All Rubber, All Heart: Plastic Man #6 Review
Plastic Man #6
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Adriana Melo
Cover Artist: Jason Badower
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters: Simon Bowland
Previously in Plastic Man…
As the mysterious villainous group the Cabal planned Plastic Man’s downfall, the rubbery rogue had a day out at the fair with new girlfriend Doris & his protected charge, Pado Swakatoon, before having foster care pick up Pado, as Eel O’Brian felt that it was too dangerous for Pado to keep living with him. This lead to Doris storming off as well, and immediately after, Plastic Man’s friend & secret agent Obscura calls the hero for help. She’s being chased by a Plastic Man doppelganger. Plastic Man begins to battle the shapeshifter (sent by Cabal-member Doctor Psycho). All the while, Eel’s former employer & gangster Sammy Mizzola tries to help his girlfriend Janet, whose body is slowly turning to granite as a result of a failed attempt to replicate Plastic Man’s powers…
Summary with limited spoilers
The issue opens with Plastic Man monologuing internally about how much he misses when superheroes wore spandex instead of armour, while showing off how clever the stretchy superhero is, as he’s researched different plastics that are stronger & harder than steel. Plastics he can change into. This runs through Eel’s head as he fights the Durlan shapeshifter Doctor Psycho & the rest of the Cabal sent after Obscura. As the fight unfolds, Plastic Man soon finds out the Durlan is under mind-control, while said mind-controller, Dr. Psycho makes his way through the crowd to taunt Obscura, revealing the plan to discredit her claims about the Cabal. The fight between Plastic Man and the Durlan makes it way through the carnival Eel visited earlier that day (in issue #5) and eventually, the two shapeshifters make their way into the bay just beyond, as it appears the Durlan won the fight. As Dr. Psycho & the Durlan (in the shape of Plastic Man) teleport back to the Cabal’s base, Dr. Pyscho cries out for the Cabal to attack the Durlan, certain that it’s Plastic Man in disguise. After a brief cutaway to Pado running away from child-services back onto the street, the rest of the Cabal verify that the Plastic Man in front of them is, in fact, the Durlan. Psycho is confused at this, certain Plas would’ve taken advantage of the situation to infiltrate the Cabal before Eel reveals where he really is. The ductile doofus snuck aboard the Cabal’s base inside Psycho’s ear. As the shrunken Plastic Man beats down on Psycho’s brain, he manipulates the sadistic-psychic to attack the other Cabal members, leading to Plastic Man successfully taking down four of the five supervillains. As Dr. Hugo Strange is the sole remaining member, Plastic Man makes a deal with the Batman-foe to protect Plas’s loved ones, or he’ll come back and take the Cabal down all over again. After being beamed back down to Earth, Eel reunites with Pado & Doris, admitting his mistakes, and vowing to be there for the two of them.
Opinions on story and art
Wow, this issue was a bittersweet read for me, no doubt about it. It was another absolutely WONDERFUL blend of absurdity, action and heart as every prior entry of this miniseries has been. Gail Simone, Adriana Melo, Kelly Fitzpatrick and Simon Bowland deliver top-notch work allowing for some of the best moments of this six-issue miniseries, from the hilarious insight into the spandex vs armor debate, to the silly visual of the two Plastic Men facing off in a test-your-strength carnival game (love the detail of Wonder Woman being at the top of the meter by the way) to Eel’s jubilation at defeating the Cabal, it’s all so beautifully executed! Even the cover of the issue, from Jason Badower, gives the issue a real Mad Magazine vibe (though the art itself will haunt my nightmares). Gail Simone writes a very enjoyable, satisfying conclusion to the miniseries, while still leaving room open for a follow-up story someday (please let this happen), while Adriana Melo & Kelly Fitzpatrick craft unforgettable visuals, such as Psycho’s face in absolute agony as Plastic Man pummels his brain. Something very rewarding for long-time fans of Gail’s writing, given the number of times the little telepath has popped up in her prior stories. And the exchange between Eel & Pado at the end is very heartwarming.
I didn’t discuss Pado’s background as a transgender boy in prior issues, because I wanted to see how it fully played out before discussing it. Having now done so, I can say that without a doubt, Pado Swakatoon is one of the most important additions to the DC Universe in the last year, as seeing a child who identifies as transsexual, and being accepted for it by those around them, is something so rarely depicted in North American media overall, and I can’t think of a single time this transpired in a comic in all my years of reading them. And with how trans men and women are being so unjustly targeted by the government bodies that should be protecting them, it is VITAL their stories be told, and that they have characters they can identify with. We need to humanize trans men and women, because that’s what they are, human.