Plastic Man The Complete Collection – Available Now
by Aaron Einhorn
I generally try to get these reviews to you, my gentle readers, on or before the street date for the discs. Sadly, due to shipping delays, I wasn’t able to do that here with Plastic Man The Complete Collection. But that doesn’t mean that this set isn’t well worth taking the time to review.
Why? Because it’s Plastic Man – that’s why! I’ve always loved Plas, and hold him in special regard for the creation of the utterly zany, off-the-wall superhero. Without Plas, I don’t know that we ever would have had Ambush Bug, Freakazoid, the Impossible Man or Slapstick. And that would be a shame.
Plastic Man The Complete Collection collects all of the Plastic Man segments from The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show. Sadly, it doesn’t include any of the other features that were a part of those episodes, such as Fangface, Mighty Man & Yukk or Rickety Rocket. But what we do get is a whole lot of over-the-top, zany superheroic action.
Supple super hero Plastic Man bends criminals to justice in these 35 exciting animated adventures from the vintage TV series. Jetsetting around the world in the Plastijet with girlfriend Penny and sidekick Hula Hula, the cool, confident Plas wraps up evil villains like Solex, Weed, Half-Ape, The Clam, Computerhead, and Disco Mummy. With the power to conform to any shape or size, Plas can grow, shrink, or flex his way out of any situation–except Penny’s jealous grip. Never yielding under pressure, the only cracks in his super hero style are the quips he throws at his nemeses while turning the tables on them. When danger calls, this is the only four-disc collector’s set–including elastically exciting extras–with enough twists to showcase Plastic Man! Features: retrospective featurette and Plastic Man animated series unaired pilot episode.
Like the synopsis says, we get thirty-five different Plastic Man adventures, with Plas facing off against such incredible (?) villains as The Weed, The Clam, Dr. Duplicator and Count Graffiti. We get to see the somewhat awkward romantic interactions between Plas and Penny (who really was probably added to remind audiences that this crazy character in the red leotard is actually straight), and his bumbling, unlucky sidekick, Hula Hula.
It’s worth noting that – although the shows open with “From out of the pages of DC Comics”, this iteration of Plastic Man is significantly different from his comic book counterpart. The powers, the look and even the attitude are the same – but the backstory of Plas being a criminal is conveniently forgotten, his supporting cast is changed out, and he is inexplicably made into a secret agent, complete with gadgets and a government contact who sends him on missions.
None of which matters, of course. The changes to his backstory don’t make Plastic Man any less insane and bizarrely enjoyable. Sure, the plots are simplistic, and the animation is crude by 2009 standards. But it’s solid fun, and Plastic Man’s transformations are plentiful.
We get two nice bonuses here – which is all one could hope for when dealing with a show this old. First up, we get “PLAS-tastic: A Brief History of Plastic Man”, which does a good job of reminding fans of the backstory for the character. It covers the creation of Plastic Man, and how he has been handled both in the pages of the comic books (including his transition from Quality Comics to appearing in DC Comics), and how he has been handled on television – both in The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, and his appearances on Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
The second bonus is the as-yet unaired pilot episode “Puddle Trouble”, which was designed to start a new Plastic Man cartoon around 2006. Truthfully, the animation style of the Plastic Man pilot doesn’t appeal to me – just as Kyle Baker’s recent comic didn’t, and for the same reason. I prefer Plastic Man when he is the one zany element in an otherwise sane world – and the animation in the pilot makes everyone look as if they were made of rubber.
The episodes are a little grainy, but we are dealing with older archival cartoons. The graininess isn’t offensive, however, and in some ways adds to the nostalgia element of watching the cartoon. After all, how many of us got clear transmission from our rabbit ears?
The episodes are presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 sound, with subtitles in English and French.
We’ve got nice retro-looking artwork decorating the front cover, and the by-now ubiquitous hard plastic case with the flippable disc storage.
Plastic Man’s adventures are zany and fun, the character retains the inventiveness we would expect from him, and the episodes are presented in a nice format.
The other cartoons that made up The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show would have been a nice addition – and with their omission from this set, it’s hard to say if we’ll ever see them collected on DVD.
The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show is not for everyone. Although in many ways it exceeded the Superfriends cartoons in terms of quality of storytelling, it is even more distinctly Silver-Age in feel. It’s also worth noting that the cruder old-school animation may be off-putting if you don’t have nostalgia for the show – especially since Plastic Man’s more modern appearances are so much more fluid in their animation.
Plastic Man The Complete Collection is a great set to own. As much as I miss the other animated elements from The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, it’s nice to be able to watch the Plastic Man elements straight through. And that is, after all, why people should purchase Plastic Man The Complete Collection.
If you have an appreciation for the bizarre and off-kilter in superheroics, then you should definitely pick up Plastic Man The Complete Collection. You can purchase it now from Amazon.com by clicking here.