BHOC: PLASTIC MAN #17

Pretty sure that this was another book that was initially bought by my brother Ken. I wasn’t particularly a fan of this run of PLASTIC MAN, though I appreciate it a lot more today as an adult. But as a kid, I had that same insecurity that so many fans experience at one point or another: I took my comics seriously and I wanted the world to take them seriously as well. So stuff that was more on the comedic or humorous side was dismissed as “kid’s stuff”. As though any story featuring men flying through the air in brightly-colored outfits isn’t inherently kid’s stuff.

This issue was written by John Albano, best-remembered as the originator of Jonah Hex. Albano didn’t do much super hero work, and in fact I didn’t remember him working on Plastic Man until I cracked this issue again. The real appeal here is the artwork by Ramona Fradon, the legendary cartoonist who visually created Metamorpho and who illustrated Aquaman for decades. She’s got a fluid, fun style hat really suits the tone of a Plastic Man adventure.

The issue opens with a two-page recap of Plastic Man and Woozy’s origins, freely cribbed visually from the original Jack Cole material as reinvented by Fradon. Thereafter, we focus in on the General and the Colonel, a pair of very ‘70s cultural revolutionaries-turned-terrorists. They and their confederates blow up a “capitalist-owned” department store, injuring several. Plastic man and Woozy are on the case–but first Plas needs to stop over to see his new girlfriend, Dolly. Plas has some competition for Dolly’s affection in the person of her other boyfriend, the handsome Roger.

Unfortunately, Dolly is also the daughter of bank robber Willie Wile, and the General and the Colonel intend to capture her in order to recruit Wile to the people’s struggle. They break into Dolly’s apartment intending to abduct her, and when Roger resists, he gets knocked out the window. Fortunately, Plastic Man is still just down the block, and is ale to effect a rescue.

By threatening Dolly, the General and the Colonel are able to get away. But Plas takes to the rooftops to follow them, pursuing them to a deserted area. Overhearing their plans, he makes the connection that these are the bomber. But he bides his time so as not to endanger Dolly or her father, posing as a tire on their revolutionary van.

Willie is forced to plan a bank job in order to finance the General’s continuing struggle. He does so by having the crew pose as the Bomb Squad, entering a nearby bank and telling the manager that a bomb threat was received. Then, when the bank is evacuated, the General and his confederates can scoop up the money under the guise of searching for the explosives. The robbery goes off without a hitch, and the crew rendezvous with their fellow revolutionaries, who are holding Dolly as insurance.

At this moment, Plastic Man reveals himself, and he and Willie mop up on the bad guys. Plas is the hero of the hour–but Dolly tells him that he can’t see him tonight, as Tuesdays are for Roger, and Wednesdays are for Tom, and… It’s a fun story throughout, with some good gags and great, engaging artwork. But as a kid, I didn’t think much of it, and it’s the last issue in this run of PLASTIC MAN that I read.

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