Plastic Man

Plastic Man (real name Patrick "Eel" O'Brian) is a fictional superhero originally published by Quality Comics and later acquired by DC Comics. Created by cartoonist Jack Cole, Plastic Man was one of the first superheroes to incorporate humor into mainstream action storytelling. This character has been published in several solo series and has interacted with other characters such as Batman and many others in the mainstream DC Universe as a member of the Justice League. He has additionally appeared in several television and video game adaptations, including a short-lived television show of his own named The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show.

Plastic Man
Plastic Man
Poster art by Alex Ross
Publication information
PublisherQuality Comics (1941–1956)
DC Comics (1956–present)
First appearancePolice Comics #1 (August 1941)
Created byJack Cole
In-story information
Alter egoPatrick "Eel" O'Brian
Team affiliations
PartnershipsWoozy Winks
Offspring
Batman
Martian Manhunter
Notable aliasesRalph Johns, Edward O Brian
Abilities
  • Superhuman elasticity/plasticity, malleability, resilience, durability and agility
  • Regenerative healing factor
  • Shapeshifting
  • Immune to telepathy
  • Invulnerability
  • Immortality

Publication history

PoliceComicNo15
Plastic Man and The Spirit on the cover of Police Comics #15 (January 1943). Artwork by Gill Fox.

Created by writer-artist Jack Cole, he first appeared in Police Comics #1 (August 1941).

One of Quality Comics' signature characters during the Golden Age of Comic Books, Plastic Man can stretch his body into any imaginable form, for example a ball or a car, etc. His adventures were known for their quirky, offbeat structure and surreal slapstick humor. When Quality Comics was shut down in 1956, DC Comics acquired many of its characters, integrating Plastic Man into the mainstream DC Universe and giving him a short-lived series in the 1960s.

The character starred in his own Saturday morning cartoon titled The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show from 1979 to 1981 and was also a recurring character on Batman: The Brave and the Bold from 2008 to 2011. He was also mentioned in an episode of Justice League Unlimited but was never shown due to ownership arguments, and copyright complaints. So to get around the problem they used Elongated Man as a replacement.

Although the character has never been a significant commercial success, Plastic Man has been a favorite character of many modern comic book creators, including writer Grant Morrison, who included him in his 1990s revival of the Justice League; Art Spiegelman, who profiled Cole for The New Yorker magazine; painter Alex Ross, who has frequently included him in covers and stories depicting the Justice League; writer-artist Kyle Baker, who wrote and illustrated an award-winning Plastic Man series; artist Ethan Van Sciver, who has an affinity for the character as he always toys with the idea of launching a regular monthly Plastic Man series and often draws him for fun; and Frank Miller, who included him in the Justice League in the comics All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder and Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again.

Fictional character biography

Original version by Jack Cole

HouseOfMystery160
DC revives Plastic Man after 10 years: House of Mystery #160 (July 1966). Cover art by Jim Mooney.

Plastic Man was a crook named Patrick "Eel" O'Brian. Orphaned at age 10 and forced to live on the streets, he fell into a life of crime. As an adult, he became part of a burglary ring, specializing as a safecracker. During a late-night heist at the Crawford Chemical Works, he and his three fellow gang members were surprised by a night watchman. During the gang's escape, Eel was shot in the shoulder and doused with a large drum of unidentified chemical liquid. He escaped to the street only to discover that his gang had driven off without him.

Fleeing on foot and suffering increasing disorientation from the gunshot wound and the exposure to the chemical, Eel eventually passed out on the foothills of a mountain near the city. He awoke to find himself in a bed in a mountain retreat, being tended to by a monk who had discovered him unconscious that morning. This monk, sensing a capacity for great good in O'Brian, turned away police officers who had trailed Eel to the monastery. This act of faith and kindness—combined with the realization that his gang had left him to be captured without a moment's hesitation—fanned Eel's longstanding dissatisfaction with his criminal life and his desire to reform.

During his short convalescence at the monastery, he discovered that the chemical had entered his bloodstream and caused a radical physical change. His body now had all of the properties of rubber, allowing him to stretch, bounce and mold himself into any shape. He immediately determined to use his new abilities on the side of law and order, donning a red, black and yellow (later red and yellow) rubber costume and capturing criminals as Plastic Man. He concealed his true identity with a pair of white goggles and by re-molding his face. As O'Brian, he maintained his career and connections with the underworld as a means of gathering information on criminal activity.

Plastic Man soon acquired comedic sidekick Woozy Winks, who was originally magically enchanted so that nature itself would protect him from harm. That eventually was forgotten and Woozy became simply a bumbling but loyal friend of Plastic Man.

In his original Golden Age/Quality Comics incarnation, Plastic Man eventually became a member of the city police force and then the FBI. By the time he became a federal officer, he had nearly completely abandoned his Eel O'Brian identity.

Plastic Man fought various enemies with the villain Doctor Dome being the closest he had for an archenemy.

Phil Foglio version

After the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths, a 1988–1989 four-issue Plastic Man miniseries by Phil Foglio introduced a new version of Plastic Man: Eel O'Brian, abandoned by his criminal gang after being shot and exposed to the unidentified chemical, wandered the streets as his new powers developed, frightening others and bringing the police and National Guard down on him as a dangerous monster. Eel was at first oblivious to the changes to his body, but after realizing that he was the monster at large, he used his new abilities to escape his pursuers, but soon became so despondent over his new condition that he attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge.

Fortunately, he was interrupted by Woozy Winks, a former mental patient who was kicked out of an institution due to lack of funding (or as Woozy put it, "something called Reaganomics"), who desired nothing more than to return to the warm safety of a straitjacket and padded room. Eel and Woozy decided to work together and capitalize on Eel's new powers to make their fortunes (Eel wanting to get rich quick, Woozy just wanting his "old room" back), but couldn't decide whether there was more money in crime or crime-fighting, and resorted to flipping a coin to choose serving the law (though Woozy had his doubts early on). Eel, ending up with the name "Plastic Man" after a reporter misinterpreted his first choice, "Elastic Man", and Woozy set up a detective agency in New York City and had various misadventures.

