Able to stretch over tall buildings in a single step. Can transform into a locomotive. Bouncy enough to reflect speeding bullets. Plastic Man! Former criminal turned immortal hero. That may sound like a stretch but you don’t even know the half of it. So how did a thief become the stretchy superhero? Let’s find out!
Patrick “Eel” O’Brian was an orphan raised on the streets, he did what he had to survive so a life of crime was the way to go. He made a name for himself as a safe cracker and while on a heist in a chemical factory, Eel would get shot and drenched in chemicals. Left for dead by his crew and hunted by police, Eel would flee to the nearby mountains where he’d be rescued by reclusive monks who showed him such kindness he’d never seen before.
Transformed from his exposure to the chemicals and from his time with the monks, Eel decided to use his newfound powers to fight crime instead of commit it. Eel would meet a man named Woozy Winks who would become his sidekick while they dealt with criminals and dealing with strange villains. The latter would get the attention of the Justice League and soon Eel found himself with a room on a moon base.
Now trucking with the major figures, Eel would do his best to prove himself, Batman was the one who’d recruited Eel and this would help Eel’s confidence. Eels ability to shapeshift and immunity to mind control would help in many cases. He’d become good friends with fellow new teammates Steel and Zuriel, able to commiserate as the new members amongst the old guard.
Though he turned a new leaf when becoming Plastic Man, Eel had some desires to use his superhero gig for riches. When he, along with the rest of the League, were split into two people, one as a depose red/deskilled regular identity and one as their superhero. Eel struggled with his criminal ways in his civilian identity form but was the one able to help reunite the League’s split forms.
The extent of Eel’s durability from his powers were put to the test while on a mission where they ended up back in time. Eel would be frozen and shattered into thousands, if not millions, of pieces and the team would have to travel back to the present to have the technology to find all the pieces to reconstruct him. It turns out, Eel is pretty much unkillable and will likely never die even if he’d want to.
The shock of his experience of being conscious but unable to move for millenia, had Eel step down from the League. He’d learn he had a son and wanted to go and find the boy and make things right and help him anyway he could. Eventually, Eel’s son would become the hero, Offspring, carry on his dad’s trickster hero ways. Once again, Batman would come to bring Eel to the League where he’d stay for quite some time.
In the year where Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman were gone for a year, would bring about the rise of Offspring and Eel and he trying to be a normal family until that hero life called them back in. Eel would have many adventures solo, with his son, and with the Justice League for many years. During the Blackest Night he’d have his heart ripped out and still survived without it. In the New 52, Eel O’Brian was debated by the United Nations on whether he should be part of their Justice League International team but found him to be to unpredictable.
There you have it! Plastic Man is one of DC’s wackier heroes who has had quite the history of getting his own movie but it’s never worked out. He’s a living cartoon and has appeared in several cartoon shows. Will we ever see a live action Plastic Man, only time will tell. See you next time!
Police Comics #1