Celebrate 75 years with … the Super Powers origin of Plastic Man!

When the Super Powers Collection was released in 1984, the line of action figures was almost instantly beloved. It was also instantly ubiquitous, getting a huge marketing push from Kenner and DC Comics, including three different mini-series for each year’s new set.

Naturally, each mini-series highlighted the latest characters to be immortalized in blister packs. By the time they got to the third release, everyone had finally come to their senses and brought in Plastic Man! I’ll talk more about the figure some other time (spoiler: it’s great), and instead let’s focus on the time an android told Cyborg about Plastic Man’s origin in Super Powers #2 (vol. 3).

In between battles with Darkseid and his minions, the Super Powers gang take advantage of the downtime to shoot the breeze instead of bad guys. Cyborg confides in Plas and Cyclotron (a character created for the toy line), telling them that he doesn’t trust another new addition, Samurai. (You might recognize Samurai as a refugee from his original spot in the Super Friends cartoon.) Plastic Man defends Samurai, reminding Cyborg that no one should be judged before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves.

It turns out Cyclotron knows exactly why Plas feels that way.

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Boy, penciller Carmine Infantino was born to draw androids, right?

As far as retellings go, this is a pretty faithful, economical version of Plastic Man’s origin. I really appreciate how writer Paul Kupperberg organically eased the story in, doing a nice bit of character building while he was at it. A lot of later writers would completely ignore Eel O’Brian’s life before becoming Plastic Man, overlooking a rich background to draw from and build upon. But in a few panels, Kupperberg tells us something important about Plas — he hasn’t forgotten where he’s come from, and that tempers his sense of justice and fairness as a hero today. I love it.

Also, he plays ping-pong against himself, which is fantastic.

Tomorrow … the origin of Plastic Man!

It’s Plastic Man, the Silver Surfer, and the spirit of Mego!

I’ve been falling behind on posting again, so we’ll be doubling up on the updates this time around. First up is Plastic Man’s latest appearance over on the Super-Team Family blog, with Ross Pearsall matching the pliable paladin up with that Sentinal of the Skyways, the Silver Surfer!

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Bonus points for that clever issue title, by the way.

Ross always does a great job with this team-ups that never happened (but should have), and Plastic Man has been lucky enough to have make semi-regular appearances over the years. This pairing is particularly appropriate thanks to Mike Allred, the Silver Surfer artist seen here. Allred, who readers might know from his lauded creator-owned series Madman, also created a Madman spinoff called The Atomics. And in The Atomics there is a character called Mr. Gum who is pretty obviously based on a reformed-crook-turned-elastic-lawman. I mean, we’re talking right down to the suit colors and eyewear, which you can see in another of Ross’ mash-ups.

Neat, right? I’d have to say Plastic Man still has the better codename, though.

Next up is something we won’t be able to get our hands on until February, but it will be more than worth the wait (and the $30 price) — a Mego-style Plastic Man!

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The figure will be released by Figures Toy Company as part of the third wave of its Super Powers collection, which I’m guessing is in line with the third volume of the Super Powers comic? Maybe? In any case, the figure does look as if it’s following the comics’ sweet Carmine Infantino character design. (Brief aside: I have a friend who not only seemed to find my Plas fandom amusing, but also once asked, “So what’s the deal with his goggles? Is he always looking at a window or what?” It’s a fair point, so we’re still friends.)

Other figures released as part of the series will include a Hal Jordan Green Lantern, the Flash, and a fairly awesome Martian Manhunter. Of course Plastic Man is at the top of my list, not least of all because (as far as I can tell) this is the first time the character has gotten the full, production-line, Mego treatment. There was a Mego Plastic Man that was like Stretch Armstrong, but this is closer to a more traditional Mego.

What I’m getting at is, Christmas is only a couple of months away. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Special thanks to Anthony Durso for pointing me to the Plastic Man figure. You can catch up with Anthony on Twitter, and check out his custom Mego packaging for Plastic Man at the Mego Museum site (it’s next-level stuff, guys)!

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Things haven’t been in the best shape around the ol’ N.B.I. HQ lately, so I apologize for the lack of content — I’ll be trying to get back to regular posting, so thanks for your patience.

Panel from Super Powers #3 (Vol. 3)

Paul Kupperberg, writer; Carmine Infantino, artist