It’s Plastic Man versus a secret Cabal of some of the worst villains around. My money’s on the one who stretches. Your Major Spoilers review of Plastic Man #5 awaits!
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Adriana Melo
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 10th, 2018
Previously in Plastic Man: Eel O’Brian takes a flexible view of morality: you walk on your side of the line, he’ll keep his feet on his (no promises about his hands, eyes, ears or midsection). That all stopped when his alter ego Plastic Man got suckered into the high-stakes world of super-heroic traitors and super-villainous cabals. Now he’s gonna stiffen his spine, screw up his courage and take the law into his own hands.
Or he’s going to swat Queen Bee into next Tuesday with his fly-swatter hand… One or the other.
A SECRET CABAL OF EVIL
We open with narration from Plastic Man about how a girl scammed him into believing in a secret council of evil which CLEARLY does not exist, even as the visuals show us the meeting of that selfsame group. Amazo, Dr. Hugo Strange, The Queen Bee, and Per Degaton discuss how their new group is better than the late Secret Society, as it doesn’t allow for every schmuck and Crazy Quilt to join up. Worse still, they have set their sights on Plastic Man, and Doctor Psycho has a plan to take him out. The mystery of the OTHER Plastic Man is solved in these pages (with a Legion of Super-Heroes connection) but Eel loses face with both Pado, the kid who idolizes him and his would-be squeeze Doris and gets some terrible news from Man-Bat about his elastic condition. But the worst news is the condition of the misshapen (and now super-strong) Janet, who has a grudge, powers and a new nom de guerre: Granite Janet!
ONLY EEL DOESN’T BELIEVE IN THEM
The real star of Plastic Man #5 is the visuals, as Adriana Melo manages a vast array of facial expressions, from Psycho’s sneering evil to Pado’s crushing betrayal to Plastic Man’s disappointment (THROUGH his goggles) at his visit with Man-Bat. The reveal of Doctor Psycho’s pet monster is handled well, and a page near the end of the issue where we get a glimpse of the true scope of what’s happening is horrifying in a very John Carpenter kind of way, but the best of all comes in the tense dinner meeting of the Cabal. Add in Gail Simone’s trademark dialogue (Queen Bee’s story about a nail file gives me the creeps) and you’ve got an issue that really delivers. The one downside of it all comes in the speed in which everything takes place in these pages and the knowledge that next issue has to wrap it all up satisfactorily. There is a lot of honest emotion and interaction, though, that mostly overrides those complaints about the pacing for me. Mostly…
BOTTOM LINE: HE BELIEVES NOW
This tale of the early days of Eel O’Brien has been a lot of fun, and Plastic Man #5 is no exception, pulling together multiple threads of story in mostly satisfying ways, with really strong and expressive art throughout, balancing horror, sweetness and the goofy amiable charms of Eel into 4 out of 5 stars overall. This is one of the few takes on Plas that balances out his comic overtones with the pathos of his origins and the sheer, impossible nature of his powers and keeps it all in balance. It’s good stuff.