Plastic Man 1

Quick Rating: Delightful
Title: Rebound

Doing the things that plastic can What’s he like? It’s not important

Writer/Artist: Kyle Baker
Editor: Joey Cavalieri

Do you remember the funny pages? That was what your dad offered to read to you on Sunday morning when your mom was trying to get a little extra sleep. Before there were comic books, there were comic strips. More than likely, you were exposed to Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes or Bloom County or Nancy or Beetle Bailey or…. You may not have been very discriminating. Who is reading the funnies? How can you read just one? Have you ever noticed that mice don’t have shoulders?

I don’t know why Superman and Batman and all the rest survive as American pop culture icons and Plastic Man is condemned to the ignominy of blank stares. There is a statue of Superman in downtown Cleveland. There should be a statue of Plastic Man outside a Play-Doh factory somewhere. How many children fight over Plastic Man action figures? Aren’t they always the ones still hanging in the discount aisle (next to Lethargic Lad and the Tick)? Why not a movie? Of course, it would star Jim Carrey.

Kyle Baker appears to be the lovechild of Jack Cole and Salvador Dali, having served an apprenticeship under Tex Avery. Comics, like most pop culture, get by on intelligence and/or liveliness. Every panel in Plastic Man #1 shines with joie de vivre. It is fun to read this comic book. Sure, the jokes are old, but humor is in, well, timing, and, you know, presentation. Baker can draw a good joke.

In this issue, we get to know Plastic Man at work and at play. We revisit his origin. He’s a pliable superhero with a bucket of creativity. The public idolizes him for his audacious escapades. We also meet his sidekick, the much-maligned Woozy Winks. Despite the hero worship, Plastic Man is troubled by meaninglessness in his life. And we conclude on a highly mysterious note. The panels are big and there are a lot of primary colors.

I really enjoyed Plastic Man. It accomplishes a near miracle in updating a character without doing its history a disservice. While not probing the most troubling questions of our day, it does not insult your intelligence. Kyle Baker makes the pages dance as if Mikhail Baryshnikov had strapped pencils to his feet.

December, 2003

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