Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Elongated Man

I was very excited to hear that the character Ralph Dibny, aka Elongated Man, would be joining Season 4 of the CW's The Flash.

My first exposure to the character was in Detective Comics #359, which was the debut issue of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. My father had a copy of it and I read it, surprised to find a backup feature I'd never heard of about a man who could stretch his body. Soon after, I looked through his other copies of Detective Comics and found more stories about Ralph Dibny.

Ralph debuted in The Flash #112 in 1960, which told his origin. Obsessed with contortionists, young Ralph Dibny did everything he could to figure out how exactly they were able to contort their body in seemingly impossible ways. Finally discovering that they drink a soft drink called Gingold, Ralph was able to make an extract of the Gingo fruit and tried it, only to discover it gave him temporary elastic powers. Getting an elastic costume, Ralph set out to make a name for himself. He didn't even bother with a secret identity.

In his third appearance in The Flash #119, Ralph married Sue Dearbon. They would eventually become a backup feature in Detective Comics, starting with #327. Having become rich from media appearances, Ralph and Sue traveled the country, solving mysteries. Eventually, Ralph would join the Justice League.

Having a married couple very much in love, one of them being a superhero with no secret identity set the Dibnys apart from most other comic book characters at the time. Marvel's The Fantastic Four would bizarrely also have a leading man with elastic powers whose first name begins with R who marries a woman named Sue with no secret identities, but the Dibnys were first.

I always found the inclusion of Sue to be problematic. In many of her Detective Comics appearances, she would only appear in the beginning and close of the story, sometimes even not appearing at all. Some of her later appearances had her assist Ralph with his cases.

The comics eventually claimed most people were allergic to gingold, then later identified that Ralph was actually a metahuman whose power was triggered by gingold.

This would basically be the status quo for the Dibnys until 2004's Identity Crisis miniseries. In the opening of this series, Sue is murdered and the rest of the series dealt with the shakeup it caused in the superhero community before the murderer is found.

2006's 52 event featured Ralph becoming suicidal over the absence of Sue in his life before attempting to have her resurrected. Ralph's story in the series culminated in his death, the final issue revealing that he and Sue were reunited as ghosts.

2009's Blackest Night event had the Dibnys resurrected as Black Lanterns before being destroyed. When other characters who were made into Black Lanterns are restored to life in the finale, Ralph and Sue are revealed to not be among them.

2014's new incarnation of Secret Six saw both Ralph and Sue return as undercover members of the Secret Six, Ralph disguised as a character named Big Shot, rescuing Sue from the Riddler. The main continuity of the DC universe had shifted to a new universe, and in this one, the Dibnys were not dead.

The name "Elongated Man" has always bugged me because "Elongated" is past tense. Ralph elongates. But it's weird to switch the name up after nearly 60 years, I suppose.

The treatment of Ralph and Sue after 2000 has been disappointing for fans of their classic incarnations. Luckily, Secret Six ended with them living happily ever after, something they haven't yet changed. Hopefully they can get back to Ralph and Sue seeking out mysteries.

The character hasn't officially appeared in any live action media prior to his appearance on The Flash coming next month. He's made small appearances in Justice League cartoon series and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Hopefully his appearance on The Flash will prompt DC to do more with the character.

I haven't done a recommended reading list before, but discovering that the only other lists start with Identity Crisis, I felt like the previous adventures of Ralph and Sue needed to be highlighted before you see tragedy strike. (Not to mention, as a fan of the character, I have an aversion to Identity Crisis.) So, here's a recommended reading list of Elongated Man stories sans Identity Crisis, 52 and Blackest Night. If you want to read those, well, I just listed them.

The Flash #112 - "The Mystery of the Elongated Man!" When the Elongated Man arrives in Central City, the Flash is wary of his tendency to help people get attention. When he notices some unsolved crimes, he begins to suspect the Elongated Man of committing them.

The Flash #119 - "The Elongated Man's Undersea Trap!" While skin diving on his honeymoon, Ralph disappears. Sue calls in the Flash, who discovers alien fishermen who kidnap humans for slaves.

