Earlier this year, DC Collectibles launched its DC: Artists Alley label of collectible figures, featuring a variety of charters brought to life by independent artists in each creator's unique style. The latest series in the line features Batman, the Joker and Harley Quinn as envisioned by Hainanu "Nooligan" Saulque, a graphic designer and cartoonist from Sacramento, California.
"I wanted to infuse my influence in a way that came across as enjoyable and unique," Nooligan said in a statement, "but most importantly, keeping the spirit of the figures intact." For the most part, he succeeded, though the sculpts by artist Paul Harding don't always do justice to the artwork that inspired them.
While Batman is obviously the cornerstone of the three pieces, he's also the least successful in translating the illustration to three dimensions. The concave knees don't quite work as well as they do in the concept illustration, and the facial sculpt relies a little too much on the paint to give it dimension, resulting in a head that looks great from some angles, but doesn't quite work from others. The pose is interesting, to be sure, as he looks like a legit scrapper, but it's so different from what people expect of the Dark Knight, it might put off people ore interested in the character than in Nooligan's artwork. It's not a bad figure by any stretch of the imagination, but of the three, Batman goes furthest off book, and stands out because of it.
Harley Quinn is a more successful attempt at bringing Nooligan's art to life. The classic Harley costume is always a fan-pleaser, and his exaggerated style works well with it, and with the playful "calling the home run" pose she strikes. The sculpt of Harley's face actually takes the opposite approach to that of Batman, allowing the three-dimensionality to do the heavy lifting. It's a nice effect, overall, and works better than Batman, but where the Dark Knight's face relied too much on painted details, Harley's mask could have used some painted highlights to give it a little more depth.
The Joker is the best of the bunch, by far, actually looking better than the illustration on which it's based. The texture and patterns of his clothes, the vivid palette and the villain's confidently arrogant stance all work together to get across who he is. OF the three figures, this is the one facial sculpt that actually improves upon Nooligan's illustration, giving the iconic bad guy's visage more definition, and therefore more life and character.
Overall, the set is a winner, and with a price tag of $40 per figure, is a downright steal. The paint job for each figure is sharp and clean, and even the packaging for the set is top notch, though it would have been nice to have the actual figures represented on them in some way rather than selling the pieces solely through the two-dimensional artwork. While Batman isn't necessarily going to appeal to everyone, fans of Nooligan's work are sure to love him. Harley Quinn and Joker offer a broader appeal, as they hew much more closely to their comic book counterparts.
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