Turns out Life IS Pretty Fantastic When You’re Plastic
Welcome to this week’s article, everyone! Today, we’re taking on a suggestion from u/Ifriendzonecats, who is honestly making better life choices than I am based off their username.
Plastic Man was actually one of the most suggested characters I’ve had, and it’s for good reason. He’s a fantastic character, but one that not a lot of people really know about outside of Brave and the Bold, or maybe the Injustice comics. Or DKR II, if you’re nasty. He seems to get lost in the shadow of Reed Richards, the far more successful rubber man, despite being older than him by 20 years or so, as well as a completely different character from tone to aesthetic to, well, everything else really. Shit, Plas is actually so old that he’s from a completely different company than the one he’s at now, being bought out by DC relatively early into his life span. And if you want to get into cannon, before the reboot he was technically thousands of years old. If anything, he deserves a little respect.
Let’s fake an education in comics.
GUM GUM ROCKET
SCENARIO: Let’s say you’re on a subway, because obviously this is the best place to start a loud, aggressive debate about comic book characters. On your left, a Marvelite, arguing that Mr. Fantastic is the greatest stretchy character of all time. On your right, whatever the fuck a hardcore DC fan is called (Snytard?), arguing that Elongated Man is far superior to Reed Richards. Now, obviously they’re both wrong, as Plastic Man is the true rubber man, but you’re going to just sit there and stew in your indignation, because crossfire be damned, you are on a subway and you are going to be polite for a change. But then, both of these raging nerds claim that their character is the original Stretch Armstrong-type guy, and you start to see red. How dare they? Don’t they know that Plastic Man was created in the 40s, roughly 20 years before any of the Fantastic Four, let alone Elongated Man? Well, the Elongated Man guy probably knows, seeing as how it’s pretty impossible to have your favorite character be god damn Elongated Man without knowing about the character he was created as a copy of. So you need to join this argument and make your case for Plastic Man. Here’s your ammunition to do that with.
Step One: The Plasticity of our City
Patrick “Eel” O’Brian was a small time crook who would go on to get shot and fall into some experimental acid, which led to him reforming and gaining the power of elasticity. After presumably a couple hours of fucking around with his new ability to have whatever size and shape dangly bits he could imagine, he designed himself the least practical costume imaginable and some sick-ass goggles to go with them, dedicating his life to fighting crime as Plastic Man. Mostly a comic relief type character, he acquired a sidekick named Woozy Winks, who was basically just the bizarre love child of Blimpy from Popeye and Droopy Joe from Looney Tunes.
Together, they did all sorts of detective work, usually fueled by wacky shenanigans. Later on, the ridiculously elaborate series of events that would lead to Plas and Woozy always coming out of every adventure safe and sound would be explained as Plas being a completely indestructible god-man, while Woozy was somehow imbued with the spirit of all nature or some bullshit, meaning that his death would probably end most of life as we know it, therefore forcing all of reality to realign in barely noticeable ways in order to protect Woozy’s life. Which, you know, seems like a really complex way to retcon Golden Age goofiness into something more serious, but is still pretty cool.
Plas usually found success in his detective work by using his kind of bullshit-tier rubber powers to disguise himself as random objects in the environment, thereby allowing him to listen in on shady dealings and gather evidence in secret. Of course, he would still be red, yellow, and flesh colored, but nobody noticed because most gangsters in comic books have an IQ of around 2. Maybe 4, if I’m being generous. I mean, they did get the upper hand every now and then.
Whatever Happened to the Man of… Uh… Rubber
So you might be thinking “Where is Plas? What’s he up to these days?” Well, honestly not all that much. Apart from like, one or two appearances in the New 52, he’s only really popped up in animated or alternate reality joints, making some great appearances in Batman: the Brave and the Bold, as well as his own series of shorts back when Cartoon Network was still running DC Nation. He also popped up semi-recently in the Injustice comic, where he basically violated the Flash’s respiratory system. Shit, he took out quite a few people, come to think of it.
