green Lantern Powers, it works pretty well.
Sodam Yat doesn't have a lot of painted details on him, but what he does have is very well done. Most of the painted details are on his face, as one would expect. His eyes, eyebrows, and teeth -- his mouth is slightly open -- are nicely done, and certainly the hair is! The black on his torso is well painted, as is the brighter green insignia. The green on his lower arms, and his black boots, are painted neatly and align well. And the ring looks cool.
Of course, Sodam Yat 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. No aggravating double-articulated limbs, no stuck parts, nothing loose -- this Sodam Yat is an excellent figure.
Sodam Yat is part of the second assortment of GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS figures, and to the best of my knowledge, there have, as of this writing, been no announcements concerning a third wave. It may be that Mattel simply chose to do these two waves as a way of cross-promoting the DC Universe Classics line with the Green Lantern movie, and in fact, one of the figures in this wave is actually from the movie.
However, in my opinion, there's still plenty of Green Lantern-centric characters that could still be done, and whom I, and I suspect many fans, would very much like to see. Arisia, Salaak, Saint Walker, Atrocitus, Larfleeze, Soranik Natu, and any number of others, certainly well-deserve a proper action figure treatment, and honestly, their odds are far better in a Green Lantern-based line, than in the wider DC Universe. I sincerely hope that they get a chance.
So, what's my final word? I'm impressed. Sodam Yat has been a major player in the Green Lantern Corps, and in the Sinestro War storyline. He's been given an interesting backstory, and even turned up with the Legion. The figure is an excellent rendition of the character, and I believe that anyone who enjoys the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe will be extremely happy to bring Sodam Yat into their collection.
The DC UNIVERSE GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS figure of SODAM YAT definitely has my highest recommendation!