Catching up on my comics-reading since returning from Comic Con and Connecticon, I see that I almost missed the return of my all-time favorite character, Plastic Man, to active duty in the JLA.

As I mentioned earlier, Len Wein was tapped to write a two-issue arc, and he promised to bring Plas back for the ride. Since he had all-but-officially written out of DC continuity, I was thrilled at the prospect.

And with everything that happened between then and now, I was actually thunderstruck to see Mister O’Brien make his entrance onto the pages of JLA #35.

Which is odd, because as you can plainly see, he’s on the cover of the issue. (No, really. He is.)

Sure, the foes are the well-trodden Royal Flush Gang. I mean, at this point, I’d be more frightened by the Full House Gang. But apart from a couple of real dialogue duds (including a tired “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” line), it’s Plastic man at his most ductile and demented.

Which brings me back to Comic Con.

Discussing Plastic Man with a friend in San Diego, I learned that none other than my friend Hugo-Award-winning Phil Foglio (which is now his full name, thank you) wrote several issues of Plastic Man!

Not only that, but he wrote the following little bit of history into Plas’ origin:

When Eel O’Brien was subjected to the chemical bath that turned him into the “Indian Rubber Man,” another side effect was that the same chemicals that keep him pliant also have an ongoing effect on his mental state. In other words, the stuff that keeps Plastic Man rubbery also has him on an ongoing high.

This allowed Phil to write the character straight-up as a justifiably whacked-out character — not just a device to be introduced solely for comic relief and then embarrassedly pushed back into the shadows. With this plot gem, Plas’ bizarre behavior was every bit a part of his character as his super powers, and to write him “normal” would be like not letting him stretch.

Which brings me to two conclusions:

(1) Phil is a genius.

(2) If I never get to write Plastic Man for DC, I at least want to see Phil take another tilt. Best case scenario, of course, would be if both ensued.

(3) I need to get may hands on those old copies of the Foglio-scribed Plastic Man.

Until then, we have Our Hero around for at least one more issue, the upcoming JLA #36.

Title: JLA #35
Team: Written by Len Wein. Pencils by Tom Derenick & Pow Rodrix. Inks by Marlo Alquiza, Rob Hunter, Walden Wong & Dan Green.