Review > Recovery Suit Superman (DC Universe Classics)

In the early 1990s, the comics boom was fueled by the likes of the X-Men, Wolverine, the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and especially Cable, the time-travelling, Terminator-like cyborg superhero with a mysterious past (and future). Created by Rob Liefeld, Cable’s big robotic muscles, rectangular guns, and thigh-pouches came to represent the quintessential 1990s superhero cliche–so much so that Magog in Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come was designed as a parody of the character.

Rather than jumping on board the bandwagon, the editors at DC decided to show readers what it would be like if DC’s classic heroes were “modernized.” Batman was out of commission for a while in the Knightfall storyline, which saw the Bat-mantle taken up by a newcomer named Azrael, whose Joe Quesada-redesigned costume sent fans screaming back to their 1970s Batman trades. As for Superman, after his “death” at the hands of the very Image Comics-esque Doomsday, Superman was replaced by four heroes–a hip young teen, a Cable-like cyborg, an urban hero of the streets, and the borderline insane Eradicator. When Supes himself returned, he was initially dressed in a black “recovery suit,” and since his powers hadn’t returned to him, he equipped himself with some very Cable-style guns.

(I particularly love Steel’s little dig at Cable–you can’t tell me that’s not a deliberate reference to Marvel’s then-cash cow.)

If the sight of Superman opening up with two redonkulous guns while wearing bandoleers and thigh-pouches makes you laugh (or cry), good! That was DC’s plan all along. Just a few pages after this panel, Superman gets his powers back and returns to the traditional blue, red and yellow togs we know and love (though he keeps the mullet for years afterward).

Nonetheless, the black suit has become one of Kal-El’s more popular looks, and has been seen in both comics and cartoons following the “Death of Superman” storyline. Mattel and the Four Horsemen have already made figures based on Steel, Cyborg Superman, and the Eradicator, so it’s not surprising DCUC Wave 6 gave us both the mulleted Superman and this black-suited variant.

Packaging: The usual.

When the menace known as Doomsday came to Earth, it fell to Superman to battle him to a standstill… and the death! Though it cost him his life, the Man of Steel saved his adopted homeworld. Superman’s death activated The Eradicator, and entity from Krypton, who assumed Superman’s identity and placed the body of the fallen hero in a suit designed to reignite the spark of life in the Last Son of Krypton.

Sculpt: It’s the same basic body sculpt as the red-and-blue Superman, minus the cape and boots and plus the bracelets and odd little toe-guards.

The one disappointment is the lack of open hands. I realize Superman is best known for punching things, but this particular Superman is remembered for actually carrying guns. Some open hands to better facilitate weapon-holding would have been great.

Plastic & Paint: I really like the black plastic used for this figure. It feels solid and durable. It’s not too glossy, like Batman Beyond, or too matte like Black Manta.

There are only a few paint applications–the head, the chest symbol, the bracelets and the toe-guards. For the most part it’s all fine, particularly the symbol–the black lines aren’t smudged at all. The part where the suit meets the shoulders is a little sketchy, but that’s about it.

Articulation: Standard DCUC.

Accessories: None, other than Kalibak’s left arm and club. It’s disappointing since, as mentioned above, this version of Supes is remembered for carrying guns.

Quality Control: It seems every single black Superman had reversed biceps–apparently because the biceps themselves were stamped with the wrong “L” and “R” (left and right). With a little effort, you can swap the biceps by heating them up (either with a hair dryer or in a pot of hot water), popping them off at the top of the bicep, then heating the elbows, taking them apart and swapping them. (If people want, I can probably write a more thorough explanation of the process in a future post).

It’s a pain, but once it was done, I was very pleased with the quality of this figure. The paint applications weren’t sloppy, there were no stuck joints, and the figure feels very durable.

[raven 3]

If he had come with open hands and guns, Recovery Suit Superman would easily have been a 4-raven figure. As it stands, he’s slightly better than average thanks to his good quality control and paint applications–and, for some reason, I just really like the figure.

Incidentally, I discovered an easy fix for the hand issue. If you’re lucky enough to own Black Lightning, you can just swap his hands for Supes’s. They have about the same level of glossiness, and Black Lightning looks better with closed fists anyway. The only problem is Supes’s fists have pegs that are a little larger than BL’s, due to the bracelets. BL’s hands will fit in Supes’s forearms fine–they’ll be a little loose, but it’s not too bad–but you’ll need to trim the pegs of Supes’s hand to get them to fit in BL’s forearms.


Pic of the Day


DCUC9 images and updates from Mattel


  1. Jim

    @Pete. Now THAT I agree with. I remember buying that comic and seeing that. lol

  2. And sometimes, a dig at Marvel is a dig at Marvel.

  3. Jim

    Hmmmmm….Steel referencing Marvel's "Cable". I don't know about that. Seems to trivial for DC to make that sort of reference. Sometimes a cable's just a cable. 🙂

  4. Tom-Tom

    I wonder why no one that's reviewed this figure (or the DCD one) mentions that black attracts solar light like a mother.

  5. Frowny McBeard

    It's even funnier considering they were fighting Hank Henshaw, who was in his own way a parody of Reed Richards. Sly commentary aside, that whole arc (and really, that period in mainstream comics in general) was pretty stupid. Thank God for Morrison's JLA and Busiek's Avengers.

  6. Ant

    and i agree, there needs to be a Superboy immediately

  7. Ant

    again, like the other long haired supes figure, it's giving me warm feelings of the 90s. brings back memories of this series when i was a kid

    so while you guys complain about the long hair, this was my supes as a kid. long haired supes to me as MOTU is to you, the way i sees it

  8. Matthew K

    I dig the fist fix. Lightning looks much better with that fist sculpt.

  9. Nicholai

    I just got him today from an online retailer as it seems the few days local stores had wave 6 was all I was going to get and at least I found the normal Supes. I like my figure, but my only problem is that he has this dimple in his chest which is a strange sort of little dent. Good to be done with wave 6 though.

  10. I just want a darn Metropolis Kid. His figure back in the old DC line was one of the best they made. Plus he was awesome.

  11. Andrew

    I hope they reuse him for Superman Prime and fix the bicep thing. It's pretty easy to do.

  12. Michael Lovrine

    I don't get why this one was not the variant but it was a shipping snafu with the online retailers. I got two of these thinking it was. Bassackwards world we live in.

  13. I really hope they make a DCUC AzBats. Thats just too badass to pass up.

  14. Dark Angel

    That entire panel strikes me as rather biting commentary on Marvel: The gratuitous exposition, the damsel in distress, the "I'm the best there is, etc." dialogue from the main character, the visual sound effects, the (again, gratuitous) display of body hair…you could almost crop in Wolverine's head and nobody would be the wiser. And yes, I agree that it was on purpose, "cable" reference included.

  15. It's the way the S-shield is handled, for me anyway. The black outline on the all-silver field just works for some reason. I really like him too!

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