DC Comics’ Plastic Man character has been around for decades but often disappears for periods, so much so that I wrote a whole Misplaced Heroes column on the guy.
Well, he’s back in a new mini-series written by fan favorite writer Gail Simone.
Plastic Man as written here seems to be something of a new hero in the mean streets of Cole City (named for Plastic Man creator Jack Cole). The story opens with a group of gangsters beating the snot out of one Eel O’Brien, and as soon as the gangsters leave, the beaten guy gets up, shrugs off the attack and changes into the city’s latest hero, Plastic Man. Plas is trying to find his way as a good guy while still remembering how to be a bad one. He more or less runs a superhero-themed strip club, and his biggest fan is a runaway kid named Pado Swakatoon, the Suave Prince of Pine Street. When Plas is approached by a government agent type with a warning about some kind of secret supervillain group infiltrating, oh, everybody, and a low-level D-list metahuman like Plas might have the best chance of finding them and maybe even bringing them down. And while all this is going on, one of Eel’s old criminal comrades is trying to recreate the accident that made Eel a superhero.
So, how was this? Normally, I like Simone’s writing, and the art from former Birds of Prey artist Adriana Melo is fine, but somehow this didn’t quite click for me. I know Simone can do good character work, and she can write good humor into her work, but Plastic Man isn’t quite the sort of humor I think she’s good at. True, many of the hallmarks of her work are present here. Eel’s internal monologue largely works, there’s a cameo from half of the Secret Six, and there are some good surprises on display here. But Plastic Man often acts as a more cartoon character type of hero, and I don’t think she can handle that very well. It just doesn’t feel much like Plastic Man.
Then again, the last time I read a Plastic Man series, it was written and drawn by the great Kyle Baker, so anyone would come up short in comparison.
Bottom line is, I liked this but didn’t love it. If there is a sequel, I may or may not read it. 8 out of 10 poor singers who should have thought twice before dating a mobster.