Friday, April 5, 2013

E: Elongated Man

is for Elongated Man. 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.

Stay tuned!


Trisha F said...

Haha, that nose-twitching pic is classic!

Sue Elvis said...


I love that nose! This is so good I am going have to share the link to your blog with my kids!

Elise Fallson said...

He kinda reminds me of Plastic Man.

Kern Windwraith said...

I kind of love that the Elongated Man was reunited with his wife in death and they became Ghost Detectives. Was he a stretchy ghost, do you suppose…?

Mark Means said...

@Trisha: It was always funny when he'd do it and get 'the look' from Sue. He said he couldn't help it and that it was a part of his power...she'd tell him he was full of it :)

@Sue: Thank you and I hope they like it :)

@Elise: Very similar in powers and attitude. I guess there's something about stretching that made one silly :)

@Kern: I know, I always like that, as well. I don't think, as a ghost, he could stretch, but he could do all the other 'ghost' turn invisible....walk through walls...etc.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Hey, wonder if they got the idea for Elastigirl (Incredibles) from him? Cool that they created the ghost detectives series next, though also funny.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Empty Nest Insider said...

It's so sad that he lost his wife. At least he finally teamed up with her in the hereafter. The name is silly, but the story has heart.


Sheena-kay Graham said...

Have tho agree with Empty N.I. I have seen this character around before but never heard his name until now. Yup, he definitely couldn't top Batman.

Manzanita said...

I remember the Flash and the Elongated man sounds like a new way to catch the bad guys. Last summer I threw away my collection of Nick and Nora Charles movies. I did love them and Asta too.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Love the post and the nose twitching picture :)

Jeremy [Retro] said...

fan of all the ladies.... oh yeah!

Jeremy [Retro]
AtoZ Challenge Co-Host
Oh No, Let's Go... Crazy

Melanie Schulz said...

This reminds me of elastagirl from Pixar's The Incredibles

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Not the best name for a superhero, but I did enjoy his adventures.

Laura said...

That's quite romantic really, I'm glad they got to be together in the end! The name is kind of bad!

Sally said...

Love it that they get to come back as ghost detectives.

John Wiswell said...

I remember how furious people were at Sue Dibny's fate in Identity Crisis. You're right that Elongated Man turned into a husk after that, a victim of comics getting so ridiculously twisted. But that moment of them together as ghosts is very sweet.

Jenny said...

Gingold sounds like something I might find at a health food store. I like the fact that Sue had a major part!

Jenny at Choice City Native

Scribbles From Jenn said...

I agree with Shannon, I think the idea for Elastigirl (Incredibles) came from Elongated Man. I love how easily they solved their writitng problems in the days of ole.

Jenn @Scribbles From Jenn

Nicki Elson said...

Hehehe...I'm so glad I stopped by on E day. Elongated Man! But you gave him a really nice tribute here. Glad he found a way to get back to Sue.

jaybird said...

I'm sorry but Elongated Man just sounds so freaking perverse, I can't stop laughing! And his nose. Wow. Just wow.

Whole Foods Living said...

Weird! He reminds me of the mom on The Incredibles! Elastica? LOL! Happy A-to-Z 2013! ~Angela, Whole Foods Living,

Regina Gort said...

Just when I think it can't get any better it does. Wonder if Pixar used him as a model for the mom in the Incredible movie?

Lisa said...

Do you think he was the forerunner for Mr. Fantastic of the Fan Four? His wife was named Sue also! Coincidence?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark .. great E word and description ... so appropriate .. cheers Hilary

C. Lee McKenzie said...

Those husband and wife teams always are fun. Like But, like Dibney's wife, I'd be a hard pressed to deal with that twitchy nose thing!

Julie Luek said...

I'm laughing at Jaybird's response and just going to give that a quiet "amen" and leave it at that. You know, I used to do the healthy friday posts, maybe I should sign up again.

Nancy Thompson said...

This is so funny! Where do you find these?

Al Diaz said...

what was first? this one or the Fantastic Four? Because either of them is a copycat of the other and it is WAY to obvious.

LD Masterson said...

I remember this guy. Not well, though, since I didn't remember his wife. I would have enjoyed the Nick and Nora exchanges. (Loved The Thin Man.)

Julie Flanders said...

The nose-twitching pic is the best. It reminds me of Bewitched! Honestly it's hard to take this poor guy seriously LOL.

Anonymous said...

Cool, I wrote on Elongated Man too. Though I like your article much more than mine. Look forward to seeing who else you chose!

Mark Means said...

@Shannon: I think I'd like to see a Ghost Detectives series more than anything else from the two. That'd be interesting :)

@Julie: I agree! Out of tragedy comes recaptured love.

@Sheena: Well, no one can top The my opinion :)

@Manzanita: You threw your Thin Man movies away?? I hope it was by accident :P

@Rachna: Thank you and, yeah, it is pretty funny :)

@Jeremy: lol...yeah, but he knew to keep those rubber eyes in his head or face Sue's wrath :)

@Melanie: For sure and I bet they'd make an interesting couple.

@Alex: Agreed and so did I. Part of the reason I enjoyed 52 so much.

