Elongated Man

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Elongated Man
Elongated Man.jpg
Interior artwork from JLA: Secret Origins 1 (December, 2003 DC Comics). Art by Alex Ross.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance The Flash vol. 1, #112 (May 12, 1960).
Created by John Broome (writer) and Carmine Infantino (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Randolph William "Ralph" Dibny
Team affiliations Justice League
Doom Patrol
Black Lantern Corps
Partnerships Sue Dibny
Flash (Barry Allen)
Abilities Superior deductive reasoning
Finite ability to stretch and shape his body
Enhanced agility, and olfactory sense
Greatly enhanced durability
Talented chemist

The Elongated Man (Randolph "Ralph" Dibny) is a fictional character, a superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He is a member of three incarnations of the Justice League. His first appearance was in The Flash vol. 1, #112 (May 12, 1960).[1]

The character has won and been nominated for several awards over the years, including winning the 1961 Alley Award for Best Supporting Character.

Ralph Dibny / Elongated Man is played by Hartley Sawyer on The Flash, starting in the fourth season.

Publication history[edit]

Elongated Man was created by writer John Broome and penciler Carmine Infantino, with significant input from editor Julius Schwartz, who wanted a new supporting character for the Flash. Despite the acknowledgement that Schwartz did not realize DC owned the name Plastic Man (acquired in 1956 along with other Quality Comics properties), Infantino and inker Murphy Anderson stated that he never used him as a reference for anything.[2][3][4]

Elongated Man received a solo backup feature in Detective Comics, where he was redefined as a detective who loves odd mysteries and travels the United States in a convertible with his wife, searching for them. Sometimes they would travel the world or meet other DC superheroes like Batman, Green Lantern, the Atom and Zatanna. This feature became sporadic during the late '60s and throughout the '70s. However, in 1973, he became a member of the Justice League of America, and he is mostly seen in that title from 1973 to 1995.

Fictional character biography[edit]

As a teenager, Ralph Dibny was fascinated by contortionists, or people who displayed feats of agility and suppleness. He learned that all of the body-benders he spoke with drank a popular soda called "Gingold." Ralph set to work learning chemistry and developed a super-concentrated extract of the rare "gingo" fruit of the Yucatan, which gave him his elasticity.[1] In his first appearance, the Flash suspects the Elongated Man is behind several crimes, but the Elongated Man helps capture the criminals, who reveal they used a helicopter to frame him.

Ralph Dibny was one of the earliest Silver Age DC heroes to reveal his secret identity to the public, and also one of the first to marry his love interest. After teaming up with several other superheroes like Batman, Green Lantern, the Atom, Zatanna and the Justice League of America, he became a member of the team. Eventually, his wife became a member as well. The couple was also notable in having a stable, happy, and relatively trouble-free marriage—an anomaly in the soap operatic annals of super hero comic books.

Identity Crisis[edit]

Ralph Dibny played a central role in the events of Identity Crisis, with the main arc of the series revolving around the DC Universe's response to the murder of Sue Dibny. The healthy, stable relationship between Ralph and Sue, and the events that led to and resulted from her death, were used as primary narrative devices throughout the series for examining the respective personal relationships of other JLA and JSA members (and to a lesser extent, members of the supervillain community).

The effect of Sue's death on Ralph (compounded by the fact that Sue was apparently pregnant at the time of her death) would come to shape his character significantly in the events following Identity Crisis, eventually culminating at the end of the weekly series 52.

Ralph and Sue appeared as members of the Justice League offshoot the Super Buddies in the miniseries Formerly Known as the Justice League and its sequel story arc "I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League" published in JLA: Classified #4-9. The latter arc was produced before Identity Crisis but published afterwards. A running joke in "I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League" involves the possibility of Sue's pregnancy.

52[edit]

In the 2006 weekly series 52, a grief-stricken Ralph Dibny is contemplating suicide when he is informed that Sue's gravestone has been vandalized[5] with an inverted version of Superman's 'S' symbol—the Kryptonian symbol for resurrection. He confronts Cassandra Sandsmark,[6] and she tells Dibny that she is in a cult that believes that Superboy can be resurrected. She steals Ralph's wedding ring after the cult members try to drown Ralph.[7]

During Week 11, after scaring some cult members and chasing them off, he gets a report that someone broke into a storage container in Opal City and stole Sue's clothes.[8] In Week 12, Ralph finds Wonder Girl and she tells him they stole the clothes and ring to make a Sue dummy. She invites him to the ceremony.[9]

During Week 13, Ralph goes to the ceremony. Metamorpho, Green Arrow, Zauriel, and Hal Jordan come with him. Despite his initial agreement, Dibny and his friends disrupt the ceremony, but the effigy of Sue crawls to Dibny and calls out to him as it burns; Dibny suffers a nervous breakdown as a result.[10]

During Week 18, other members of the Croatoan Society: Detective Chimp, Terri Thirteen, and Edogawa Sangaku find Tim Trench dead with the helmet of Doctor Fate, Nabu. Ralph comes to investigate and asks for help from Shadowpact, Detective Chimp's other group. A voice from within the helm of Doctor Fate, unheard by the other members of the group, speaks to Dibny and promises to fulfill his desires if he makes certain sacrifices.[11] Dibny journeys with the helm through the afterlives of several cultures, where he is cautioned about the use of magic.[volume & issue needed]

