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#0019 - Plastic Man (Patrick “Eel” O’Brian)

Age: 101

Occupation: Adventurer, former thief

Marital status: Divorced

Known relatives: Angel McDunnagh (ex-wife), Luke O’Brian (son).

Group affiliation: Justice League of America, Terrifics, formerly All-Star Squadron, Freedom Fighters.

Base of operations: Mammoth City, New Jersey

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 178 lbs.

History:

  • 1919 A.D: Patrick O’Brian is born.
  • 1935 A.D: During the Great Depression, abandoned by his abusive father, O’Brian falls into a life of crime.
  • 1941 A.D: 
    • O’Brian is shot by a security guard at a chemical plant while on a heist, and falls into a drum of acid. He’s rescued and nursed to health by a group of monks, and finds he’s gained elastic powers. Seizing a second chance at life, O’Brian, now calling himself Plastic Man, turns over a new leaf.
    • Plastic Man befriends Wolfgang “Woozy” Winks, who joins him as a sidekick.
    • At the request of President Roosevelt, Plastic Man joins the All-Star Squadron, later becoming a member of the Freedom Fighters as well.
  • 1951 A.D: After the war, Plastic Man chooses to retire rather than unmask, alongside many of America’s other mystery men. He begins working undercover for the FBI during the Cold War.
  • 25 years ago: O’Brian meets Angel McDunnagh, and the two fall in love, although their relationship is strained by O’Brian’s commitment issues.
  • 21 years ago: O’Brian and Angel father a son, Luke, whom O’Brian abandons after he and Angel divorce.
  • 18 years ago: With the dawn of the new age of heroes, Plastic Man comes out of retirement, helping Batman in a case involving the Kite Man gang and aiding the Justice League against the Shaggy Man.
  • 17 years ago: During a fight against Felix Faust, Plastic Man is subjected to extreme heat and forced into stasis, assuming the shape of an egg to regenerate. He is stored in a secure vault within the Batcave until he is ready to awaken.
  • 11 years ago: Batman wakes the dormant Plastic Man to aid the heroes of Earth against the Anti-Monitor. Afterwards, O’Brian moves to New York to get a new lease on life, opening a detective agency there alongside Woozy Winks’ grandson.
  • 8 years ago: Plastic Man is invited by Batman to join the Justice League, an offer he enthusiastically accepts. He remains with the team through numerous adventures, including the fight against Mageddon and Ra’s al Ghul’s “Tower of Babel” scheme. 
  • 6 years ago: 
    • After the Justice League travels back in time to ancient Atlantis, Plastic Man is frozen and shattered by the sorceress Gamemnae’s magic. Over the next thousands of years, he reconstitutes himself on the seafloor, emerging with a new outlook on life and reconnecting with Luke.. 
    • Plastic Man proves instrumental in defeating Fernus, J’onn J’onzz transformed into a rampaging Burning Martian.
  • 4 years ago: Plastic Man joins the restructured Justice League, fighting against Doctor Sivana, Starbreaker, and the Injustice Gang.
  • 2 years ago: When Prometheus attempts to destroy Star City, Plastic Man is one of the Leaguers present to oppose him. Prometheus injects him with a serum that leaves him unable to hold his shape, forcing him into retirement once more.
  • 1 year ago: Mr. Terrific administers a serum to Plastic Man that cures him, and recruits him into his new team of explorers, the Terrifics, setting off into the Anti-Matter universe.
  • Present day: Plastic Man continues to explore the edges of known reality with the Terrifics, Luke now accompanying him.

Commentary:

Plastic Man is an interesting character in DC history: acquired with the rest of the Quality Comics stable during the Silver Age, he nevertheless didn’t appear often during that period, not even with the Freedom Fighters. In fact, Elongated Man was created specifically because DC wanted to use Plastic Man but weren’t sure if they owned the character - by the time they got that sorted out, Elongated Man was already an established character, leaving Plas to rare appearances in Dial H For Hero and other scattered titles. It wouldn’t be until Grant Morrison brought him back for JLA that he really came into his own in the DCU.

To reflect his long absences, as well as serving as a rare nod to Dark Nights: Metal (don’t get used to it, there’s no Dark Multiverse here), this Plastic Man, despite his long career, spends a fair amount of time in stasis, recovering from his weakness to extreme temperatures. He’s functionally immortal thanks to the chemicals that gave him his power, however, and can come back from nearly anything given enough time.

One would think such a long lifespan would allow for deep thought and introspection and wisdom, but there’s little of that on the surface for Plas. Instead, his peculiar sense of offbeat humor is preserved, even as he slowly becomes a better person, rebuilding bridges with his son and trying to live up to Batman’s oddly lofty opinion of him.

Plastic Man is another of those characters who’s only really had one look, although Gail Simone’s recent series tried giving him black trunks… it didn’t really work. So the red unitard with laces in the front stays, at least when he’s not wearing a black-and-white Terrifics uniform.

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