One of my favorite episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (B:TAS) is “Beware the Gray Ghost.” It features Adam West as an aging actor who once played Bruce Wayne’s favorite television hero, the costumed avenger known as “the Gray Ghost.” There’s a wonderful paradoxical quality to the idea of the animated 1990s Batman being inspired by an ersatz 1960s Batman. The show also slyly replaced the aging clichÃ© of Zorro having served as part of Bruce’s inspiration; kids in the early 1990s barely had any idea who Zorro was, and even the Antonio Banderas remake was years away.
Of course, while casting Adam West in the role of aging Gray Ghost actor Simon Trent was a coup, the Gray Ghost wasn’t just a tribute to the 1960s TV show. His distinctive appearance represents a tribute to other early pulp heroes such as the Shadow, the Spirit, the Spider and Sandman. (As you may have noticed, the redesign of PGPoA owes more than a little to the Gray Ghost as well as B:TAS.)
Mattel released an exclusive, single-carded version of the Gray Ghost as their 2010 holiday card. Unlike Holiday Hal Jordan, however, he was always intended for a retail release, which came in a three-pack with B:TAS-inspired repaints of Batman and the Joker.
Packaging: The three figures come in the standard JLU blister card. It’s not really that interesting.
Design & Sculpt: One of the things that appealed to me about this set was getting a Batman with the inside of his cape colored blue and the outside black, as on the show. But for me, the effect is ruined by the fact that this is a Justice League Unlimited Batman, not the real B:TAS version. He’s got the wrong belt (pouches instead of capsules); the very narrow, spiky JLU head; and a heavily scalloped cape (the B:TAS cape was smoother).
The Joker, like Batman, appears to be a JLU figure in B:TAS colors.
Finally there’s the real reason for this set–the Gray Ghost. The head sculpt appears to represent the older Simon Trent dressing up as the Gray Ghost as in “Beware the Gray Ghost,” rather than a representation of GG as he appeared on his own show.
I like the Gray Ghost figure, but I know a lot of diehard JLU fans were unhappy with it, particularly due to the height.
Plastic & Paint: Again, Gray Ghost fares the best here. He’s mostly molded in light gray, and his cape is loose and pliable.
Batman gets the gray and black parts correct, but the blue of the inside of the cape looks too dark to me. Finally there’s the Joker, whose arms and legs are a darker shade of purple than his jacket.
Articulation: Standard JLU articulation: swivels at the head, shoulders, and hips. I’ve never liked JLU figures, and the limited articulation is part of that. But since that’s standard for JLU figures, I won’t dock them too much for it.
Accessories: None. Not a one. Not even one of those small radio-controlled car bombs from the episode.
Quality Control: JLU figures are typically pretty solid–no problems here.
Overall: Disappointing. For me, the Gray Ghost is the only interesting part of this set.
I’ll be frank and admit that I may be missing the point here. Maybe the point was to get a JLU Batman and Joker repainted in B:TAS colors, rather than accurate versions. But the mismatched Joker plastic colors render that figure disappointing either way.
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