Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Actually Essential Storylines: Plastic Man

Sigh. I guess we can add Plastic Man to list of DC characters that have had their continuity serious fucked up as a result of The Great Rejiggering, somewhere below Wonder Woman, Black Canary and Martian Manhunter, but well above Superman and Batman.

This past week’s 52 back-up was the origin of Plas, one of my favorite DC superheroes. This is one I was really looking forward to, as Mark Waid has written some great Plas stories, Ethan Van Sciver recently drew one of the greatest Plas panels not drawn by Jack Cole, and the introduction of “New Earth” continuity seems to have retroactively given Plas his possible-future son Offspring in the here and now. So I’d kinda like to know what’s up with that.

Waid structures the origin as a criminal file, and even cleverly constructs a mini-story around it, so that there’s a framing sequence of a burglar discovering a file on Plas, and our hero using his mastery of disguise to stop him before he can put that information to ill use.

EVS’ style doesn’t exactly scream “cartoony,” which is actually one of the things I like about his Plastic Man; because his version is so realistic, it makes the stretching and shape-changing seem more fantastic (He’s drawn Plas in JLA Secret Files and Origins #2,Superman/Batman, at least two issues of Impulse).

His work here is nothing special though; it’s fine, but there’s no real show-stopping money shot, like that one panel in Superman/Batman # 30:

(Above: Nice, huh?)

As for Waid’s origin story, it’s another one that conveys old information, but doesn’t impart any new information to clear up what’s changed and what hasn’t changed after the Rejiggering.

Four panels are spent recounting Plas’ origin story and the fact that he worked for the FBI (here, “a special branch of the F.B.I.”). Chief Branner and Woozy Winks both get a mention. Then, the next panel mentions "known confederates" Woozy Winks “and O’Brian’s son, Ernie, who inhereited his father’s powers to become the crimefighter Offspring."

So, where’s this Offspring character from? The Kingdom: Offspring #1, one of the one-shots that made up the spin-off series set in the same possible future as Kingdom Come. Geoff Johns gave Offspring/Ernie a couple cameos in the “One Year Later” Teen Titans, and in 52 we see Offspring/Ernie is a member of one of the missing year’s Titans line-ups. In Superman/Batman, Plas’ only post-Infinite Crisis appearances, he tells Batman, “I have a son now.”

So, again, within the fictional world of the DCU, where exactly did this kid come from? Who’s his mother? Has Plas always known, or did he just discover him as the “now” in the above statement implies? Why would Ernie name himself after a passé alt-rock band? Is he a retcon created during the Rejiggering, or Plas’ second son with stretchy powers introduced to the DCU in recent years (We’ll talk about this more later, but in JLA, we learn that Plas has a 10-year-old son named Luke McDunnagh who he’s been pretty much denying the existence of for years).

No answers here.

Waid does nail down Plas’ powers a bit more specifically, and seems to de-power him slightly; over the past few years of JLA (and in his own title), Plas has grown more and more powerful, becoming immune to telepathy, electricity, old age; able to separate himself into several different, unattached forms; and able to grow to gigantic heights and shrink to rather small forms. Here we’re told simply that “he can compress his mass to bowling-ball size or elongate it hundreds of yards,” and that he can “absorb and deflect small-arms fire.”

As for the recommended reading, it includes a lot of great comics, but it’s odd that there’s no JLA on the list, as that’s essentially been Plastic Man’s post-Crisis home in the DCU, and also that thet two trade collections of Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man run are included, since there seems to be a great deal of controversy among readers as to whether or not those are in-continuity or not (Clearly the last story arc couldn’t be, but the rest seems fair game to me). Of course, the “Essential Storylines” feature does include books that seem to contradict DC’s murky post-Infinite Crisis/post-Rejiggering continuity (JLA: Year One and George Perez’s Wonder Woman, for example), so perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into it.

At any rate, let’s get on with our responses to DC’s suggestions and listing some of our own.

Here’s what DC suggests…

PLASTIC MAN ARCHIVES: You’ll get no argrument from me on this suggestion.Writer/artist Jack Cole’s original Plastic Man stories are some of the best superhero comics of the Golden Age, and he was one of the few artists who seemed to be of Will Eisner’s caliber of skill when it came to telling stories in the medium as it was taking shape while simultaneously pushing it forward. Cole’s skills are the reason why Plas is one of the relatively few Golden Age heroes to survive to this day, and Cole created a name, costume, supporting cast and hook for the character that put him in rather rare company; few creations of the era were as inspired as Plas was (and by “few” I mean Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, The Spirit, Captain America and…well, that’s about it, really, isn't it?).