@Laura: To say the name is 'kind of bad' is being too kind, lol :)

@Sally: Me too and I wish that series had gotten off the ground.

@John: Oh yeah, I remember that too. It's cool how they took a 'second string' character like Ralph and gave him such an interesting story.

@Jenny: Heh, it does, doesn't it? :)

@Jenn: Yeah, a simpler time gave them simpler solutions, I guess :)

@Nicki: Thank you and, yes, it worked out for them in the end :)

@jaybird: LOL...well, when you think of it -that- way...yeah, you're right!

@Angela: He does kind of have that Disney quality to him, I guess :)

@Regina: These days, one can never tell :)

@Lisa: I think Mr. Fantastic came before E Man, but I never thought about the "Sue" connection though....good catch :)

@Hilary: Thank you very much!

@Lee: There are a few married couples in the D.C Universe that operate together and, you're right, they're always a lot of fun.

@Julie: Haha....yep. You noticed I didn't go 'there' :) I figure if I make it a point to post about it, each week, I'll actually do something to make sure I have something to post about.

@Nancy: Most of them I just remember from reading comic books for thirty my mispent youth :)

@Al: I think Mr. Fantastic was first, but I'd have to look it up.

@LD: Well, great to find another Thin Man fan out there! :)

@Julie: lol..yes, I'm sure he got a lot of that!

@Paul:Oh very cool...I'll have to make sure to stop by and see what you have.

Christine Rains said...

Ha! Nose twitching! I'm doing my best not to make some comment on his name. Heh. I like his wife, though!

The Golden Eagle said...

Elongated Man. Wow, what a name. LOL. :P

Mark Means said...

@Christine: From the looks of some of the other comments today, you're not alone! :)

@Golden Eagle: Haha...yeah, that's the 60s for ya.

Samantha May said...

The Elongated Man...poor fellow. They couldn't give him a one word name like Stretch? :D

Pk Hrezo said...

Love that pic! And being super stretchy as a super power is genius!

Timothy Brannan said...

I like Ralph and frankly I thought it sucked that they killed Sue.

I read the whole 52 and one of the things that struck me was how much Ralph had been destroyed by it all. Don't let "Wish Granting Gun" deter you! The Ralph Dibney parts of 52 are STELLAR! I was happy to see Ralph and Sue together again.

Great post.

Tim Brannan
The Other Side and The Witch
Red Sonja: She-Devil with a Sword
The Freedom of Nonbelief

Carrie Butler said...

This just might be the most awkward name yet! I love it. :D

Spacerguy said...

These characters will live on and on. The Fantastic 4 springs to mind.

Rebecca Green Gasper said...

His name doesn't give him much credit...not so cool for a superhero.

klahanie said...

Aha Mark! Speaking of the Elongated Man, I was going to streeeeeetch....out my comment, but changed my mind.

Happy alphabeting!

Gary :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Eloooongaaaated Maaan . . . sorry, I just had to say it in elongated, slow fashion . . .that name is hysterical. I do like the husband and wife team aspect - that's cool.

You have definitely found some interesting characters!

Karen Tamara said...

That is a great story. Did him and his wife continue to have adventures as ghost detectives? Or did the series just end with them becoming ghosts?

there are so many different names they could've gone with,even if plastic man was taken. Not sure why they went with elongated man, but at least it's not forgettable. haha

Robin said...

This immediately made me think of Pete and his ability to stretch on Smallville. Of course, he got his ability to stretch from the kryptonite strewn all over Smallville, just like so many others got superpowers (as featured on The Wall of Wierd).

Sounds like they eventually figured out that they had a good thing in Mrs. Dibney. They only way they could reunite the two was in death. I don't know why writers kill off main (well loved) characters. That almost always goes wrong. As in really, really wrong.

Nancy LaRonda Johnson said...

It's does seem kinda hard to think of a unique superhero, which I guess is why they keep just remaking movies of the same ones. :)

Nick Wilford said...

Where have I been? I'm loving all this stuff that I never knew about. This sounds like one of the true epic love stories!

Mark Means said...

@Samantha: Heh, I don't know....the 60s were a strange time!

@PK: I'm sure it could come in handy in quite a few ways...

@Timothy: Totally agree as I thought the two had a great dynamic that could lighten any mood. I found 52 to be, overall, superb and you're right...the bits with Ralph were great. Awesome story. Thanks for dropping by and commenting :)

@Carrie: 'Awkward' is probably a huge understatement :D

@Spacerguy: Let's hope so!

@Rebecca: I know...I guess it could have been worse. How, I'm not sure...but it could have been :)

@Gary: sure are flexible with your comments :)

@Tyrean: Thank you and, yes, the 'couples' aspect was a huge part of their popularity, in my view

@Karen: Not that I know of. I was really hoping they -would- put out a Ralph and Sue book. Who knows, though, they still might at some point.

@Robin: I know..I think they, sometimes, do it to just 'shake things up' and generate interest in the character so they can bring them back, more popular then before. Just my opinion, though.

@Nancy: Yeah, I guess there are just so many ideas out there before they start overlapping.

@Nick: Stay tune and, hopefully, you'll see more neat stuff :)

Anonymous said...

You're right, TERRIBLE name but not a bad character or back story.

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