DC Direct Blackest Night ARKILLO and MERA
Series 7 grows with Fear and Rage...
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Another month, another series of Blackest Night figures from DC Direct! Last time I took a look at the Green Lantern himself, Hal Jordan from Series 6 (see my review HERE). Out in stores now is Series 7 (as well as 8), bringing yet more of the rainbow-colored warriors from the DC main event to life. This time around we’ve got additional corps members in Black, Red, and Yellow. In addition to Black Lantern Superman and Black Lantern Terra with Scar come two highly anticipated figures: the yellow counterpart to Kilowog Arkillo and the temporary emissary of rage Mera!
I’ve described it several times before, so I’m not going to go very in depth regarding the Blackest Night packaging. All of the figures share the same basic clamshell with a green background and Black Lantern Corps symbol. The figures are featured prominently in their plastic cases along with their accessories, and each one has a unique badge on the front with the character’s name and particular Lantern Corps symbol.
The back of the insert shows all of the figures in Series 7 with short bios for each. Finally, the bottom of the insert has a listing of other Blackest Night series. It’s the same basic packaging DC Direct has used since Series 1 way back in 2009, and it still looks great.
When it came to filling out the new enemy corps in 2007’s Sinestro Corps War, Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver used familiar sources as well as new. In designing a rough and tough drill sergeant they had to go no further than the longtime Green Lantern instructor Kilowog. Essentially an evil, opposite version of the big poozer, Arkillo is a ruthless monster willing and happy to eat those who don’t measure up. Huge and powerful even without his ring, Arkillo is an unnamed alien species with a monstrous head and huge teeth. On the other side of the spectrum (both literally and figuratively) is Mera, wife of Aquaman. Belonging to a human-looking offshoot of the Atlanteans, the Queen of the Seas suffered one tragedy after another including the deaths of her son and husband. Feeling impotent during Blackest Night, Mera was the perfect candidate for the red ring when Ganthet sought new allies. Even Atrocitus was impressed with Mera’s rage as she tore through Black Lanterns!
DC Direct’s figures always feature stunning sculpts, and these two are no exception. Arkillo wears a standard Sinestro Corps uniform, which essentially consists of an energy-created bodysuit. But while there may not be a lot of clothing elements to the sculpt, there are tons of muscles! Arkillo is 7 ½ inches of rippling muscle and sinew, with some re-used elements from the Green Lantern series Kilowog figure. In fact, the detail especially on his upper legs, chest, and neck really make it look like the uniform is just “painted on,” exactly as it should. Arkillo’s hands are detailed with tendons, knuckles, and claws, while his head has a really tremendous sculpt. Everything is there from his little beady eyes to the fleshy skin, tusks, individual teeth, and disturbing connectors between his upper and lower jaws.
Where Arkillo is large and beefy, Mera is thin and shapely. When she became a Red Lantern her usual green coral bodysuit changed only slightly with regards to its components, and so this Mera is nearly covered from neck to toe in intricate overlapping scales. The 6 ¾ inch queen of the sea accessorizes the suit with a torso-mounted Red Lantern Corps logo, built-in lower leg fins, and a bunch of bony protrusions at the wrists, forearms, and spiky collar. Mera’s face is frozen in a silent scream of rage with a wide-open mouth and heavily arched eyebrows. Above that is her aquatic tiara/crown with its own set of small details as well as her long flowing hair.
Both figures have excellent paint jobs that do plenty of justice to their sculpts. Again, Arkillo is the more subdued of the two with a standard Sinestro Corps uniform primarily in black and gold. The latter is very metallic and shiny, though, which looks awesome, and there’s a nice greenish color on the “seams” to bring out the different sections. Arkillo also has the requisite chest and left arm logo as well as the silver belt-like design. His hands and head are a deep gray that looks almost like wet clay, accented by black (claws and eyes) and gold (ring).
Of particular note is Arkillo’s open maw with its fleshy purple and dirty teeth and tusks. Mera too goes metallic with her shiny red suit and crown that look amazing. The bony protrusions are a dingy tan that doesn’t look very healthy, and her hair is a lustrous red. Infused by the power of rage, Mera’s eyes are pure white, and her lips and fingernails are a matching dark maroon. I think DC Direct made a wise choice in not going overboard and covering the figure with blood red vomit; she looks great as is.
As usual, with sculpts and paint applications so good the articulation on DC Direct figures must take a back seat. Both figures are pretty traditional in that respect. Mera has the least with joints at the neck (very restricted due to the collar and hair), ball-jointed shoulders, elbows, V-crotch, and knees. Arkillo fares better with a more functional neck, ball-jointed shoulders, elbows, wrists, T-crotch, knees, and ankles. The Sinestro Corps warrior has a pretty good range of motion for a big brick, while Mera is definitely a pose once and display sort of figure. Thankfully, she looks good in the poses she’s built to do!
Accessories are quite good for these two rainbow warriors. Both come with the obligatory display stand in his/her respective corps design and color, as well as a lantern. Arkillo’s is a gold repaint of Kilowog’s super-sized lantern, perfect for him. Mera’s is the same as the one that came with Atrocitus, metallic red and accurately capturing the unique look of the Red Lantern. But that’s not all! After his disastrous fight against the upstart Mongul, Arkillo’s tongue was yanked out and he was forced to wear it around his neck. So, the figure comes with just that accessory, a gruesome (and long!) organ dangling from a white string around his neck. The decoration is completely removable for those who would rather their Arkillo be a little less emasculated.
Mera, on the other hand, comes with a cool trident and another member of her corps! That’s right, it’s Dex-Starr, the Earth kitty who becomes a Red Lantern. One of the fans’ favorite characters, Dex is a fantastic addition to an already awesome figure. The cat is one solid piece and sculpted as he appeared in a famous comic book panel while floating in space, so he doesn’t exactly stand up on his own. But, the pose works perfectly with him holding onto either Mera or Atrocitus’ leg.
Fans of the Blackest Night series are sure to appreciate these two figures, and of course those who like Arkillo, Mera, and Dex-Starr are guaranteed to love them. This Arkillo is a definite option for collectors uninterested in finding (or simply unable to find) the entire Mattel GL Classics wave for the Collect & Connect version. While scale might be an issue, I feel that this one has a nicer sculpt and significantly better paint job (just the gold vs. matte yellow is a huge improvement). And while Matty’s DCUC Series 17 starts to collect Blackest Night’s rainbow warriors, there’s no Mera on the horizon yet to compete with this fantastic figure (though there is a Dex-Starr coming in the next wave of GL Classics).
If you prefer a more “normal” version of the character, DC Direct is including one of those in the upcoming Brightest Day set as well. You can find Arkillo, Mera, and the rest of Blackest Night Series 7 and 8 in stores now.
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin