from Wonder Woman #17
Gail Simone, writer; Terry Dodson and Ron Randall, pencillers;
Rachel Dodson and Ron Randall, inkers
Let me put this out there — I think Gail Simone has the perfect sensibilities to write Plastic Man, with a proven talent for being able to balance fun and high-stakes adventure without being silly. I would love, love, love to see Simone on an ongoing solo Plastic Man title.
At some point in his history, Plastic Man became kind of a horn-dog.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when this happened, but I’d guess it was during his reintroduction in the early 80s. Now, this isn’t to say Plas had never fallen under the charms of various femme fatales throughout the years. But as the character was ushered into our more modern times, two things happened; he became the comic relief, and he started hitting on every hot babe in the room.
Honestly, I’ve got my problems with both of these developments, but that doesn’t mean both characteristics haven’t been used effectively. And at this point, they’ve pretty much become standard personality traits for Plastic Man, for good and bad.
So, on which side of the fence does this mostly goofy page from Superman #110 fall? I’ll leave that up to you, but that second panel made me both chuckle and raise an eyebrow at the raunchy implications in Plastic Man’s seemingly innocent gallantry. I’m not surprised scripter Jerry Ordway got away with this one, though — after all, it was published in 1996, and Ordway’s sly wink was subtle enough to be considered an inside joke for his already-aging audience.
Besides, if the Loony Tunes could get away with this sort of thing once in while, why not Plastic Man?
Page from Superman #110
Writers: Dan Jurgens (plot), Jerry Ordway (script)
Artists: Ron Frenz, Joe Rubinstein
from Plastic Man #64 (Quality)
artist/writer uncredited (art sometimes attributed to Jack Cole)
1982 seemed to be a good year for Plastic Man.
Not only was he coming off a string of recent earlier appearances in various team-up books — including a year-long run in Adventure Comics and featured roles in Super Friends, All-Star Squadron and a few others —he was a cover boy for the ’82 DC Style Guide! Of course, “seemed” is the key word; except for some sporadic pop-ups in All-Star Squadron (nooo, I’m not going to abbreviate it), Plas would almost disappear from the DCU until he and everyone else walked on for the Crisis on Infinite Earths in ’85.
(I’m planning to get into it for a future post, but man, does the Earth 1/Earth 2/Earth X-ish timelines for Plastic Man get a little confusing.)
Still, there was obviously some love for our Indian rubber man in the DC offices, and he got some repeated play in the style guide from who I’m still pretty sure was José Luis Garcia-López. And that’s never a bad thing.
Here’s the cover, with Plas taking a stretch on the back. (Don’t think I didn’t notice that chump Dibney on the front cover). I’m always amused by the way artists hide Plastic Man in crowd shots, but reward the viewer if they’re paying attention. He’s like a super-powered Waldo.
This black-and-white detail is gorgeous, and somehow looks less crowded (even with the addition of Red Tornado). But now that I think about it, what the hell happened to Plas’ arms?! Is he doing the T-Rex?
And here’s a really well-composed splash page — including arms!
I love, love, love this art and could look at it all day (and have!) I do have one question, though. Go back and look at the covers: What’s the deal with the baby Dynamic Duo? And the Li’l Superman and Wonder Woman? And wouldn’t this have been a perfect time to plant a tiny Baby Plas?!
(Check out Plastic Man’s Pantone appearance in this earlier post!)
From Plastic Man #54 (Vol. 1)
I love little behind-the-scenes bits of ephemera, and this DC Comics color guide from 1982 may be one of my favorite things. Part of the reason these character and costume designs are so iconic is because they are (or were) consistent, and that helps make them instantly recognizable. (The artwork doesn’t hurt either. It’s hard to tell at that size, but is that José Luis Garcia-López’s work, praised be his name?)
I think it speaks well of Plastic Man as a character that, in a group of fairly static poses, the wise-acre is still managing to get into some mischief!
Posting has been irregular here lately (sorry ’bout that — blame life), so here are some quick Plas-centric items to wrap your mind around!
• I swear, I’m not going to start swiping everything from Firestorm Fan, but Shag did share this great image by Gregg Schigiel. Can we have a Muppet JLA, please? Why don’t we get this started? It’s time to get this started!
• Speaking of that Shag guy, he and partner-in-crime Rob Kelly (of the amazing Aquaman Shrine) co-host Who’s Who: The Definitive Podcast of the DC Universe, and they finally got to Plastic Man! Woo-hoo! For what it’s worth, I agree with the guys’ assessment: The image of Plastic Man on the cover (by George Perez) is fantastic; the static (boring, dull, uninspired) image on the entry page less-so.
I’m a little surprised, considering interior artist Joe Staton did a much better, much more imaginative, job depicting Plas in the pages of Adventure Comics and The Brave and The Bold. Take a look and see what you think. (And while you’re at it, be sure to give the Who’s Who and Fire & Water podcasts a listen!)
• Look, guys, I go to Target fairly often, and I’ve never seen this Plastic Man figure! And, boy, do I want it. I really like that it’s kind of a bendy, and that it looks both like Plas and Otto the Autopilot from Airplane! (clip slightly NSFW). And I can think of one person who’ll be happy to see that Martian Manhunter!
Go check out Toyrrific for the original post and pictures!
I got this for a super-great price, but it would’ve been worth it for the super-jaunty Plastic Man on the inside cover alone. I can’t wait to start digging into this from start to finish, though it might be hard not to skip straight to “Plastic Mummy Meets Disco Mummy.” (Not to mention the animated appearance of Dr. Dome!)
There is one problem, though: While the set is called “The Complete Collection,” it looks as if it doesn’t include the later Baby Plas episodes. The completist in me is a little annoyed that these are missing, but the more sane part of me is kind of relieved.