JLA

Plastic Man was made a prominent member of the Justice League during Grant Morrison's run on the title. The story arc "Rock of Ages" shows Batman recruiting Eel to infiltrate Lex Luthor's Injustice League in the guise of the Joker, which he does successfully. He notably engages in combat with the goddess Circe, proving immune to her magical ability to turn humans into animals. He is later made a full-time member of the League and aids the League in several battles, including against Prometheus, Julian September, General Wade Eiling, an upgraded version of Amazo, a White Martian who assumes the identity of Bruce Wayne, and Queen Bee. During this period he becomes close friends with fellow new members Steel (due to the fact that they are both "lateral thinkers") and Zauriel (Plastic Man later implies in the JLA: Heaven's Ladder graphic novel that his Catholic upbringing is a factor behind this, and Zauriel's existence is a testament to his faith). After the extended League dissolves at the end of the "World War III" arc, he is the only member other than the 'Big Seven' heroes to retain full-time membership in the JLA.

Plastic Man has also been instrumental in defeating several foes by himself, such as a Jokerized version of Dr. Polaris and the 'Burning Martian' persona of J'onn J'onzz. He has played substantial roles in nearly every major team-up and crossover featuring the League of this era, such as with the Titans (The Technis Imperative), Young Justice (World Without Grownups), the Justice Society of America (Virtue and Vice, where he is one of the heroes to be possessed by one of the Seven Deadly Sins), the Avengers (the JLA/Avengers crossover) and even the Looney Tunes (in the humorous Superman & Bugs Bunny miniseries). In the Tower of Babel arc, Plastic Man is frozen and shattered into pieces by Ra's al Ghul's League of Assassins, as part of an attack against the Justice League. Though he is put together again, this experience traumatizes him severely, and when it is discovered that the assassins were following methods devised by Batman, Eel joins Wonder Woman and Aquaman in voting Batman out of the League. The heroes reconcile in following issues.

The alteration that Plastic Man was initially in the superhero business for the money has had an effect on his character development, notably in the storyline "Divided We Fall" by Mark Waid where he, along with other Justice League members, was separated into two people, his normal "civilian" identity and his superhero persona, by the manipulative wish-granting Id. While Plastic Man devolved from a person with a sense of humor into a constantly wisecracking and almost ineffectual idiot, the now "normal" Eel O'Brian struggled with the criminal tendencies he had suppressed as he had become comfortable with his role as a superhero, and wondered if he had actually changed for the better or if it had all been part of the super-hero "act". Ultimately, Eel was the driving force behind the other transformed Leaguers banding together to re-join with their superheroic selves, noting that Bruce Wayne in particular was approaching a mental breakdown as he struggled with his rage over his parents' murder – having lacked the ability to do anything about it, as Batman was the identity that had 'inherited' his skills. Eel demonstrates this to the other divided Leaguers by savagely beating Bruce Wayne with a gun in the guise of a mugger to prove Wayne's ineffectiveness, and demonstrate the degree of psychological damage he has suffered due to the split.[1] Later, Batman comments that it was a wise move "under the circumstances".[2] Later, Plastic Man approaches Batman for help when he learns that Eel's estranged ten-year-old son Luke has fallen in with a gang of criminals, and has inherited his father's shape-shifting abilities, possibly to an even greater degree than Plastic Man's own. Plastic Man admits to Batman that he doesn't know if he ran away from being a father because he was enjoying his new life as a hero, or because he was afraid of becoming like his own parent. Batman later intimidates Luke into returning home, and informs Plastic Man that he is disappointed in his cowardice, imagining that Eel would have shown Luke fatherly love; in reality, Plastic Man chose only to hide on Batman's utility belt during the whole encounter with Luke.[3]

During the story arc "The Obsidian Age", Plastic Man and the other main members of the JLA were transported through time thousands of years earlier to the beginning days of Atlantis. During a battle with the antagonists, Plastic Man was frozen and then shattered into pieces. Having no way to locate all the pieces, much less fix him, with the technology of the day, the JLA returned to their own time. There they were eventually successful in finding all the pieces and restoring Plastic Man. Unfortunately, Plas had been conscious the entire time but unable to move, which had a profoundly negative effect on his mind. He admitted he had lost his nerve and quit the JLA, hoping to live a regular life. Helping him come to grips with leaving his former life behind was his recent new encounter with his now-teenage son, as he felt the boy needed a father and a normal life. Eventually, Batman convinced Plas to return to his life as a super hero again when they needed his shape-shifting skills and immunity to telepathy to defeat the Martian Manhunter, who had regressed to a racial memory of the long-forgotten 'Burning Martians' after overcoming his weakness to fire. After a few more cases, Plastic Man is present at the memorial service held after this incarnation of the Justice League officially disbands during the Infinite Crisis storyline.

One Year Later, Countdown and Blackest Night

In the 2009 "One Year Later" DC Comics crossover storyline that followed the "Infinite Crisis" crossover, a young man with similar appearance and powers as Plastic Man appears briefly in the superteam series Teen Titans Vol. 3, #34 written by R.J. Carter. The character wears a white costume with red goggles, similar to that of Offspring, Plastic Man's son in the earlier 1999 DC miniseries The Kingdom by Mark Waid. While the Teen Titans story itself does not identify the character, page two of a published script supposedly by writer Geoff Johns' specifies it is "Plastic Man's son, Offspring".[4] Plastic Man's son is also shown in costume, and identified as Offspring, in the 2007 52 Week 35 (written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid) when he is injured while rescuing a number of the depowered Everyman heroes. Eventually, Plastic Man and Offspring come together as father and son and for a while, they had the idyllic family set up until Plas was convinced that he couldn't deny his rubberized destiny as a super hero.