As is probably apparent from some of my recent posts, I’ve been re-reading the few volumes of the Plastic Man Archives my local libraries possess, and they’re just as great the third and fourth time through as they were the first and second.

Plastic Man and his friend/hanger-on Woozy Winks work with the FBI to smash crime; Chief Banner is always happy when Plas uses his powers of disguise to infiltrate crime rings and beat up criminals, and exsasperated that Woozy thinks he’s an FBI agent too, and insists on calling Branner “Chief.”

It’s also worth nothing that Plas has a sense of humor, but no more so than that exhibited by The Spirit, Captain Marvel or Batman. More often than not, Plas plays straight man to Woozy, who handles the clown duties. Given how wacky Grant Morrison, Joe Kelly and recent DC writers have played Plas, it can be genuinely shocking to see how straight he was back then.

DC has put out eight archive collections so far, each at the too-rich-for-my-blood price of $49.95, collecting material from Police Comics and Plastic Man through 1948; the vast majority of it by Cole (they have about nine pages of it preview-able here). The image I swiped to illustrate this listing is actually by Alex Toth, not Cole.

PLASTIC MAN 80-PAGE GIANT : This 2004 special reprints a half-dozen Plastic stories from the ‘40s through the ‘70s, drawn by Cole and such luminaries as Jim Mooney, Gil Kane and Ramona Fradon. The Mooney story is actually a Dian H For Hero adventure from ‘66, in which the H-Dial turns young Robby Reed into Plastic Man, one of the few instances where the Dial transforms him into a real, pre-existant hero. There’s a weird assortment of tales in this book, and little in the way of cohesion between them, but those are four damn fine artists all tackling one of comicdom’s most fun heroes to illustrate, so it’s well worth a look should you run across it in a back-issue bin.

Plastic Man: On the Lam: This cleverly-designed trade is perhaps the most ingenious trade DC’s ever released. The original cover, spine and back cover are designed so that it looks like Plas has squished himself into a book shape, and is hiding on your bookshelf. The cover isn’t the normal stock either, but is made out of, you guessed it, plastic, so that the book even feels like it might be Plas in disguise as a graphic novel collection of his adventures.

See? Brilliant.

Contained within are the first six issues of Kyle Baker’s short-lived, 20-issue series, which is devoted to re-telling Plas’ Golden Age origin in flashback while, in the present, Eel O’Brian is accused of murder, and Branner wants Plastic Man to bring him in. Complicating matters are his new partner, FBI Special Agent Morgan, who is the opposite of Woozy Winks. Instead of a flabby, bald, idiotic wannabe, for example, she’s a hot, blonde, super-competent agent. We later learn has something of a past with Eel, and will be joining the book's supporting cast for the rest of Baker's run.

Baker definitely plays Plas and cast for laughs, to the point where there’s been some question of whether or not the series was even in continuity (as I mentioned above), but it acknowledges Plas’ role in the League, guest-stars other DC characters, and addresses such sticky issues as his deadbeat dad status introduced into JLA by Joe Kelly, and why even bother if it’s out-of-continuity?

The second collection of Baker’s run contains issues #8-11 and #13-14 (skipping #7 and #12’s so-so fill-ins by Scott Morse). This volume is actually just as good a jumping on point as the original, as it contains plenty of shorter stories, many of which include DCU guest-stars.

There’s “Continuity Bandit,” in which Mrs. Angel O’Brian (nee McDunnagh) and young, shape-shifting Luke McDunnagh (introduced in Kelly’s JLA)show up at Plas’ happy home with his partners, causing quite a scene that Plas is powerless to calm down, since he has no memory of them.

Then the Time Trapper and Abraham Lincoln show up.

Plastic Man joins his allies at the JLA Watchtower, where continuity begins to get screwy, with Green Lantern no longer an “African American,” but whitebread Hal Jordan, Wonder Woman is reduced to serving refreshments, Batman complains how out-of-character it would be for him to act like he did in the JLA issue introducing Luke, and Woozy notes an even bigger problem: “Robin has aged fifteen years, yet Batman is still in his twenties!”

