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Plastic Man #2

Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer/Artist: Kyle Baker
Publisher: D.C. Comics

The Plot:
With the FBI looking to hunt down the vicious killer Eel O'Brian, we see Plastic Man is able to get himself assigned to the case, but he soon finds himself saddled with a new partner, who looks to be quite good at her job, which is the last thing Plastic Man needed. After the two are pull away from the investigation by a wild goose chase, we see the case takes an unexpected turn when Plastic Man's connection to Eel O'Brian is exposed, which turns our hero into a fugitive from justice.

The Good:
Kyle Backer does seem to understand that Plastic Man that works best when he's involved in a plot that clearly doesn't take itself all that seriously, as one almost expects Bugs Bunny and crew to show up to reveal in the absurdity of this issue's plot. In any event, more than the first issue this one takes full advantage of the fact that Plastic Man is a shape-shifter, with one of the funniest sequences in the book coming about when Plastic Man is playing the role of his new partner, who just happens to be Plastic Man's biggest fan. I also enjoyed his various impersonations that he employs when they enter the haunted house, though I will agree that the Nick and Nora reference was a bit obscure. There's also a fun little bit where Plastic Man and his new partner are trapped in a room with its walls closing in, as the various attempts he makes to stop the wall from crushing them to death are nicely finished with a look at the other side of the walls as we see Plastic Man playing the role of the human monkey wrench. However, my favorite gag in the book would have to be his fisherman impression, as while the payoff is rather obvious, watching his new partner grow increasingly annoyed is what sells this sequence. I also rather liked the idea of Plastic Man getting himself a new partner, as the one element that this book needed was a straight man to play off Plastic Man.

Kyle Baker's art is probably the main reason why I'd recommend this book to another fan as it's easily this book's most engaging element. I mean there's a lot of artists who are offering up a animated style, but Kyle Baker is one of the only that seems to recognize that he's got the freedom to go all out in his delivery. I mean Plastic Man is a character who lends himself to this style, but Kyle Baker is clearly having a grand old time playing with the character, with the scene where the character is making faces behind his partner's back being an impressive display. I also rather enjoyed the sequence in the room with the closing walls, with the shot of the stretched out Plastic Man in the working of the gears being a particularly fun visual. There's also some cute little visuals like the fact that Woozy gets a burned out bulb above his head when he gets an idea, or the little angel halo that appears over Agent Morgan's head when she's pulling a gag on Plastic Man.

The Bad:
While there are several gags in this issue that are genuinely hilarious, there's also a couple stinkers that fall flat, and leave one a bit concerned about Kyle Baker's inability to recognize the jokes he should've left on the shelf. Now, I'm a fan of Woozy Winks but Kyle Baker delivers a secondary plot in which Woozy decided he's going to become a costumed crime-fighter, that felt downright stupid, and not in a so stupid itís funny manner. There's also an appearance by a character that I'm assuming is a member of Plastic Man's rogues gallery that is downright bizarre, and while I suspect that this is exactly what Kyle Baker wanted this character to do, I found this character's presence acted to derail the murder investigation plot. I also have to wonder about the cover to this issue, as while it's a cute visual gag, I've always held the impression that the double Xs over a character's eyes signified the idea that the character in question was dead, which would seem to add a decidedly sinister edge to Plastic Man's smile.

Quickly, Pump My Lever
This is a much stronger issue as Plastic Man is in fine shape-shifting form, and the addition of a fairly serious-minded character that is allowed to play against Plas' constant barrage of goofy moments makes for a highly entertaining show. The issue is also more in keeping with the idea that Kyle Baker is clearly trying to invoke the sprit of the old Bugs Bunny cartoons where one is able to stop a bullet by sticking one's finger in the barrel, and the way the villains sent a message to the heroes was using a brick with a note attached to it. There's also the ever classic death trap where the walls close in on our heroes, and the eye holes cut in a painting that seem to follow our heroes as they move down the hallway. Now the Woozy Winks' subplot is a bit of a dud, and I truly hope Kyle Baker is able to find something for Woozy to do, as I've always been rather fond of the character. Still, this is the only real moment in the issue that didn't work for me, as the material dealing with Plastic Man and his new partner is very entertaining.



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