In Countdown to Mystery #1 (2007) written by Matthew Sturges, Plastic Man is seduced by Eclipso, being made to believe he is a joke among his fellow heroes, and the only way for him to get some respect is through Eclipso. He is later freed of this corruption by Bruce Gordon. Plastic Man makes his next appearance within the pages of Green Arrow/Black Canary #8 by Judd Winick, having been freed from a stasis tube by Green Arrow. His DNA is taken by Sivana and used to augment an amnesiac Connor Hawke, in a bid to turn the young hero into a brainwashed slave with a strong healing factor.

Plastic Man appeared for a brief period in the 2009 Justice League of America vol. 2 series written by Len Wein. After joining up with the team following the events of Final Crisis, Plastic Man has his effectiveness questioned by his teammate Dr. Light, which starts a fight between the two. Vixen breaks them up.[5] Vixen reassigns Plastic Man to team up with Dr. Light to stop the Royal Flush Gang robbery, when they have some control issues.[6] Later, after the Royal Flush Gang is defeated, Plastic Man and Dr. Light finally stop arguing.[7]

During a massive battle at the Justice League Satellite in Justice League: Cry for Justice, Prometheus injected Plastic Man with a chemical that badly damaged his plastic body. The chemicals caused Eel to suffer from a condition where it took great concentration to keep himself in his usual, semi-solid state and caused him pain, according to him, when he even thought about changing shape, leaving him in an infirm state.[8][9]

In the Blackest Night crossover, while still suffering from his deteriorating state, Plastic Man had his heart torn out by the Black Lantern, Vibe, seemingly killing him.[10] However, due to his powers, he was able to survive such an attack, albeit badly wounded.[11] In the following issue, Vixen stated that Plastic Man was being taken care of at STAR Labs, and that he would be unable to return to the League.[12]

He then appears in Justice League: Generation Lost, helping a large coalition of heroes on an unsuccessful mission to trace Maxwell Lord. He has seemingly been cured of his condition, and was shown retaining his normal shape without issue.[13]

Later, he aids the JLA on their mission into Hell, where he helps Batman defeat Geryon. The League learns Satanus' plans to use the Dante's mask to become powerful. Plastic Man grabs the mask, which possesses him. The Leagues combines forces to remove the mask, which is incinerated, apparently killing Plastic Man; however, it is discovered Zauriel transported him into another dimension. Zauriel helps the League escape Hell.[14]

The New 52

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, Plastic Man is considered as one of the candidates for the United Nations-sponsored Justice League International. He is denied a spot on the team for being too unpredictable.[15] This cameo appearance was later retconned by "Eel" O'Brian's proper New 52 introduction in Justice League (Vol. 2) #25 (February 2014).

DC Rebirth

In Dark Days: The Forge, Batman unveils a containment unit to Mister Terrific in The Lunar Batcave bearing the Plastic Man logo and suggests it is time to release him.[16]

Plastic Man assists Mister Terrific into thwarting Simon Stagg's plot to open the portal to the Dark Multiverse using Metamorpho who has been transmuted to Nth Metal. While trying to get Simon Stagg to close the portal with the help of Plastic Man, Mister Terrific is sucked in to the portal with Plastic Man and Metamorpho as Plastic Man shields them from the Dark Multiverse energy which he is immune to. Upon arriving on a lifeless world, they encounter Phantom Girl who has been trapped in her intangible form and had no knowledge of sending a signal. When the four of them find a computer in the gut of a dead giant creature, they are greeted by a hologram of Tom Strong who states that they are needed to save the universe.[17] Mister Terrific, Plastic Man, and Metamorpho learn from Phantom Girl that she was stuck in intangible form since she was a child. After the four of them made it back to their world, Mister Terrific tries to leave the three of them at Simon Stagg's compound only to be drawn back to them.[18] Due to the effects of the Dark Multiverse energy, Mister Terrific concludes that they can't go their separate ways due to this bond.[19]

Powers and abilities

Malleable Physiology: Plastic Man's powers are derived from an accident in which his body was bathed in an unknown industrial chemical mixture that also entered into his bloodstream through a gunshot wound. This caused a body-wide mutagenic process that transformed his physiology. Eel exists in a fluid state, neither entirely liquid nor solid. Plastic Man has complete control over his structure.

Density Control: Plastic Man can change his density at will; becoming as dense as a rock or as flexible as a rubber band.

Malleability (Elasticity/Plasticity): He can stretch his limbs and body to superhuman lengths and sizes. There is no known limit to how far he can stretch his body.

Size Alteration: He can shrink himself down to a few inches tall (posed as one of Batman's utility belt pockets) or become a titan (the size of skyscrapers).

Shape-Shifting: He can contort his body into various positions and sizes impossible for ordinary humans, such as being entirely flat so that he can slip under a door or using his fingers to pick conventional locks. He can also use it for disguise by changing the shape of his face and body. Thanks to his fluid state, Plastic Man can open holes in his body and turn himself into objects with mobile parts. In addition, he can alter his bodily mass and physical constitution at will; there is virtually no limit to the sizes and shapes he can contort himself into.

Superhuman Agility: These stretching powers grant Plastic Man agility, flexibility, and coordination far beyond the natural limits of the human body.

Superhuman Strength: He can alter his strength by growing or adding more muscle.

Color Change: The only limitation he has relates to color, which he cannot change without intense concentration, requiring intense focus simply to turn his nose blue. He generally does not use this ability and sticks to his red and yellow colored uniform, although even with this limitation he can turn himself into an exact duplicate of Batman's utility belt or the Flash.

Invulnerability: Plastic Man's powers extraordinarily augment his durability. Some stories, perhaps of anecdotal quality, have showed him susceptible to surprise attack by bullets, in one case oozing a substance similar to liquid plastic.[20] In most stories, though, he is able to withstand corrosives, punctures and concussions without sustaining any injury (although he can be momentarily stunned). He is resistant to high velocity impacts that would kill an ordinary person, resistant to blasts from energy weapons (Batman once mentioned that he could presumably even withstand a nuclear detonation), and is bulletproof. His bodily mass can be dispersed, but for all intents and purposes it is invulnerable.

