“Then You Skin the Poke… ” (Plastic Man #4 Comic Review)
Plastic Man #4: “Revenge of the Curse of the Horror of the Creature”
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Adriana Melo
Cover Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, and Tomeu Morey
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters: Simon Bowland
Previously in Plastic Man…
Eel O’Brian, the stretchy superhero Plastic Man, had successfully (and with the help of Man-Bat) rescued Pado Swakatoon from the clutches of the enigmatic Cabal while Eel’s friends from the club—Lila, Doris, and Spence—set out to investigate the murder that Plastic Man was falsely accused of. The trio discover footage of someone who appears to be Plastic Man committing the murder alongside a note with some strange writing on it. Meanwhile, after one of his goons informs him Eel O’Brian is Plastic Man, Eel’s former boss, Sammy “the Suitcase” Mizzola, takes his girlfriend Janet to the factory where Eel got his powers and tries to recreate the accident with Janet.
Summary with limited spoilers
Picking up shortly where the previous issue ended, we find Sammy Mizzola at a drugstore, desperately buying all of the moisturizers in stock and returning to his apartment where we learn just what happened to Janet. She’s not stretchy. Half her body has been turned to stone and her mind seems to have cracked a bit too; she constantly feels itchy and has developed a nasty rage problem—completely justified, given what her boyfriend did to her.
The book then returns to our hero and title character, Plastic Man, as he takes Pado out for a stroll around the neighbourhood or the shady streets he used to operate out of in his criminal days. Evidently, not much as changed. Someone attempts to steal Eel’s wallet so he gives the would-be-pickpocketer some pointers on how to do so correctly.
Pado tries to discourage Eel from this, and thus Plastic Man goes on a spree arresting pretty much everyone on that street. Learning that Pado has never gone to school before, Eel then calls up Obscura, needing her help with buying Pado clothes.
The comic then cuts away to Lila and Doris at Elm Disease University, continuing to investigate the framing of Eel. They seek out the help of a customer from the club, Professor Henning, to figure out what’s on the note they found from the old lady in the last issue. Seeing the note leaves the professor with a shocked look on his face as the comic then returns to Eel, Obscura and Pado’s shopping trip.
Obscura just tells Pado to load up a cart with the clothes Pado wants to wear. This leads to a brief moment of bonding (and tango) between Obscura and Eel as the two connect over their lonely, lie-filled lives. The moment’s ended though when Eel receives a phone call from Lila as they’re apparently being followed after getting the note translated. Eel rushes off into action as Plastic Man and he encounters Lila and Doris’s pursuers, the Secret Six—or three of them anyway! A fight between him, Catman, Ragdoll and Jeanette ensue…
Opinions on story and art
This was another wonderful read, no doubt about it! The creative team of Gail Simone, Adriana Melo, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Simon Bowland continue to deliver a series of absolutely hilarious misadventure for Plastic Man while wrapping them around a very engaging mystery of who the Cabal is. As I’ve already praised the writing, dialogue, overall pencilling, coloring and lettering of this comic in previous issues (all of which remains just as excellent in this entry), I want to take note of a few particularly crafty visual moments provided by Adriana Melo in this issue, such as the hilarious “Everything is Terrible” newspaper headline on the first page (that’s going to make a great reactionary image on my Twitter account) or the bicycle Obscura rides in on with Pado near the end of the comic, presumably commandeered from some local after Eel took off. It’s great details like this that make this comic so fun to read!
Also, this issue’s title Revenge of the Curse of the Horror of the Creature may be my favourite title for a single issue of a comic ever! The guest appearance by the Secret Six was fantastic. Gail Simone’s previous two series starring those characters are some of my favourite comics ever, so it was great seeing Thomas Blake, Jeanette, and Peter Merkel Jr once again! Adriana Melo and Kelly Fitzpatrick did a terrific job realizing the three characters visually, including Catman’s recent New 52 redesign. I’d love to see Adriana and Kelly work on more comics with the Secret Six in the future! I find myself very curious to see how Janet’s transformation will play out in these next two issues, alongside the last-page reveal (I’ll talk more about that with issue #5’s review). And as always, I am in love with the adorable Pado, do not let any bad things happen to the Suave Prince!!