Tuesday, June 1, 2010

CBR Plastic Man: On The Lam!


Here's a new Comic book review, an unexpected one at that!
This time we'll check the underrated awesome superhero that is Plastic Man...


Comic title: Plastic Man: On The Lam!
Art and writing by Kyle Baker

Published by DC Comics
From 2005
Lineup Plastic Man
Format: Plastic-TPB containing Plastic Man Vol. 4 issues #1-6

Who is Plastic Man?! What is Plastic Man: On the Lam?! And how special is this little series?!

First of all, let me say you'd expect from a comic book called "Plastic Man", edited with a real life plastic cover to be something quite special...

Is it a book or really Plastic Man himself? A special edition maybe ?? Nope, just the regular paperback...

Who is Plastic Man?!
Plastic Man may just be the very first rubber-hero, if not one of the earliest incarnations of this super powered type of character.
He first appeared in a story released under Quality Comics called Police Comics #1 in 1941. The story was about a little criminal who gets a super power in a crazy zany accident (not that different from the Joker or Sandman "accidents") but instead of going the cliché way, decides to become a super hero after a change of heart.
Sometime later, the Elongated Man was created by DC Comics in the Flash issue #112 in 1960, because, and I quote, "[We] didn't think we had the rights to use Plastic Man, when in fact [we] just had bought and obtained the rights to use all of Quality Comics created series in 1956".
And finally in 1961, Stan Lee & co created the last most famous comic rubber-hero in Fantastic Four #1 with the now more well known, Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic.
Many more comic book characters would use these abilites, but these are the main, older, more mainstream ones. (in DC comics, Marvel, Image and many other little companies...)

Elongated Man was a decent character, one time villain and scientist hero who's got his best appearances in the amazing Justice League International series.
Mister Fantastic, thanks to the 90s Fantastic Four cartoon and (somewhat lackbuster) modern Fox movie adaptations is currently the most famous hero of this kind.

Sadly, Plastic Man isn't that well known or that much used anyway.. But really he's the one with the moreuntapped potential and the more original in my eyes.
Being an almost immortal character, with a larger cartoony range of abilities and being a former crook, Plastic Man should deserve a lot more attention!
He doesn't just stretch, like R. Richards or Elongated Man, he can change forms to almost any kind of object, of any kind of size and shape, separate his body in many parts and still control them...
Plus he makes pretty good comedy, since he isn't a scientist like his other two counterparts, he doesn't have to act seriously.

That's right, Plastic Man retained his silver age light hearted and fun spirit and wasn't lost in darker, edgier themes over the years...

Our new Plastic Man series' crew...

What is Plastic Man: On the Lam?! 
Plastic Man had many long runs a long time ago in some pretty funny comics both at Quality Comics and DC later on.
Then he kinda disappeard...for a while...

But in the late 70s/early 80s Plastic Man had a cartoon series! (you know, those Hannah Barbera-type with simplistic commercial animation)
It was somewhat popular, enough to mark a new generation and bring Plastic Man back to the scene. The set was even released on DVD!
In the late 80s, Plastic Man was brought back under a cartoonist's pen in a limited series (we might talk about this some other time ; )). Plastic Man was back in current DC's continuity! Thanks to the cartoonist, Plastic Man was back in all his glory, funnier than ever. But it was a little mini series, so the run end up and Plastic disappeard again. At least the character was back in "modern" media! That's why Plastic Man joined DC's super team of the Justic League in the second roster and made some appearance here and there...

Then around the 2000s, cartoonist Kyle Baker introduced a new generation and old time fans to Plastic Man's origin in a brand new ongoing series!


"On the Lam!" is the first arc of Plastic Man 4th comic series.

...Back in all their glory, for justice, elastic-fun and many more mischiefs!

This story works as a great Plastic Man introduction, re-telling his origins for new readers (mostly based on the original Quality Comics series) without the problem of the story becoming a simple "Year One" book with the early days of the hero's appearance and his first actions.

Kyle Baker is a great illustrator and cartoonist, for sure, but a great story teller as well.
The story seems to be focused on little practical jokes and issues-contained misadventures, but tell a larger on going story in the background before the climatic ending and resolution.

