cover image PLASTIC MAN: On the Lam


Kyle Baker, . . DC Comics, $14.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-1-4012-0343-6

Plastic Man returns in a maniacally energetic, ragingly harebrained, gloriously Technicolor series. Baker recaps Stretch's origin: Eel O'Brian, career criminal, attempts to rob a chemical plant, only to fall into the fateful vat of acid that gives him his superpowers (i.e., his infinite pliability). He recuperates from the accident with a kindly group of monks and emerges as Plastic Man, doer of good. After listening to Eel's sad tale, one of the monks remarks, "I'll let you rest up from your exhausting backstory," and it's this sort of self-awareness that provides the bite needed to balance the story's relentless silliness. Plastic Man's co-stars include his doughy sidekick, Woozy Winks, and a dishy agent named Morton, a hard-boiled blonde with zero patience for our hero's occasional hijinks. The general plot, in which Eel is framed for murder and Plastic Man must clear his name, is paper thin, but it provides an excellent backdrop for Stretch to do his thing, and it allows Baker's comic inventiveness to shine in endless sight gags. One memorable spread has Plastic Man splashed across the side of a building, disguised as graffiti. Baker also makes visual nods to other great cartoonists, including one in which Stretch's acid-transformed face melts between his hands in a take-off on a classic R. Crumb drawing. Plastic Man is an entertaining confection with all the weight of a balloon animal. (Nov.)