Catching up with Plastic Man

I’ve been doing a lot of running around lately, which is the best, lamest excuse I can come up with for not updating this blog more often. Luckily, Plastic Man has been in the aether in just the past week, so let’s hit the highlights!

It was announced last week that creators Jesus Merino, Evan “Doc” Shaner, and writer Steve Orlando will be working exclusively with DC Comics, a result of DC’s ongoing effort to lock up talent in its run-up to the Rebirth non-relaunch thing. All three have already been doing work for the publisher, and it’s a good idea to keep them around on a long-term basis.

The best part for me, though, was knowing Shaner will be one of the architects of this latest iteration of the DCU. Not only does he have a wonderfully old-school style that’s worked so well with Captain Marvel, Flash Gordon, and others, but he’s also got an obvious affinity for Plastic Man. He’s done a number of pieces featuring Plas just for the fun of it, and then he said this in the press release announcing his exclusive deal:

… The Flash Gordon artist went on to praise the characters he’ll possibly get to work with, as well as the Hanna-Barbera characters he’s been tapped to pencil, saying, “Superman, Captain Marvel, The Flash, Plastic Man, and so many more — these are some of my favorite characters of all time …” [emphasis mine]

It’s a faint trail, but it leads me to believe that we’re finally going to see Plastic Man’s return to the DCU! And if Shaner is the artist working with the character, that’s even better (and something I’ve advocated for a while now). Every time DC does one of these reboots, I hope that Plas will be  part of the new setting, and almost every time I end up disappointed. But this time, I’m both cautiously and enthusiastically optimistic — don’t break my heart, DC — give us more of this!

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Recently I had the privilege of being a guest on Ryan Daly’s Secret Origins podcast! It’s one of my favorite shows, so it was a thrill to be on. The podcast covers every issue of DC’s 1980s series Secret Origins, and we talked about the second half of issue #30 — featuring Plastic Man! Ryan is also joined by Bradley Null to discuss the first half of the comic, highlighting Ralph Dibny, aka, the Elongated Man. The show and the comic are lots of fun, so go give it a  listen (and while you’re at it, browse through the other podcasts that are part of the Fire and Water Podcast Network — you won’t be sorry).

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Part of what’s been keeping me busy lately was a trip to my hometown, where I finally got to visit Asylum Comics and Cards, one of the few comic shops in the city. (Seriously, El Paso, what’s up with that?!) Asylum is a great little shop, with a good mix of new comics, back issues (including treasury editions!), and toys and figures. And the owner is willing to negotiate prices on back issues, which means I got this sweet baby for a very good price.

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The return of that little jerk, Robby Reed!

It’s always a thrill to find back issues of Plastic Man, especially when they’re from the Steve Skeates/Ramona Fradon run, but it’s even better to bring them home with you.

Taking Shape: Love hurts!

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He doesn’t do it as often as Eddie Izzard, or say, Bugs Bunny, but Plastic Man isn’t afraid to explore his feminine side when it gets the job done.

  • from Plastic Man #25 (vol. 1)
  • writer/artist: Jack Cole (credited)

Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us, Year Four Annual #1

Generally speaking, I haven’t really been keeping up with monthly comics for a while. Which is why I’ve hardly read anything from the Injustice: Gods Among Us storyline, even though it launched in early 2013. But I still have an idea of what’s going on, and I’m glad about that because otherwise I might’ve missed one of the best Plastic Man stories I’ve read in a long time.

The alternate universe Injustice story spun out of a video game of the same name released that same year, and it boils down to the now-tired idea of, “What if Superman went evil?” It’s a trope I personally think has gotten really boring (and has been for a long time, honestly), and any kind of merchandising tie-in makes me leery, so I actively avoided the comic. But based on Injustice: Gods Among Us, Year Four Annual #1 (eesh, what a mouthful), I might revisit the whole thing because Tom Taylor writes the hell out of this issue.

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Taylor, who was also the original writer on the series, pulls off something that seems to give a lot of other writers trouble — finding the balance of Plastic Man. Still a seemingly devil-may-care character who cracks wise in the face of undeniable danger, Taylor’s Plas is also formidable, determined, and focused. He mockingly calls out the wrongs he sees, and demands justice from the group that has set itself up as rulers of the world. He knows who he is, who he’s been, and acknowledges his mistakes while still moving forward. He is, in a word, heroic. That’s the kind of Plastic Man I like to see.

