DCAU #289: Never Play with the Toyman's Toys!

IN THIS ONE... Someone's using Toyman's shtick, forcing him to break out of prison.

CREDITS: Written by Mark Millar; art by Aluir Amancio and Terry Austin.

REVIEW: A pretty good Toyman story, sending us a couple of curve balls when it turns out he can't possibly be committing crimes because he's still in jail. We find out it's an old assistant (in a familiar costume, see In the Mainstream Comics, below) partnering with Vito Manheim (Bruno's more handsome brother) which draws the Toyman's ire and forces him to break out of jail. Except no, the assistant is just another toy and it's all part of 1) a breakout attempt and 2) a revenge scheme against the Manheims, Vito substituting in the story because the show went and killed Bruno.

Superman is required to stop the Toymen at every turn, of course, providing the comic's required action (fake Toyman with gas gun, toy soldiers on boat, giant sea dragon, giant toy locomotive), but though Toyman doesn't kill Vito like he wanted to, they become cell neighbors, so that's a more ironic last laugh. A strong but fun bit involves him fighting a toy as Clark Kent to confuse its targeting systems; let's hope Toyman doesn't have cameras in his toys.

I want to talk about the art as well, which has some very, very nice flourishes. Amancio breaks his panel structure up with his figures. He makes Superman go transparent during a scene transition. He has Superman treat large objects as light toys, perhaps hinting at why Toyman makes an effective villain, at least thematically, for Superman. I'm not sure how on purpose his vintage cartoon rifs are, but the remote Toyman + water dragon put me in mind of Beany and Cecil, and the robot assistant of the cyborg version of the Three Stooges. He also sneaks in some shocking deaths, because there's no way those prison guards didn't die when the wind-up duck exploded. More questionable is Vito's Hawaiian shirt, its print looking like blood stains (but that's a coloring problem) and the final shot of Superman looking at the prison from afar in an odd position, but both of these ARE striking.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: Toyman's mechanical assistant is dressed as the Prankster, a very similar Superman villain that has yet to make an appearance in the DCAU. Bruno Manheim's borhter Vito has not, to my knowledge, ever been mentioned in the comics.

REREADABILITY: Medium-High - A good Toyman story with better than usual art.



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