But wait! What about his New 52 appearances? Surely those were good too, right? Well, here’s the most notable thing he’s done since the reboot:
JESUS FUCK! It looks like someone tried to grow a second Pee Wee Herman!
Now, to be fair, it’s not his only appearance since the reboot, he did show up very, very briefly in the JLA book, but that was retconned by Forever Evil when they showed this origin anyways, so… yeah. He was in Convergence too, but no one read that, so who cares. Even then, it was still just the older character, so it barely counts.
Oh, there was also that time that he showed up during Flashpoint as a hardened super villain. He busted someone out of jail by molding himself to their innards, and then tearing himself out of their body through their mouth. It was pretty metal. I’m not gonna put it up here though, to at least preserve some sort of illusion that I don’t pad these out with pictures. Anyways, ol Plas has been pretty absent from the main comic scene, and that’s a damn shame.
THE STRANGEST HERO ALIVE
Ok, so I’ve mentioned Plastic Man’s ridiculous power levels offhand a couple times, but here’s a more in depth breakdown. So basically, any elastic hero has the potential to be a god-tier indestructible powerhouse. The issue is usually imagination, similarly to how the least interesting Green Lanterns (COUGHhaljordanCOUGHCOUGHCOUGH) are the ones with the least imagination. Plus, they usually have, you know, organs and bones and such. Sure, they can stretch and stuff too, but they’re still there. Plas has no such problem. He’s basically just a big mass of, well plasticity. For example, he had his “heart” torn out during Blackest Night, but was totally fine. He’s also been through all manner of trauma and torture and came out fine, culminating in the time he went back in time to the birth of Atlantis, got torn into hundreds of little pieces, and drifted along ocean currents for three thousand fucking years before Batman and the rest of JL put him back together, and guess what? He was fine! I mean, sure, he had some awful mental trauma, but apart from that he was a-o-good.
He can expand beyond his own apparent bodily mass, shrink down, shape shift… shit, he can even be a liquid if the temperature is right. Of course, this ties into his only real weakness: he’s unstable under rapid temperature change. He gets too cold, he freezes and shatters, he gets too hot, he melts and can’t move. But hey, otherwise? There is precisely fuck all you can do to him in a fight. Nothing physical, at least. Energy based attacks can still do a good deal of damage to him, but mental manipulation has some… difficulty. Turns out having a brain that is literally made of mush makes it pretty hard for a psychic to get all up inside that noggin.
In summation, Plastic Man is OP, pls nerf.
Step Four: I Can’t Think of any Other Jokes, so Here’s Trivia
Trivia round! Yaaaaaaaay! Oh shut up, you love it.
So Plastic Man was originally a character over at a company called Quality Comics, until the company was eventually bought out by DC. He would pop up in Dial H for Hero for a time, eventually landing his own ongoing series. He would go through various levels of popularity, but usually settling somewhere around middle tier exposure, beloved by hardcore fans but unknown to many. At the height of their popularity, the Wachowski Brothers (now actually sisters, interestingly enough) would pitch a Plastic Man movie to Warner Brothers. Now, I know that sounds pretty great, but then you think about it for more than five seconds and it all falls apart. Seriously, these were people who thought that the idea of Plastic Man having to cope with the fact that his body can’t even process his own urine anymore was “hilarious” as opposed to “David Cronenberg-esque body horror”. The film was also planned to have a great deal of environmental messages,and based off early reactions to the pitch it would have met both the goal of being preachy as well as completely unnecessary.
Plastic Man would later go on to be voiced by Tom Kenny in some of his animated adventures, better known as the voice of such characters as Spongebob, the Ice King, and Rabbit.
That’s all I got. I’m a writer, not an encyclopedia.
In conclusion, I kind of forgot where I was going with the point of this article, so here’s some nightmare fuel.
See ya next time, folks. Same bat-time, same bat-channel.