Plastic Man #4 – Gail Simone, Writer; Adriana Melo, Artist; Kelly Fitzpatrick, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Making Noir Fun
Ray: Gail Simone’s ability to fuse comedy with tension is on full display in Plastic Man #4, as we get some big reveals and a few old Simone favorites show up to play. The tone veers wildly all issue, and not always to perfect effect – the opening pages deal with Sammy the Suitcase, the big bad of the series, as he tries to deal with his girlfriend’s “skin condition” – the result of a chemical mutation similar to the one that affected Eel O’Brien. Except instead of getting stretchy, she’s developing a scaly stone coating on her skin, and it comes with some mental instability. While this is going on, Plastic Man is dealing with the travails of parenthood. Taking the young “Suave Prince” under his wing, he tries to be a good example, foiling some petty criminals and stopping himself from giving them tips on how to crime. He’s even more out of his depth when it comes to sending the kid to school, and calls for his ally Munira to help him. This is a highly amusing segment that’s only interrupted when an emergency calls.
That emergency is a crisis at the club where Eel’s other lady friends work. And the threat turns out to be none other than three members of the Secret Six – Catman, Ragdoll, and Jeanette. Ragdoll was seemingly killed in another book only a few weeks ago, and it’s not clear where this book takes place, but I think everyone’s happy to see them again. These characters were always toeing the line between good and evil, and here they’re more on the evil side, but it feels like Gail is having an enormous amount of fun writing them again and it shows. Ragdoll gets the best one-liners, but it’s Jeanette who surprisingly gets to show off the most. She was always a character who was underused in the original run. The battle makes good use of Plastic Man’s absurd powers, but the rift that happens at the end of the issue feels a bit forced. Is Plastic Man – a guy who’s used to deceiving and being deceived – really going to turn on someone so quickly without investigating? The reveal of the ultimate villains sets up an intriguing final two issues, and it’s great to see Gail in the DCU again.
Corrina: I’ve had trouble with tonal shifts in the issues of Flash and Catwoman this week and while Ray has problems with one in Plastic Man #4, I did not.
Simone has always been able to walk that fine line between absurd and tragic and she does that here. Even without the appearance of Catman, Ragdoll, and Jeanette, this would have been an enjoyable issue. I love that the girlfriend with a “skin condition” highlights the dark side of Eel’s own powers, powers that have led him partially to the troubles he’s in now.
That the comic is also using noir tropes and sometimes flipping them also makes me happy. Well, the whole comic does.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.