Plastic Man #17 (1977)

Plastic Man #17 (April-May, 1977)
Story – John Albano
Art – Ramona Fradon & Bob Smith
Cover Price: $0.30

Figured on the eve of our ONE-THOUSANDTH DAILY DISCUSSION, we’d stretch our legs a little bit with some Bronze-Age Plastic Man.

Got butterflies in my belly about tomorrow’s piece… I hope you all stick around for that!

We open with… a quick and dirty retelling of Plas’ origin story which, I suppose is most helpful if you’re unaware of where he came from.  If’n ya don’t know, he was originally a safe-cracker named Eel O’Brian, who nearly got caught while he and some pals were knocking over a chemical plant.  His associates left him behind… he was shot in the back, and fell into a vat of acid.  He’d survive the dunk, and soon realize he’d manifested rubber-band properties… with which he would “fight the kind of rats” that left him behind.  not exactly “I am justice, I am the night”, but it’ll work.  Also, he has a pal named Woozy.

To the present… a pair of Communis… err, anti-Capitalists plan to bomb a “Capitalist-owned” Department Store (well, gee, that narrows it down), to… uh, I dunno, scare them, I guess?

Wouldn’tcha know it, their plan goes off without a hitch… the place goes boom, leaving two people dea… err, “seriously injured”.  C’mon Plas, you don’t cover up “injured” people like that.

Anyhoo, before pursuing the baddies, Plas decides to pop in on his lady love, Dolly.  He tells Woozy to go grab a bite to eat while he waits… and so, the penniless goof attempts to steal some kids hot dog.  This doesn’t turn out well for him (and makes him look like quite the predator).  Inside, Plastic Man finds his beloved Dolly… with (dun-dun-dunnnn) another man!

Plas leaves… and even takes his puny bouquet of flowers with him.  Moments later, those two Commie… er, Anti-Capitalists bust into Dolly’s apartment.  Ya see, her father, Willie Wile, is a renowned (and reformed) bank robber, and a man the Anticaps need for their next outing.  They figure, they steal the dame, her daddy’ll do whatever they ask of him.

Oh, they also toss her gentleman caller out the window.  Plastic Man makes the save… but it doesn’t look like it was all that pleasant a landing either way.

Then, Plastic Man hops into action.  He approaches the would-be Dollynappers, however, since they are holding a gun up to her pretty little head, there isn’t much he can do.  They load her into their boogeyvan and drive off.  Somehow they don’t realize that Plastic Man will simply follow them from a safe distance.

Meanwhile, Woozy Winks decides to rush off to the Police Station to tell them what just happened.  I’m not sure if this is a running gag or not (though, I presume it is), but he’s already been scooped by an’ old bitty named Miss Snoopbone, who saw the whole thing through her telescope.  Whatta bummer.

We rejoin Plastic Man as he locates the van.  Peeking inside, he doesn’t find Dolly… but, her father Willie is there.  The Anticaps twist his arm with threats to his daughter, and he agrees to take part in their next outing.

Plastic Man sits back as the baddies disguise their van as that of the Police Bomb Squad.  Once that’s done, he removes one of the tires, and takes its place himself.  Adding insult to discomfort, he takes a few stiff kicks to test his psi.  Good thing they didn’t use a gauge… I’d hate to think where they’d stick it!

The trio head to the bank, and convince the guards to… get this, evacuate the entire place.  They claim that they received word of a bomb threat, and were here to check it out.  Nobody asked for credentials… which makes me thankful I keep all of my money under my mattress.  After robbing the emptied bank, they leave claiming the entire thing was a “false alarm”.

Later, the goons bring Willie back to the woods, and release his daughter.  Of course, it’s not going to be that easy… since, they figure he’s outlived his usefulness, they’ll just kill ’em both.

Well, not so fast, kemosabes… because Plastic Man saw the whole thing.  He bowls over a baddie, and even Willie gets in on the act.  Together, they’re able to neutralize the Anti-Capitalist threat.

The Police show up, and they all have a good laugh.  Dolly gives Plas a peck on the cheek, and he asks if they can have a dinner date tonight.  She’s all “nope, already have a date”… okay, so what about tomorrow… “nope, that’s another dude’s night”.  Wonk wonk wonnnnk.

We wrap up with Woozy rushing off to the Daily Globe, hopeful that he can break the story… only to find out he’s been scooped yet again!

Okay, this was a fun one!  Weird and silly… just a neat little story.

This is the kind of, I dunno, “episodic” storytelling that younger Chris would have turned his nose up at.  Whatever stakes there are, are confined to this issue.  I’m not expecting any of this to effect things moving forward… though, I’d assume “running gags” like Miss Snoopdogg or whatever scooping Woozy, and maybe Dolly’s numerous suitors, might continue.  Very sitcommy.  As a kid, this would’ve turned me off… today though, I find it sort of refreshing.

Not every issue needs to shatter our senses, or “break the internet”.  It’s cool to just be able to read a fun story, and not worry about what bits and pieces we need to commit to our memory… or worry about cross-referencing it with whatever filing system we have in our brains.

Couldn’t discuss this issue without giving a sizable nod to the wonderful art.  Ramona Fradon is pretty awesome… Plastic Man is one of those characters perfectly suited for her pencil.  We’ve covered a few more Fradon works here… I believe there was an Aquaman and a Metamorpho story… perhaps even a Super Friends.  She’s great.  This issues doesn’t look overly cartoony… it walks that line between “regular” comic book and far-out crazy Plas, and does so wonderfully.

It’s funny… my main takeaway from this issue is that one panel after the Department Store explosion… ya know, with the “seriously injured” people.  This one:

I mean, those people are almost certainly dead… right?  I’m no paramedic, but I don’t think you cover the faces of folks who are still alive, right?  Heck, I suppose I could be wrong.  I’d bet they were originally intended to be fatalities though… probably had to “soften” it for the Comics Code Authority.  The CCA had softened post 1971… but, perhaps not to the point where we can show actual dead bodies in the pages of a book like Plastic Man.

Overall, heckuva good time here.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s been collected nor made available digitally.  Maybe one day!

Before we check out, another reminder that tomorrow… that is, Friday, October 26, 2018… is the day of our ONE-THOUSANDTH DAILY DISCUSSION.  Be there or be… somewhere else!

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