We join Patrick "Eel" O'Brian, reformed criminal and super hero as he struggles between playing around and his duty as an agent working for the FBI. That's right, Plastic Man, being stuck in his "super-form" forever joined forces with the FBI to work and help on cases, thanks to his very impressive range of powers.
Helping  Plas', is always by his side Plastic Man's sidekick Woozy Winks.
With the help of the chief, they solve crimes and enjoy the lifestyle.
You see, Plastic Man is a super hero, member of the prestigious JLA, super famous and has no problems of his former life haunting him... or does he?

Plastic Man's past is revealed bit by bit and a larger-than-life revenge plot strikes Plas' current life.

On The Lam! is a funny light hearted story, in which Baker plays around with Plastic Man's powers and abilities without losing the most important aspect of a good comic book. It's entertaining and has a lot of substance!

I was laughing most of the time, always smiling at Plas' and Woozy's antics...but was quite surprised by the turn of events in the late rpart of the book...

In the end, everybody laughs around, happy ending, our heroes walk into the sunset.
I wouldn't expect otherwise from this story!
 

Who says comic books should always be super serious and all about realistic and gritty matters??
If this book teaches us something is that you can write cartoony characters in fun light hearted adventures and be quite entertaining if not as good as award winning series such as Batman Year One or Watchmen!
As a matter of fact, it did!
This Plastic Man series won an Eisner Award for Kyle Baker, and he truly deserved it!

Some parts, maybe the very first pages and some little aspects of the mid-issues across this paperback may appear like it's just joke after joke, with no real content. They might appear like mini-fillers but the overall experience is quite fun!

Including a super-random-guest-appearance of the Justice League itself (not many panels sadly...) that was pretty good. Baker can drew super epic muscular super-heroes when he wants to (see his other works), but in the pages of cartoony Plastic Man, they really work great as parodic serious character! (check the pages at the bottom of this very review)


 
Overall, it's quite a unique experience!
It's a great Plastic Man return in mainstream comics, a great introduction to his origins and sets up his future adventures (followed in...another book in another review).

Definitely a worthly addition to anyone's comic collection, DC fan or not!
It's amazing to see Plas' back in people's heart with this comic series first, that unaired pilot for the new series he almost had and with his current regular appearance in the cartoon Batman: The Brave and the Bold!

I truly recommand you check it out, if you'd like to read a fun and cartoony comic book ; ).

I give it:
  2,5 / 3 Plastic-trophies!

6 comments:

  1. I'm still looking for the book myself (at least off the internet. I don't order stuff online too often as I do in stores), but it's certainly part of my "must-get" comics!

    Well, at least I've JLI & GL to read at the mo.

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  2. JLI! Quite awesome read! XD
    I luuuv the "super buddies" team!

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  3. I HAVE THAT IN INDEVIDUAL BOOK FORM! I love Kyle Baker's art style, and he does some really trippy things.

    I loved it so much, I drew my mascots Basket Kate and Batty Buddy as Morgan and Plasticman respectfully.
    Only thing that hit me wrong was the comic book store I was getting them from was releasing them irratically. Sometimes I'd be there the day it was supposed to be out and I'd be walking out the door again cause it wasn't.

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  4. I know that problem, when the store owners can keep up with the current releases...
    I had the same problem with the comic "Army of Darkness".
    That's why I started buying the paperbacks online instead!

    But I still need to find 2 or 3 issues of the earlier comic run!...

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  5. Yeah, it's cause of that whole problem that while I have the "On the lam" story arc in indevidual comic form, I don't have the whole "Abe Lincon Must Die" arc that follows it. You know, where Wonder Woman is being treated like Womans Lib never happened and is baking cookies?
    Sometimes, it was so bad, I got the episode AFTER the one I wanted came out before they even put the one I wanted on the shelves. And that pissed me off cause comics need to be read in order or you'll get confuse with what goes on.

    They pulled the same thing with Y: The Last Man, and the Dragons Lair/Space Ace comics.

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  6. I can't imagine having to read Y: the last man with that kinda problem X__X

    That's kinda why I waited and only bought Y:TLM in trade paperback!

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