Plastic Man is a male comic superhero that features in DC Comics.
Eel O'Brian was a male human whose parents had died when he was 10 years old leaving him alone in the world. He tried to work hard but was always pushed around by others causing him to lose faith in mankind and leading to him pushing others around. O'Brian later adopted the life of a criminal with such notoriety that he was wanted in eight states by the police. (Police Comics v1 #2) He later joined a gang that decided to break into Crawford Chemical Works as part of their heist. They were discovered by security guards who shot at them causing the gang to scatter but some bullets hit a barrel of acid that spilt on Eel. He was then abandoned by his comrades and the wounded Eel had to flee by himself as the chemicals went into his wounds. O'Brian escaped through the swamps but later collapsed from the injury where he was saved by a monk from the nearby Rest-Haven retreat. He tended to O'Brian and even turned away the police that were still searching for him. The act restored his faith and whilst at the retreat he discovered that the incident had given his skin a plastic-like quality allowing him to stretch and reshape it. He believed that this was a powerful weapon that he could use against evil and give him the chance to atone for his past. Among his first acts was getting a costume and arresting the gang that accompanied him to Crawford. He began to secretly operate as Plastic Man whilst maintaining his civilian life separate as his secret identity. (Police Comics v1 #1) He later aided the police in arresting the opium smuggler Dopey Joe who had an operating bringing drugs from Canada into the U.S. (Police Comics v1 #2) Plastic Man had become an ally of the police commissioner at this point and he was enlisted to help capture the clever criminal known as Baldy. (Police Comics v1 #3) Afterwards, he battled Madam Brawn who headed the Crime School for Delinquent Girls that took women recently released from prison and trained them in hand-to-hand skills or weapons to be skilled molls. This group quickly moved to take over criminal operations and protection rackets in the city. (Police Comics v1 #4)
He was born Patrick O'Brian in Brooklyn, New York to an Irish mother who was heartbroken to see her son become a criminal. (JLA v1 #50) As a child, his father used to sing him to sleep with whisky on his breath and abused him by burning out lit cigarettes on his arm. (JLA v1 #65) His parents were said to had died when he was 10 years old and people began to push him around in life to the point that he responded in kind. In time, he later became a wanted criminal that was known as Eel O'Brien. (Secret Origin v2 #30) A fellow criminal and colleague was a man by the name of Skizzle Shanks with the two beings friends. (DC Comics Presents v1 #93) One of his jobs with his gang was breaking into the Crawford Chemical Works but their break-in was discovered by a rental cop. As they escaped, the cop fired his gun that struck a barrel of acid that spilt on O'Brien with his comrades leaving him behind. Eel went on the run by himself and collapsed where he was saved by Brother Ellis from Rest-Haven who sheltered and cared for him. O'Brien discovered that that the acid from the accident had changed his body turning it into plastic allowing him to stretch to great degrees. (Secret Origin v2 #30)
In time, he gave up being Eel O'Brien and began to work with the Chief in the FBI where he helped put away a number of hoods that included the Hood, Elektra and the Mirror Man. (Secret Origin v2 #30)
Skizzle Shanks who knew of O'Brian sought to replicate his powers and exposed himself to similar chemicals leading to him being a green-suited supervillain named the Malleable Man. (DC Comics Presents v1 #93)
He once grew tired of the life of being Plastic Man and wanted to live an ordinary existence. Thus, he abandoned his superhero identity and assumed a new shape where he took the name Kyle Morgan. During this time, he became involved with noted businesswoman Ruby Ryder with the two falling in love. Sometime afterwards, he came to learn that Ruby was a cruel and selfish person with 'Kyle Morgan' deciding to flee from her as he went to South America to live alone. She came to hire Batman to recover her love 'Kyle' who was brought before her and she shot him for rejecting her. Ryder then vanished until she was caught by Batman who revealed that 'Morgan' was not dead and was in fact Plastic Man. (The Brave and the Bold v1 #95)
During these years, he met Angel McDunnagh where he felt that he was not proud of his actions during this point in his life. He married Angel and together the had a son named Luke but he split from his wife where over marital differences as he considered her an unpleasant person. After learning he had become a father, Plastic Man left his wife and child as he did not want to end his life as a superhero and saw himself as a poor father figure. As Luke grew up, Angel told her son that his father had died but he did not believe her and secretly believed his dad to be Plastic Man. (JLA v1 #65)
In his guise as Matches Malone, Batman recruited Eel O'Brien at a bar in New York City for a mission. (JLA v1 #11) He was sent to aid the Justice League by being sent to infiltrate the Injustice Gang where he disguised himself as the Joker. (JLA v1 #15) Plastic Man later joined the new incarnation of the Justice League after it expanded its members where he participated in fighting against Prometheus. (JLA v1 #16) He was among the League heroes that confronted Wade Eiling when he became The General after he transferred his mind into the Shaggy Man. (JLA v1 #26) Plastic Man was on the Watchtower when it came under attack from a new incarnation of the Injustice Gang. (JLA v1 #37)
Plastic Man was rendered into an inert fragile rock material during an attack by the League of Assassins after Ra's al Ghul managed to acquire Batman's secret plans on his comrades various weaknesses in case he ever had to battle them. He was put together by the Flash and later assisted in removing the countermeasure in Wonder Woman. (JLA v1 #45)
O'Brian accompanied the League in capturing the various meta-criminals that had been infected by the Joker. Among those infected was Doctor Polaris who in his insane state attempted to destroy the world through his magnetic powers. He was able to fight off the Justice League by polarising any trace of metal on them which was when the heroes used Plastic Man as he had nothing metallic on him allowing him to capture the supervillain. (JLA v1 #59)
