|The one, the only, the original: Plastic Man|
Comics should be fun, dammit. Plastic Man used to be very fun, back in the 40s and 50s when his creator, Jack Cole, was doing the character for Quality Comics, before DC got the property. Come to think of it, DC used to be fun too. Oh well, it's all Darky-Dark-Dark now and there's no going back until the current demographic stops taking itself so damn seriously and grows up and their kids, if they can actually have some kids, get into comics. And by that time I'll be dead so it's a lost cause, innit?
No matter. I'm talking about Plastic Man here. Plas is, in the current continuity, one of those characters that writers just don't know how to use properly. The reason being that Jack Cole had a simple but effective formula for Plastic Man's adventures. Plastic Man is serious, but his world is crazy.
Think about that for a minute.
Is it the stretching thing? I would say yes when we consider that the Elongated Man, another stretchy DC hero, became the butt of jokes and was played as a buffoon in the modern age despite being a top notch detective. Metamorpho, the element man, can change shape and even become gas if he likes, he got more respect, probably because of Batman and the Outsiders. Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic over at Marvel, essentially has the same powers as Plas, but he's a super-genius and part of the oh-so-serious comics of Marvel. He gets respect. Why not Plastic Man?
The Kyle Baker series from the early 2000s has been described as a return to the Jack Cole era, but honestly I've read the Jack Cole comics and the Kyle Baker comics and it was not. Baker's work was not bad, it is certainly funny, but in a wacky Ren and Stimpy sort of way, not in the sly Jack Cole manner. Meanwhile in the mainstream DC Universe, which is all Darky-Dark-Dark, Plastic Man is like Ambush Bug, which he should not be, only not genre savvy. He becomes a sort of team buffoon, not really living up to his potential. This from a guy that started out as a criminal? I can't help but think that if Ben Edlund, the creator of the Tick, got his hands on Plastic Man he could have made something clever and wonderful of it.
This bears further investigation, I think.