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Comic Review – Plastic Man #1

Plastic Man #1 Cover

Patrick “Eel” O’Brian was as slippery and slimy as the animal that prompted his underworld nickname. He was a career criminal. A con artist. A petty thief. A cheap thug. The sort of sordid individual whose best effort to clean up and straighten out his life ended with him taking a job as the night manager of a seedy superhero-themed strip club in the worst part of Cole City.

The funny thing is that Eel O’Brian has been reborn. At least, he’s pretty sure that he died. Or at least felt like he was dead. Or maybe he just wished that he was dead after he was exposed to some weird chemical and his former partners in crime tossed him out of the getaway car following a botched robbery .

Whatever happened to him, Eel O’Brian has seen the error of his ways and is ready to bounce back in a big way. He doesn’t remember much about that night, but he distinctly remembers that a security guard died during the robbery that turned Eel into a nigh-invulnerable, shape-shifting super-freak. And Eel is going to track down his former friends and deliver some justice. Somehow.

That was his plan, anyway. Unfortunately Fate, as represented by an agent of the covert organization called Spyral, has bigger plans for Eel O’Brian. Plans that involve a sinister cabal of the most brilliant and evil geniuses in existence and their plot to take over the world. Only one man has the skills and powers needed to infiltrate their organization while remaining beneath their notice… and unfortunately for us all, that man is Eel O’Brian.

I should note something for the benefit of those readers who are parents who are mostly familiar with Plastic Man from his appearances in various cartoons – this is not a kid-friendly comic! This should, perhaps, be obvious, given the fact that the cover features a blood-soaked body. Then again, you never can tell with some people, so let me say again that the general wacky tone of this book is more in line with Deadpool than anything you’ll see on Justice League Action, Batman: The Brave and The Bold or The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show.

This should be no surprise given that this comic is written by Gail Simone, who got her start in mainstream comics writing Deadpool before going on to horrify decent people everywhere with both volumes of the villain-focused series Secret Six. (Fun Fact: Superiors, the strip club Eel O’Brian manages, is a nod to a business frequented by the main characters in Secret Six.) What is surprising, however, is how neatly Simone has updated the classic origins of Plastic Man for the reality of DC Comics Rebirth.

By way of a for instance, Plastic Man was originally recruited as an FBI Agent after acquiring his powers. Given Eel O’Brian’s criminal record and lack of qualifications, that would never happen today. Recruiting him for Spyral, on the other hand, is a brilliant conceit, given their established history of employing vigilantes and other people with questionable backgrounds. This is one fine detail of many that makes Simone’s script a neat nod to Plastic Man’s origins as well as a fun read on its own terms

Sadly, the artwork by Adriana Melo doesn’t quite equal up to the writing. Melo’s pencils are fantastic, but some of her inks are overly thick and give the finished art a weight that seems at odds with the light aesthetic that Plastic Man demands. Yet these inks perfectly suit the more Noir-based scenes detailing Eel O’Brian’s efforts to play detective. Altogether, the art works more often than it doesn’t, even ignoring the many sight gags Melo sneaks into the background, such as Eel wearing a DC Superhero Girls T-shirt. The colors are nicely applied as well.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of Plastic Man and/or dark comedy, you’ll want to pick this one up.

8/10

Plastic Man #1 releases on June 13, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – The Terrifics #1

The Terrifics #1 Cover

The Terrifics owes its existence to Marvel Studios trying to spite 20th Century Fox. Shocking but true! In all the feuding over film-rights over the past few years, Marvel Comics stopped publishing a monthly Fantastic Four comic book series so as to deny Fox any free publicity at their expense. Given how utterly un-Fantastic the 2015 Fantastic Four movie turned out to be, they shouldn’t have bothered. Still, the last few years saw Johnny Storm mostly hanging out with The Inhumans and the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing joining The Guardians of the Galaxy.

This apparently led to writer Jeff Lemire asking “Why, apart from the threat of lawsuits, don’t we create a team for DC Comics that will tell the same sorts of weird stories involving fantastic powers and scientists exploring the unknown that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby used to tell in Fantastic Four?”

Enter… The Terrifics!

The parallels between the two groups are immediately obvious. Leading the team we have Michael “Mister Terrific” Holt – a gold medal athlete and doctor of many disciplines in the Mister Fantastic role. Rex “Metamorpho” Mason is our stand-in for The Thing – a salt-of-the-earth adventurer transformed into a hideous monster. Patrick “Eel” O’Brien aka Plastic Man is our Human Torch analog – a wise-cracking smart-alec more concerned with the fun aspects of being a superhero than the serious side of things. And Phantom Girl who is… well, a girl that can walk through things and become kinda see-through.

It’s not a perfect analogy but it is an interesting one. It should be noted though, for the benefit of those Legion of Super Hero fans awaiting the group’s return to DC Comics, that the Phantom Girl pictured here is not the heroine from the classic team, but her ancestor. She’s also the least-developed character in this first issue – a preview of which you can view below.


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(Click To View The Full Image In Another Window.)

Though spinning out of Dark Nights Metal and making references to events in books that we haven’t seen yet, The Terrifics does a fair job of introducing its protagonists and exploring their powers. It’s somewhat less skilled, however, in how it handles its supporting cast and more care could have been taken in introducing Metamorpho’s corrupt boss Simon Stagg, Stagg’s right-hand caveman Java and Metamorpho’s girlfriend, Sapphire, for the benefit of new readers. The action flows somewhat more smoothly after the semi-awkward opening, once Mister Terrific, Metamorpho and Plastic Man begin searching for the source of a mysterious distress call from within The Dark Multiverse.

The artwork is similarly mixed in terms of its results. Ivan Reis is a fantastic penciler, whose past work on Green Lantern, Aquaman and Action Comics has been rightly praised. Reis varies his usual style up a bit in this first issue, with many panels that evoke the spirit of Jack Kirby even before the trio of heroes discover the corpse of a giant god in an ornate helmet in deep space. Unfortunately, the inks by Joe Prado do more to obscure the pencils in some panels than they enhance them and many of the lighting effects introduced by colorist Marcelo Maiolo leave the final artwork looking washed out.

It’s hard to judge The Terrifics one way or the other by this first issue. While not the slam dunk DC Comics had hoped for, there is not enough wrong with it to merit it being completely written off either. Fans of pulp adventure and classic superheroes will find it enjoyable enough, but there’s little so far to suggest the sense of wacky fun the premise suggests. Still, it serves as a tribute to the classic weird science superheroes of The Silver Age.

7/10

The Terrifics #1 releases February 28, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.