Before Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four or the Elongated Man in Justice League of America, Plastic Man preceded them as the first elastic character. Coming from the mind of Jack Cole, Patrick “Eel” O’Brien premiered in the pages of Police Comics #1 in August 1941 published by Quality Comics before they went bankrupt in 1956 and DC Comics acquired him.
Plastic Man was created when Eel was bathed in a chemical mixture that entered his blood through a gunshot wound. His body was completely altered and now Eel exists in a fluid states neither a complete solid nor liquid. The mixture gave Eel complete control over his molecular structure, this control allows him to stretch to great lengths, change his size to be small or large, contort his body including being flat enough to slip under closed doors and more.
Plastic Man was part of The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show that aired from 1979-1981 whose adventures were showcased along with Mighty Man & Yukk, Fangface and Fangpuss, and Rickety Rocket. Plastic Man along with sidekick Hula-Hula who has bad luck and channels Lou Costello’s vocal mannerisms and blonde bombshell Penny (who has eyes for Plas) take orders from The Chief an older woman who barely tolerates Plas and who Plas has a crush on.
The adventures were pretty straight-forward as the trio would set out in their jet to defeat a villain, who were usually after wealth and power, with the occasional villains motivation being social relevant like pollution, the ocean and the environment. Some villains are from Plastic Man’s series including Dr. Dome, and Carrot Man, while others were other DC villains like Toyman (who was a Superman villain and has never faced off against Plas in the comics). The series had some top comic veterans writing for the series that included Roy Thomas, Mark Evanier, and the late Steve Gerber, so while cartoons were hampered by broadcast standards, they still wrote decent scripts that stuck to Jack Cole’s vision of the character.
There are two extras on this set, there’s the unaired pilot that was created by Warner Brothers and Cartoon Network which had Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants) as a producer as well as the voice of Plastic Man. For some reason Cartoon Network has never aired the pilot and the series never came to fruition, but you can watch it here.
The second feature is something that most of the DC comics DVD’s have – a history of the character. In “A Brief History of Plastic Man” various creators talk about Plas’ history in the comics and in animation a good tutorial for those who never have heard of the character or know about him.
As it’s mentioned in the history featurette if Bugs Bunny was a super-hero, he’d be Plastic Man as Bugs doesn’t take himself too seriously and neither does Plas. It was fun to watch these episodes again, and my three year-old loved them as Plas is “silly, funny, and beats the bad guys!” That my daughter likes the episodes and it’s something we can watch together is reason alone to like it, but the show is fun and brings back fond childhood memories of watching these cartoons on Saturday morning with a big bowl of sugarery cereal.
While this release is titled Plastic Man – The Complete Collection, that’s not entirely accurate as Plas and Penny get married and have Baby Plas those episodes are not here, but hopefully one day those will be released as well. I can already predict my daughter will love those episodes even more than the ones we’ve got.