Regeneration: He is able to regenerate and/or assimilate lost or damaged tissue, although he needs to be reasonably intact for this process to begin; he was reduced to separate molecules and scattered across the ocean for centuries, only returning to his usual form after the rest of the League were able to gather enough of his molecules and restore approximately 80% of his body mass, after which he began to regenerate what they hadn't salvaged.

Telepathic Immunity: As stated by Batman (in JLA #88, Dec. 2003), "Plastic Man's mind is no longer organic. It's untouchable by telepathy."

Immortality: Plastic Man does not appear to age; if he does, it is at a rate far slower than that of normal human beings. In the aftermath of the Justice League story Arc "Obsidian Age", Plastic Man was discovered to have survived for 3000 years scattered into separate molecules on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. He is now over 3000 years old and is still active as a superhero.

Ultrasonic Detection: His body will start to "ripple" when an ultrasonic frequency is triggered.

Rubber-Organs: As stated by Black Lantern Vibe, Plastic Man's internal organs (such as his heart when Black Lantern Vibe tried to rip it out) couldn't be removed, unlike many of the Black Lanterns' victims.

Skilled Thief: Plastic Man was once a very talented professional thief.

Master Detective: Although no longer a criminal, he has insight into their mindset, enabling him to be an effective sleuth. He is also considered to be a lateral thinker and much smarter than he lets on.

Weaknesses

His semi-liquid form remains stable at relatively high and low temperatures, provided that the temperature change is gradual. A sudden change induces a complete change of state, creating a truly solid or truly liquid form. Plastic Man was incapacitated in the JLA story arc "Tower of Babel" when mercenaries froze and shattered his body. Once thawed and reassembled, he was physically unharmed (though emotionally traumatized). In the JLA story arc "Divided We Fall", Plastic Man is shown to have some weakness to extreme heat (intense heat vision attack from a Martian) and was temporarily melted. In some versions, Plastic Man is also vulnerable to chemicals such as acetone, which melts and destabilizes his putty-like form, although he will eventually regenerate when the chemicals are gone. Another weakness is that the only colors Plastic Man can mimic are the colors of his body and costume (i.e. red, black, yellow, white, and flesh tone), although he can use these colors in various ways, once even managing to exactly duplicate the appearance of the Flash. Whether this is an inherent flaw in his powers or a mental block had never been explained, whereas, his son, Offspring, also gained his father's powers, but is able to mimic any color he chooses; Offspring's introduction revealed that Plastic Man could change color, turning his nose blue to prove to Batman that he could, but it apparently took a great deal of concentration just to accomplish that much.

Other versions

The Dark Knight Strikes Again

In Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001—2002), Frank Miller's miniseries now set on DC's new Earth-31, Plastic Man was betrayed and locked in Arkham Asylum for years with his body forced into a perpetual egg-like shape by a pressurizing machine. The imprisonment and confinement drove him insane, and upon his release he lashed out at those around him. He fights Elongated Man, having the upper hand until Batman brings Plastic Man to his senses with a punch to the face. Batman declares that Plastic Man is the most powerful superhero in the room. Carrie Kelley (as Catgirl) describes him as being: "Immeasurably powerful. Absolutely nuts." In this continuity, he appears with silver hair and the occasional wrinkle.

All Star Batman and Robin

In All Star Batman and Robin, also written by Miller, Plastic Man has only appeared in issue #5 where he is a founding member of a proto-Justice League along with Wonder Woman, Superman, and Green Lantern Hal Jordan. He constantly changes shape and cracks jokes causing the other members to repeatedly tell him to "shut up".

Kyle Baker's Plastic Man

Plastic Man (2004–2006), written and illustrated by Kyle Baker, harkens back to the Jack Cole version of Plastic Man featuring Eel O'Brian tended to by a monk in a mountain retreat, and inspired by the monks kindness, Eel resolves to use his powers for good, becoming the crime fighter Plastic Man, and works for the FBI. In this series, Plastic Man gets a girlfriend (FBI Special Agent Morgan, revealed as the surgically altered fiancee that Plas' alter ego had left in the 1940s) and adopts a Goth teenage daughter, Edwina. The series won five Eisner Awards for Best New Series, Best Title for Younger Readers, Best Writer/Artist: Humor and one Harvey Award for Best New Series.

Tangent Comics

In the Tangent Comics imprint, set on the alternate universe Earth-9, Plastic Man is a member of the Secret Six. He is scientist Gunther Ganz, whose consciousness has been transferred to a "living polymer".

JLA/Avengers

In the DC Comics/Marvel Comics intercompany crossover JLA/Avengers, Plastic Man is a member of the JLA and teams with Martian Manhunter in the Marvel locale of Wakanda, where the two encounter the Marvel characters the Wasp and the Black Panther. Plastic Man is replaced by DC Comics' Elongated Man after the merging of worlds.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier

Plastic Man is mentioned by Sal Paradyse in Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier.

Flashpoint

In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Eel O'Brian is a villain. After Heat Wave was sent to death row after killing Jason Rusch, O'Brian arrives to break him out in the flying fortress of the military Doom prison, having been hiding in the body of his cellmate Cluemaster.[21] During the prison break, O'Brian dislikes being called "Plastic Man", when inmate Sportsmaster calls him by his name. While O'Brian helps him to retrieve his weapons, he discovers Heat Wave attacking the guards' control room and attempting to ram the flying prison at Cyborg's home city of Detroit.[22] O'Brian refuses to let him destroy the city, but Heat Wave turns on him, apparently killing him by using his flame gun to melt his body. After Heat Wave is defeated by Cyborg and imprisoned in Belle Reve, O'Brian is revealed to have survived and smuggles himself into the prison in Heat Wave's new cellmate's body and advances on him at the end of the page.[23]

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Plastic Man appears in Injustice: Gods Among Us comic, he is seen among the gathered super-heroes at Congress after Lara Lane-Kent delivered her speech to them, mingling among the heroes and politicians in the continuity where Lois didn't die.

