Plastic Man #1: On the Lam
by Kyle Baker (DC Comics, 2004)

Stretchable superheroes are a dime a dozen. In the DC Universe, the two main players on the flexible front have always been Plastic Man and Elongated Man -- and, of the two, I've always preferred the latter, who seemed to a much more interesting personality, backstory and supporting cast.

DC's writers seem to agree, which is probably why they put the Elongated Man through hell over the past year. But Plastic Man inarguably has the stronger powers, not just stretching his body a la the Elongated Man and Marvel's Mr. Fantastic, but also being able to take almost any shape and absorb almost limitless damage. (That's why Plastic Man got tapped for the most recent incarnation of the Justice League, rather than the smart guy.)

But, great power aside, Plastic Man is a silly character who never seems suited to keep company with the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. It seems almost ludicrous to think he could garner sales as the central character of his own book. And yet, Kyle Baker made it happen.

On the Lam, the first collection from the short-lived Plastic Man series, plays to the strengths of the character. In other words, the story is goofy. The action is slapstick. The art is loose, comical and brightly cartoony.

The plot involves a dead man, with evidence implicating gangster Eel O'Brian for the murder. Eel O'Brian, however, is Plastic Man, or was before he got slapped with superpowers and a conscience, of sorts. Soon, Plastic Man is leading the murder investigation in an effort to find ... himself.

Kids in particular will love this, but anyone who wants a break from grim storylines and cataclysmic events might enjoy a sidetrip with Plastic Man, too. On the Lam will tickle your ribs without stretching your imagination.

review by
Tom Knapp

28 July 2007

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