This Month in Batman: Sketchy Jim Lee

Batman Blueline Exclusive Figure
I exist on a plane with only a few other people, and this plane is defined by nothing else other than the truth that there can never be enough Batman collectibles. Of all universal truths that exist in limited universes, it’s a simple one to have, and this microcosm provides a great deal of comfort in an otherwise excessively troubling “real” world.

So, based on this idea, I generally have a positive outlook on the toy Batmen of the world. I’m not critical, because if it looks like Batman from a distance, that’s solid enough for me, but there’s a secret graph that shares space between my brain and my wallet, and this graph determines the amount of complaints I feel I’m entitled to per dollar spent. It starts at around $25, and tops out at “enough complaints to blog about.”

The first Batman of the month is DC Collectibles’ Summer Convention Exclusive, Jim Lee Blueline Batman, which is available at most larger 2015 conventions and a very wide swath of online retailers. Meant to look like living pencil sketch, Blueline Batman retails for around $40 and stands 6″ tall.

Jim Lee is the artist responsible for the design of DC Comics’ “New 52” universe, which basically involved drawing lots of new lines on existing costumes so they looked more computer-y or something. In theory, this is an awesome concept for an action figure: return this ultra-slick and manufactured toy back to its original conceptual form. Give the artist some respect, and acknowledge where these ideas come from.

Unfortunately, the actual execution of the figure is hugely disappointing. For $40 (plus tax and shipping), collectors get a re-cast of an existing figure which attempts a new concept and fails. Maybe I’m a bit particular because I’m an artist by trade and know different artists by their stylistic quirks, but slapping some grey paint on a white figure doesn’t make it look like a sketch, DC.

I’m sure it would be difficult to produce a figure that genuinely looked like it was drawn in pencil, if only for the paint textures required, but no one even tried on this one. Solid areas of unbroken grey just don’t evoke the feel of a pencil, but most bothersome are the areas of “shading” using limp, uneven hatching lines. They look amateurish, and not at all worthy of an artist like Lee. There are many parts of the figure where no one could even be bothered with real detailing, so areas were painted grey, and then repainted white to define them. This would be forgivable if the whites matched, but they don’t.

It’s sloppy from start to finish and severely overpriced, and doesn’t even start to match the actual control drawing used to determine which areas would be painted. If you’re into really elaborate, inconvenient packaging with magnets, it’s something, but aside from that, it’s just a waste unless you’re a die-hard Batman fan.

I was hoping for a meaningful Batman to add to the shelf; something that would summon the idea of artistry and the transition from idea into final result. This may accomplish that from a distance, but even across the room, you can tell that DC cheaped out. This is meant for nerds who keep everything in the package, not for nerds who enjoy their stuff on a move visceral level.

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