To set things right, Plas, Woozy, Luke and Morgan borrow the JLA’s time machine and head back in time to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, eventually revealing the madness to simply be the result of Poison Ivy’s mad plot for revenge against Plas for arresting her….for her revenge plot. Thus Joe Kelly’s JLA stories were in-continuity while occurring, and yet undone without rejiggering the whole DCU, so we don’t have a deadbeat dad on the Justice League, and Plastic Man doesn’t have a son anymore. And Lincoln’s still dead.

Bravo, Baker!

The rest of the book is devoted to Plas’s battle with a vampire (and semi-adoption of it’s daughter, goth girl Edwina), a visit to Lex Luthor’s White House (guest-starring Superman and a Bizarro), a dramatic case in which he cracks down on illegal file-sharing and another in which rids his house of a mouse.

And here’s what they missed…

PLASTIC MAN #1-#4 (1988): Can we talk continuity for a moment? Plastic Man’s is pretty messed up, as is that of so many of the characters that DC acquired from other companies over the years (Captain Marvel, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Uncle Sam, et cetera). So major props to Shotgun Reviews kingpin, Best Shots host and team leader, Newsarama.com contributor, and comic book know-a lot-abouter Troy Brownfield, for helping untangle the character’s citizenship in the old DC Multiverse for me.

Okay, so when DC began to firm up the multiple earths that made up their official multiverse, Plas belonged to Earth -2 (which is where his Golden Age adventures, all those glorious Jack Cole stories collected in the Archives, would have occurred). This is the Earth that was home of the JSA, where he was a member of the All-Star Squadron (#1 on EDILW’s list of old comics DC needs to fucking collect right now). Plas would later move, along with the rest of the Freedom Fighters, to Earth-X, the alternate Earth where the Nazis won World War II. That Plas died fighting the Nazis sometime before the classic JLA/JSA/FF epic, as was revealed in the ‘70’s Freedom Fighters series (which would make for a good Showcase Presents collection, DC).

However, there was also a Plastic Man on Earth-1, who guest-starred in Brave and the Bold and, Mr. Browfnield tells me, had the split-run of Adventure with the Ditko Starman.

When Crisis on Infinite Earths collapsed the last remaining Earths into one, rejiggered Post-Crisis Earth/continuity, Plas’ reset button was hit just like all the other characters.

Superman had John Byrne’s Man of Steel, Wonder Woman had George Perez’s new Wonder Woman series, and Batman had Miller and Mazzuchelli’s Batman: Year One. As for Plastic Man, he had this 1988 four-part miniseries written by Phil Foglio and illustrated by Hilary Barta (who would go on to collaborate with Alan Moore on Plas analogue Splash Brannigan for WildStorm/ABC’s Tomorrow Stories, one story of which even sort of guest-starred Plastic Man, disguised as a rug).

I’ve only read two-fourths of the series, so I can’t speak to how good it is, or how essential it actually is. This is the first Post-Crisis Plastic Man story, but it seems like large parts of it have been largely ignored in later Plas appearances anyway.

For example, Foglio’s origin eliminates the bit about the monks helping to reform Eel O’Bryan (while the Kyle Baker series and the 52 origin both mention the monks), and Woozy Winks was a former mental patient kicked out of the hospital due to Reaganomics (Woozy’s words, not mine). The pair decided to work together and exploit Eel’s powers for fame and fortune, and ended up choosing crime-fighting over crime after a coin flip decided for them. They set up a NYC detective agency.

PLASTIC MAN, JUSTICE LEAGUER: Grant Morrison did quite a few great things during his run on JLA, and one of the greater ones was introducing Plastic Man to the League’s line-up. A later addition to the team (He tried out in issue #5, but didn’t officially join until Batman recruited him to infiltrate the Injustice Gang in “Rock of Ages”. He would stay on the team all the way until this volume of the League’s book was cancelled to make way for the latest volume, not only outlasting all of the non-Big Seven additions to the team, but also Aquaman and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner.

During Morrison’s run, Plas was mostly drawn by Howard Porter, who gave him a plastic-y sheen. Among his more notable moments in the series were his nullification of Circe’s powers in “Rock,” his way around the future Flash’s speed-powers in DC One Million, and his takedown of the Queen Bee during “World War III.

When Mark Waid took over the series from Morrison, Plastic Man was the only member other than the Big Seven he kept on. After Waid and Bryan Hitch’s splashy, oversized JLA: Heaven’s Ladder, Waid turned his focus to a story that broke apart the League and put it back together. After Ra’s al Ghul got a hold of Batman’s plans for eliminating his teammates should they ever go rogue, Plastic Man voted to kick Batman out of the League, although the “Big Eight” got back together after an encounter with sixth-dimensional beings accidentally revealed Batman’s identity to the others, and they all decided to unmask. Waid’s run would also see the six Leaguers with secret identities each split into two entities a piece (so that Batman and Bruce Wayne would exist simultaneously, for example), and Eel O’Brien found himself struggling against the temptation to steal and commit crimes, ultimately cajoling the other secret identities to confront their heroic alter-egos.

