Monthly Archives: April 2016

Plastic Man 6

Quick Rating: And the visiting team takes the field
Title: Chapter 6: When Strikes Agent Morgan

Writer: Kyle Baker
Artist: Kyle Baker
Editor: Joey Cavalieri

The first inning in the Plastic Man game comes to a rousing conclusion with villains revealed and chuckles all around.

Let me think about that summary… I think I have the attention span of a gnat. It must be all those years of Sesame Street and MTV. I was there when video killed the radio star and, let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. In this day and age, the comics industry expects me to pay attention for six+ months. Let me assure you that this is way beyond my capabilities. I’m good for maybe an hour and that’s if food and beverage are involved.

So, I wrote: The first inning in the Plastic Man game comes to a rousing conclusion with villains revealed and chuckles all around. And yet I have no idea what’s really going on here. Yes, I could identify the good guys and the bad guys and I saw all the cute pictures. I chuckled. But I long ago lost any investment in the characters.

I still like the artwork a lot. I still think that the storytelling is delightful. I’m entertained. But I’ve now spent twenty dollars for two hours entertainment over half a year. And I’ve lost track of the story. You would have a point if you want me to drag out all the old issues every time a new one arrives, but I simply don’t have them available right now. (The house is being remodeled, if you must know, and older comics are packed away.)

So, should you buy this issue? If you bought the other five, then you should. If not, then you should purchase the inevitable trade paperback. And I should venture into the stored comics and figure out what’s going on here.

June, 2004

Plastic Man 5

Quick Rating: Et tu…
Title: Despair

Writer: Kyle Baker
Artist: Kyle Baker
Editor: Joey Cavalieri

I had started to lose faith. My attention had begun to wander. Somehow I really liked this issue. Maybe it was the occasional surprise. Maybe the pacing just felt a little better. Maybe it was just nice to finally be able to sit outside and read a comic book. But I liked this sad, sad issue. Woozy is dead and it is funeral time. The investigation into Plastic Man’s crimes finally takes a turn in his favor. All in all, I felt like stuff happened. I like it when stuff happens.

Kyle Baker continues to draw as though he learned by tracing Ren and Stimpy off his television screen. And if you’ve ever tried, you know that’s not easy with all the static electricity. No other superhero than Plastic Man is so perfect for this style. Somewhere, I hope Jack Cole rests peacefully, knowing that one of his most famous creations is in good hands.

So, why do we still publish periodic comics in pamphlet format? Is there any remotely good reason? It costs more in resources and to the ultimate consumer than collected format. Even the lengthiest Victorian serial had more occur in each individual installment (and was usually published on a much more rapid schedule). Why tolerate a format which promises little and usually delivers? Does it actually take you an hour to read a three dollar comic?

It is arguably unfair to complain about comic book formats when reviewing a particular comic, especially one that I liked. And I realize that I’m not the first to suggest the demise of the pamphlet format. Yet, Plastic Man is seemingly destined for the trade paperback world. It is carrying a long story arc that requires knowledge of the previous issues. At times, events move at a glacial pace. Subtle references might be missed unless you’re inclined to reread the prior issues upon acquisition of each new one. All of this is true of many of the best titles over the years: Grendel, Usagi Yojimbo, Watchmen, Swamp Thing, Sandman, etc. In all those cases, the trade paperbacks made a big splash. Perhaps it’s time to stop subscribing to comic books.

Hey, issue four sold much better than most of Vertigo’s output in March, so maybe Plastic Man will make the long haul.

May, 2004

Plastic Man 4

Quick Rating: Squishy
Title: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Writer/Artist: Kyle Baker
Editor: Joey Cavalieri

Why am I losing interest in Plastic Man? Is it just not that interesting? Do I have the attention span of a gnat? Is the story moving too slowly? Do I just need to relax and let the tale wash over me? Should I continue to make my purchasing decisions based on the desire to have something to review? Should I stay or should I go? Am I a spring or an autumn?

In this issue of Plastic Man, Plastic Man investigates the accusation of murder that has been pinned on Eel O’Brian (his not-so-secret identity). Also, Woozy Winks, Plastic Man’s long-suffering sidekick, lands in a difficult situation. The chapter entertains. The art is wacky in a good way.

So, why complain? Because it’s been four months to tell this story. This tends to happen to me with series which insist on long arcs. My patience wears thin because it too often feels like a two hour movie that should have been cut in half. If I had simply horded the issues and read them all at once, then I have little doubt that I would love them.

Everyone who has read a magazine or a comic book can remember the first time they ran into those horrible words “continued next month.” You could not believe the inhumanity. And yet the problem is compounded month after month in comic books. Who can honestly give a damn about Woozy or Robin or Speedy for half a year? When this storyline began in Plastic Man, we were still awaiting the first heavy snowfall of winter. Now, the first buds of spring are peaking out and it’s still continued next month.

Do I think the story should always end in each issue? Of course not. I enjoy the groundwork being laid for future developments, but I don’t necessarily appreciate a hundred fifty page book being broken into five bite-size chunks.

So, the story is still good, I think. The art continues to entertain. But I want something else to happen. I’m really starting not to care.

February, 2004