[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Adriana Melo
Plastic Man is looking for a kid. Specifically, Pado Swakatoon AKA The Suave Prince, the kid he first met in an alley bleeding to death after some mobsters broke his kneecaps last issue. Turns out, he’s the reason Plastic Man survived the manhunt that was on his front doorstep at the end of the last issue. So where is Pado and why does an agent of SPYRAL named Obscura need Plastic Man’s help? Well, it involves Man-Bat and a group called Cabal. But that is only the beginning.
Plastic Man is a detective story. The issue opens with a mystery of a missing kid. The kid — Pado — is part of the mystery of how Plastic Man escaped death or capture. But, like any good gumshoe story, the more you learn about the mystery, the deeper down the rabbit hole goes. The kid is missing because Plastic Man left him behind. Right at the end of the last issue, Plastic Man found his old mob friend Benny Turlin, lying in a pool of blood. When he called Plastic Man he was scared. When Plastic Man asked who did this, Benny writes JLA on the wall in blood.
When Plastic Man opened the door at the sound of knocking and he found the armed officers who open fire, Plastic Man is stunned to hear The Suave Prince calling to him through the haze of bullets and tear gas. Dazed and confused he and Swakatoon leap across rooftops and then glide to a water tower where they are attacked by Man-Bat.
I love this scene. Plastic Man was Eel O’Brien before he became Plastic Man. Eel was a mouthy crook who was more of a funny guy than a smart guy before his transformation and he understands things the way any lowlife interprets the world. Cops are dirty, heroes can be scary, and the scariest superhero to any villain is Batman. Which is why Plastic-Man thinks it is Batman before he can even see that it is Man-Bat. And its why Plastic Man abandons Pado by running away.
I also love that Plastic Man is telling this story to two girls who dance at the club where Eel works the door. One girl, Doris, thinks he is dashing, the other, Lila, a common criminal, but this story shows how they both think he is a coward for leaving the person who just saved his life.
This is all motivation for Plastic Man to rise to the occasion when Obscura calls to give him the location of The Suave Prince. When he does run off, Doris says that the other is right for doubting him after the way he abandons Swakatoon. To which Lila says that she might change her mind in light of the fact that they witnessed him running off to face the one thing that scared him away so that he can save The Suave Prince.
When Man-Bat attacks again, and Pado tells Plastic Man that this is not Batman, the fear falls away and Plastic Man starts kicking butt.
Obscura approached him because she needed help getting into an organization that was inaccessible to her, but where Plastic Man would be welcome. O’Brien recognizes this and when he has the advantage over Man-Bat, he leans in close and says he wants to join the gang
I’m really struggling to find any here. My advice is to relax and enjoy the storytelling.
A solid second issue. In the classic tradition of dime store gumshoe novels, Plastic Man knows what it is like to be on the wrong side of the law. He has a strong moral compass and he knows why it matters to help people. He’s not perfect, but he is willing to do the right thing. Slowly, his desire to do better than the life he used to live is leading him to become a detective. It’s a slow road, but a great journey.