In the main one in that universe, he's against Superman's changed ethics after the Metropolis bombing but doesn't physically try to stop him until Superman arrests his son Luke for opposing him. He breaks into the Regime's underwater prison, rescues his son, and frees the captured super villains and Green Lantern Corps while encouraging them to focus their efforts on bringing down Superman.[24]

Wednesday Comics

In the collected edition of Wednesday Comics (200 pages, DC Comics, June 2010, ISBN 1-4012-2747-3; Titan Books, July 2010, ISBN 1-84856-755-3), Plastic Man is featured in a story by Evan Dorkin with art by Stephen Destefano. Plastic Man and Woozy battle Professor Grushenko at the museum over a magic elixir with resultant hijinks.

In other media

Television

  • A "Plastic Man" pilot was planned first by Hal Seeger Productions,[25] then by Filmation.[26]
  • Plastic Man made his animated debut in a cameo appearance in the 1973 Super Friends episode "Professor Goodfellow's G.E.E.C.", voiced by Norman Alden. Superman calls him in to extract a mouse from a computer system.
  • Plastic Man starred in the 1979–1981 spin-off series The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, voiced by Michael Bell. In the series, he was an operative of a covert agency, fighting villains from a jumbo-jet headquarters with a bumbling Hawaiian sidekick named Hula-Hula voiced by Joe Baker and a blonde-bombshell girlfriend called Penny (whom he later married) voiced by Melendy Britt. While Plastic Man villains Carrotman, Doctor Dome, and Doctor Honctoff were featured, the other villains Plastic Man fought were exclusive to the TV series. Later, the cast was joined by their son Baby Plas. The show was released on DVD in a complete series set (minus the Baby Plas episodes and the live action parts) on October 20, 2009. The syndicated version of the series was hosted by a live-action Plastic Man played by Taylor Marks and was produced and directed by Steve Whiting, with Jeff Simmons as the Executive Producer.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Greatest Story Never Told", Plastic Man was briefly mentioned as a member of the Justice League by Green Lantern to Elongated Man and Booster Gold. He is the only known member of the League never shown on screen.
  • Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network commissioned a Plastic Man television pilot episode "Puddle Trouble" in 2006. Produced by Andy Suriano and Tom Kenny, and designed and storyboarded by Stephen DeStefano. Tom Kenny also performed the voice of Plastic Man in the program.[27][28] Cartoon Network decided not to pick up Plastic Man as a series and has never aired the episode. "Puddle Trouble" has been released on the Plastic Man: The Complete Collection DVD set.
  • Tom Kenny reprised his role as the voice of Plastic Man on the series Batman: The Brave and the Bold.[29] Plastic Man appears in "Terror on Dinosaur Island!". He reappears in the teaser for "Journey to the Center of the Bat!". He also appears in the episodes "Game Over for Owlman!", "The Fate of Equinox!", "Long Arm of the Law!", "Death Race to Oblivion!", and "Cry Freedom Fighters!", and in the regular opening title sequence for the series. Plastic Man's real name is Edward O'Brian in this continuity, instead of Patrick, living in the suburbs with his wife Ramona, a baby, and a dog. Batman is also involved in his origin story in this continuity, having caused his accident during Kite Man's robbery (as Plastic Man worked for Kite Man before his accident) and later helping him get back on his feet and become a superhero. In the TV show, what previous limitations he had on shape-changing were nonexistent as he could willingly change color in order to assume the Dark Knight's guise during "Night of the Batmen". The Crime Syndicate counterpart of Plastic Man appears in episode "Deep Cover for Batman" and is named Elastic Man.
  • Plastic Man makes a non-speaking cameo appearance in the Young Justice episode "Revelation". He is shown rescuing a police officer from a massive plant creature created by the Injustice League where Plastic Man turns into a trampoline to break his fall. In "Agendas", Plastic Man was among the candidates to become a new member of the Justice League. His criminal record led to some doubts about his value. In "Usual Suspects", Plastic Man becomes a member of the Justice League.
    • In the Young Justice: Outsiders episode "Princes All", he resigns from the Justice League alongside Batman and several other heroes as part of a pre-planned response to U.N. secretary general Lex Luthor's numerous restrictions so they can operate as vigilantes.
  • Plastic Man appears in an episode of Mad, voiced by Dana Snyder. When Batman calls Plastic Man "Gummy Guy" and tells him to grab him a soda, this leads to him and Black Lightning leading the other superheroes in a musical number that asks Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman about being called "Super Friends".
  • Plastic Man appears in an episode of Robot Chicken where he is married to a woman whose husband (Stretch Armstrong) had died. When Plastic Man offered salt when they were having dinner, the son of Stretch Armstrong still grieving over the loss of his dad yells at Plastic Man "You're not my real dad!", then angrily smashes a plate against a wall before leaving. In another sketch in one of the DC Comics specials, he debates with two robbers and Brainiac whether he should be called Plastic Man based on his power set.
  • Plastic Man appears in the DC Nation Shorts, voiced again by Tom Kenny.
  • Plastic Man appears in Justice League: Action, voiced again by Dana Snyder.[30] He first appears in "Abate and Switch" where he assists Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, John Constantine, and Swamp Thing into fighting the remaining Brothers Djinn members Rath, Abnegazar, and Nyorlath. In the episode "Plastic Man Saves the World", Plastic Man works to prove himself to the Justice League by infiltrating Brainiac's ship during his attack where he manages to obtain the bottled city of Kandor. In the episode "Double Cross", Batman and Firestorm have Plastic Man pose as Two-Face in order to help capture Deadshot.

Film

Animated

  • Plastic Man made an appearance in Justice League: New Frontier during a John F. Kennedy speech.
  • Plastic Man appears in the animated film Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League, voiced by Tom Kenny.
  • Plastic Man appears in Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold, with Tom Kenny reprising his role.
  • Kevin Smith mentioned at Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo that he met with Geoff Johns, where he pitched an animated Plastic Man movie that he wrote for DC. It's unknown if it will actually get made.[31]
  • Plastic Man appears in the film Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash, with Tom Kenny reprising his role.
  • Plastic Man made his big screen debut in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, voiced by Joey Cappabianca. He was featured as one of the superheroes who got their own movie and is seen on a billboard in Jump City.

