It certainly isn’t unusual to get Batman figures. These days, it not even unusual to get really good Batman figures. So, how do you make a Batman figure stand out among great Batmen figures? If you’re Mezco, you make a really good Batman figure that tells a story. And that story that continues into future great Batman figures.
See, Knight Ascending debuted as a figure that really felt almost….surplus to requirements. I have Batfleck. I have Armored Batfleck. I even got that holy grail, Knightmare Batfleck. And though Ascending showed up just before his cancellation was reversed, it was hard to see this Barman, cool looking though he was, as something to compete with those other versions.
Clearly, he was a “first appearance” figure. Like I’ve discussed before, he draws inspiration from many sources of a noir-inspired take on the character, from Tony Daniel to Paul Pope and a not insubstantial amount of Bill Finger. But, to the chagrin of many a Mezco “collector,” he was faithful to not one of those sources, and blended elements like most Mezco comic figures tend to do. This wasn’t a problem for me, as I have so many favorite artists across so many eras, getting figures that combine those elements is the only pragmatic choice I have. But I was unsure it was a blend I needed, even if every new picture threw that doubt further in question.
Even without that foreboding bigger picture, he turned into a helluva figure. The articulated body isn’t as wide or thick as Batfleck, and as a result of this and the continual perfection of the craft, he has the best articulation of any Mezco Batman to date. His range is excellent, and the costume is designed to work with that.
And if I had to describe that costume in a simple term, I would just call it “elaborate.” Some people would maybe go with “over-designed,” And I wouldn’t disagree, I would only point out that makes sense for the story this figure is telling. This is Mezco’s Year One. A lot of what makes this Batman who he is/will be is still very much in flux. The suit, the gear he’s using with it, is all very trial and error. Perhaps this suit was some off-the-rack “sneaking suit” that he’s adjusting to his needs. Regardless, even if it feels too busy or overdone at first glance, it is functional, and don’t be surprised if it distracts you just looking at it.
That test phase look carries through to his gear. The belt is an amazing steampunk mix of golden “metal” parts with some light orange-ish “canvas” parts peeking through. It’s a mix of pushed and capsules, and can hold the ver 1.0 grappling gun in the back. Even his boots feel more like a jump boots than his usual streamlined, armored attire. And his weapons feel like a guy who isn’t sure yet just how far he’s willing to go, or if he has the right stuff to do it. He’s got his classic Batarangs in volume, but it’s almost like he doesn’t trust his signature weapon yet. He packs a wrist mini-crossbow and a big folding striker board -the ubiquitous Bat-brick- to make damn sure when the bad guys go down, they stay down. Like any good fresh fighter, he’s uncertain of his limitations, and fears he’s not the equal of his opponents, at least not yet. So he brings extra gear to slight the odds.
But he already knows some of what works, and that’s why he’s got the scary big ears and a giant, weighted leather cape. And again, with each entry, the bat capes get more impressive, and this one combines the best of both previous ones in one swoop. It unfolds huge, but folds naturally on his shoulders for getting into the fight.
The headsculpts, particularly the unmasked one, do a great job of convincing that this is a younger man, still maybe old beyond his years, but lacking the mileage we usually see on an expressive Bruce Wayne face.
But maybe the coolest part of this figure is that for all the effort that clearly went into him from design to completion….This Batman is just chapter one. And its chapter one as written by Mezco. And as such, there are supporting characters, like their Catwoman and Joker versions, to fill in this take on Year One, as it is.
But it’s still just the start. We’ve already had a look at Sovereign Knight, Mezco’s Batman at his peak, and it will be exciting to see what pairs off with him, though it’s hard not to look to Deathstroke for that already. And the one I find myself most intrigued by is the final chapter Batman, who we don’t even have a name for yet. And I have no idea what kind of stuff will join him, at least other than maybe Batman Beyond…
So, while it might be tempting to write off Ascending Knight as just another nice Batman figure among some really nice Batman figures, I am now convinced that’s not a good move. And likewise, being a stickler for a certain era or accuracy of look is maybe a bit shortsighted. So, I recommend this figure like people tried to recommend the first Harry Potter book to me, sort of. This one is worth picking up on it’s own merit, but if you really enjoy it, you might be in for the long haul.
Thanks to Mezco for helping me get this one to review for you!