The Flash #124 - "The Space-Boomerang Trap!" One of the more iconic Flash and Elongated Man team ups. When Captain Boomerang uses time-traveling boomerangs to commit crimes and appear innocent at the same time, it brings the attention of beings from another dimension, forcing Flash and Elongated Man to join forces with the villain.

Detective Comics #327 - "Ten Miles To Nowhere!" The start of Ralph's Detective Comics stories, which continued to #383 before going to irregular appearances. While traveling, Ralph notices that his odometer mysteriously gained ten miles overnight. Investigating, he cracks a crime ring.

Detective Comics #331 - "Museum of Mixed-Up Men!" Ralph's first team up with Batman. Arriving in Gotham City, Ralph joins Batman's investigation of a gang that uses a device that causes people's faces to change.

Justice League of America #105 - "Specter in the Shadows!" Ralph is inducted into the Justice League and calls them in when he and Sue witness a gang of putty men raid a museum.

The Flash #252-253 - "Double Dose of Danger!" and "Don't Mess With The Molder!" A two-part story in which Ralph drinks a dose of gingold at super speed when he's recruited by the Flash to investigate a mysterious phantom gang. The "speed-charged" substance causes Ralph to take on the villainous persona of "The Molder," who can change the shape of whatever—or whoever—he touches, part one ending with him reducing the Flash to a puddle on live television.

Detective Comics #572 - "The Adventure of the Lost Adventure!" Part of a book-long crossover with Batman, Robin and Slam Bradley (and a surprise mystery guest), Ralph foils a plot to steal a long-lost Sherlock Holmes manuscript from 221B Baker Street.

Secret Origins (Vol. 2) #30 - "The Home Stretch." A new version of Ralph's origin based on how the character had developed since his debut, including how he met Sue. It's told in a framing sequence of Ralph returning to his hometown.

Elongated Man #1-4 - 1994 saw Ralph get his very own miniseries. A bit goofy, Ralph and Sue head to Modora where an old Justice League villain attempts to break them apart.

Formerly Known As The Justice League #1-6 - A miniseries featuring a comical take on several former League members, including Ralph and Sue.

JLA Classified #4-9 - "I Can't Believe it's Not The Justice League!" A sequel to Formerly Known As The Justice League.

Booster Gold (Vol. 2) #15 - "Reality Lost, Part One" While time traveling, Booster Gold runs into Ralph.

Convergence: Justice League of America #1-2 - Part of the Convergence crossover, this one takes a peek at a world where Ralph and Sue still live, and Ralph is still an active hero.

Secret Six #1-14 (2014-2016) - Ralph and Sue's new incarnations in Earth Prime make their debut as they work to take down the Riddler.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Comic Book TV recap (5/15/2017 - 5/17/2017)

Agents of SHIELD sees its season finale this week. It has officially been renewed for a fifth season with, although it will not begin as usual with Inhumans taking its slot, which has been moved to Friday night. Supergirl, The Flash and Arrow will be wrapping up for the season next week.

Supergirl: "Resist" - Reya's invasion of Earth begins and Cat Grant and the President return to Central City to face off against her along with the DEO.

Gotham: "Light the Wick" - The Court of Owls grows suspicious of their new recruit, Jim Gordon, as he investigates what they're doing with the Alice Tetch virus, being assisted by Oswald. Ivy tries to revive Selina using plants.

Lucifer: "God Johnson" - Investigating another murder, Lucifer meets a man who claims to be God, and he becomes convinced this is actually his father.

The Flash: "Infantino Street" - The day that Savitar will kill Iris has arrived and Barry has to recruit the help of a past version of Leonard Snart to steal the power source for a cannon that will trap Savitar in the Speed Force.

iZombie: "Dirt Nap Time" - Infuriated at the theft of the remaining doses of the zombie cure, Liv eats the brains of a friendly teacher who also slept around. Major attempts to find the thief.