Live-action

Warner Bros. developed a Plastic Man movie in the early 1990s with Amblin Entertainment producing and Bryan Spicer directing.[32] The Wachowskis wrote a Plastic Man screenplay in 1995, read and reported on by script reader and Yahoo! Movies columnist Greg Dean Schmitz in June 2003.[33]

In December 2018, new development of a Plastic Man film was announced, with Amanda Idoko writing the screenplay and Robert Shaye will executive produce.[34]

Video games

  • In the video game Justice League Heroes, while fighting through the Watchtower, a voice comes over the intercom saying there is a message from Plastic Man. His message (interpreted by the computer) is that he has forgotten his keys.
  • Plastic Man is a playable character in Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame, voiced by Tom Kenny.
  • Plastic Man appears as a spawnable and (Wii U only) playable character in Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure.
  • Plastic Man appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. His Tyrannosaurus form appeared during the end credits of the game, hinting of when Lego Jurassic World is being released.[35]
  • Plastic Man appears as a playable character in Lego DC Super-Villains.
  • Plastic Man is mentioned in DC Universe Online as a part of Batman's contingency plan to take down the Justice League if they ever went rogue. Similar to the story line JLA: Tower of Babel, he explains that Plastic Man's body is vulnerable to freezing, and that the only problem after that would be storage.

Web series

Magazines

Newyorker cover 19april1999
Plastic Man on the cover of The New Yorker. Painted by Art Spiegelman.

The April 19, 1999, issue of The New Yorker features Plastic Man on the cover gawking at a Picasso painting. This issue ran a biography of Jack Cole by Art Spiegelman, which two years later would comprise much of the text in his and Chip Kidd's book Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to their Limits. In the 499th issue of Mad Magazine, Plastic Man can be seen in the magazine's Watchmen spoof during Funnyman's (spoof of Edward Blake/Comedian) funeral.

Jack Cole reprints

DC Comics unless otherwise noted.

"The Origin of Plastic Man" a.k.a. "Eeyow! It's Plastic Man!" – Police Comics #1 (August 1941)
  • Comix: A History of Comic Books in America (Bonanza Books, 1971)
"The Granite Lady" – Police Comics #51, February 1946
  • DC Special #15 (December 1971)
"The Origin of Plastic Man" a.k.a. "Eeyow! It's Plastic Man!" – Police Comics #1 (August 1941)
"The Man Who Can't Be Harmed" – Police Comics #13 (November 1942)
"Plastic Man Products" – Plastic Man #17 (May 1949)
"The Private Detective" (Starring Woozy Winks) – Plastic Man #26 (November 1950)
"The Magic Cup" – Plastic Man #25 (September 1950)
  • Batman #238 (January 1972)
  • Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #149–150 (May–June 1972)
  • Plastic Man #1–2 (Dynapubs, B&W reprints of golden age comics in the Flashback series, 1974 & 1976)
  • A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics (Smithsonian Institution / Harry N. Abrams, 1981)
"The Origin of Plastic Man" a.k.a. "Eeyow! It's Plastic Man!" – Police Comics #1 (August 1941)
"The Man Who Can't Be Harmed" – Police Comics #13 (November 1942) which has the First appearance of sidekick Woozy Winks
  • Plastic Man 80-Page Giant #1 DC (2003) (ISBN 1-4012-0114-8)
"The Origin of Plastic Man" a.k.a. "Eeyow! It's Plastic Man!" – Police Comics #1 (August 1941), by Jack Cole
"The Man Who Can't Be Harmed" – Police Comics #13 (November 1942) the first appearance of sidekick Woozy Winks, by Jack Cole
"The Hand Behind!" – Plastic Man #3 (Spring 1946) Plas vs. Bordo, a special prose feature. Writer: unknown
"The Wizard of Light!" – House of Mystery #160 (July 1966) Robby Reed as a proto-Plas vs. the Wizard of Light. Story by Dave Wood, art by Jim Mooney.
"The Dirty Devices of Dr. Dome!" – Plastic Man Vol. 2, #1 (November–December 1966). Story by Arnold Drake, art by Gil Kane.
"The Hamsters of Doom!"" – Plastic Man Vol. 2, #11 (February–March 1976). Story by Steve Skeates, art by Ramona Fradon with Teny Henson.
  • Plastic Man Archives
Volume 1, ISBN 1-56389-468-8 – Police Comics #1–20
Volume 2, ISBN 1-56389-621-4 – Police Comics #21–30 and Plastic Man #1
Volume 3, ISBN 1-56389-847-0 – Police Comics #31–39 and Plastic Man #2
Volume 4, ISBN 1-56389-835-7 – Police Comics #40–49 and Plastic Man #3
Volume 5, ISBN 1-56389-986-8 – Police Comics #50–58 and Plastic Man #4
Volume 6, ISBN 1-4012-0154-7 – Police Comics #59–65 and Plastic Man #5–6
Volume 7, ISBN 1-4012-0410-4 – Police Comics #66–71 and Plastic Man #7–8
Volume 8, ISBN 1-4012-0777-4 – Police Comics #72–77 and Plastic Man #9–10

