Welcome back to the Blogger Dome! Here, bloggers will argue different topics involving the comic book market and industry. This will be a combination of the Big Bang Theory meets the WWE. Smack talk mixed with comic book debates. Bloggers going at each other to amuse and educate our readers. And we want to hear what YOU have to say about it. Today’s topic is Mr. Fantastic vs. Plastic Man AND Elongated Man. So, tune in, get comfy, and let’s do this!
Ding ding! Allow me to present your newest fighters in the Blogger Dome ring… PATRICK AND DOUG! Fight!
PATRICK: First, in the spirit of competition, I just hope Doug isn’t still a little punchy from his last bout in the blogger dome: Secret Wars vs. Crisis. Doug’s hands will be full, possibly tied in elastic knots, by the premier stretchy man and the world’s greatest rubber-based detective. Of course, I refer to the first stretch-hero Plastic Man, and super-stretch sleuth Elongated Man. I doubt the word ‘hero’ would have stayed in the English lexicon if not for these two malleable supers. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, but I will indeed demonstrate the superior abilities of Plastic Man and Elongated Man to epitomize that description while always popping right back into place!
DOUG: Oh, come on! I know I’m great at these blogger domes – I even have Luke Cage’s chain-link belt as MY champion belt – but a double team?! Two against one?! That’s no problem for the only serious hero in this debate, Mr. Fantastic. And his name says it all. I won’t have any trouble matching Reed Richards up against ‘Punch and Judy’. By the way, we’ll see at the end of this battle who’s punchy.
Round #1 First Blood!
PATRICK: Plastic Man and Elongated Man: For Fans of Fun
I do feel bad taking both Plastic Man and Elongated Man in my corner of the battle dome. Then again, when a hero names himself Mr. Fantastic, he should expect to face overwhelming odds in battle. Admittedly, calling oneself ‘plastic’–synonymous with synthetic, fake, and bogus–was not a great marketing move. On the other hand, Plastic Man and Elongated Man have never taken themselves too seriously. They bring the lighter side to superhero work. And we REALLY need that these days. In contrast, Mr. Fantastic is your father’s superhero! With the grey hair near the temples, the constant anguish over never restoring Ben Grimm, it’s a wonder Reed isn’t popping Tums and High Blood Pressure medication. Come on, Reed, lighten up a little.
Plastic Man, Eel O’Brien knows how to inject the FUN in crime prevention. He’ll disguise himself as a crane or barbell just because he can, not because he has to. And Ralph Dibney, that stretchable sleuth, has the greatest crime detection tool ever invented, his twitchable nose. While Reed Richards agonizes over what’s popping out of the Negative Zone next, Ralph is following his twitching nose down chimneys and through vents to sniff out real criminals like museum thieves and bank robbers. So, Doug, can Mr. Fantastic do that?
DOUG: THE GREATEST SCIENTIST EVER… AND HE STRETCHES, TOO
To put it simply, in a way that even Patrick might be able to understand, Reed Richards is the most brilliant human scientific mind in the worlds of comic books. I don’t care which multiverse you’re talking about, DC or Marvel; no one can hold a candle to the intelligence of Mr. Fantastic. Let’s run through the list of sciences of which he is a master – physics, chemistry, biology, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, electronics, robotics… I could keep going but I don’t want to totally embarrass Patrick in the first round. In short, Reed is a polymath.
And his mind is not his only power. His stretching ability is at least on par with both Ralph Dibny and “Eel” O’Brian. Slingshot? Check. Form of a bouncing ball? Check. Able to change facial appearance? Check. Team leader? Check. Oh, wait… Neither Plastic Man nor Elongated Man has ever been regarded as a leader. So, let me get this straight. On my side, Reed Richards – stretching abilities, leadership, and master of multiple scientific disciplines. On Patrick’s side – two guys with stretching abilities and mediocre detective skills. Ding ding! We have a winner in round one.
Round #2 Second Swing…
PATRICK: Innovators vs Imitators
Well, Doug, in the creative world of comics, there are innovators and there are imitators. Now, I don’t care that the Thin Man from Mystic Comics #4 may have been the first human superhero to stretch. That’s because Plastic Man does so much more than stretch; he is human Silly Putty! I don’t need to exhaustively extol Plastic Man here. Just like the build-up of a champion in a prize fight, Daniel Hatch already laid out the VERRRRRY long tale of the tape in his blog on Plastic Man. Hmmm, now who’s written an article exclusively dedicated to Mr. FANTASTIC… I’ll just let that hang in the air!
Readers can enjoy Daniel’s article to ponder on Plastic Man’s eighty years of form-bending shenanigans. Let’s talk about the Elongated Man for a minute. While Ralph Dibney doesn’t have the ‘superhero cred’ of Reed Richards, it’s interesting to note that his first appearance in Flash #112 is from March 1960. Wow, that predates the Fantastic Four by over a year! Like I said, there are innovators and imitators.
Just for good measure, the Elongated Man’s backup solo stories began in Detective Comics #327. Someone might say backup story–big deal. Of course, some super-stretchy genius scientists don’t even get their own solo stories or team-up books. Could it be that Reed never transformed the Thing because of Marvel Two-In-One envy? And besides that, is it possible that the New Look Batman ONLY succeeded because readers were buying Detective Comics for the Elongated Man backup story? Is that possible? Go ahead, Doug. Give us some history on Mr. Fantastic.
