I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—a bad color scheme can ruin an otherwise terrific figure. Time and time again I’ve read comments from Joe fans bashing figures like the Mega-Marines, Skidmark, Voltar, and others all due to their bizarrely non-realistic colorations. Now, I’ve made a point of trying to look past the colors and really examine the molds themselves and, in many cases, I’ve walked away with a new appreciation of a figure that I’d previously written off. In fact, there are a great many figures that I now find myself adding to my collection solely based on their designs. There are other figures, however, that are just so bizarre that even I have a hard time rationalizing their existence in my collection. That’s right folks, I’m talking about Darklon!
Have you ever seen the film “Mystery Men”? It’s about of group of average Joes who want to be superheroes. They’ve got no powers, no funding, no headquarters but their hearts are in the right place. In fact, they don’t even have real costumes—each one borrowing gear from around the house to piece together some sort of uniform. (The Shoveller actually uses his son’s catcher’s padding as part of his costume.) When I look at Darklon all I can picture is him raiding the Iron Grenadier barracks for whatever he can get his hands on to make his own “super kewl battle armor”. Honestly, it’s the only way that I can explain the truly schizophrenic nature of his multi-colored asymmetrical garb. At it’s most basic level, Darklon is wearing what appears to be a green long-sleeve thermal underwear top and a pair of red and black camouflage pants. (Of course, this would only be considered camouflage in… well, I honestly have no idea where this would blend in.) The torso is actually textured and really does convey the impression of long underwear. It’s an odd bit of detailing as, up to this point, Hasbro really hasn’t experimented with texture too much in terms of their molding. It’s also a shame that such an interesting detail was used on a figure that is otherwise a complete and utter mess. However, if the basic elements of the uniform seem strange then the rest of the ensemble is going to completely baffle you. Darklon must have stumbled across a pair of the Baroness’ old boots while raiding Castle Destro for supplies as he’s wearing what appear to be thigh-high rust-colored boots. Wait, let me amend that statement—he’s wearing thigh-high rust-colored ribbed boots. (Somewhere Mr. Blackwell is rolling over in his grave.) At his left ankle is a small knife and sheath while around his left calf is a ring of silver hand grenades. His right wrist is covered in a black glove while his left hand isn’t; instead he’s got a black band around his wrist. To complete this motley ensemble, the ruler of Darklonia is equipped with some sort of harness over his right shoulder. Oh yes, and just to make certain that his lineage will carry on, Darklon is wearing a black cod piece. (Whew—I was worried that his family line might not endure!) The same overall effect of Darklon’s uniform could be achieved by emptying a random box from Goodwill into the back of a cement mixer, running it for about five minutes, and then wearing the first five items that fell out the back. Seriously, I almost have to wonder if Darklon doesn’t have a similar back-story to Cobra-La—in other words, a joke that just went too far.
If Darklon’s uniform is a complete and utter mess, then his facemask is another story all together. In contrast to the mish-mash nature of his garb, his mask is cold and utterly devoid of any soft lines. In other words it’s the mask of a heartless and utterly ruthless dictator. I’d even go so far as to draw a bit of a “Doctor Doom” analogy and state that Darklon, unlike Destro who wears his mask as a matter of tradition, is possibly hiding his face as the result of some tragic accident that occurred in his misspent youth. His file card is surprisingly vague—only detailing that he is ruthless and utterly driven by greed. There is no mention of the “nation of Darklonia” which seems to be more of a product of the comic book continuity than an official line from Hasbro. As such, I can revise Darklon’s origin to suit the needs of my own collection. I’d almost go as far as to say that he was initially a more suave and sophisticated young man than this cousin James Cullen until a reckless accident brought on by his own brash nature caused the severe disfigurement of his face. That same accident also warped his mind and now he lives his life as a twisted reflection of Destro, forced to wear a mask and still harboring delusions of his own superiority. Destro has taken pity on his cousin, who does possess a keen instinct for battle, and has employed him in the Iron Grenadiers. If I rationalize ole Darklon as such, then I can find a place for him in my collection. If not, then he’s going in the box with those horrific Overkill figures from the BAT Troop Builder set from the early days of the relaunch. Darklon comes equipped with a “tranquilizer dart rifle”, at least according to Zarana.
I’ve never owned an “Evader” so I don’t know if putting Darklon in the driver’s seat makes him more menacing or not. Unfortunately, it would be the only thing that might give him some edge as his color scheme pretty much saps any presence from him. It’s just another example of a problem that plagued the GIJoe: A Real American Hero line in the latter half of it’s run: bad color schemes ruining otherwise decent molds. Honestly, if Darklon were given a more consistent color scheme he really wouldn’t be so bad. However, the mismatched nature of his uniform, combined with the odd color choices just makes him a character more suited for comic relief than anything else. It’s this last statement that truly describes why I own this figure. Much like the GvC Headman, Darklon is the butt of many jokes in my various figure setups. He’s the figure I keep around not because he’s a terrific figure but because he cracks me up. So, unless you’ve got some extra cash to burn and would like to bolster up your IG ranks a bit, you can pretty much skip Darklon. He’s an “okay” figure but he’s by no means essential.