Agents of SHIELD: "World's End" - The agents reunite with Robbie Reyes in a last ditch effort to shut down the Framework, defeat Aida and stop anyone from using the Darkhold again. The finale wraps up the storylines of Season 4 nicely while setting up new possibilities for Season 5.

Arrow: "Missing" - With Adrian Chase in jail, Team Arrow believes they can breathe easy until they realize Chase's true plans are yet to be realized.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Comic Book Shows Recap (5/8/2017 - 5/11/2017)

Supergirl: "City of Lost Children" - Jimmy befriends an alien boy after his mother is put in custody after causing chaos in public. But what made her act up? The DEO and Kara investigate, linking it to the machine Lena Luthor has been duped into helping Mon-El's mother build.

Gotham: "The Primal Riddle" - Eddie decides to figure out who controls Gotham with a series of deathly riddles aimed at Gotham's elite. Gordon decides to use his connection to the Court of Owls to sort things out. Bruce's impostor confronts Selina. Oswald and Ivy recruit Bridgit Pike and Victor Fries for their army of freaks.

Lucifer: "Deceptive Little Parasite" - Chloe and Lucifer investigate the murder of an admissions officer for a high-class elementary school. Lucifer retrieves the blade of Azrael, which only he can light to allow a return to heaven for himself, his mother and brother.

The Flash: "Cause and Effect" - With Savitar's identity out there, Cisco wipes Barry's memory to prevent Savitar from knowing anything. However, this proves more problematic than helpful.

iZombie: "Some Like It Hot Mess" - Major recovers from taking the zombie cure, but Ravi is anxious to try to test his memory serum to prevent Major from losing his memories. Peyton gets an important secret from Blaine. Liv eats the brain of an irresponsible DJ to solve her murder.

Agents of SHIELD: "The Return" - The SHIELD team has to work on two fronts to take down Ivanov and his LMDs. Ophelia—AIDA's name for her new human self—helps rescue everyone before being captured by SHIELD in a facility that limits her powers. However, when she discovers that Fitz doesn't love her, she returns to Ivanov.

Arrow: "Honor Thy Fathers" - Oliver discovers something disturbing about his father's legacy as he finally tracks down Chase. Rene decides where he should side in a court case.

Riverdale: "The Sweet Hereafter" - As Betty breaks the word that Jughead's father is innocent, tensions rise between Cheryl and her mother. Jughead re-evaluates his place in Riverdale. Season finale.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Comic Book TV Recap (5/1/2017 - 5/4/2017)

Supergirl: "Alex" - A mysterious villain captures Alex, forcing Maggie and Kara to join forces to find her. Thing is, the kidnapper also knows that Kara is Supergirl. His ultimatum is to get his father out of jail, or Alex dies. Mon-El's mother makes a proposition to Lena.

Gotham: "These Delicate and Dark Obsessions" - After calling in former henchman Gabe, Oswald and Ivy are betrayed and are captured. Despite imprisonment, Bruce begins psychological training to become a beacon of hope in Gotham. Gordon realizes the Court of Owls was behind his father's murder.

Lucifer: "Candy Morningstar" - Lucifer returns from Vegas (and hiatus) with his new wife, Candy, which forces confrontations with the women in his life.

The Flash: "I Know Who You Are" - Thanks to a tip from the future, Barry goes to see Tracy Brand, who is working on a Speed Force trap that can stop Savitar. Thing is, Savitar and Caitlin—now Killer Frost—are dead set on stopping them, and aren't afraid of shedding some blood. And Cisco is having trouble bringing himself to harm his former friend.

iZombie: "Spanking the Zombie" - Liv has to eat the brain of a dominatrix to solve a murder. Meanwhile, Major works on a mission for Fillmore Graves, discovering their barbaric methods of ensuring their ranks are fed.

Agents of SHIELD: "Farewell, Cruel World" - Daisy and Jemma have found the "back door" of the Framework, allowing them to escape. Now to round up everyone and get them to go through. Only problem is Fitz, who still believes himself to be a head of HYDRA.

Arrow: "Underneath" - Oliver and Felicity are trapped in a powerless Arrow Cave, thanks to an EMP that also disabled the chip that allows Felicity to walk. They have to do their best to find the exit along with the rest of Team Arrow doing all they can.

Riverdale: "Anatomy of a Murder" - As it becomes clear that Jughead's father was framed for Jason's murder, mysteries and tensions rise and Archie and his friends scramble to finally discover the truth.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - The sequel to 2014's surprise hit Marvel movie is now in theaters, as colorful and full of excellent tunes and fun and action as a fan would hope.

After recovering Nebula (Karen Gillan) from the Sovereigns, the Guardians run into Ego (Kurt Russell), who reveals himself to be Peter Quill's father and is eager to reconnect with his son. After being betrayed by his team of Ravagers, Yondu (Michael Rooker) joins up with Rocket, Baby Groot and Nebula. None of the Guardians suspect a plot that threatens the entire galaxy.

It's a little difficult to describe the plot without spoiling the movie. As I guessed early on in promotional stages, parenting is a big theme in the movie, with the Guardians caring for Baby Groot, Nebula and Gamora confronting how they've turned out, being the daughters of Thanos, and the comparison of Yondu and Ego, who are both father figures to Star Lord: one is the person who cared for him (admittedly after abducting him from Earth) and brought him up, the other is his biological father.

I was also impressed at the use of female characters in the movie. We once again have a strong leader of a society who is female, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki). The Guardians also add Mantis (Pom Klementieff), whose power is actually her empathy, enhancing a usually considered feminine trait into a superpower. While Peter is revealed to be falling for Gamora, her own story in the film doesn't revolve around him.

And of course, it's as full of fun and humor and action as you've come to expect from a Marvel Studios film and The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Excellent entry to the MCU, definitely check it out.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Comic Book TV Recap (4/24/2017 - 4/27/2017)

Gotham makes its return along with the CW shows this week (except, of course, Legends of Tomorrow). Lucifer is coming back next week. I will be seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on Thursday night next week, so my recap blog will likely be posted Friday.

Supergirl: "Ace Reporter" - Jack Spheer (Rahul Kohli) arrives in National City to debut his nanobots that appear to have revolutionary medical advances, as well to reconnect with his ex, Lena Luthor. However, Kara spots the nanobots attacking people. Anxious to return to Cat Co., Kara approaches Snapper Carr again. James takes issue with Winn having his girlfriend nearby when they're working nights.

Gotham: "How the Riddler Got His Name" - Proving to himself that he doesn't need Oswald, Eddie begins committing crimes, giving his victims or the GCPD clues via riddles. The Court of Owls finishes grooming their Bruce Wayne clone and kidnaps the actual Bruce. Jim reconnects with his Uncle Frank who invites him to join the Court of Owls.

The Flash: "The Once and Future Flash" - Trying to discover the identity of Savitar, Barry goes to the future to discover his surviving friends and future self broken, and himself unable to return to the past. Finding Central City under the thrall of Mirror Master and the Top, Barry finally realizes that he has to remind the future of what it means to be a hero.

iZombie: "Wag the Tongue Slowly" - As Ravi tries to perfect his memory serum by using Blaine as a guinea pig, Liv uses the brain of a murdered office gossip to try and figure out whodunit. Clive gets a lead. Major's condition continues to get worse.

Agents of SHIELD: "All the Madame's Men" - May and Daisy—now with her powers returned—escape the HYDRA base as the plans of Madame HYDRA becomes clear, and Fitz is working hard to see them completed as Coulson prepares to hijack a pro-HYDRA television program to spread the truth about HYDRA. Daisy sorts out her feelings about Ward.

Arrow: "Dangerous Liasions" - As Oliver deals with bad PR while exposing Adrian Chase, Felicity's new hacker friends try to break someone who can trace Chase out of jail, which Team Arrow carefully monitors in case anything goes wrong.

Powerless: "No Consequence Day" - While this episode was advertised as the staff of Wayne Security celebrating "No Consequence Day" (Lois Lane was killed, so from that point onward, anything goes as Superman will reverse time to save her), NBC has pulled Powerless from the lineup, which seems to effectively cancel the show. The remaining episodes will be released, we have been told, but how and when is a mystery.

