The Mystery Stretches! (Plastic Man #3 Comic Book Review)
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Adriana Melo
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters: Simon Bowland
Previously in Plastic Man…
Having been framed for the murder of an associate of his from his criminal days, Eel O’Brian is cornered by the police and nearly arrested before Pado Swakatoon helps lead him safely away from them. The two are then confronted by Man-Bat, who kidnaps Pado after Plastic Man runs away in fear. Confessing all of this to club employees Lila and Doris, Eel makes up his mind to find Pado and rescue the kid. And after the mysterious Spyral agent Obscura contacts Eel, Plastic Man tracks Pado down to the docks where he’s confronted by the shadowy organization behind Plas’s frame-up, who are holding Pado hostage. Then Eel makes the Cabal an offer to join them…
Summary (limited spoilers):
The issue opens with an interlude, bringing us back to Eel’s former boss Sammy “The Suitcase” Mizzola and his girlfriend, Janet, as he tries to use his muscle to get her a gig singing at the club Leonard’s. It goes poorly.
After Janet’s horrendous attempt at singing, the comic returns to the cliffhanger from the previous issue, when Plastic Man tries to negotiate Pado’s freedom and safety in exchange for Eel joining the Cabal. However, the Cabal denies this request and insists that both Plas and Pado have seen too much and therefore must be eliminated. Thus, the Cabal’s armed goons begin attacking Plastic Man, using the electrified batons from the previous issue which appear to be one of the only ways to hurt Eel. Taking off his goofy goggles, Plastic Man gets serious and holds his own against the Cabal’s forces for a little while, but he’s eventually knocked down. The Cabal orders the soldiers to target Pado as Plastic Man tries to rescue the kid. The guards then turn their stun-batons settings to lethal and just as Plas grabs Pado, he drops the suave-prince!!
The comic then has another interlude with Sammy and Janet returning home after the audition. One of Sammy’s men calls in about Benny’s death, saying that the JLA is apparently responsible and Plastic Man is involved. The goon also reveals that Eel O’Brian is Plastic Man. The scene then changes again to Lila, Doris, and their friend, Spence, going to Baker Heights to interview an old lady, who apparently witnessed one of Plastic Man’s murders, in an attempt to prove his innocence. The old lady reveals she has a blurry photo of someone who appears to be Plastic Man, alongside one of some strange writing.
The comic returns to Plastic Man’s fight with the Cabal’s forces and after he finally defeats them all, Man-Bat swoops down with a rescued Pado. Eel thanks Man-Bat with a declaration of being in the Batman-foe’s debt and vows that the Cabal is going to pay. He takes Pado to the nightclub and Spence agrees that she’ll look after the kid. The comic then ends with Sammy and Janet at the factory where Eel had his accident that turned him into Plastic Man…
Once again, Gail Simone, Adriana Melo, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Simon Bowland all deliver their best, leading to yet another astonishingly good read! From the unexpected, gorgeously-drawn audition of Janet’s (where I’d like to make special note of Bowland’s terrific lettering to highlight just how awful her singing is) to the ominous and dark last page, every note of this comic hits. The creative team all work together so seamlessly like they’ve been together for years! And Gail Simone’s writing is some of her wittiest, most-heartfelt, and filthiest ever; this is what I read comics for. Adriana Melo, who’s quickly becoming one of my all-time favourite pencillers in comics, brings out the best in Gail’s plotting and dialogue. I particularly enjoyed the brief, subtle panel of Man-Bat’s eyes as the Cabal orders Pado’s death. Melo brings to life the villain’s intense disgust at this order, capturing rage on a level I rarely see in other comics. Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors are superb as always, making Melo’s pencils shine. While Bowland showcases Janet’s terrible singing, Fitzpatrick’s colors show how drop-dead gorgeous Janet looks up on stage! And her colors convey the evershifting tones and moods of each scene so effectively! This miniseries really is a masterclass of comic talent and should have everyone talking about it!