I come here to praise Plastic Man, not to bury him
Blackest Night JLA #39
saw C-List Superhero Vibe resurrected as a Black Lantern zombie who moves quickly to snuff the flame of one of the most unique and underestimated characters in the DC universe, Plastic Man.
A fittingly ignoble end to a character who has been poorly mistreated by DC writers for years.
Plastic Man was created by comics legend Jack Cole in Police Comics #1
, which hit newsstands in August 1941. The character was acquired by DC Comics when they bought Police Comics
publisher Quality Comics in 1956.
Superman himself has only a few years on Plas, making his first appearance in 1938.
In his Quality Comics premiere, he was a crook named Patrick "Eel" O'Brian who fell into a vat of unidentified acid running away from night watchmen during a failed heist attempt. Revived by a monk and healed in a monestary, O'Brien discovers that the acid bath endowed him with rubbery powers. In Post-Crisis continuity, the dip in the acid bath remained, although the monks were written out of the story.
Plastic Man has anchored a couple self-titled series for DC, and he has starred in his own Saturday morning cartoon series
. In The Dark Knight Strike Again
scribe Frank Miller indicated that Batman himself feared Plastic Man as the most powerful superhero on the planet.
Unfortunately, DC has never shared that lofty opinion. And more's the pity, where good storytelling is concerned. Plastic Man is that perfect combination of humor and adventure that made Stan Lee's Spider-Man a blockbuster sucess. It's the very thing that's carrying Deadpool through multiple titles over in the Marvel univse. Plastic Man is a formidable hero, with a power set that is tailor-made to allow any writer/artist team to really stretch (pun intended) their creative muscles. Much like Green Lantern, the more imaginative the create team is in allowing the character to use his powers, the better the story is. And Plastic Man can be written in a very humorous tone without sacrificing the story -- especially if they'd follow the lead of my pal Phil Foglio who wrote insanity right into Plas' character
(sound like a mercenary you know?).
In short, Plastic Man is a tremendous character with truckloads of potential, and he's never really gotten his due in the DCU.
Now, I know. Death is never final in comics. And in the Blackest Night
arc, this is going to be particularly true. I think mass resurrections are going to become part of a universe-wide retcon that DC has in mind. We'll see Bruce Wayne return as Batman... Arthur Currey as Aquaman...
And, if they have any sense at all, Eel O'Brien will return as Plastic Man.
And maybe this time, he'll get a little respect.