Riverdale: "To Riverdale and Back Again" - Archie's mom is back in town to reconnect with her son as well as the school homecoming. There's a lot of suspicion on Jughead's dad, and despite Betty's wishes, Archie and Veronica sneak away to search his trailer. Polly discovers some secrets about the Blossom family.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Comic Book TV Recap (4/18/2017)

Most of the shows are not on this week. Powerless is scheduled to air "Emergency Punch Up," which I wrote about two weeks ago.

iZombie: "Eat, Pray, Liv" - As Major works undercover for Filmore Graves, he begins to feel his condition getting worse. Liv eats the brain of a yoga guru as they solve his murder. Blaine and his friends attempt business endeavors as Peyton is confronted with the truth about Blaine as Ravi tries to prevent memory loss when Major must finally take the cure.

Agents of SHIELD: "No Regrets" - After the shocking reveal of Fitz last week, the agents band together to infiltrate HYDRA inside the Framework under the leadership of Mace as the Patriot. Can they gain more support? Can Daisy be recovered from HYDRA's prison?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Comic Book TV Recap (4/11/2017 - 4/13/2017)

iZombie: "Zombie Knows Best" - Clive is asked about being a recently killed (zombie) boy's emergency contact and remembers how he was the boy's neighbor. Trying to solve a double homicide, Liv and Major use the brains of the victims: a teenage girl and her father. Except Liv takes the father's brain, leaving Major to take the daughter's, and they take on their personalities.

Agents of SHIELD: "Identity and Change" - Daisy and Jemma, realizing that their device to escape the Framework doesn't work, have managed to convince Coulson that they are in a world that is not real. They find Mace, who is running SHIELD, an underground resistance to HYDRA. However, HYDRA is on their trail as they find Mack and Radcliffe, and they will realize that the people they knew are no longer who they thought.

Powerless: "Van v Emily: Dawn of Justice" - Emily tries to claim her own office, but Van decides to challenge her for it. Most of the office supports Emily, but it's anyone's game. After Green Fury (better known as Fire as part of Fire and Ice in the comics) rescues Teddy, he believes she's into him.

An aside, what has been up with Powerless? A couple weeks ago, an episode was expected, but an episode of another NBC show aired instead. Last week, my TV series app said an episode titled "Van of the Year" would air. Day of airing, it had revised to this episode, but "Emergency Punch-Up" aired instead. This episode was on Hulu the following day and sites such as Wikipedia claimed it had aired. I'm getting a bad feeling about chances of a Season 2. And now for the episode that aired this week...

 Powerless: "Green Furious" - Emily befriends Green Fury, who gives her a device to call for her help. Emily uses it to get the superheroine's help for a marketing campaign. Teddy tries to make the moves on Green Fury again. Jackie objects to her daughter becoming friends with Wendy.

Riverdale: "The Lost Weekend" - Archie and Betty plan a party for Jughead's birthday. Betty tells Veronica about how Clifford Blossom seems to have gotten Hiram Lodge in jail, information she attempts to use for legal assistance. Chuck's return to school reawakens negativity in Betty and frustrated with her other cheerleaders, Cheryl takes advantage of this as they crash Jughead's birthday.

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract - The latest DC animated film adapts a landmark Teen Titans story, updating it from the original story to a more modern version of the DC universe.

As the Titans handle moving on with their lives—such as Nightwing and Starfire moving in together and bringing in a new member—they are unaware that Brother Blood and his cult have sent Deathstroke to capture them to absorb their powers.

Personally, my enjoyment of the movie was hampered by the fact that I'd had little sleep the previous night and wasn't feeling up to watching a movie, and had said as much, but it was played anyway. Still, there's a reason why Warner Brothers keeps making these movies: they keep selling. And they sell because they show respect to the characters and to good storytelling, which is continued here. The animation is good, never spectacular, but that's really all that's required of it. The voice cast does well, too.