He later learnt from Angel that their ten-year old son Luke McDunnagh had joined a criminal gang and had manifested greater shapeshifting abilities than his father that he used for his new 'friends'. As a result, Plastic Man asked for Batman's help in saving his son from a life of crime. (JLA v1 #65)
He remained trapped and the pieces of his body scattered across the ocean for 3000 years with Firestorm heading the efforts to recover him in the modern day. Plastic Man briefly lost control of his body upon assembly with him attacking everyone near him until he regained his senses. Afterwards, he decided to leave the Justice League as over the thousands of years he had a lot of time to think and wanted to now spend time with his son. (JLA v1 #76)
When Fernus of the Burning Martians emerged from J'onn J'onnz, the Justice League struggled against their former comrade due to his strength and telepathic abilities. As a result, Batman called upon his contingency which was Plastic Man who was suspected to be immune to telepathy. However, Plastic Man had used hypnotism to revert his mind into his civilian persona and he wanted to stay to be a good father to his son. Batman with Plastic Man's son managed to convince him to resume the role of a superhero where he used his natural shapeshifting talents along with immunity to telepathy to fight the Burning Martian. (JLA v1 #88)
Batman came to realise that Plastic Man's unique molecular structure had a super-conductive reaction to the energies of the Dark Multiverse. He then sent Plastic Man as a probe into that universe but when he came out he went into a dormant state. (The Terrifics v1 #1)
Mr. Terrific called upon Plastic Man to Stagg Enterprises when Simon Stagg attempted to use Metamorpho as a doorway into that realm which went out of control. O'Brian when exposed to the energies of the Dark Multiverse became active once again and saved Holt along with Mason when the three were propelled into that universe. (The Terrifics v1 #1)
Despite the initial rejection, he once more attempted to reconnect with his son Luke with the boy being more receptive when the pair went on a ride in the Batmobile. He then received a distress call from Phantom Girl requesting aid for Mr. Terrific where Plastic Man asked his son to join them on a mission. (The Terrifics v1 #12)
Personality and attributes
During his criminal years, his ability to snake through the tightest spaces leading to him being given the nickname 'Eel'. (JLA v1 #50) He once assumed the name of Kyle Morgan when he wanted to live an ordinary life. (The Brave and the Bold v1 #95)
He was noted for being a lateral thinker which was a trait he shared with John Henry Irons. (JLA v1 #37) He jokingly claimed that women were his greatest weakness. (JLA v1 #65)
Batman had always thought that Plastic Man would make a great father even better than Superman. This was because he believed that Plastic Man would show his children that he loved them instead of telling them. Furthermore, he felt that he would make them laugh all the time. (JLA v1 #65) He said that he would do anything to protect his son. (Superman/Batman v1 #30)
He developed a reputation as the toughest gangster afoot with criminals respecting him for his bold disregard of the law. (Police Comics v1 #2)
A life of being pushed around caused him to adopt a harsher view of the world and mankind to the point that he similarly pushed others around. This changed following his recovery by a monk who looked after him that restored his faith of people and led to him seeking to atone for his evil past. (Police Comics v1 #1) Plastic Man himself had a low opinion of himself namely that as a lowlife he would always be a lowlife. It was this that led to him leaving his wife and son with it being easier to do so the further he got away from them. (JLA v1 #65)
As Plastic Man, he was a champion of justice and masqueraded in his criminal identity in order to get inside information on criminal activities. (Police Comics v1 #2)
Powers and abilities
As a result of acid chemicals entering his wounds causing a physical change to his skin gained the ability to stretch like a rubber band. He was able to lengthen his arms, stretch his form and take other shapes whilst retaining plastic-like qualities allowing him to bounce his body. (Police Comics v1 #1) This protected him from attacks such as from a knife attempting to stab him as it simply bounced off his body. (Police Comics v1 #2) He could even survive being run over by a steam roller and still get back up to fight. (Police Comics v1 #3) His auditory nerves could withstand several foot-pounds of pressure before experiencing damage. (JLA v1 #51) However, powerful heat attacks were able to cut through his skin with it taking time and strength for O'Brian to re-assimilate his body back to its original form. (JLA v1 #57)
Plastic Man could change his facial appearance with his power allowing to change himself into appearing as an old man. (Police Comics v1 #2) It was said that his shapeshifting abilities were inspiration given form and that he did not need to concentrate in order to alter his shape. (JLA v1 #88) He was able to reverse magical spells that turned him into animals with his shapeshifting allowing him to return to his original form such as when Circe turned him into a pig. (JLA v1 #15)
He could have such fine control over his substance that he could make it thin enough to go through the ear of a person and go to their brain. (JLA v1 #45)
One effect of his transformation was that his mind was no longer organic which made him untouchable by telepathy. (JLA v1 #88)
His body was said to be composed of unstable molecules. (Dark Nights: Metal v1 #2) As a result, he had nothing metallic in his body that could be manipulated by those with electromagnetic powers over metal. (JLA v1 #59) He was able to survive with the pieces of his body scattered across the ocean and live 3000 years until his body was reconstituted with his body regenerating the tissue that could not be salvaged. This meant that he could effectively no be killed and could survive centuries without aging. (JLA v1 #76)
Plastic Man's body was not capable of surviving intense periods of cold leaving him in a near frozen state in extreme weather conditions. (JLA v1 #59)
- Plastic Man was created by Jack Cole where he made his first appearance in publisher Quality Comics Police Comics v1 #1 (August, 1941).