See also

References

  1. ^ JLA #53
  2. ^ JLA #54
  3. ^ JLA #65
  4. ^ The Comic Bloc: "You Waited, Now See... Teen Titans #34", posted June 15, 2006 by anonymous "magicspoon"
  5. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #35 (July 2009)
  6. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #36 (August 2009)
  7. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #37 (September 2009)
  8. ^ Justice League: Cry for Justice #6 (January 2010)
  9. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #38 (October 2009)
  10. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #39 (November 2009)
  11. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #40 (December 2009)
  12. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #41 (January 2010)
  13. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #1
  14. ^ Justice League of America 80-Page Giant 2011
  15. ^ Justice League International (Vol. 3) #1 (November 2011).
  16. ^ Dark Days: The Forge #1 (June 2017)
  17. ^ The Terrifics #1. DC Comics.
  18. ^ The Terrifics #2. DC Comics.
  19. ^ The Terrifics #3. DC Comics.
  20. ^ "The Origin of Woozy Winks"
  21. ^ Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #1 (June 2011)
  22. ^ Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #2 (July 2011)
  23. ^ Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #3 (August 2011)
  24. ^ Injustice: Gods Among Us- Year Four Annual #1 (December 2015)
  25. ^ Plastic Man #2, Jan–Feb 1967, letters page. "[A Plastic Man TV show] pilot film was written by amiable Arnie Drake and made by Hal Seeger Productions... Negotiations with networks and sponsors are under way..."
  26. ^ "The Aquaman Shrine: Aquaman Meets The Blackhawks?". Web.archive.org. 2008-05-20. Archived from the original on 2014-01-30. Retrieved 2016-11-22.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  27. ^ Harris, Will. "Tom Kenny". Avclub.com. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  28. ^ Forevergeek.com: "Plastic Man Animated Series Pilot Episode" (fan site; no date) Archived October 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Holmes, Gordon. "SDCC '08 – Brave and the Bold Animated Panel", Newsarama.com, 25 July 2008
  30. ^ Marston, George (2016-07-21). "SDCC 2016: JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION Panel". Newsarama.com. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  31. ^ "KEVIN SMITH PITCHED & WROTE PLASTIC MAN ANIMATED MOVIE". April 30, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  32. ^ Army Archerd (1992-11-30). "Spielberg parks 'Jurassic' under sked, budget". Retrieved 2014-10-12.
  33. ^ "Plastic Man". 2003-11-06. Archived from the original on 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-07-28.
  34. ^ Gonzalez, Umberto (December 7, 2018). "Warner Bros and DC to Develop 'Plastic Man' Movie". The Wrap. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  35. ^ Reilly, Luke (12 November 2014). "Lego Batman 3 Credits Hint at Lego Jurassic World". IGN. Retrieved 9 March 2015.

Further reading

  • Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to their Limits, by Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd (Chronicle Books, 2001) ISBN 0-8118-3179-5

External links

← The first Firebrand was debuted by S.M. Iger and Reed Crandall. See Firebrand (DC Comics) for more info and the previous timeline. Timeline of DC Comics (1940s)
August 1941
The first Phantom Lady was debuted by the Eisner & Iger Studio and Arthur Peddy. See Phantom Lady for more info and next timeline.
DC Nation Shorts

DC Nation Shorts are animated shorts featuring characters from DC Comics that aired in a series on Cartoon Network on Saturdays at 10/9c.

Elongated Man

The Elongated Man (Randolph "Ralph" Dibny) is a fictional character, a superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He is a member of three incarnations of the Justice League. His first appearance was in The Flash vol. 1, #112 (May 12, 1960).The character has won and been nominated for several awards over the years, including winning the 1961 Alley Award for Best Supporting Character.

He is played by Hartley Sawyer on The Flash, starting in the fourth season. He became part of the main cast starting in the fifth season.

Jack Cole (artist)

Jack Ralph Cole (December 14, 1914 – August 13, 1958) was an American cartoonist best known for creating the comedic superhero Plastic Man, and his cartoons for Playboy magazine.

He was posthumously inducted into the comic book industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1999.

Kyle Baker

Kyle John Baker (born 1965) is an American cartoonist, comic book writer-artist, and animator known for his graphic novels and for a 2000s revival of the series Plastic Man.

Baker has won numerous Eisner Awards and Harvey Awards for his work in the comics field.

List of Quality Comics characters

Quality Comics was a comic book company from the Golden Age of Comic Books that sold many anthology comic books that starred superheroes, many of which were adopted by DC Comics when they purchased Quality Comics, and others were not, entering the public domain.

List of unproduced DC Comics projects

This is a list of unmade and unreleased projects by DC Comics. Some of these productions were, or still are, in development limbo of other mediums. Along with DC Comics properties, their subdivisions like Vertigo and WildStorm will also be credited.

Manuel Perez (animator)

Manuel "Manny" Perez (17 June 1914 – 18 January 1981) was a Mexican American animator and animation director whose career spanned 40 years, from the 1940s to the 1980s, and best known for his work on the Warner Bros. animated shorts, working on such cartoons as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Later in his career he worked on Fritz the Cat and The Lord of the Rings.Born in 1914 in Morenci, Arizona, in 1917 his family moved to Los Angeles where Perez later attended high school. An athlete, he took part in football, baseball and track. Two years after graduating he was hired by Leon Schlesinger as a trainee animator. On 17 April 1938 he married Connie (née Perez).

'Manny' Perez worked on over 300 cartoons during the 'Golden Age of American Animation', mainly for Warner Bros. Cartoons, for whom he started animating in 1938, but also for Bill Melendez Productions, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and Hanna-Barbera. His first credited cartoon was Porky's Bear Facts (1941). Among the cartoons he animated were those featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweetie and Sylvester, Quick Draw McGraw, the Pink Panther, Charlie Brown specials they are two of them like A Charlie Brown Christmas and He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown., Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner, Doctor Dolittle, The Cat in the Hat, Fritz the Cat and Plastic Man, among many others.A member of the labor union The Screen Cartoonists Guild, Perez was one of the animators involved in the 'Looney Tunes Lock Out' of 1941, when Leon Schlesinger, who had been producing cartoons for Warner Bros. Cartoons since the mid-1930s, locked out those animators who had joined the Guild, including Perez. After six days Schlesinger relented and allowed them to go back to work.Although Perez worked for Friz Freleng for about ten years, the two did not get along. According to animator Greg Duffell in 1999:

Virgil Ross told me that Perez was "Friz's whipping boy"... Virgil felt that Friz belittled Manny, then when Manny left Virgil felt that he became the target of Friz' wrath ... I met Manny Perez in 1975 at San Rio Productions during the production of a feature film (I've forgotten the title now) that was like a rock music Fantasia. I was quite thrilled, of course, to meet Mr. Perez (didn't know he'd be there) and started to ask him questions about his work. At that time, I wasn't clear which animator did what, though I could see the various styles while watching the cartoons. Manny was very elusive about identifying any of his work for me. At the mention of Friz' name he said these words, with a tense smile, that I'll never forget: "You know, I worked so long for him. ... well ... I got to hate that little guy ..."

