WARNING: This Article Contains SPOILERS For Plastic Man #1
A vast conspiracy of the world's most brilliant evil minds threatens the Earth. The Justice League is in their crosshairs and indeed may have already been infiltrated or taken over by this sinister cabal. Only one man has the skills and the powers necessary to infiltrate this group and thwart their evil schemes. Unfortunately, that man is Plastic Man...
First appearing in Police Comics #1 in 1941, Plastic Man was a important character historically in American comic books. One of the first characters to blend superheroic action and comedy, Patrick "Eel" O'Brian was also one of the first superheroes whose background involved a criminal past, for which he was trying to atone. While never an A-List character, Plastic Man nevertheless had a loyal following, even earning his own animated series in 1979. His solo-series comics have been few and far-between, but a new series by fan-favorite creators Gail Simone and Adriana Melo promises to capitalize on Plastic Man's recent appearances in The Terrifics and Dark Nights Metal.
The first issue of this new series primarily concerns itself with introducing Patrick O'Brian and Plastic Man to the reader, while updating his origin for the reality of DC Rebirth. The most radical change is that Plastic Man now maintains a secret identity, using his connections as Eel O'Brian to track down his former partners in crime and seek justice for the security guard who was killed during the robbery that gave him his shape-shifting powers.
O'Brian's plans are put on hold, however, when he is confronted by Obscura - an agent of the UN covert operations group Spyral. It is Obscura who informs O'Brian of the conspiracy that threatens the world and Spyral's need for a man who is good at disguising himself and getting into places where he isn't wanted. When O'Brian asks why the Justice League or the Titans aren't being approached about something this important, Obscura explains that they need an unknown factor, as they fear this new organization may have compromised the big superhero teams already. It's a crazy idea O'Brian is unwilling to accept... until one of his former partners in crime turns up dying and claims The JLA did it!
The inclusion of Spyral into Plastic Man's origins is a clever touch that neatly updates one of the more incongruous elements of his original background. In the classic comics, Plastic Man was alternatively listed as a special police squad member or as a federal agent who was part of either the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the National Bureau of Investigations. Given the high standards for recruitment into the FBI in the real world, it would be quite impossible for a career criminal like Eel O'Brian to pass the criminal background check, even ignoring his complete lack of job experience and formal education.
On the other hand, a covert group like Spyral, which already has a history of employing vigilantes like Dick "Nightwing" Grayson, seems a much better fit for Plastic Man.
Plastic Man #1 is now available from DC Comics.