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Patrick "Eel" O'Brian was a small-time crook who became the stretchable superhero Plastic Man. He usually hid behind a smile and a joke, but was a very powerful member of the Justice League of America.
Some years ago, the criminal known as Eel O'Brian, along with his gang of underlings, broke into and attempted to rob Cole Chemical, but the police arrived on the scene. While Eel and the others fled, he was shot by a cop and exposed to an unknown acid. He managed to make it outside but collapsed, unconscious from the pain. When he awoke, Eel found that his flesh was elastic, and he had no control over it, morphing into strange and frightful forms. He scared everyone in his path: cops, drunks, and even his own gang, who thought him already dead, and shot him upon seeing his new form. Eel went to a bridge to commit suicide, but he is stopped by Woozy Winks, a former Arkham Asylum inmate. Together, they decided to use O'Brian's new-found powers to fight crime. After exposing a circus outfit to the same acid which gave him powers, O'Brian and Woozy thwarted an attempted robbery by his former gang. When the press interviewed him, Eel said he intends to call himself Elastic Man, which a reporter misheard as Plastic Man.
In the 1940s a crook named Patrick "Eel" O'Brian was shot by a security guard at the Crawford Chemical Works and struck by a falling drum full of an unidentified acid, some of which entered Eel's wound. He was saved in Rest Haven by a mysterious order of monks whose example cured his penchant for crime. This was the first time he had experienced mentorship from a positive male role model: "Eel" grew up with an abusive father who abandoned him at a Catholic nunnery. The acid bath gave him the ability to change his shape. He wore dark glasses and a red and yellow costume as flexible as his body. Whatever shape he took, the colors remained the same, so there would be a red-and-yellow chandelier over a table full of plotting gangsters, or a red-and-yellow abstract painting hanging on the wall, but the villains never caught on until it was too late.
Plastic Man (sometimes called "Plas") later acquired a sidekick called Woozy Winks, a clumsy oaf who was originally magically endowed with the power that nature itself would protect him from harm. Woozy became a dumb but loyal friend of Plastic Man. The two of them became members of the police squad and eventually the FBI. At the request of President Franklin Roosevelt, Plastic Man helped bring together the All-Star Squadron, aided them in stopping Per Degaton's plan to force America to fight the war on a third front, and on one occasion impersonated Roosevelt himself to foil a Nazi assassination plot. During World War II, he also joined the Freedom Fighters. Plastic Man's exploits after World War II are largely unknown, though he was remembered decades later by individuals such as Robby Reed, who once transformed into a copy of Plastic Man with his H-Dial. Because of their powers, "Plas" and Woozy have stayed youthful into modern times.
Plastic Man became well-known as a superhero again in the modern heroic age. Strangely, decades later, Patrick became a good friend of Batman (despite Batman's lack of a sense of humor and skepticism towards reformed criminals), and an occasional member of the Justice League. It was revealed that Plas had a son named Luke who was born out of wedlock and whom he ignored to the point where his son joined a gang. Batman got Luke out of the gang and tried to reunite him with his father.
In a mission, Patrick and the JLA went back 3000 years into Atlantis' past where Plas was ripped apart during the fight. The JLA returned to the present thinking him dead but in the time gap (3000 years) he pulled himself together. Batman and Firestorm found him and helped him complete the process. Traumatized, he blocked Plastic Man from his mind. Plastic Man became Ralph Johns and went back to his family in Chicago. Emotionally, they took him in. He became an average Joe, a father, and was in an relationship with his son's mother.
When Martian Manhunter was possessed by a martian demon and tried to destroy the world, Batman came asking for his help (as he was immune to telepathy). After spending precious time trying to get him to remember who he was, Batman left "Ralph" to think it over. After staring out the window thinking about everything, Plas remembered who he really was after his son revealed his inherited powers and told him a joke. After defeating the rogue Martian Manhunter, was over, O'Brian started a new life balancing his hero life and his family life.
In the massive prison breakout by the Secret Society of Super-Villains during Villains United, Plastic Man was a responder to Blackgate Penitentiary where he fought Clayface. During the Battle of Metropolis, he punched out their leader Doctor Psycho.
In the aftermath, he celebrates with all of the other assembled heroes. He is present when Lex Luthor causes the mass slaughter of Everyman Project participants, and shows pride for his son Offspring who saved over twenty people's lives. During World War III, he is part of the charge led against Black Adam by the Justice Society of America. Adam actually manages to somehow make his nose bleed. Despite this, he manages to give his son advice on better banter. There's another celebration after their victory and Plastic Man attends.
Plastic Man is infected by Eclipso (Jean Loring) during Countdown to Mystery, who corrupts him and reverts his personality to before he reformed his ways. He becomes a criminal again, with Woozy Winks as his accomplice. Batman and Offspring work together to take him down, but the Spectre intervenes and finishes the battle. Eclipso rescues him for her own motives. He is gathered with her other converts Dove and the Creeper around the corpse of Alex Montez for a ceremony. They break into an NSA facility together to steal government property. Huntress attempts to stop them, but they succeed in stealing the Heart of Darkness. They are freed from his grasp, but not before Eclipso can reach his true power. However, while he's defeated by the Spectre they work to eradicate his remaining agents on Earth.
Martian Manhunter is murdered by Libra and the Secret Society of Super-Villains during Final Crisis. Plastic Man is one of the many who attend his funeral, where he comforts Booster Gold and Stargirl.
Plastic Man joins the Justice League of America again. During Blackest Night his heart is ripped out by a resurrected Vibe when the Black Lantern Corps rises. This seemingly kills him. However, he survives due to his unique physiology.
