Saturday, July 22, 2017

Real quick on that Plastic Man-related announcement.

So a couple of Twitter posts eventually lead me to something official about Plastic Man's return to the DC Universe proper, from which he has been MIA since Flashpoint and The New 52 reboot (not counting, of course, an appearance in a group shot in Dan Jurgens' short-lived Justice League International, what sure as hell looked like the start of his origin during the 2013-2014 Forever Evil event and that cryptic cameo in Dark Days: The Forge #1).

It appears Plas will be part of a Fantastic Four analogue team called The Terrifics, along with super-genius Mister Terrific, Ben Grimm-like Metamorpho and the sometimes invisible girl from the Legion of Super-Heroes, Phantom Girl. That likely explains Plas' terrible-looking new costume, which is meant to be a sort of uniform that echoes that of Mister Terrific's current costume.

Allow me to go on record as hating the new Plastic Man costume. He's got one of the all-time great, there's-really-no-way-to-improve superhero costumes, but that hasn't stopped DC from redesigning anyone else's costume in the past six years, so why exempt Plas? The thing is, Plas' color-scheme is so tied to powers that changing him out of it sorta screws it up. After all, Plas' essential gag is that he can use his fantastic shape-changing powers to turn into pretty much anything, but that anything is always red, black and yellow. Characters in the comics usually don't notice, or don't notice right away, but it's a visual signal to the reader.

Now, I've never actually understood the ins-and-outs of Plas' costume, and how it seems to change with him, since he wasn't wearing it when he was doused in those stretchy chemicals or anything, so perhaps there's a very, very easy fix to this, and Mr. Terrific will just discover some unstable molecules he can use to make a new costume for Plas. We'll see. Maybe. (I honestly didn't like a single one of Jeff Lemire's DC super-comics so far, so depending on who's drawing this, I'm somewhere between completely indifferent and mildly curious about this, and if it were, say, The Elongated Man or Offspring* there instead of Plas, I wouldn't even be mildly curious.) Anyway, seeing that it's just a team uniform, than I suppose it makes some sort of sense for him to wear it rather than his traditional red.

I do kinda like the chutzpah of DC attempting to do a Fantastic Four-like book during a time that Marvel has either given up on the franchise, or are at least giving it a good, long rest until they come up with a new take, which I have to imagine a lot of folks at Marvel are thinking about more-or-less constantly. Seeing Plastic Man on "The Terrifics" reminded me of an idea I used to think about back when I was a youth.

I spent an inordinate amount of time daydreaming as a teenager and in the first few years of my twenties, as that was when I was spending large amounts of time in classes, where one's mind is almost constantly wandering. I remember thinking about a Plastic Man-lead team of former Leaguers that added up to an FF analogue team: Plas, Metamorpho, Firestorm and Gypsy. They would have been The Plastastic Four.

Then my mind wandered to an official DC/Marvel Fanastic Four/Justice League crossover, back when the two publishers could and would still crossover (Their crossovers had calmed down at that point, I think, but the JLA/Avengers one hadn't yet been published). This would have been titled JLA/FF:, with the subtitle of either The Plastastic Four, The Fanplastic Four or The Fantastic, Plastic Four.

The plot, as I remember daydreaming it, would have been that Doctor Doom had developed some new weapon with which he hoped to finally defeat the FF, and he was traveling through alternate dimensions, battling alternate versions of the Fantastic Four to "practice" before taking on the genuine article. He arrives in the DC Universe and targets the Challengers of The Unknown, and he has them on the ropes when the JLA intervenes to save the day.

By that point, Mister Fantastic has figured out what Doom was up to, and the FF also arrive in the DCU to stop him. Overwhelmed by the small army of superheroes, some of whom he's never seen the like of, Doom is defeated. The two teams socialize a while, and when Mister Fantastic expresses how much there is to learn from this new universe, the League invites him to say for a while. Plastic Man volunteers to travel to the Marvel Universe, so that the FF won't be short-handed or long-limbed, to which everyone agrees to a sort of pan-dimensional, foreign exchange student kind of situation.

It quickly becomes apparent that the FF got the short end of the stick though, as even though Plas has Mister Fantastic's powers, he doesn't have his brains or leadership ability. The League, on the other hand, couldn't be happier with their new recruit, who proves an invaluable addition to the League. And Reed is having the time of his life, comparing notes with the DCU's super-scientists, exploring that universe's most fantastic settings and phenomena and even developing theories as to why the two universes share so much in common, but in slightly altered fashion.

The ongoing gag would be that the FF can't wait to get rid of Plas, and are ready to call the exchange off almost immediately, while the League wants to hang on to Reed as long as possible, and Reed's so wrapped up in science stuff--and the luxury of not having to be so responsible for his team, and referee Ben and Johnny's constant fights, that he doesn't want to go least, not right away.

I wasn't reading any Marvel Comics at all back then, so mostly what I knew of Marvel's characters came from cartoons, reading books about comics history and comic shop osmosis, so I didn't know that Reed and Sue had a child (or was it two at that point?), which I guess would complicate that particular story, as Reed's ability to tune out his wife and teammates when he's into some gnarly new science stuff becomes kind of a dark quality when applied to his children (Although I suppose maybe even Franklin and/or Valerie woulda been into having Plas in the Baxter Building instead of their real dad? Plas seems like he would be a lot more fun for a little kid to play with, anyway).

Anyway, that's the sort of stuff I used to think about when I shoulda been taking notes on a lecture. Luckily, I was an English major, so most of my tests were essay ones on things we had to read.

*Although I suppose it's possible that that is Offspring, perhaps posing as his dad, isn't it...? With the Multiverse coming in and out of play,
and the fact that the DC heroes are aware that someone stole ten years from their timeline, it's hard to count on what will be continuity months into the future. Either
Metal or Geoff Johns' Superman Vs. Watchmen thing could always return or re-reboot current DC continuity in some way.


Greg said...

Having kids wouldn't bother Reed at all. He's already the worst father in existence (non-abusive category), so he'd definitely stay in a whole other universe for a time and forget he has kids!

Unknown said...

I would read the heck out of your Fantastic Four/JLA crossover. Sounds like a hoot!