After Waid’s run, Joe Kelly came on as the new writer, along with pencil artist Dough Mahnke. He kept Plas on as well, and seemed to have a great deal of fun writing him (as Mahnke had drawing him). Among the most Plas-centric stories were JLA #65 (in which Plas asks Batman to help him scare 10-year-old Luke McDunnagh, the son of an old flame, straight), the two-volume “Obsidian Age” (in which Plastic Man is shattered into pieces in the ancient past, and is later put together like a puzzle by the JLA in the present, having survived thousands of years on the ocean floor—discovering, in the process, that he was effectively immortal and indestructible), and “Trial By Fire” (in which the JLA get their asses handed to them by a rogue Martian Manhunter, and Plastic Man is the only one who can stop him, since, we learn, his plastic brain is immune to telepathy and he can change shape to keep pace with a Martian).

JLA #65 is the issue in which we learn about Plas’ son Luke (the one Kyle Baker undoes in Plastic Man). It’s basically just a Plas/Bats team-up, and when I first read it I was far from fond of it—I really didn’t like the idea of Plastic Man being a deadbeat dad—but it’s exceptionally well-written and well-drawn, one of the better single-issue JLA stories by any of the three main writers to work on the series. Mahnke’s art is great as well; he does an all-around perfect Plastic Man, and an all-around perfect Batman. It’s really a shame this creative team didn’t last longer. If Plastic Man had to have a son in the DCU, this would certainly be a fun, dramatic way to introduce him, which is why I wonder why Waid, Johns and company didn't just call Ernie Luke instead.

After Kelly’s run, JLA began a downward spiral of completely unconnected story arcs, and it was never exactly clear who was on the team, as there would be no new announcements regarding who was coming and going, the cast would just appear at the start of each new arc. Plas would pop up in a lot of them, but when the monthly finally began to wind down with connected story arcs—“Crisis of Conscience” and “World Without A Justice League”—Plastic Man was suspiciously absent. He gets a one-panel appearance in “World” (at the League’s ceremony bidding farewell to the League), and in “Crisis” writers Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg seem unaware that Plastic Man was even on the League at the time, as the heroes break-up and Hal Jordan tells J’onn J’onnz that he and John Stewart are all that’s left of the League. Plastic Man was MIA pretty much from Identity Crisis on, with no mention of where he was or why.

Morrison’s JLA proved so popular that there were spin-offs aplenty. Among the better ones also featuring Plastic Man were the aforementioned Heaven’s Ladder, JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice (in which Plas gets possessed by Greed, one of the Seven Deadly Enemies of Mankind that’s escaped from Shazam’s Rock of Eternity),JLA/Teen Titans (in which he battles Changeling in a shape change-off, and he later gets taken down by Impulse, something that soured him to the little speedster), JLA: Welcome To The Working Week (in which Plastic Man, Ambush Bug and Heckler throw a party on the Watchtower, and Batman and Superman hide in the kitchen), and Formerly Known as the Justice League (which ends with a JLA/Super Buddies team-up, wherein Plas finds himself disturbed at Batman’s emerging sense of humor, and baffled that Elongated Man doesn’t change shape with his powers).

Plas’s new JLA-heightened profile paved the way for this 1999, 38-page special, written by Ty Templeton (who drew the cover, and doesn’t do enough art work to satisfy me), and illustrated by several great artists. Aaron Lopresti drew a tale in which Plas and Woozy become shills for evil tennis shoe corporation Mikey, Dave Madan and Claude St. Aubin present “The Secreted Origin of Woozy Winks,” and EDILW-favorite Rick Burchett and Walden Wong illustrate (deep breath now) “The Age of Crisis on Infinite Clones Saga Starring Plastic Man Red and Plastic Man Blue Chapter One Million: Onslaught of the Secret Genesis Wars Agenda.” (Note the use of Marvel-ous words in the title, and remember Marvel recently dropped the word “Crisis” from their recent Ultimate Civil War: Spider-Ham #1).

I’m not sure if I’d call this book “Essential,” although it is a lot of un, particularly that last story, which includes some pretty sharp digs at the expense of Bryan Hitch’s art (“JLA comics are filled with tiny lines, so they must be good, huh?”), the influence of Liefeld, and Mark Waid's The Kingdom kid (“I come from the future…a possible future…where Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all become my mommy and daddy…don’t ask me to explain. It’s complicated”), who stops by to save all the heroes without their own books (whom Superman and Martian Manhunter fed to their cosmic foe as cannon fodder), then exits with the line, “My work here is done... I go now, to mess with the Watchmen…”

Re-reading it today, now that crossovers have become en vogue at both Marvel and DC again, it’s suddenly quite relevant again, and depressingly prescient. At the end, Ty Templeton awakes and realizes it was all just a dream: “That kind of story could never happen. Thank the stars comics haven’t sunk to that level yet.”

Emphasis on the yet. How are you enjoying Infinite Crisis and Civil War, Mr. Templeton?

Guest-starring Harvey Pekar. For real.

TEAM-UPS: In Superman #110, devious siblings Treasure and Tiger Hunt are locked in a race to see which of them can steal Superman’s cape first, and Treasure has hired Plastic Man and Woozy Winks to get the job done for her. The story’s rather slight, and set during that unfortunate period during which Superman had long hair (and Clark Kent wore a ponytail…yech!). Apparent Plastic Man fans Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway write, and Ron Frenz and Joe Rubinstein draw, switching to a looser, goofier style during a flashback to Plas and Woozy’s detective agency.

Plastic Man meets Captain Marvel in The Power of Shazam #21, when they’re both after the same crook-turned-undercover cop. In classic team-up fashion, they fight and then join forces. Jerry Ordway writes and provides the painted cover (on your right), while Pete Krause and Mike Manley provide the interior art.

In Impulse #57, writer Todd Dezago and artists Ethan Van Sciver and Prentis Rollins present “A Plastic Christmas.” Plas sneaks Woozy into the JLA Monitor Womb so they can watch It’s a Wonderful X-Mas during Plas’ Christmas Eve monitor duty. Unfortunatley, they’re faced with two disasters: First, Impulse beams aboard to put a dangerous souveneir from a previous adventure in Steel’s Cryo-Lab, and, second, Mr. Mxyzptlk has created a "Santandroid" to attack Metropolis, and Superman is off in space, which leaves it up to Impulse and Plas to foil the bowler hat-wearing omnipotent imp. It's a great team-up which introduces and spotlights both heroes thoroughly and equally, and it’s interesting to revisit EVS art back when he was better at deadlines and trying to work within the confines of the Impulse book’s style constraints.

Perhaps the weirdest team-up of them all occurred in Green Lantern #115-#116, courtesy of writer Dan Jurgens and pencillers Mike S. Miller and Tom Lyle. And by "weird" I mean "What the hell was Jurgens thinking when he decided on this particular trio, or did he just pull these three characters out of a hat?" Green Lantern Kyle Rayner awakes to find a metal box appearing out of thin air in his apartment, with a note reading, “Blue and Gold Express. When it absolutely, positively has to be there in ten seconds.” Blue and Gold Express is a package delivery service using JLA teleport tech, masterminded by Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. When a bunch of sci-fi soldiers show up to claim the mis-delivered package, in swoop Booster Gold and Plastic Man, who’s sitting in for Blue Beetle in a borrowed Bug ship (Why? I dunno. Booster just says Beetle’s off “adventuring.”)

PLASTIC MAN #15-#20: The six-part “Edwina Crisis” story closed out Baker’s monthly series, and it was a clever (and clearly under-read) bit of counter-programming that had quite a bit of fun slamming the new, grittier post-Identity Crisis DCU.

Edwina gets a new suitor at school, a lightning-powered loser named “Ray El Ray,” and Plas must deal with raising a rebellious teenage daughter. Coincidentally, Ra’s al Ghul is having problems with his rebellious daughter too.

Plastic Man busts up a high school party, captures Joe Chill III, battles Ubu and the League of Assasins, engages in a round of “shirtless fighting” with Ra’s (it was al Ghul’s “legendary shirtless battles with Batman” that made his formidable reputation, Baker tells us), and tries to escape from Talia’s bedroom (Woozy, meanwhile, tries to get into it, with the line, “Are you an assassin, baby? ‘Cause your outfit’s killin’ me!”)

