PLASTIC MAN #3

Gail Simone’s PLASTIC MAN has been a blast from its first issue. The miniseries is a clever revitalization of an old-fashioned character. PLASTIC MAN #3, however, is probably the weakest of the three issues thus far due to the slow pace of the plot. Nonetheless, this installment still packs the same joy of prior ones thanks to Simone’s writing.

It Is Eel O’Brian Versus The World In PLASTIC MAN #2

The Cabal Strikes

PLASTIC MAN #3 officially introduces the sinister organization known as “the Cabal.” Not much is certain about this organization except that they must be the masterminds of this “JLA plot.” The Cabal is after the awesomely-named street urchin known as Pado Swakatoon. In PLASTIC MAN #2, none other than the infamous Batman villain Man-Bat kidnapped Pado. Meanwhile, someone is killing the members of Eel O’Brian’s old gang!

PLASTIC MAN #3
PLASTIC MAN #3 page 9. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

How does this all fit together? It’s unclear, but the person ordering around the Cabal (who Plastic Man refers to as the “disembodied spooky voice”) is likely behind everything. Why they want to frame the JLA or what they want to get rid of Pado for is also unclear. It’s frustrating that PLASTIC MAN #3 does very little to address mysteries or move the plot along. Indeed, PLASTIC MAN #3 only raises more questions than it answers. Hopefully, issue #4 won’t feel like it’s stretching out the plot (pun definitely intended).

The Heroic Mr. Stretch

There’s always the risk of writing a one-note hero when dealing with a character like Plastic Man. He’s a walking jokester but that can get old very fast. In this issue, this almost happens but Simone is able to ground O’Brian with his relationships. Most notably his dynamic to Pado Swakatoon.

Pado looks up to Plastic Man as a hero just as kids look up to Batman or Superman. Eel has never viewed himself as a hero. He always thought of himself as nothing more than a low-level thug and a loser. Now that people believe in him, Plastic Man can begin to believe in himself too.

PLASTIC MAN #3
Read up on Plastic Man and more in DC’s new team series THE TERRIFICS on Comixology!

The relationship between Eel and Pado in PLASTIC MAN #3 oddly reminds me of one between Wolverine and Laura in LOGAN. Through Pado, Eel is able to be reborn as a hero in order to save a young child. I really enjoyed PLASTIC MAN #3 as a redemption story for Eel as he becomes the hero of Cole City.

Art in PLASTIC MAN #3

If I were to describe Adriana Melo’s art in PLASTIC MAN #3 with one word it would be expressive. Despite the dark noir thriller undertone of this story, there’s a lot of extravagant sequences and outrageous characters throughout PLASTIC MAN’s storyline. Melo captures the mood of the scene through her panels. She shows the deafeningly bad singing of Sammy’s girlfriend through the jaggedly boxed panels filled to brim with its characters, giving them a nauseating feeling. She also depicts action well in Plastic Man’s fast-paced but inventive squabble with the Cabal.

PLASTIC MAN #3
PLASTIC MAN #3 page 21. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Melo also makes the emotions of all the characters clear. Whether it’s Doris and her love for Eel with the cartoonish hearts flashing over her eyes or Eel and his pink cheeks after Pado kisses him on his cheek, Melo never fails to show the human side of these characters. As I said earlier, it’s incredibly important that we, the readers, attach ourselves to the humanity of characters like Plastic Man. Otherwise, Eel can come off as just another fast-talking quip machine. It’s Eel’s humanity that really centers this comic. Melo’s art more than anything humanizes Eel’s lovable (if slightly slippery) qualities.

Flexing Their Muscles

PLASTIC MAN #3 continues the positive trend for this series, yet it does take a bit of a dip plotwise. I hope that Gail Simone can make good on the JLA tease that first occurred in issue #1. Hopefully, PLASTIC MAN #4 will discuss more of the Cabal’s plans.

PLASTIC MAN #3 went to greater lengths to humanize Eel and make him into a character we could root for. While many of DC’s characters are such impenetrable titans of goodness, it’s interesting to have a hero who’s really nothing more than a schmuck. Characters like Plastic Man remind us that we can always strive to be better. It’s never too late to turn our back on our wicked pasts and become a hero.

PLASTIC MAN #3 By Gail Simone, Adriana Melo, and Kelly Fitzpatrick
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
PLASTIC MAN #3 continues the fun vibe of the two prior issues while introducing us to more action. There's less of a plot to this third issue and Simone continues to bait us for answers to the series' mysteries, but the characters make the ride worth it.
88 %
Stretchy Delight
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