Plastic Man bulldozer? Good. Pretty much everything else Plastic Man? Bad. – Plastic Man #4
Sometimes comics are magnificent specimens of all that can be wonderful when text meets artwork and greatness is achieved in the fusion. Other times, they’re fit for nothing but lining birdcages. This? This is a case where the good and the bad are both present under one roof. For Plastic Man, by far the creepiest of the superhero pantheon, a man who exudes a Slim Goodbody oddness from every stretched pore, that there can be anything of quality slithering out of any of his books is a minor miracle.
Yet there up above is that cover. And what a cover it is.
Leaving aside the text at the lower left hand corner — does anyone really want to contemplate great gobs of Plastic Man’s goo? — this is a scintillating bit of Carmine Infantino magic. He predated the heavy-machinery-comes-alive appeal of Killdozer by about a decade, and in the process forged a Plastic Man disguise that’s actually moderately cool. Well, it is if you can put aside how blindingly dumb the crooks would have to be to both climb into the driver’s seat and the bucket of a bulldozer THAT IS PAINTED LIKE PLASTIC MAN, THE VERY HERO THEY ARE TRYING TO AVOID. LOOK, THERE’S EVEN A GIANT HAND ON THE SIDE.
Great cover. Thank you, Carmine. (One question, though: Where’s the exhaust coming from? More pertinently, what is the exhaust? Is that literally Plastic Man’s tailpipe? Is that Plastic Man flatulence billowing skyward?)
Unfortunately for those suckered by the Plasdozer into plopping a dime and two pennies on the counter, the story within is a complete, utter, mind-numbing meltdown. And no, there’s no Plasdozer in evidence anywhere within. False advertising at its finest.
Arnold Drake and Win Mortimer wrote and artified a tale that’s typical of Plastic Man’s insipid repertoire. The two primary villains are Doctor Dome (Victor Von is crossing his arms and muttering “BAH!” right now) and Madame Merciless, who concoct a scheme to hypnotize Plastic Man and use him for their nefarious ends:
While a reader might be able to read some racially offense visual subtext in Dome’s disguise, panels like this leave little room for the imagination — the story has African witch doctors! For no reason!:
The less said about the plot the better, but, in the most improbable development in a story centered around a man who can bend and morph his body at will, three women vie for Plastic Man’s love within. Madame Merciless, Doctor Dome’s daughter and Plastic Man’s regular girlfriend, Micheline de Lute, all find him irresistible. Seriously. He’s like George Clooney catnip to these ladies (maybe it’s the goggles?), and they all set to eye-scratching to be the one to know the joys of his love. Which leads to this:
I, for one, could have gone through life quite happily without knowing the status of Plastic Man’s undergarments, but now we’ve seen this, a sight that cannot be unseen. Better or worse than Sasquatch groin fur? That’s above my pay grade.
And there you have it: a prime example of how a comic can hug you with awesome one moment, and punch you in the mush with awful the next. Excelsior!