- The character was later introduced into DC Comics in 1956.
- In JLA v1 #50 (1999), he was identified as Patrick O'Brian instead of O'Brien.
- In Wizard Magazine, writer Grant Morrison commented on his use of Plastic Man in his JLA comic:
- "I [wanted] to use Plastic Man because he's a guy who doesn't have his own book, but he's one of those superheroes where even people who don't read comics know the name and recognize him. [Since longtime Justice League readers] are definitely used to the Elongated Man, I thought, 'Well, let's get the real guy in.' He's going to be goofy, but hopefully we're going to try and make it work, so he doesn't just take over the whole thing as a joke [...] There's always this kind of figure in every pantheon of every nation, in every country in the world—someone who punctures the pomposity and makes the jokes and does the crazy things. [Plastic Man] comes in there as the trickster [character in the JLA pantheon].
- "The way I [wrote] Plastic Man is just to do him as Jim Carrey doing Ace Ventura. So the guy is constantly hyper. He's on a sugar-high constantly and he's just a real pain in the neck, but he gets the job done."
- In Justice League: Generation Lost v1 #14 (2011), a Plastic Man appeared in the alternate future where Maxwell Lord's O.M.A.C. army conquered the world and hunted its Metahuman population that was set one hundred and twelve years in the future. This version was a red-skinned clone of the original that was a member of the Justice League in this era.
- In Injustice: Year Three v1 #7 (2015), Plastic Man appeared in the alternate world setting that was a tie-in to the video game. Patrick O'Brian was shown as being the father of Luke McDunnagh who inherited his fathers abilities and had become a shapeshifter. His son Luke was apprehended by Superman's One Earth Regime and sent to the prison known as the Trench. This led to Plastic Man opposing the Regime as he broke into the prison and freed its various prisoners along with his son. He then fled into the Mirror World with Luke in order to escape Superman's despotic rule of the world.
- In Freedom Fighters v3 #1 (2018), an alternate version of Plastic Man was shown to had existed on Earth-10. This one was captured by Nazi forces during World War II where his powers were given to German officers that became the PlaSStic Men. They came to serve as shapeshifting spies and secret police that were dispatched to infiltrate the American resistance as the U.S. fell to Nazi Germany.
- In The Terrifics v1 (2019), an alternate version of the character known as Plasma-Man was shown to had existed on Earth-43. Similar to other inhabitants of that world, he was a vampire and retained his elastic powers where he sought to feed on others along with turning them into more of his kind. He was recruited by Doc Dread to join the ranks of his Dreadfuls as they intended to ambush the Terrifics.
In other media
- In Super Friends, Plastic Man made his animated debut in the 1973 animated television series in the episode "Professor Goodfellow's G.E.E.C." where he was voiced by actor Norman Alden.
- In The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, Plastic Man featured in the 1979-1981 spin-off animated series where he was voiced by actor Michael Bell.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Plastic Man made multiple appearances in the animated television series where he was voiced by actor Tom Kenny.
- In Young Justice, Plastic Man made a non-speaking cameo appearance in the animated series in the episode "Revelation".
- In The Flash, the name Plastic Man was referenced in the live-action television series set in the Arrowverse with it being mentioned in the episode "Elongated Journey Into Night". Barry Allen suggested it as a possible name for Ralph Dibny's superhero identity after he had become a Metahuman that had elastic skin allowing him to stretch his body into other shapes.
- In Justice League: Action, Plastic Man made multiple appearances in the animated television series where he was voiced again by actor Dana Snyder.
- In DC Universe Online, Plastic Man was referenced in the setting of the MMORPG.
- Police Comics v1:
- The Brave and the Bold v1:
- JLA v1:
- Justice League International:
- Justice League v2:
- Dark Knights: Metal v1:
- The Terrifics v1:
- Plastic Man v5: