- It's a mystery.
- -- Elongated Man src
He was fascinated by the "india-rubber men" that he saw at carnival side shows. Curious about their powers of contortion, Ralph discovered that they all drank Gingold, a soft drink containing gingo, a rare fruit from the Yucatán to which most people are severely allergic. He distilled the raw essence of the gingo fruit, and lo and behold, he had the powers to stretch his body.
Moving to Central City and creating a costume for himself, he became the Elongated Man. He had to continue drinking the gingo extract every few days to maintain his power. In Central City, Ralph became good friends with Barry Allen, the second Flash. Although not formally trained, Ralph became an amazing detective.
Ralph soon became rich and famous from publicity appearances nationwide. During one of these stunts, he met and fell in love with Sue Dearbon. They were later married.
Ralph and Sue began to tour the world, solving mysteries wherever they went, and finally settling down when Ralph joined the Justice League of America.
Justice League of America
Ralph was part of the League during what many consider to be its finest hour--the so-called "Satellite Years" when the League made its headquarters aboard an Earth-orbiting satellite. The League had many members at this point, and Ralph's main role seemed to be comic relief, combined with his sharp detective skills (although he was often in Batman's shadow in this regard). Even so, Ralph became a League mainstay.
A while later, Ralph's wife Sue, gave him his new red and black costume as a birthday present.
Justice League Detroit
When Aquaman reorganized the League, paring the membership down to those who could commit to full-time involvement, Ralph answered the call. He would remain with this League until its dissolution during Darkseid's attempt to discredit Earth's heroes and destroy their legends through his servant, Glorious Godfrey (a.k.a. "G. Gordon Godfrey").
Justice League International
After Maxwell Lord reformed the Justice League as Justice League International in the wake of the "Legends" conflict, the team soon split into two teams: Justice League America and Justice League Europe. Ralph and his wife relocated to Paris to join the JLE--they were two of the very few members of the team who actually spoke French. Sue was made an honorary member of the League.
Ralph helped Mason Trollbridge find Wally West, Barry Allen's nephew and successor in the role of the Flash, when he was taken hostage by the Turtle. The two of them didn't get along too well, but after Connie Noleski helped them capture Mr. Steddy and Mr. Sloe, two of the Turtle's henchmen, Ralph contorted his appearances to look like Steddy, and dragging Mason along with him, took them to the Turtle's lair.
After the dissolution of the JLE, Ralph and Sue resumed a more nomadic lifestyle, drifting to the periphery of the super-hero community. Eventually, they found themselves in Opal City, then home to Starman (Jack Knight). When Knight went into space on a secret mission, Ralph and Sue stayed behind in Opal as one of the handful of replacement guardians of the city. It was during this time that the Mist and Culp began orchestrating a crime spree in Opal City. Ralph and Sue played a central role in helping to defeat the Mist, and resolved to remain in the city for a while after Knight retired from superheroics.
Shortly thereafter, Ralph and Sue found themselves again involved in the ridiculous and absurd machinations of Maxwell Lord, who was attempting to form a more "street level" super-hero team, reuniting many formerly JLI members. The team did not stay together long, but they foiled another invasion by old foe Manga Khan and escaped from Hell.
A short time later, Sue was attacked in their home by an unknown assailant, who murdered her. Ralph was convinced that old JLA enemy Dr. Light was behind the murder, and he resolved to hunt him down. Ralph believes that Dr. Light is the culprit because Sue was brutally assaulted and raped by Light back when Ralph was a member of the Justice League (during the Satellite Years). Although Ralph was not aware of it at the time, the League decided to alter Dr. Light's mind to make him less threatening, and also "mind-wiped" Batman, who refused to go along with the procedure. During the ensuing manhunt, Light regains his lost memories and reverts to his more perverse and deadlier self. However, it is later discovered that Sue had been killed by Jean Loring, ex-wife of Ray Palmer aka the Atom. Jean had hoped that the threat to family members would reunite her and Ray. After Sue's death, Ralph abandoned his Elongated Man persona and stopped drinking Gingold.
After finding Sue's tombstone defaced with a Kryptonian symbol, Ralph tracked down the vandals. He learned that it was the Cult of Conner, an organization attempting to bring the recently deceased Superboy back to life. They were planning on testing their techniques first by bringing back Sue. Ralph, lost without his wife, joined their cause. He brought four other heroes to the ceremony, but became convinced midway through that it was just an elaborate hoax. They began to break up the proceedings, but as the building began to burn down, the straw effigy of Sue that had been used, now on fire, crawled towards him and said his name. Having destroyed his chance at being reunited with Sue, Ralph was devastated.
Ralph relocated to Marseilles, where he assumed the alias "Alvin Burgson". He eventually was tracked down by Detective Chimp, who was seeking Ralph's help uncovering the mystery behind the death of Tim Trench. This led Ralph and Shadowpact to Egypt, where the Helmet of Nabu began to speak to him.
A voice from within the helm of Doctor Fate speaks to Dibny and promises to fulfill his desires if he makes certain sacrifices. Dibny journeys with the helm through the afterlives of several cultures, where he is cautioned about the use of magic. The Spectre promises to resurrect Sue in exchange for Dibny's taking vengeance on Jean Loring, but Dibny is unable to do so.
At Nanda Parbat, Rama Kushna tells Dibny, "The end is already written." In Dr. Fate's tower, Dibny begins the spell to resurrect Sue, puts on the helmet of Fate, and shoots it, revealing Felix Faust, who was posing as Nabu. Faust planned to trade Dibny's soul to Neron in exchange for his own freedom. Ralph reveals that he was aware of Faust's identity for some time, and that the binding spell surrounding the tower is designed to imprison Faust, not to counter any negative effects of the spell. Neron appears and kills Dibny, only to realize too late that the binding spell responds only to Dibny's commands: Through his death Ralph has trapped Faust and Neron in the tower.
However, Neron is able to escape almost immediately. Faust is shown to escape with the help of Black Adam and a resurrected Isis, who is under Faust's mental control. These events take place just prior to Countdown, indicating that Faust had only been there for a couple weeks. Interestingly, Dibny's remains seem to have decomposed at an accelerated rate, leaving only bones behind by that time.
At the end of Week 52 it is revealed that Dibny's magical, wish-granting gun worked and that Ralph and Sue are now reunited as ghost detectives, investigating a school where a paranormal phenomenon has just occurred. Ghost Sue turns to ghost Ralph and tells him his nose is twitching again.
Traci 13 mentioned that she had been taken by Ralph and Sue after her mother died. This most likely happened some indeterminate time before Identity Crisis and before Doctor Light's episode with Sue.
It is shown that Ralph's remains are still inside Fate's Tower when Teth-Adam asked Faust if his deal to trick Dibny had worked. Ralph's skeleton was used by Faust to create the illusion that Adam's hope of resurrecting Isis had failed.
It is revealed later that Ralph and Sue have gained or discovered the ability to possess human bodies, like the ability of Boston Brand, AKA Deadman. While it has not been explained, it may be connected to Ralph's interaction with Rama Kushna in 52.
Whatever their spirits are enduring, the bodies of Ralph and Sue Dibny did not know much peace. One of Hal Jordan's old foes, Black Hand, was the leader of the Black Lantern Corps, having the power to reanimate dead bodies. After taking Batman's skull, Hand sent rings to Ralph and Sue, reanimating their corpses. The couple were remade into sadistic, twisted versions of their former selves, and immediately targeted another old friend: Carter Hall, aka Hawkman. Attacking Carter in his home, Sue stabbed Kendra Saunders, aka Hawkgirl, as Ralph attacked Hawkman. Ralph tormented his old friend, saying that Hawkgirl had hated him, then tore out Carter's heart, as Sue tore out Kendra's. The hearts then disintegrated, powering the Dibny's rings by 0.02%. Black Hand then entered as Black Rings emerged from Batman's skull to resurrect Hawkman and Hawkgirl as Black Lanterns.
- Elasticity: As his name suggests, the Elongated Man can stretch his limbs and body to superhuman lengths and sizes. There seems to be no limit to how far or wide he can stretch but it is more difficult to control his ability the further he's stretched. Unlike Plastic Man, his elasticity has limits to his physical form; as such, he can make rounded or straight basic shapes but he cannot say stretch into a car or tools.
- Superhuman Agility: These stretching powers grant the Elongated Man heightened balance enabling him flexibility and coordination that is beyond the natural limits of the human body.
- Superhuman Durability: The Elongated Man's powers also greatly augments his durability. He is largely able to withstand corrosives, punctures and concussions without sustaining injury. It has been demonstrated that he is resistant to high velocities that would kill an ordinary person and that he is also more resistant to blasts from energy weapons that would kill ordinary humans.
- Contortionism: 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.
- Disguise: He can also use it for disguise by changing the shape of his face, although this is painful and difficult for him.
- Investigation: The Elongated Man is professionally trained as a detective and is highly skilled in deductive reasoning. Often considered one of the most brilliant detectives world (second only to Batman and perhaps the Question), his name is also a play on The Thin Man detective serial.
- Multilingualism: Ralph Dibny is a native English speaker, but can also speak French. He can understand Interlac well enough to translate.
- Elastic Limitation: Ralph's physiology has greater physical limitations than Plastic Man; there is a limit to how far he can stretch his finite bodily mass. His physiology is more like that of an ordinary human than Plastic Man and as a result he does not share Plastic Man's nigh invulnerability.
- Elongted Man's suit: Ralph's costume stretches with him.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
- The Elongated Man was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. Julius Schwartz has noted that Elongated Man was only created because he had not realized that Plastic Man was available due to character rights having been obtained by DC in 1956.
- The Elongated Man has a penchant for "sniffing" out a good mystery. Whenever he becomes excited with the promise of some detective work, his nose begins wiggling. This was first mentioned/shown in Detective Comics #329.
- After the "Wicker-Sue" incident of 52, Ralph is seen wearing a wedding band made of wicker/straw to replace the original that went missing.
- After his death and before the events of the Blackest Night, Ralph and Sue were seen as ghosts on a number of occasions.
- Elongated Man (Volume 1)
- The Flash (Volume 1)
- Identity Crisis (Volume 1)
- Justice League Europe (Volume 1)
- Justice League of America (Volume 1)
- 52 (Volume 1)
- 596 Appearances of Ralph Dibny (New Earth)
- 101 Images featuring Ralph Dibny (New Earth)
- 20 Quotations by or about Ralph Dibny (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Ralph Dibny (New Earth)
|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.
Doom Patrol member
|Black Lantern Corps member|
This character is or was a member of the Black Lantern Corps. Those who have died may wield the Black Power Ring, symbolizing their lack of both life and emotion.
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