is for Elongated Man. Yes...you read that right...Elongated....Man.
Ralph Dibney, the Stretchable Sleuth, fought crime under, perhaps, the worst superhero name out there....The Elongated Man.
Partially created by D.C. Comics editor Julius Schwartz, it's said that Schwartz didn't realize that the company owned the rights to the name Plastic Man (having bought the old Quality line that previously owned the name) or he would have never used the name "Elongated Man". I tend to believe that story. EM was created as a supporting character for The Flash and wound up getting backup stories in the Fastest Man Alive's book. He and his wife, Sue, would travel the country in a convertible, looking for odd mysteries to solve.
Just how does one go about becoming a silly putty superhero? Well, in Dibney's case, he was always fascinated with the Indian rubber men he had seen at carnivals and wanted to emulate their contortion skills. Why....I have no idea.
Doing some research, he found that they all drank a juice extracted from the root of a plant found in the Yucatan...the gingo plant. They used the plant to make an elixir called Gingold. Figuring out a way to make his own, he drank it with incredible results. He found he could stretch his body in a way more extreme manner then the 'rubber men' he had seen at the carnivals. Later on, his origin was amended to include that he had a "meta gene" that interacted with the Gingold, giving him his spectacular results.
Sounds plausible to me...
Known for twitching his nose when he 'smelled' a mystery (it was his trademark), Ralph was a skilled detective, but usually took a backseat to Batman because.....well...he's Batman! it's also said that he was one of the first Silver Age heroes to reveal his identity to the public and marry his love interest. Regardless, though, Ralph was a pretty popular character, just saddled with a cornball name.
One of the reasons, I think, that Dibney was such a popular character was that many of his stories featured not only him..., but his wife as well. Sue Dibney was Ralph's anchor and kept him grounded in a world where they knew people who could fly, create objects with power rings, or breathe underwater. The pair were very reminiscent of Nick and Nora Charles from the Thin Man films. They had that sort of repartee that a lot of couples, married or not, could identify with.
D.C. decided to kill Sue Dibney in the Identity Crisis series, leaving Ralph a husk of a man.....the happy go lucky, joke cracking, Elongated Man was gone.
Ralph reappeared in the maxi-series 52, looking for a way to bring Sue back from the dead. At the end of the series, Ralph finally figures out something that many of his friends had been telling him....Sue wasn't coming back.
Finally resigned to his fate, Ralph comes across a 'wish granting' gun (hey, I didn't make it up) and wishes to be reunited with his wife....even in death. Thus brings the end to the Elongated Man, but was the birth of Ralph and Sue Dibney....Ghost Detectives.
I wonder if they've ever come across Doctor Occult? I'll have to look that one up. Hmmm...
Check back tomorrow as we fly high with a real cool cat.
During the month of April, for the sake of trying to keep my posts brief, I'm going to be putting my Healthy Writers Club entries on hiatus.
Never fear, all you health nuts, I'll be resuming my HWC posts the first Friday in May and I'm going to have some interesting news to share.