The creator of Plastic Man, Jack Cole, introduced him in 1941 and immediately set him apart with stories filled with slapstick humor and experimental structures. But since Cole’s departure as overseer, Plastic Man has been on the fringes of the DC Universe (he was even replaced by another character called Elongated Man briefly).
The question recent writers have grappled with is: how does one reinvent Plastic Man? Should we fill his life with pathos and wring the irony out his smiling personality? Or do we go back to the Cole era and mine Plas for off-kilter laughs?
In Plastic Man: Rubber Bandits, the second of his two Plastic Man graphic novels, writer-illustrator Kyle Baker hits on the right formula. He makes Plas an all-out comedian and surrounds him with genuinely funny, diverse characters that allow him to exploit myriad situations creatively. He infuses his work with zany humor reminiscent of Mad Magazine satires from the 70s.
Along the way Baker stops to smell the roses – or rather step all over them. In a hilarious sequence he takes the pants off DC luminaries such as Batman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman and Superman.
A lot of Rubber Bandits is drawn in paper cutout style. The backgrounds are minimalist – often a brush spray provides some texture. It encourages a fast read – allowing Baker to keep the energy in his stories.