Greetings hipsters, flipsters, and hip-hopping daddies. My name is Matt Murdock and I'll be your guide through a swirling, twirling, whirling series of product reviews that have to do with all of our favorite Super heroes and heroines. They may not be strictly related to our favorite webhead, but they're sure to be related to Marvel. Without further delay, I present my review of... Medicom Toy's Real Action Heroes ... Punisher Venom For those of you who aren’t familiar with the various publications that the Marvel Comics publishing company puts forth each year, let me give you a brief rundown. First you have all of your regular, iconic publications. “The Amazing Spider-Man,” ”Daredevil,” and “Captain America” fall under this heading. Secondly, there’s the Ultimate Marvel comic book series. Each Ultimate Marvel book is a re-imagining of some of the most liked characters in Marvel history who have, over time, be it through poor writing, bad editing, or generally disliked comic book issues, grown tired, worn, or have strayed from the original focus of the character. Such character issues are solved in the Ultimate series. Lastly, there’s a particularly interesting comic series known as “What If…” In each “What If…” book, the writers over at Marvel take a pivotal moment in the history of the Marvel Universe and change it ever so slightly. Some changes can be as simple as a word of dialog, while others can be the outcome of a Civil War. The “What If….” books are always interesting because they deal in hypothetical stories that don’t ever come into play in the mainstream comics. As far as modern day comic books are concerned, the “What If…” stories are some of the few that remain just for fun. In one issue of the “What If…” publication, the Venom symbiote, that black gooey, space alien that gives Eddie Brock the same powers as Spider-Man, bonds with Frank Castle, The Punisher. Thus, Frank Castle, not Eddie Brock, is endowed with all of the powers of Spider-Man, in a nice, neat, black and white package. The classic Punisher insignia sprouts spider-like legs, reminiscent of those on Spider-Man during the “Secret Wars” saga of the 1980’s. So, knowing as much about comics as I do, and being as blatantly nerdy as I am, it was with a certain amount of joy that I received Medicom Toy’s latest Marvel-based Real Action Hero, “What If… Venom had Possessed The Punisher?” Packaging - **** As with virtually every Medicom figure, this figure’s box is incredibly collector-friendly. The front is a nice image of the Punisher Venom from the comics, guns ablaze, with a style similar to the Marvel comic book covers of the 80’s and 90’s. Once you pull the Velcro tab apart, the inside cover of the box is a series of comic panels from the issue of the “What If…” comic depicting the Punisher gaining control over the alien after a chaotic fight with Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Moon Knight. On the back, is a nice graphic of Frank Castle, face exposed, leaping out of a comic panel. The inside packaging is sturdy, easy to pop apart, and clearly displays the figure and all of its accessories. Typically, Medicom figure packaging can have a somewhat boring exterior, which leads to lower scores in this section. Yet, the dedication to the source material and the use of Marvel graphics that clearly depict exactly who the character is pushed the score to perfection. Sculpting - ***1/2 The figure itself is quite nice. The head sculpt is very nice, with no details spared. Each element of the figure’s face is raised from the main sculpt of the head, right down to the symbiotic head. Punisher Venom has a sickly grin, showing his pleasure in mowing down the ‘bad guys’ he’s taken aim for. His brow is sculpted as well, adding to the definition of the eyes. As for the torso, the muscles on this figure are massive. Venom is huge, to say it simply. He’s far bulkier than Spider-Man, and makes Jack Sparrow look positively girly. The shoulder muscle sculpts extend from the chest and actually reach the middle of the neck. Punisher Venom’s biceps are large, but in proportion with the rest of the figure. His musculature definition continues right dow to the figure’s legs, where his thighs are quite bulky. The standard hand sculpts are open palms, with slightly bent fingers, giving the figure an “I’m going to get you” appearance. This can lead to some cool poses and interaction with other figures, especially considering the accessories that come with this fig. The combat boots on his feet are comic-accurate, as there aren’t any laces or any real areas that need sculpting. He stands at about 12" tall, which lets him fit in nicely with the other Spider-Man and Marvel themed figures. Paint - *** There's not too much paintwork here, but Medicom did a good job where necessary. The eyes are precisely painted, with no running or issues to speak of. The hands are molded in black with the classic, white patches painted on. The patches are uniform, square, and virtually perfect. The only real gripe I have with the figure is in its mouth. Throughout his stint in Marvel Comics, Venom has really only had a few qualities that are unique to him. The first is his chest insignia, the second is his hatred of Spider-Man, and the third is how in one panel, there can be darkness, and in the next, a pair of looming white eyes, and a bright-white set of teeth appear. This doesn’t translate into this figure, as it appears that Medicom gave the teeth a red wash, hoping to give the figure a more sinister or lethal appearance. Granted, it looks fantastic, from an aesthetic standpoint, I have no complaints. The nerd in me, though, isn’t a huge fan of the red wash, hence the bump down in the score. Articulation - **** Medicom always does well with their articulation. The figure sports the same basic figure as his mainstream Marvel counterpart. Each time I thought of a pose, I had no trouble getting the figure there. Top-notch stuff. The only thing I’m wary of when I have any Medicom figure, be it Jack Sparrow, Venom, or Batman, is to be careful with the joints and accessories. These aren’t toys, so when you want to put a figure into a specific pose and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to go, the wrong thing to do is to try and force it. Instead, you should look for an alternative method of getting the pose you want. With articulation like this, that shouldn’t be a problem. Accessories - **** This is really where this figure shines. First, you have two sets of Medicom’s extra hands. The first pair is a pretty basic set of fisted hands, ready to knock Spider-Man or Daredevil once in the jaw. The second set is fantastic. These are a pair of slightly fisted hands that fit perfectly with the guns the figure has. They wrap easily around the handles of the firearms, either handguns or a huge shotgun. The guns themselves are also sculpted and painted very well. The handguns are painted perfectly, with a pair of nice, brown patches on the handles, and silver detailing. The shotgun is very nice as well, with silver lining around the front-mounted flashlight. While the accessories may not seem like much, in a figure such as this, they’re crucial. You can’t have a Punisher figure without his guns, and they’re perfectly executed here. The shotgun isn’t so big that it looks stupid, and the handguns look like they’d make Jack Bauer proud. Outfit - ***1/2 Overall, the outfit is pretty bland. It’s just a one-piece suit with the Punisher Venom insignia on the chest and some combat boots. A nice addition to the costume is a holster on the figure’s right thigh, which can lead to some very nice poses. The outfit isn’t overly complicated which adds to its strength, I think. It’s dark enough to get the moral ambiguity of the character across and has the brightness of the Punisher logo so that you know whom this character is. Fun Factor - ***1/2 So, it isn’t likely that you’re going to buy this figure to run around your house with, chasing Spider-Man. These figures aren’t made for that, anyway. But that doesn’t mean that posing can’t be fun. The figure isn’t boring at all, and just changing the guns out of his hands and posing him, leaving it there for a few minutes, then making a new pose can be fun as well. For what it is, this figure is a fun and unique plaything. Value - **1/2 At a hundred bucks, Medicom is pushing it a little, as the character isn’t widely known. However, I’m sure there are some specialty or comic stores online that sell him for around 85 or 90 bucks. If you can find one at that price, and are a big enough Marvel fan, then you really ought to buy this figure. Things to Watch Out For - The one thing I noticed when I took this figure out of the box and tested its articulation, was that I was having some trouble bending the left elbow completely. I eased the figure’s sleeve up and found that forearm has warped slightly, bending the plastic out of shape. This is more of a nuisance, though. Posing isn’t impossible; it just takes some deliberate, careful pushing. If you’re buying this figure in the store, I’d just ask to take it out of the box and test it a little. If you’re buying online, it’s really just luck of the draw. Overall - ***1/2 Overall, the figure is excellent. It’s hard to complain, really. It’s an accurate portrayal of the comic book character, and has a unique tone and feel that distinguishes it from the rest of the Marvel Medicom line. Score Recap: Packaging - **** Sculpting- ***1/2 Paint - *** Articulation - **** Accessories - **** Outfit - ***1/2 Fun Factor - *** Value - **1/2 Overall - ***1/2 Where to Buy – I purchased this figure directly from Sideshow, where it’s still available. I’m sure that with a quick Google search, you can find it for a price within your range.