EXCLUSIVE: Gail Simone to write new Plastic Man series for DC

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Mar 12, 2018

First, the bad news: Gail Simone's next project is not writing the Batgirl movie (at least as far as we know). But we remain hopeful that Warner Bros. will come to its senses and give the people the Simone-scripted Barbara Gordon adventure we need.

Now to the good news, the really good news: SYFY WIRE can exclusively reveal that the beloved comics writer's next project is Plastic Man, a six-issue miniseries for DC Comics that launches in June. Simone will reunite with artist Adriana Melo (Birds of Prey, Rose and Thorn) to chronicle the adventures of the Golden Age hero, who was created by Jack Cole and debuted in Police Comics #1 in 1941.

We've also got the FIRST LOOK at the cover to issue #1, pencilled by Simone's Wonder Woman/Conan collaborator Aaron Lopresti. A variety of guest artists will tackle variant covers for each issue. DC is keeping the full list a surprise, but if you keep reading you'll find out the artist doing the first issue variant.

In case you're not familiar with the character's backstory, Eel O'Brian was a thief, con artist and all-around not great guy whose life was changed after he gets drenched in a strange liquid chemical during a botched robbery. The accident transformed his body and placed it in a semi-fluid state, giving him complete malleability and the ability to control his density, along with super strength and various other powers.

Long a favorite of creators such as Mark Waid, Frank Miller and Grant Morrison, Plastic Man has been a member of the Justice League and while never a full-fledged solo star has been a key supporting player in many big DC storylines.

Simone has wanted to tackle the stretchy criminal-turned-hero for some time. This new adventure will focus on the humor that made Plastic Man comics' first wise-cracking crimefighter, paving the way for characters like Lobo, Deadpool and Harley Quinn. "Plas is THE original humor hero jock," explains Simone. "If you read his best stories, he's always a little bit bawdy, a little bit messed up, and that really is my favorite kind of hero."

SYFY WIRE managed to score a few minutes with Simone to discuss her love of 'Plas' and the story she plans to tell, and the tone of her story. Read on to find out what she says, and then check out three cool preview pages we have of the upcoming series.

When did you and DC start talking about having you do this Plastic Man mini-series?

It came about around a year ago. The mini-series is already written, actually. It's a nicely contained story that's a lot of fun and creepy, too.

Plastic Man is a very interesting DC character. He's obviously known for his humor, but he has great power and he's been around a long time. How did you approach the character to put a new twist on him?

When I think about Plastic Man, he was genuinely the first funny super hero. I"m obviously attracted to that. There's also this great mixture of tragedy in there, too, that I love. The humor comes from a place of pain. And a lot o people I know, the bravest ones, deal with their pain through humor. So I really like trying to find that balance and keeping that rollercoaster going where there is enough tragedy going on that the humor kind of helps you get through it, and that's what this series is.

This character was so ahead of its time when it was created. The stuff we're seeing in Deadpool and Harley Quinn now, Plastic Man was doing in the 1940s. It's a character that was ahead of its time back then and the stories are still funny and still relevant. So just kind of bringing him into the modern DCU was the big thing for me.

He was known for humor when that wasn't what people expected of super hero books. Is that one of your goals with this gig, to raise the appreciation of Plastic Man?

Exactly, and the content is about PG-13. I mean, Plastic Man is probably the only super hero who would dare make fun of Batman at a Justice League meeting.

What does a PG-13 Plastic Man comic look like? And does the humor in the story come easy to you?

Yes, it kinda does (laughs), just because I have that weird sense of humor that can go dark at any moment or just be off-the-wall silly. Which is kind of the great thing about writing Plastic Man is that all of that works really well with that character. We have so many great moments that I cannot wait to see Adriana Melo draw because she … I worked with her before on a series back in the day called Rose and Thorn and she draws the most gorgeous people. And this book has sort of a '40s-style glamour to it. It's updated a bit. But, Adriana is also tremendous at doing humor so I cannot wait to see what she brings to that.

Tell me about the style and look of the series.

I'm mainly talking about the glamorousness of it, more so than the actual styles of dress. We'll see where Adriana comes up with. We definitely have some formal clothing scenes and really dark crime scenes. I don't think it's going to feel like a comic from the 1940s but it will have some of those touches.

Who else can we expect Eel O'Brian to cross paths with?

First of all, nobody knows that Eel O'Brian is Plastic Man. The Justice League, the bad guys don't know, no one knows. And he ends up finding out that a group of the smartest super villains in the world have gotten together. And no one believes him. They just think he's bonkers. Basically it's up to him to stop this group from world domination.

So just imagine the smartest villains in the DCU and you can probably come up with some of the cast members of this story (laughs), as well as some new characters that I've created too, including one in particular that I'm completely in love with and I hope will stick around for awhile.

Is it nice to have a compact, finite story tell in a six-issue miniseries, as opposed to doing an ongoing monthly?

It is really nice but the truth is, even when I'm doing a monthly there are arcs and mini-arcs and there are things going on. It's just that I didn't want to leave too many things dangling at the end of this story. Whereas if I'm doing a monthly book, I can leave dangling things everywhere and balls in the air that I can pick up later.

You're working again with Adriana. She's been your partner before. Aaron Lopresti, your Wonder Woman/Conan artist, is doing the first cover. Are there other artists doing variant covers that you can tell us about?

As soon as people found out this book existed, artists wanted to draw covers. So there are quite a few top names doing covers for us. DC is keeping some as a surprise but each issue will have a different variant cover from a different artist.

[Note: at this point, a DC Comics rep interrupts us to reveal that the artist behind the first issue variant is Amanda Conner, something Gail herself didn't know]

I didn't even know about Amanda doing a cover, so that's a pleasant surprise. And I love Amanda's sense of humor so this is going to be good!

You have all six issues already written, which means your work is done with Plastic Man…or is it? What do you plan to follow this up with, perhaps another story with Eel O'Brian?

We, uh, we aren't saying anything right now (laughs).

Plastic Man from Gail Simone and Adriana Melo debuts in June from DC Comics.