The story, which was released earlier this month, opens with a group of protestors/terrorists (depending on who you ask) blowing up the famed statue of Superman. Almost immediately, Flash and Superman are on the scene, and after a super-speed sweep of the park, Flash has rounded up the four protestors. But, as Cyborg tells them from back at headquarters, there should be five of them. While the former heroes look for the missing man, a park bench starts shapeshifting and untying his compatriots — until Superman and Flash come back and arrest him, too. Flash recognizes him and is instantly apprehensive because this kid is Luke McDunnagh, Plastic Man’s son.

Back at the Hall of Justice, what comprises the Justice League decides there can’t be any favoritism and Luke has to be imprisoned along with the other super-criminals. You kind of get the idea that it’s less about nepotism and more about self-preservation, though, as the group also goes on high-alert, especially once Plastic Man actually walks through the doors. In short order Plas manages to insult the group, piss off Superman, and point out that Sinestro has a really evil mustache.

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I don’t want to give too much away, but what follows is a great sort of heist story, with Plastic Man handily outsmarting and out-heroing his old friends. Tom Taylor’s characterization of Plas is, again, fantastic. I would love to see Taylor take on a regular Plastic Man series; I’ve mentioned other writers in the past, but with this annual Taylor has jumped to the top of my list. Really, if for no other reason than he brought back Woozy Winks in a way that feels real and loaded with subtle depth. Sharing few words (as men tend to do), Plas and Woozy communicate a long and heartfelt friendship, one that would lead an ordinary man to risk Superman’s wrath. In a book filled with great scenes, this might be my favorite.

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Also pitch-perfect is the artwork by Bruno Redondo, who captures facial expressions, body language, and camera angles with a solid self-assurance that grabs the reader without being flashy. That might sound like faint praise, but Redondo’s work (along with the seamless finishes by Sergio Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona on the final pages) is really wonderful, and I’d even call some panels beautiful. As a whole, from Sandoval’s inks to the coloring by Rex Lokus, I can’t say enough good things about this creative team.

At its heart, the Injustice Year Four Annual (I refuse to type that whole name out again), is a story about family. It’s about the love between a father and son, even when that relationship has been strained to its breaking point in the past. It’s about the continuing break-up of the family that was once the Justice League. And a prodigal son comes home, making a holy mess out of the carefully placed dinner table. I was happy to see Plastic Man was the one stretching his elbows all over that table.

It’s ironic that an alternate universe version of Plastic Man somehow turned out to be a truer version of that character than I’ve seen in a while. If DC ever does get around to putting out a Plastic Man series, or even making him a regular part of a relaunched JLA book, I hope this is the Plastic Man we’ll see. This is the Plas I’ve been waiting for.

Le Gallerie Plastique: Marc Greisinger

What’s this? Ooh, just fleskin’ our muskles with Plastiks Man — arf arf arf!

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Artist Marc Greisinger specializes in drawings of classic comic and cartoon characters — with Popeye and Plas being apparent favorites (mine, too!) — so I was happy to come across his playful mash-up of the two. The irascible sailor-man and the easygoing Plastic Man are a fantastic pairing (even if Popeye doesn’t seem so sure), and Greisinger’s Popeye is stylistically spot-on. The highlight for me, though, might be the clever design of Plas’ “pipe!”

For more of Marc Greisinger’s work, check out his DeviantArt page.

It’s Plastic Man is NOT on hiatus

As you may have noticed, there haven’t been any new posts here at It’s Plastic Man for a while, and regular posting was becoming suspiciously irregular before that. I’ve mentioned it in passing, but I realized I never actually said it here, so I want it to be clear: It’s Plastic Man is not on hiatus, and it is certainly not abandoned, dying or  – eeyow! – dead.

Let me pull the curtain back for a sec. I make a living as a freelance copy editor and writer, and occasionally I take on more long-term work as a contractor. Which is what I’m doing right now, as a copy editor with a state agency that works closely with the state legislature. I’m not going to bore you more than I already am; the upshot is that at the moment my job is basically a blur of 10-to-12 hour days, six days a week, and that’s been the case for the last three weeks or so.

Guys, when I get home I’m tired.

But! The current workload should only be like this for the next couple of weeks, and then drop off pretty dramatically after that. Once that happens, I’ll be able to start posting on a regular basis again – hooray! And even before then, we’ll be looking at the release of Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters #1 next week, and you can bet I’ll have something to say about that.

In the meantime, thanks for your patience and be sure to stick around – like the always-adaptable Plastic Man himself, you can’t keep this site down for long!

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Pow!

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Plastic Man by José Luis Garcia-Lopez (praised be his name)

from the 1982 DC Comics Style Guide

Is there a better superhero artist than Garcia-Lopez? And am I the only one who hears “Stayin’ Alive” looking at this image?!