Black Out (2003)
I really thought that the 2000’s Joe series was going to take off. Ultimately, I was wrong. But what made me think it would have succeeded? Well, Hasbro had successfully reinvigorated Transformers in the 2000’s for a new generation with new toy lines, why couldn’t they do the same with Joe? The new line had a comic book from Devil’s Due and the line carried a comic sensibility from the get-go, but it ultimately didn’t have another ingredient that could have kept it in kids’ (and parents’) minds–a regular TV series. The closest thing to a series were two direct to video CG features. Finally, the package art just didn’t create the same kind of excitement as the 80’s and 90’s product. All in all, it just wasn’t the kind of kid media trifecta that hooked all of us in the 1980’s.
The second series of the relaunched line presented two characters, Barrel Roll and Black Out, who made an impact for me based purely on their file card write-ups. Presenting more than just a basic layout of the characters’ personalities and specialties, the two tied together to tell a story of a family in struggle. Where Barrel Roll was a successful new Joe, his brother Black Out washed out of the unit and joined Cobra. What intrigues me about the character is the idea that he’s not brilliant or especially talented in his field as a sniper. He simply practices obsessively. The most telling quote about his personality: “…he mistakenly believes that playing all the notes correctly and at the right time is what makes a song.”
The design is flashy as one would expect from a named Cobra agent. One aspect that’s different from the other major villains however is the figure’s head. Aside from the glasses, he’s just a regular guy, no hood, no mask, no eyepatch or disfiguring scar. He’s just a nondescript guy. While the overall mold is great from a detail standpoint, it does suffer from one proportion problem–long arms. The left hand’s turned-in position detracts from getting a good two-handed rifle pose; a big drawback for a sniper figure.