DOUG: MARVEL MAINSTAY FOR 60 YEARS
While Mr. Fantastic’s history may not go back as far as Plastic Man’s, he’s been one of the key players in the Marvel Universe for 60 years. Yes, there was that brief hiatus of the Fantastic Four as Marvel and Fox duked it out regarding cinematic rights to the FF. However, that had nothing to do with the popularity of the Fantastic Four but more to do with the importance of the franchise to two cinematic universes. It hasn’t just been the Fantastic Four, either. Reed Richards has appeared in nearly every Marvel comic book series, typically being pulled into others’ stories because he’s the smartest guy around. And who couldn’t use his help?
And, yes, I know. Mr. Fantastic has never had a solo book. No regular series, no team-up series, no mini-series. You know why? He doesn’t need them. If the Fantastic Four is Marvel’s first family, Reed is the dad, arguably the most important member of the family. The majority of the plots (particularly in the early years) are resolved by an invention or idea from the mind of Mr. Fantastic. No one is more associated with the FF than the stretchy guy with the big blue “4” on his chest. Reed Richards doesn’t need a solo book because he’s the linchpin of one of the greatest team superhero books in history. ‘Nuff said!
What can be said regarding Plastic Man’s longevity? His first series lasted for 15 years. Since then? Sporadic publication, at best. And Elongated Man? Is he even alive? A total non-factor. So, for this second round, I see Plastic Man pinned and Elongated Man tossed over the ropes and onto the scorers’ table.
Round #3: Third Strike!
PATRICK: Hurray for Hollywood
Okay Doug, I admit that I don’t want to fall into the Hollywood stereotype of dissing Dads, so your first family thing was pretty good. But speaking of Hollywood… Plastic Man and Elongated Man are practically stars. Amazon’s got your complete 35 episode Plastic Man series for $65. It gets 4.5 out of 5 stars, so it’s got to be good.
And where would the CW’s Flash be without Ralph? Yes, his first costume was terrible, but that fits the comic books, too.
So, Patrick will have you believe that just because Plastic Man had a weak-ass TV show for a few years and Elongated Man has appeared in Flash in a recurring role that those two are somehow media titans. Hah! Mr. Fantastic has appeared in no less than four films and four cartoon series. Sure, they’re almost all universally crap (I’m looking at you, H.E.R.B.I.E. and Roger Corman). But we all know that the Fantastic Four is going to show up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe very soon. And when they do, Kevin Feige will ensure that (at last!) they’ll be done right. Any plans for Plastic Man or Elongated Man to appear in any films in the DC (whatever it’s called) movies? Not that I or anyone on planet Earth has heard of. The count is up to “9”, and Ralph and “Eel” are turning as blue as Mr. Fantastic’s costume as his chokeholds begin to do their damage…
PATRICK: For the final round, I would like my worthy opponent to take the first shot.
DOUG: FANTASTIC FOUR #1
Ok, this is where the rubber hits the road and what all you GoCollect readers really care about – the value of the comics. So, let’s take a look. The first appearance of Plastic Man was in Police Comics #1. Now, to be fair, it is hard to judge the true value of Golden Age books due to the infrequent nature of sales of key issues. The last sale of this book in a 9.4 grade occurred on February 20, 2014. It sold through Heritage Auctions for $38,837.50. Elongated Man’s first appearance was in Flash #112. A 9.4 grade sold on February 27 2019, for $12,500.00 through ComicLink. Now, these are no doubt high-priced, high-grade keys that would be worthy inclusions in anyone’s collection.
However, when compared to what is one of the most important keys of all time, and the book that started the Marvel Age of Comics, well, let’s just say that Fantastic Four #1 has outclassed Police Comics #1 and Flash #112. These two are lightweights in a fight against a heavyweight titan. It’s really not fair, but Patrick took on the challenge. So, what’s the value of a high-grade Fantastic Four #1? Drum roll, please… A 9.2 graded copy (mind you, that’s a lower grade than the other two) sold on August 1, 2013 through Heritage Auctions for $900,000.00. That’s right – almost a million dollars! And you can bet that the passage of time has likely increased the value of this copy to well over a million. I would say that’s lights out for Plastic Man and Elongated Man. Nighty night.
So no one can argue that FF #1 isn’t more ownership-worthy than Plastic Man or Elongated Man’s first appearance books. The only argument I can give is this: if you have $900,000, go ahead and buy FF #1 and hope it continues to skyrocket with double-digit growth. Or alternatively, consider beaten down and underappreciated low-end Plastic Man and Elongated Man issues. Not keys, just ordinary issues. Because if ANYthing amazing EVER happens for either of these two lovable losers, you could have a gold mine!
PATRICK & DOUG: Great debate and a lot of fun. The first two-against-one Blogger Dome ever! Whichever side you’re on, the first appearances of these three characters are much sought-after comic books and we would both like to have all three in our collections.
So who won? Tell us! Vote for the winner HERE!