Powers and Abilities
- Malleable Physiology: Plastic Man's powers are derived from an accident in which his body was bathed in an unknown industrial chemical mixture that also entered into his bloodstream through a gunshot wound. This caused a body-wide mutagenic process that transformed his physiology. Eel exists in a fluid state, neither entirely liquid or solid. Plastic Man has complete control over his entire molecular structure.
- Elasticity/Plasticity: He can stretch his limbs and body to superhuman lengths and sizes. There is no known limit to how far he can stretch his body.
- Size Alteration: He can shrink himself down to a few inches tall (posed as one of Batman's utility belt pockets) or become a titan (the size of skyscrapers).
- Shape-Shifting: He can contort his body into various positions and sizes impossible for ordinary humans, such as being entirely flat so that he can slip under a door or using his fingers to pick conventional locks. He can also use it for disguise by changing the shape of his face and body. In addition, he can alter his bodily mass and physical constitution at will, there is virtually no limit to the sizes and shapes he can contort himself into. With great concentration, he can change his color.
- Superhuman Agility: These stretching powers grant Plastic Man heightened agility enabling him flexibility and coordination that is extraordinarily beyond the natural limits of the human body.
- Superhuman Strength: He can alter his strength by growing or adding more muscle.
- Color Change: The only limitation he has relates to color, which he cannot change without intense concentration. He generally does not use this ability and sticks to his red and yellow colored uniform.
- Invulnerability: Plastic Man's powers extraordinarily augment his durability. He is able to withstand corrosives, punctures and concussions without sustaining any injury (although he can be momentarily stunned). He is resistant to high velocity impacts that would kill an ordinary person, resistant to blasts from energy weapons, and is completely bullet proof. His bodily mass can be dispersed, but for all intents and purposes it is invulnerable.
- Regeneration: He is able to regenerate and/or assimilate lost or damaged tissue, though it does take a long time, its far faster than an ordinary human.
- Telepathic Immunity: As stated by Batman (in JLA #88), "Plastic Man's mind is no longer organic. It's untouchable by telepathy." (Mostly immune to mind control. It's unknown if Batman meant that Plas is immune to just mind control or to telepathy altogether from that point on...considering Plas's history with mind scans, mind wipes, and the use of J'onn's telepathic link.)
- Immortality: Plastic Man does not appear to age; if he does, it is at a rate far slower than that of normal human beings. He did not visibly age, mentally or physically, from World War II to the 1990s. In the aftermath of the JLA story Arc "Obsidian Age", Plastic Man was discovered to have survived for 3000 years as little more than crumbs on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. He is now over 3000 years old and is still active as a superhero.
- Ultrasonic Detection: His body will start to "ripple" when an ultrasonic frequency is triggered.
- Rubber Organs: Plastic Man's organs are rubber as he is; he also shifts them around in his body to prevent harm. He doesn't keep his brain in his head, which has allowed him to survive decapitation.
- Skilled Thief: Plastic Man was once a very talented professional thief.
- Master Detective: Although no longer a criminal, he has insight into their mindset, enabling him to be an effective sleuth. He is also considered to be a lateral thinker and much smarter than he lets on.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Basic): O'Brian beat up an ill-trained Bruce Wayne, when they were all had their identities split from their superhero counterparts.
- Vulnerability to Heat: His semi-liquid form remains stable at relatively high and low temperatures...provided that the temperature change is gradual. A sudden change, induces a complete change of phase, creating a truly solid or truly liquid form. Plastic Man was incapacitated in the JLA story arc, "Tower of Babel", when mercenaries froze and shattered his body. Once thawed and reassembled, he was physically unharmed (though emotionally traumatized). In the JLA story arc "Divided We Fall", Plastic Man is shown to have some weakness to extreme heat (intense heat vision attack from a martian) and was temporarily melted. Plastic Man's molecules can also be scrambled using ultrasonic wave distortions.
- Vulnerability to Chemical solvents: Plastic Man loses his integrity when exposed to solvents such as acetone.
- Uniform, Plastic Man's unitard can like its owner stretch, morph, and change size; it is fluid like and unbreakable (material like this is most likely rare and probably why Pat's costume is so small).
- Goggles, The groovy goggles are Pat's trademark. They can stretch and change size.
- Plastic Man is almost never seen without his trademark goggles on. One of the few exceptions was during the "Id" storyline in the pages of JLA #52 when the members of the JLA were separated into two distinctive identities: their super-hero guise, and their civilian guise. In this story-arc, Eel O'Brian reverted to his old criminal tendencies and viciously beat up a meek and timid Bruce Wayne.
- Plastic Man Recommended Reading
- Appearances of Patrick O'Brian (New Earth)
- Images featuring Patrick O'Brian (New Earth)
- Quotations by or about Patrick O'Brian (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Patrick O'Brian (New Earth)
- Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #0
- Plastic Man (Volume 4) #1
- JLA #65
- JLA #50
- All-Star Squadron #7
- Infinite Crisis Special: Villains United #1
- Infinite Crisis #7
- 52 Week #1
- 52 Week #35
- 52 Week #50
- World War III #4
- 52 Week #51
- Countdown to Mystery #1
- Countdown to Mystery #2
- Countdown to Mystery #3
- Countdown to Mystery #4
- Countdown to Mystery #5
- Countdown to Mystery #6
- Countdown to Mystery #7
- Countdown to Mystery #8
- Final Crisis: Requiem #1
- Justice League of America (Volume 2) #35
- Justice League of America (Volume 2) #39
- Justice League of America (Volume 2) #40
- Plastic Man (Volume 4) #5
- JLA #53
- JLA #100
- Plastic Man (Volume 4) #2
|Justice League member|
This character is or was a member of the Justice League of America, or the Justice League in any of its various incarnations, sworn by a duty to act as guardians of America and the world by using their skills and/or superpowers to protect Earth from both interstellar and domestic threats.
Justice Society of America member