In his later years Perez worked on Journey Back to Oz (1971); the animated version of The Lord of the Rings (1978), and The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show (1979).He died in January 1981 aged 66 at Van Nuys in California.

Masterpiece (The Temptations album)

Masterpiece is a 1973 album by The Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) label, produced and written by Norman Whitfield.

Metamorpho

Metamorpho (real name Rex Mason, also called The Element Man) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He was created by writer Bob Haney and artist Ramona Fradon. He is a founding member of the Outsiders, and has also joined multiple incarnations of the Justice League. The character has been moderately popular since his introduction in 1965. Originally adventurer Rex Mason, he is converted into a man made of a shifting mass of chemicals after being cursed by an ancient artifact that he has retrieved.

Offspring (comics)

Offspring is a fictional comic book superhero in the DC universe. He is the son of Plastic Man and has most of his fathers powers; these include stretching with a limit due to the fact he didn’t inherit his fathers powers but drank a watered down version. He also has the ability to change his shape.

Plastic Man (song)

"Plastic Man" is a song written by Ray Davies and recorded by the Kinks in 1969.

The song is in a similar style to earlier tracks such as "Dedicated Follower of Fashion". It was written and recorded specifically as an attempt at a hit single, released only days after being recorded. The previous year had been commercially disastrous for The Kinks. Their two singles had failed to reach the top 10 in the UK and failed to chart at all in the US. The album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society had also failed to chart in both the UK and US.

The plan for a hit backfired when the use of the word 'bum' (in the line "...plastic legs that reach up to his plastic bum") meant that the BBC refused to play the song. The single only managed to reach #31 in the UK and the following two Kinks singles failed to chart altogether.

The single was not released in the US and, although B-side "King Kong" was included on the Kink Kronikles compilation in 1972, "Plastic Man" was left off, only being released in the US on The Great Lost Kinks Album in 1973.

Both sides of the single (as well as a stereo version of the A-side) are included as bonus tracks on the CD reissue of Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). In 2004, the B-side appeared on the 3-disc Deluxe Edition of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, while in 2011, both the mono and stereo mixes of the A-side appeared on the Deluxe Edition of Arthur.

Both sides of the single were the final songs to be recorded with founding bassist Pete Quaife and therefore is the last recorded single with the original Kinks line-up, although many Quaife-era Kinks songs have been released since his departure. Shortly after the release of the single, Quaife quit the group and was replaced with John Dalton, who had substituted for Quaife from June-October 1966 when Quaife was injured in a car accident. Quaife stated in 1998 that "Plastic Man" was his least favourite song that he recorded with The Kinks.

Police Comics

Police Comics was a comic book anthology title published by Quality Comics (under its imprint "Comic Magazines") from 1941 until 1953. It featured short stories in the superhero, crime and humor genres.

The first issue of Police Comics featured the debuts of Plastic Man, Phantom Lady, Human Bomb, Firebrand, and Mouthpiece, all of which, except the latter, are characters that continued to be published decades later by DC Comics after it acquired Quality's properties. Firebrand, the initial lead feature, was soon eclipsed by Jack Cole's popular Plastic Man, who took the cover and the lead from issues #5-102. Other notable characters featured in Police Comics include Manhunter, who was introduced in Police Comics #8, #711, who was introduced in Police Comics #1, and Will Eisner's The Spirit, in the form of reprints of the character's newspaper comic strips.

After the popularity of superhero comics waned, Police Comics shifted with issue #103 (Dec, 1950) to more naturalistic detective and crime-themed stories. The series ended in October 1953 with issue #127.

Quality Comics

Quality Comics was an American comic book publishing company which operated from 1937 to 1956 and was a creative, influential force in what historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comic Books.

Notable, long-running titles published by Quality include Blackhawk, Feature Comics, G.I. Combat, Heart Throbs, Military Comics, Modern Comics, Plastic Man, Police Comics, Smash Comics, and The Spirit. While most of their titles were published by a company named Comic Magazines, from 1940 onwards all publications bore a logo that included the word "Quality". Notable creators associated with the company included Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Will Eisner, Lou Fine, Gill Fox, Paul Gustavson, Bob Powell, and Wally Wood.

Rickety Rocket

Rickety Rocket is an animated television series, produced by Ruby-Spears Productions, and ran from 1979 to 1980 as a segment on The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show.

The Dark Knight Strikes Again

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, also known as DK2, is a 2001-2002 DC Comics three-issue limited series comic book written and illustrated by Frank Miller and colored by Lynn Varley. The series is a sequel to Miller's 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns. It tells the story of an aged Bruce Wayne who returns from three years in hiding, training his followers and instigating a rebellion against Lex Luthor's dictatorial rule over the United States. The series features an ensemble cast of superheroes including Catgirl, Superman, Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, The Flash, and the Atom.

The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show

The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show is an animated television series produced by Ruby-Spears Productions from 1979 to 1981; it was shown right after Super Friends on the ABC Network. It featured various adventures of the DC Comics superhero Plastic Man. The show features many adventures in different segments: Plastic Man, Baby Plas, Plastic Family, Mighty Man and Yukk, Fangface and Fangpuss, and Rickety Rocket. The show was repackaged by Arlington Television into 130 half-hour episodes, and released into national, first-run-off-network daily syndication in 1984. The Plastic Man Comedy Show was produced and directed by Steve Whiting and featured a live-action "Plastic Man", played by Taylor Marks.

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