Meanwhile, Edwina and Morgan are killed and temporarily become the new Spectre, and Sivana finally kills Billy Batson, leading to #20’s blockbuster climax, “The Edwinda Crisis: The Gritty, Realistic Conclusion!”

It opens with a three-page funeral for Billy Batson that is an awesome riff on the funeral scene from Identity Crisis, and the juvenile, counterproductive inclusion of gritty violence and trampy costumes in superhero in a wrong-headed attempt to make them more “mature.”

(Above: Huntress and Supergirl at Billy Batson's funeral, apparently held at a funeral home with the thermostat turned way up)

(And damn, does Baker draw a great Mr. Tawny!)

Meanwhile, Plastic Man and friends battle Ra’s over a Lazarus Pit, until an exceptionally argumentative Trinity, fresh from bickering with one another in the pages of their own books and Infinite Crisis, show up to argue and fight with one another, mostly ignoring Plas and company's plight:

(Above: A badly-scanned sequence from Baker's Plastic Man #20. That last panel is probably my favorite single Superman panel ever. That's totally how Superman should have responded to Bats' "The last time you inspired anybody..." line in Infinite Crisis).

This has to be collected into a trade. Immediately.

INFINITE CRISIS TO PRESENT: As mentioned above, Plastic Man hasn’t been seen much since the DCU got darkened up in Identity Crisis. He was one of the dozens of heroes that Oracle called on to try to stem the worldwide prison break in Villains United Infinite Crisis Special #1, and participated in the Battle of Manhattan in Infinite Crisis #7 (he's hard to see in the original issue, but he's more visible saving a train in the finished version of Phil Jimenez' infamous two-page spread). He popped up once in 52, worried about his son Offspring’s fate after the New Year’s Eve massacre in Metropolis. And, “One Year Later,” he’s appeared in three issues of Superman/Batman, where Lex Luthor recruited him to help Batman break into the Fortress of Solitude (oddly, Batman and Plastic Man acted like they barely knew each other in the story).

OTHER UNIVERSES:There’s no denying Alex Ross is a huge Plastic Man fan. Though he and Paul Dini passed on doing a treasury-sized Plastic Man special like they did for Captain Marvel and the Trinity, the pair covered Plas’ origin in JLA: Secret Origins and gave him a small role with the rest of the second stringers at the climax of the pair’s JLA: Liberty and Justice. In maxiseries Justice, Plastic Man is a member of the Justice League, much to other stretchy member Elongated Man’s exasperation.

In the possible future of Kingdom Come, Plastic Man is a bouncer (get it?) at a bar where super-types hang out. His son Offspring never appears in Kingdom Come proper, but he starred in spin-off The Kingdom: Offspring by Mark Waid and Frank Quitely. It was by far the strongest of the one-shots in the fifth-week Kingdom event, thanks in large part to Quitely’s art and the many visual gags he and Waid pack the panels with. Even if it’s out of continuity, it’s one of the best Plastic Man stories ever put to paper, and well worth seeking out. That the character has been introduced into the current DCU just makes it all the more essential a read.

In the DKU, Plastic Man joins Batman’s forces in The Dark Knight Strikes Again!. Held captive in a compressed egg-shape in Arkham Asylum, Plastic has gone a little insane over the years, and Frank Miller’s version of the character is awfully scary—a total madman with shape-changing abilities and a Loony Tunes sense of humor (although, should he drop an anvil on you, you wouldn’t get up afterwards).

OTHER MEDIA: Plastic Man starred in his own cartoon series in 1979, The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, with a Woozy Winks-free supporting cast that included Hula, Penny and, later, Baby Plas.

Plastic Man was never seen onscreen during an episode of Justice League Unlimited, but he’s referred to once. During the huge battle against Mordru in “The Greatest Story Never Told,” Booster Gold and Elongated Man are assigned crowd control. When Ralph protests, Green Lantern John Stewart replies that Plastic Man is already down there and, “we don’t need two stretchy guys.”

A fifteen-minute pilot for a potential Plastic Man cartoon was made as part of a pitch to Cartoon Network, and also made it onto YouTube for a while earlier this year, but wasquickly taken down. I didn’t see it, but would love to. It certainly sounds promising, as Stephen DeStefano was involved. You can see some of his sketches and read more about the pilot at his blog. The sketches above are his.

1 comment:

Siskoid said...

One thing I liked about the 1988 series is the "reality check" pages by Kevin Nowlan, contrasting with Barta's cartoony style.

In essence, it presented the cartoony universe as Plas' POV, a great concept for the character.