Eeyow! It’s Spastic … I mean, Plastic Man, wishes everyone a very merry Christmas!
Panel from Impulse #57
Todd Dezago, writer; Ethan Van Sciver, artist; Prentis Rollins, inker
DC Comics released its latest batch of variant covers a few days ago, and they’re really some kind of wonderful.
Besides being a nerd for comics, I’m also a huge fan of movies — particularly the ones I grew up on — so the movie poster mash-ups the stable of artists came up with push all the right buttons for me. And man, what a stable of artists it is; Dave Johnson (who pulls off several great designs), Cliff Chiang, Bill Freakin’ Sienkiewicz, and several others, who created spot-on homages to movies including Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Purple Rain, North by Northwest, Enter the Dragon, Westworld, and many, many more.
All in all, great stuff, though I was a little disappointed that Plastic Man didn’t seem to rate an appearance. But a closer look, a few magic words (and the realization that the covers were spread over two entries at the DC website), and the pliable paladin appeared!
This is really a perfect use of Plastic Man and his shapeshifting ability. And who else in the JLA could you imagine dancing to calypso? This cover by Joe Quiñones does bring up a few questions, though: Could this hint at Plas’ return to the DCU? Could he be joining the Justice League, or even Justice League Dark (which would be weird). And poor Blue Beetle — Ted just can’t get a break, can he? (But that shark chewing on Aquaman’s leg is a pretty brilliant shout-out to its Beetlejuice inspiration.)
I haven’t been picking up Justice League Dark, but you can bet that I’ll be getting this issue when it’s released in March. If you’d like to see what else is planned for release during that variant cover month, go check ’em out both here and here.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s true — if he were still alive, today would be Jack Cole’s one hundredth birthday! Eeyow! That’s a lot of birthdays!
Tragically, Cole left us when he was still in the prime of his life and at the height of his artistic power. Ever inventive and constantly pushing the boundaries of the comics medium and his own work, Cole managed to bring something new to comic books, the single-panel gag, pin-up art and the daily comic strip. Amazingly, creating an innovative character like Plastic Man was just the beginning for Cole.
Sadly, for reasons we may never know, Cole took his own life at the age of 43. It’s hard not to think what more Cole might have accomplished, what new ground he would have broken, if he had stayed with us longer. But instead, I like to think about what he already gave us, and how much his work continues to give us today.
It’s more than anybody could have asked for, really, and I can’t think of a better legacy to honor. Happy birthday, Jack Cole — times a hundred!
I hope everyone will join me in wishing artist and writer Kyle Baker a very happy birthday! Baker is one of the best comic creators out there, and has worked for just about every major publisher while also putting out his own independent work. Whether you’ve read his work before or you’re coming at it fresh, there’s plenty to choose from: The Cowboy Wally Show, Why I Hate Saturn, the “Hawkman” series featured in Wednesday Comics, The Bakers, You Are Here, Nat Turner, Instant Piano, Special Forces, his recent work on The Fifth Beatle … and that’s just starting to put a dent in your Kyle Baker reading list. Only a few days ago Comic Book Resources even posted some of his X-Men gag comics that ran monthly in Marvel Age back in the mid-80s!
And, of course, Baker also wrote and drew the 20-issue run of Plastic Man, the last and one of the greatest times the character enjoyed a solo title. (The series, the best at recapturing some of the magic of Jack Cole’s original groundbreaking work, ended in 2006. It’s been a long eight years.) Along with Jack Cole (naturally), Baker’s take on the India rubber man was one of the main inspirations for this very site, and still is today. Seriously, give yourself a birthday gift in honor of Kyle Baker and pick up or re-read any one of his titles — you won’t be sorry.
It’s always interesting to see how different artists interpret “real life” versions of Woozy. Sometimes they even work better than the more cartoony depictions, especially since he almost always come across as crafty more than goofy. Personally, I like something that falls somewhere in between, something that can be used for the more serious stories without leaving Woozy looking out of place, but that still fits in when they want to get silly.
Panel from The Power of Shazam #21
Pete Krause, artist; Mike Manley, inker; Jerry Ordway, writer
Guys, you won’t hear me bad-mouthing the multi-mini series Convergence event because, finally, FINALLY, Plastic Man is returning to the DCU!
DC has been announcing Convergence creative teams and general plotlines over the last few weeks, and yesterday the final bunch of titles was released. Almost hidden away at the end of the list was Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, Earth X. Now if you know your convoluted DC history, you might remember that a clutch of Earth 2 heroes — made up mostly of members from the Freedom Fighters and the All-Star Squadron — migrated to Earth X to fight evil in a dimension where the Axis had won World War II and the Nazis were in charge.
And who was originally a native of Earth 2, a member of the All-Star Squadron and a known Nazi-buster?
Yeah, you know who.
Check out the solicitation from DC: