Sunday, November 13, 2011

Farewell, My Rubbery

He wears swim fins over his
super-hero boots?
And he leaves his wife alone on
the boat? Ralph, I think you're
missing the point of this
"honeymoon" thing.
So, there may or may not be a creative embargo on the "world-famous" Elongated Man.

I can't get too bothered over the lack of plans for an action figure: There have been several EM figures over the years, none very satisfying. As paradoxical as it may seem, even an invisible Invisible Woman is easier to render in plastic than a hero meant to look plastic. In all fairness, Plastic Man and Reed Richards figures look just as stiff and lifeless. Maybe, instead of using standard molded plastic, Mattel should look into the process used for bendy, pliable Gumby and Pokey. Or Stretch Armstrong.

Poor Ralph doesn't even have an iconic look anymore. Should they dress him in his original purple tights with removable mask? The maroon-and-black "satellite Justice League" look? The white-and-orchid "Justice League International" suit? Zombie Black Lantern Ralph?

DC clearly isn't interested in building his stock by actually using the character, and hasn't been for at least a decade, since the popular-but-apparently-embarrassing Formerly Known as the Justice League, which itself was a revival. When Grant Morrison was making an Iconic Justice League and needed a stretchy guy, he went with Plastic Man. Ralph and Sue were on DC's "death list" at the time of Identity Crisis. For all that he stole every scene he was in, he wasn't central to the story. The world's second-greatest detective never really tried to solve the only mystery that ever really mattered to him. Even Sue, so cruelly treated by Jean Loring and Dr Light, was only a macguffin. (I don't think DC yet 'gets' how offensive it was for Sue to be raped by Dr Light for no better reason than to be a red herring distraction to the mystery of her own murder.) Ralph's own subsequent death in 52 and brief zombie resurrection in Blackest Light were little more than afterthoughts. And the Dibnys' even briefer appearances as ghost detectives in The Outsiders, well, that was just twisting the knife for this longtime fan.

And the "New 52"... I mean, seriously, in which of these series would Ralph fit? When they were trolling for members for the new Justice League International, it was Plastic Man whose name came up. He was dismissed, but at least he was considered. Where's Ralph? (Do I sound bitter?)

So I get it, DC. You could bring them back, you just don't want to. Julius Schwartz said he'd never have created the Elongated Man if he had known DC owned Plastic Man. That's that.

Tell you what. Just print that blasted Showcase Presents The Elongated Man Volume 2 and I'll buy the thing and stop bothering you.


Rafa Rivas said...

Well said. Ralph, Sue, Ted, Vic, Dmitry, Wally and Donna seem to be left out just cuz. There's no good reason. They are just not tptb's favorite toys. Let's hope the next generation in charge think differently.

Only one thing, Schwartz never said anything about Plas. Both Murphy Anderson and Carmine Infantino say he never even compare the two. I tried very hard to track the source claiming that Julie wanted Plas and I foud nothing.

Captain Blog said...

My Plastic Man died in the Golden Age. I found no reason to compare the two, anymore than I would compare Invisible Woman with Invisible Scarlett O'Neil. Ralph was an excellent character who never surpassed the original PM but was ALWAYS better than any version after.

(p.s. If you must compare the two, an excellent O'Neil site is here