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REVIEW:
MARVEL LEGENDS - SPIRAL
By Thomas Wheeler


One of the new groups of super-hero figures is an assortment of MARVEL LEGENDS figures exclusive to Target stores. Referred to by some as the "Red Hulk" assortment, since that's who the "Build-A-Figure" is, whose parts are offered in each of the six figures in the assortment, this particular grouping of Marvel Legends figures is actually as astonishingly diverse assemblage with few common points between them, consisting of Union Jack, Adam Warlock, Wolverine (two versions based on his classic costume), Silver Savage, black costume Spider-Man, and the character I intend to review at this time -- SPIRAL.

Now, I'll readily admit, Spiral's not someone one would regard as a major player. She's generally hung around the grotesque Mojo, although her presence in the X-Men's world is actually far more extensive than that as you shall see. There was one main reason I wanted this figure -- she's got six arms, they all looked to be fully articulated in some photographs that I saw, and if Hasbro is going to go to THAT much trouble, then I figure that she's worth adding to my collection.

The last character with this many arms -- outside of certain individuals and droids within the Star Wars universe -- that I can recall Hasbro turning out, was Predacon, a Lunartix Alien who came in at the tail end of G.I. Joe's Star Brigade concept. And he only had four arms (only?!). However, they were fully articulated, and the figure remains a personal favorite of mine.

And Toy Biz did do a Spiral figure, a lot of years ago. That one was -- less than inspired. Okay, Marvel Legends hadn't even come on the scene at that point, but Toy Biz's solution to all of these additional appendages was to mold a single piece of three upper arms per side, and articulate the elbows, if memory serves. The arms were not independent of each other, nor could they move independently. Shoulder articulation was limited to a single rotation for each triad of arms. Even for the time, this was a little on the cheap side.

Hasbro went all out on this Spiral figure, and they are to be commended for the design. And the factory people in China should be given a few days off to recover, if they haven't been. Putting this one together can't have been easy.

Let's consider the background of Spiral: She first appeared in the Longshot miniseries by Ann Nocenti and Art Adams. Spiral's real name is Rita Wayword, better known as 'Ricochet Rita', a professional stuntwoman who befriended Longshot when he first appeared on Earth. The story of how Rita became Spiral is a paradox: Rita was attacked by her evil, future self which led to her meeting Longshot and falling in love with him. When Longshot sought to return to his home dimension, the Mojoverse, the lovestruck Rita went with her boyfriend, only to watch Longshot fail and be captured alongside him by the dimension's evil overlord, Mojo. Longshot was promptly mindwiped to forget all about Rita, while a much worse fate was left for Rita.

After holding her prisoner for several years, Mojo forced his chief scientist, Arize, to perform extreme physical and mental body modifications onto Rita to recreate her into a loyal subordinate. These experiments left her with six arms (two of which are robotic), turned her hair grey, and drove the young woman insane through forcibly evolving Rita's mind to the point that she could see into other dimensions that were used for time-travel/teleportation. He also trained her in the dark arts of magic and body modification, so that she could use these skills to mutilate others like Mojo had mutilated her. Finally, in a cruel act of manipulation, Mojo sent Spiral back in time to set into motion the events that led to her former self becoming Mojo's prisoner and become Spiral by attacking her past self.

Now in the past, Spiral found herself stranded on Earth by Mojo for failing to kill Longshot and Rita. At some unknown point, Spiral encountered Val Cooper and was recruited into Freedom Force, a revamped and "government-approved" version of the second Brotherhood of Mutants. Despite being utterly insane and more blood-thirsty than her new teammates, Spiral quickly became a valuable member of the team, single-handedly defeating the X-Men on several occasions as well as kidnapping the X-Man Rachel Summers for Mojo. She was also instrumental in Freedom Force's victory over the Avengers and the West Coast Avengers when sent by the government to arrest the heroes. Her magical powers temporarily robbed Captain Marvel of energy powers and she also defeated Iron Man, removing two of the most powerful Avengers from the battle.

She also ran the "Body Shoppe", which sells alien cybernetic parts to amputees and others who see the power of cybernetic limbs. Lady Deathstrike and several members of the Reavers were some of her earlier clients though later writers have retconned Donald Pierce and not Spiral as the person responsible for their becoming cyborgs. She also was responsible for giving Psylocke cybernetic eyes, which doubled as cameras for Mojo to spy on the X-Men.

