Rediscovering the real World’s Finest

Look, I love Superman. Really — he’s one of my favorite superheroes, and embodies everything good and noble about the concept. He’s a truly aspirational character.

And I used to live for the World’s Finest, deservedly recognized as maybe the greatest team-up in comicsdom. What’s not to love about Superman and Batman joining forces to defeat the bad guys?

But … can we all just admit now that Batman and Plastic Man make the greatest partners ever?!

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These guys bro so hard, Plastic Man is still trying to high-five himself.

  • from The Brave and The Bold #76 — “Death, What is Thy Shape?”
  • Bob Haney, writer; Mike Sekowsky, penciler; Jack Abel, inker
  • George Kashdan, editor

Will Plastic Man Strike Again … again?

Comic Book Resources recently posted an article about the upcoming “The Dark Knight III: The Master Race,” which is frankly a comic I almost could not care less about. In spite of the presence of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Andy Kubert on the project, both of whom are creators I tend to like quite a bit, I’m pretty much done with original Dark Knight creator and Master Race collaborator Frank Miller. As it is, I only enjoy current Batman stories about half the time, so I’m pre-soured on the whole thing to the point of ambivalence.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that during the interview (you can read the spoiler-laden article at the website) Kubert and Azzarello were asked what characters could be expected to show up. Specifically mentioned as possibilities were Green Arrow, who played a major role in both the original The Dark Knight Returns and its follow-up, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, as well as Superman, Wonder Woman, and their daughter (and maybe more offspring?).

And then there was this from Azzarello:

But I thought you said in comic books, nobody is ever really dead.

Azzarello: Well, he [Martian Manhunter] got burned. [Laughs] And you know what? In “DKIII,” it does matter. But we’re going to hit the remaining, living members of the Justice League. The Atom is in it. We’ll be continuing the story of the characters you’ve seen before.

And that’s what caught my attention, because Batman’s longtime buddy Plastic Man was one of the heroes rescued from the clutches of Lex Luthor in DKII.

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I can’t say the Miller version of Plas is one I particular care for, but it would be nice to see him in a comic again (especially coming so relatively soon after his appearance in Plastic Man and The Freedom Fighters). And hopefully Azzarello would keep him from being as over-the-top and out of character as Miller depicted him and everyone else in Strikes.

Unless they bring back Elongated Man (also featured in Strikes) and leave Plastic Man out altogether. That would be … oh, man. I’ll just let Plas sum it up.

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You keep telling yourself that, Ralph … keep telling yourself that.

Plastic Man and Batman: A long-term bromance

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I’m telling you guys, Plastic Man and Batman are like, total bros.

And why not? Sure, there’s the modern idea of Batman wanting to keep an eye on powerful friends and foes alike, but the two also have something in common — they’re both orphans. I don’t think this has ever really been explored in the comics (at least not explicitly), but I like to think Bruce looks at Eel and realizes how easy it could have been for him to go in that initially criminal direction. Instead of having a mansion, an incredibly dedicated butler and a bajillions of dollars to fall back on, Eel wound up in an orphanage when he was 10 years old, alone and with no one to rely on but himself. You tell me which outcome happens more often.

I also like to think that Batman sees the hope for redemption in Plastic Man, which is why he’s tried so hard to support, cajole and browbeat him over the years and through various iterations. Like the Joker, Eel was a crook who was doused with a toxic mix in a chemical factory while trying to dodge the authorities. The difference is that Eel woke up in the care of people who owed him nothing, but still gave him a chance because they saw the potential for good in him. Powerful stuff, and enough to make Eel instantly change his ways and become a hero. A hero, I might add, who enjoys being a good guy, in stark contrast to a certain pointy-eared vigilante.

Besides, look at that smile on Batman’s face; you just know he totally digs hanging out with his old pal Plas!

Ol’ Panhandlin’ Plas

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Plastic Man got some love from Comics Alliance today, courtesy of his appearance in The Brave and The Bold #123 — in which a panhandling Plas is asked to fill in for the Caped Crusader, and is promptly brainwashed into forgetting he’s not Batman. It’s good fun, and definitely worth a look!

Where’s Plas?!

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from Justice #8

art by Alex Ross and Doug Braithwaite

Eeyow! It’s Christmas!

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Originally published Dec. 25, 2013

Have a merry — and safe — Christmas, everyone!

Page from The Brave and The Bold #148

Bob Haney, writer; Joe Staton and Bob Aparo, artists