- from Plastic Man #10 (vol. 4)
- Kyle Baker, artist/writer
Wait a minute! Plastic Man is 75 years old today?! But he looks great — sometimes even better than ever! How does he do it?
Hey, don’t look at me — blame Kyle Baker.
Of the various incarnations and interpretations of Plastic Man throughout his 75 year history, I have two favorites; the first is Jack Cole’s original run, and the other is Kyle Baker’s wonderful 20-issue series.
I tend to read and re-read Plastic Man stories on a regular basis (surprise!), but Baker’s too-short run is probably the one I come back to the most. Even just while preparing this post, I ended up reading a couple of issues before I could stop myself. Through a combination of humor, unexpected emotional depth, and a clear understanding of what makes the character click, Baker created a Plastic Man that could have — SHOULD have — served as a template for a new, modern Plas.
In his first issue, Baker (writer and artist for the series) lays the groundwork for the story arc and gives readers his own version of Plastic Man’s origin. All of the major beats are still there, but he also adds Nancy, Eel O’Brian’s best gal and a new character who ends up being important to the overall story. I keep wishing she was still part of Plas’ regular cast, a “Plastic Man family” that has unfortunately languished since the series ended in 2006.
And so far, this is our first quote of those infamous lines — “Ya putrid punks!” and “Adios, Eel!”
Is it any wonder this is one of my favorite runs? There’s just so much to absorb, both in terms of the art and the script, that it’s a series that rewards a second read. And a third. And a fourth …
Tomorrow … the origin of Plastic Man!
Guys. GUYS. I usually try to avoid shilling for any particular distributor or company, but Comixology (a service I actually both use and enjoy) just announced a weeklong sale in honor of Plastic Man’s 75th anniversary!
It’s a pretty good sale, offering 50 percent off a nice selection of comics hitting all the highlights from Plas’ long and storied history. Any of the comics listed would be a good choice (with a possible exception, your mileage may blah blah), but if you want to focus on one run in particular, I’d wholeheartedly recommend the Kyle Baker issues. And the entire 20-issue series is available, so get to it!
(You can’t go wrong with the Phil Foglio/Hilary Barta four-issue mini series, either. Or the Adventure Comics books. Or the original Golden Age stories by Plastic Man creator Jack Cole. Or … hell, get ’em all!)
Speaking of the Golden Age, it may be surprising to some that Plastic Man has been around long enough to celebrate a 75th anniversary. It’s always worth remembering that Plas hit the stands on May 14, 1941 (cover date August 1941), in Police Comics #1. This was only three years after Superman’s debut, but Plastic Man was already a wholly original creation, and a nearly instant hit for Quality Comics.
Since then, Plastic Man has enjoyed an almost constant presence, in comics, cartoons, figures, and various DC marketing efforts. Even when the character doesn’t have his own ongoing series or featured spot in a team book, he’s never too far away. The titles being offered by Comixology are a good way to see how Plas has developed over time, and why he remains a favorite of fans and creators alike.
The sale ends May 9, so don’t miss your chance to pick up some great Plastic Man titles!
I’ve mentioned before how I don’t think much of Plastic Man being portrayed as a lascivious lech, but for some reason when Woozy does it I find it hilarious. And really, that’s got to be one of the best pick-up lines in history.
You might as well forget The Detective right now, Talia – ain’t no way you’re going to resist that ol’ Winks charm.
from Plastic Man #19 (vol. 4)
Kyle Baker, writer/artist
It’s Valentine’s Day! A time when there’s something special in the air, when a young man’s fancy turns to … Plastic Man!
DC Comics and Cleo knew this way back in 1980, when the arts-and-crafts company put out the Super Friends Action Valentine Playbook, featuring a handful of DC’s most popular characters declaring their no-doubt platonic love. And who managed to wiggle his way in there? Well, it wasn’t that chump, Dibney.
That’s right — Plastic Man thinks you’re a knockout! Here’s a non-sideways look at the valentine.
This activity book would have come out a few months into the first season of the Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, so it makes sense that Plas would have been popping up in licensed products here and there. And of course, he lends himself to some interesting art projects.
OK, taking another look at that valentine, I know what you’re thinking — BEST VALENTINE EVER! Happy Valentine’s Day, Plasti-fans!
Thanks to Rob Kelly of The Aquaman Shrine for passing these on!
Bonus: Plas and Morgan reconcile in Plastic Man #6 (vol. 4), written and drawn by Kyle Baker.
D’awww … that Eely-poo is such a softie.
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.
I’m not usually into fan-casting very much — not because I don’t think it’s an interesting exercise, but because I’m usually terrible at it.
Still, the recent news that a Justice League movie is planned to spin out of the in-the-works Batman vs. Superman flick got me thinking: Who could play Plastic Man? Don’t get me wrong — I know there’s no way Plas is going to show up in the JLA movie. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like it if he did.
A lot of people tend to point to David Tennant when trying to cast Plastic Man, but I think that would be a bad move. SETTLE DOWN. Let me tell you why: First of all, I’m not sure he wouldn’t play the role too big. Yeah, Plas is supposed to be a fun character, but there’s the danger of just turning him into a clown, and I think it’d be too easy for Tennant to take that route (Exhibit A: His scenery-chawin’ appearance as Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Secondly … well, let’s be honest, put Tennant in a JLA movie and all anyone’s going to see is the Doctor.
Nope, I’m a big believer in casting relative unknowns in superhero movies (or at least not casting A-list stars), and my choice fits that description, along with a few other criteria. I would cast Jerry Trainor as Plastic Man.
Oh, c’mon, you know — this guy.
Trainor is best known as big brother Spencer on iCarly, the popular live-action show that ran on Nickelodeon for six years. Spencer was a gangly, goofy free-spirit who was nonetheless devoted to responsibly raising his little sister (and who wasn’t above getting into mischief with her and her friends and/or bailing them out of trouble). Trainor’s character was often silly but he knew when to dial it back, and was just as often supportive and in-charge when he needed to take care of business.
Sound like someone we know?
Trainor’s also young, but not too young, and he’s got the right look (you’ve practically just got to slap a pair of goggles on him and you’re ready to go). He could possibly also help bring in a new and loyal fan-base, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
So that’s my choice to play Plastic Man — who’d you like to see in the role?
panel from Plastic Man #16
writer/artist, Kyle Baker