Along with Mojo, Spiral was shown to have played a role in Psylocke becoming Asian in Uncanny X-Men #256. Originally, it was believed that the two literally transformed Psylocke from being British to being Asian, but it was revealed that Spiral (without Mojo's involvement) transferred the X-Man's mind into the body of the Asian assassin Kwannon.

Even though she was a loyal servant of Mojo, Spiral deeply resented Mojo's crass manners and cruelty towards her. In particular, Spiral has been known to go against Mojo's orders and attack Longshot out of psychotic need for revenge for Longshot's seduction of her and how her love for him led to her transformation into the being she is today. As such, Mojo has been known to leave Spiral stranded on Earth (since Spiral needs Mojo's power to travel between dimensions safely).

Most recently, Spiral was among the nine criminal geniuses that Beast seeks out when it comes to reversing the effects of Decimation caused when the Scarlet Witch declared "No more mutants" at the tail end of the "House of M" storyline. Mojo himself is another.

Later Spiral teleports to Beast claiming Mojo is displeased with the fact mutants are now an endangered species and while Beast asked for her help, her boss Mojo demanded it. Spiral commented science is blinding him to find the real solution to answer how to save mutantkind. Spiral tells him energy dances its way through everything, keeping her out. It is beyond anything her Body Shoppe can simply fix. The death of mutants is not caused by science, and it will not be saved by science.

Her last comments before teleporting away were: "Put aside what you know. For where science ends... magic begins".

For those wondering about Mojo, he's a grotesque mound of yellowish blubber that would make Jabba the Hutt seem svelte by comparison. He's partially cybernetic, with a scorpion-like tail that can fire energy blasts, and allows the slug-like Mojo mobility by walking him around on surprisingly delicate legs given the massive mound of flesh they have to transport. My own experiences with Mojo have been pretty much limited to the original X-Men animated series, where he was portrayed as a dictatorial lunatic determined to rule through providing endless entertainment to the masses -- and the more violent the better. Any comparison between this and actual network executives and programmers is entirely coincidental, I'm sure.

In fact, Spiral got one of the funnier lines in one of the Mojo-based episodes. When the interdimensional overlord unleashes a series of threats on the X-Men, one of them is a huge robotic dinosaur -- purple in color. Spiral comments, "A big purple lizard...?" to which Mojo replies, "Trust me, the kids'll love it." Something like that, anyway. I was laughing too hard to recall the exact quote at that point.

Back to her powers and abilities: Spiral has powerful mystical abilities. With gestures or dance moves, she can teleport herself and numerous people across great distances.

Teleportation and powerful spells require more complicated dance moves. Spiral's spellcasting powers can be triggered through small hand gestures of her many hands. Spiral often incorporates knives and swords into more complicated spells. Spiral can also disguise herself through her magic. Spiral can open gateways between dimensions and travel through time, though it has been implied that she sometimes requires Mojo's help to successfully teleport from one dimension to another.

It was also established that Spiral is aware, through unknown mystical means, whenever a person speaks her name.

When Spiral was first introduced, she was a powerful sorceress and during her first two encounters with the X-Men, single-handedly defeated the team. She can cast spells to stun, depower, or immobilize her superhuman opponents, as she did to depower and imprison the Avengers and West Coast Avengers once they were laying still long enough for the spells to catch them.

Spiral's mind seems to be immune from possession. When Rogue attempted to steal Spiral's mind and powers, Spiral stole Rogue's instead, laughing that she had danced in many people's souls. Nocturne was fooled by Spiral into thinking Spiral had been possessed while Spiral remained in control.

As a result of being cybernetically enhanced on Mojo-world she has some limited level of superhuman strength.

Spiral is a highly skilled hand-to-hand combatant and sword fighter. Her six arms are fully coordinated, giving her great dexterity and athletic ability.

Spiral has demonstrated highly developed skills in cybernetics and genetic manipulation which she has used to turn humans into powerful cyborgs at her Body Shoppe. Most notable include Lady Deathstrike and the cybernetic Reavers.

As to the Spiral figure -- well, unlike some Marvel Legends figures, which understandably use some common body parts when appropriate, there was no way Spiral was going to be anything but created from scratch, and that includes ALL of her arms, each of which has some different features.

Spiral stands about 6" in height. About the only fallacy to the figure is that the helmet does not stay as well secured as I would like, but it stays put fairly well. Spiral has blank white eyes encircled in black, unusual eyebrows which you really can't see unless you remove the helmet, which are upswept and downswept, long, flowing gray hair which does impede head articulation somewhat, but looks very impressive, and a relatively neutral if slightly angry expression on her face.

She is outfitted in a sleeveless bodysuit that is a pale denim blue in color. She has a necklace with three jewels on it, a belt with assorted pouches, and grayish fur around her lower legs. Same color as her hair. Whether this is actually supposed to be some of her hair that she trimmed off and turned into boot tops, I honestly don't know. The costume is almost skin-tight, but not quite, showing some wrinkles here and there, and two long pouches on the upper legs. Paint detail is excellent, especially on the necklace and the two small snaps on the pouches.

Spiral is wearing a helmet that looks "future samurai" as much as anything. It is mostly silver with some blue trim the same color as her costume. The ridges along the sides of the helmet give it its samurai look, while the two side appendages make it look like she stole the design from Galactus as much as anything.

Then there's the arms. These are positioned on each side with one arm at the top, and two below, one more towards the front and one more towards the back. Each one ends in a five-fingered hand, even though she is sometimes portrayed as having four fingers per hand. This would be in keeping with Longshot himself, who has four-fingered hands. Each arm has distinctive and unique armbands at the very least, and here are their descriptions:

Right upper arm: Thick band on upper arm, which wrist band. Right front
arm: several thin bands on upper arm, thin bands on lower arm. Right rear arm: No upper armband, which lower armband.

Left upper arm: Thin upper arm band, lower arm robotic from above the elbow. Left front arm: thick upper armband, several thin wristbands. Left rear arm - entirely robotic.

I list these mostly to show that each arm is distinctive unto itself. This took a lot of molding work on Hasbro's part, and they should be commended for it. Each arm is articulated at the shoulder, with back and forth movement as well as outward, double jointed elbows, and that was really impressive to be since this procedure requires additional parts, and wrist articulation.

Overall articulation on the figure is excellent. Along with the arms, Spiral is articulated at the head, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. Many of these parts have a rotation as well as back and forth movement. Given the arms, Spiral's total articulation point count is a very impressive 32 points of articulation -- 24 of which are in the arms.

Spiral comes with two swords -- one straight bladed and one curve-bladed -- as well as one additional sword that is in a sheathe on a long strap. This one is not removable from its sheathe. Most of Spiral's arms can hold either of the swords, although her right front arm has a hand that's a little too open to hold the swords. Yep, even the hands are distinctive on this figure.

So what's my final word here? Okay, look, unless you're deeply involved in the X-Men universe, and even then, Spiral's not going to seem like too major a player. She's not Magneto, she's not Doctor Doom, she's not on that level. Honestly, there's a part of me that thinks Hasbro decided to do this character as much for the challenge of getting away with it as anything else. The thing of it is -- they succeeded admirably! This is one heck of a six-armed action figure, and it certainly beats the heck out of its Toy Biz (non-Marvel Legends) predecessor.

I sincerely believe that one main reason a lot of fans of super-hero figures, or just action figures in general, are going to be interested in Spiral, is because of the complex design more than the character herself. And that's okay. Regardless of your familiarity with the character, this IS an extremely impressive action figure. The arms have a level of articulation, and don't really get in each other's way, so that the posing possibilities of this figure are near-limitless. And as an additional note -- she stands well. Granted all those arms make Spiral a little top-heavy. But I think the molded fur around her lower legs gives her a little extra weight down there, and she can plant her feet most effectively, and stand up -- well, honestly, a lot better than some standard-limbed action figures I could name. I wish my Jungle Fury Yellow Cheetah Ranger stood up this well...

Whether you're a fan of Spiral or not, there's no way to deny that Hasbro has turned out one extremely impressive Marvel Legends action figure here that can't have been easy to produce. The MARVEL LEGENDS SPIRAL figure definitely has my highest recommendation!