During Week 27, the Spectre promises to resurrect Sue in exchange for Dibny's taking vengeance on Jean Loring, but Dibny is unable to do so.[12]

During Week 32, Ralph ventures to Nanda Parbat and gets into a fight with the Yeti. The Perfect Accomplished Physician comes to the rescue. Both he and the Yeti are members of the Great Ten, defenders of China. At Nanda Parbat, Rama Kushna tells Dibny, "The end is already written".[13]

During week 42, Dibny is in Dr. Fate's tower. He begins the spell to resurrect Sue, puts on the helmet of Fate, and shoots it, revealing Felix Faust, who was posing as Nabu. Faust planned to trade Dibny's soul to Neron in exchange for his own freedom. Ralph reveals that he was aware of Faust's identity for some time, and that the binding spell surrounding the tower is designed to imprison Faust, not to counter any negative effects of the spell. Neron appears and kills Dibny, only to realize too late that the binding spell responds only to Dibny's commands: Through his death Ralph has trapped Faust and Neron in the tower, seemingly for eternity, though his methods of doing so are unknown.[14] His spirit is later seen reunited with his wife.[15] However, Neron (who is, after all, the Devil) is able to escape almost immediately. During the Black Adam Dark Ages miniseries, Faust is shown to escape with the help of Black Adam and a resurrected Isis, who is under Faust's mental control. These events take place just prior to Countdown, indicating that Faust had only been there for a few weeks.[volume & issue needed]

At the end of Week 52 it is revealed that Dibny's magical, wish-granting gun (a souvenir from "The Anselmo Case", a reference to The Life Story of the Flash), worked—Ralph's last wish was to be reunited with his wife, even in death—and that Ralph and Sue are now reunited as ghost detectives, investigating a school where a paranormal phenomenon has just occurred.[1]

One Year Later[edit]

In Blue Beetle #16, Traci 13 mentioned that she had been taken in by Ralph and Sue after her mother died.

In the 2007-08 Black Adam miniseries Dark Ages, it is shown that Ralph's remains are still inside Fate's Tower when Teth-Adam asks Faust if his deal to trick Dibny had worked. Ralph's skeleton is used by Faust to create the illusion that Adam's attempt at resurrecting Isis had failed.

In Batman and the Outsiders #5, it is revealed (after appearing unknown in the previous two issues) that Ralph and Sue have gained or discovered the ability to possess human bodies, like the ability of Boston Brand, AKA Deadman.

Reign in Hell[edit]

Ralph and Sue, in their ghostly forms, appear before Doctor Occult with news of the war brewing in Hell. Sent by Giovanni Zatara, who as a member of the Hell Resistance Movement hopes to take advantage of the war, they ask Doctor Occult to aid him in his plan. They then dissipate and leave him to make his decision.[16]

Blackest Night[edit]

In Blackest Night #0, Ralph and Sue Dibny's graves are shown during Black Hand's chant. At the end of the issue (in the promotional profile image of the Black Lantern Corps) his hand is easily identifiable as popping out of its grave. Ralph and Sue's corpses are revealed as having been reanimated as Black Lanterns, attacking Hawkman and Hawkgirl; Ralph beating Hawkman with his mace before ripping out Hawkman's heart.[17] Next, they are seen in Gotham City with the Black Lanterns Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Firestorm preparing to kill the Flash and Green Lantern.[18] He and Sue are both turned to ash when the Indigo Tribe destroys their rings.[19] In the final battle, the Flash looks around to see if Ralph and Sue were among those resurrected by the White Entity only to be told by Green Lantern they were not coming back.[20]

The New 52[edit]

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, Ralph Dibny is apparently a rogue member of the Secret Six, under the alias of Damon Wells a.k.a. Big Shot, reporting to the Riddler who in this incarnation of the team serves as "Mockingbird."[21] After having reunited with his wife, Dibny makes his return as the costumed Elongated Man in Secret Six #12.

Powers and abilities[edit]

The Elongated Man gets his abilities from a combination of drinking a refined version of a soft drink named Gingold that contains the extract of a (fictional) fruit called gingo and his natural latent metahuman physiology. The extract interacts with a latent gene that Ralph has, thus activating his super powers. It was revealed in Invasion #3 that it was a metagene reaction to the Gingold elixir that had always provided him with his stretching powers, meaning that he is, in fact, a metahuman and that an ordinary human would not develop such powers through ingesting the extract. Also, most people are extremely allergic to highly concentrated Gingold. The only other hero in the DCU who uses Gingold is Stretch, a member of Hero Hotline who has been using the compound since the 1940s.

As his name suggests, the Elongated Man can stretch his limbs and body to super-human lengths and sizes. These stretching powers grant the Elongated Man heightened agility enabling flexibility and coordination that is beyond the natural limits of the human body. He can contort his body into various positions and sizes impossible for ordinary humans, such as being entirely flat so that he can slip under a door, or using his fingers to pick conventional locks. He can also use it for disguise by changing the shape of his face, although this is painful and difficult for him. Ralph's physiology has greater physical limitations than Plastic Man; there is a limit to how far he can stretch his finite bodily mass, and he cannot open holes in his body as Plastic Man can.

The Elongated Man's powers also greatly augment his durability. He is largely able to withstand corrosives, punctures and concussions without sustaining injury. It has been demonstrated that he is resistant to high velocities that would kill an ordinary person and that he is also more resistant to blasts from energy weapons that would kill ordinary humans. His physiology is more like that of an ordinary human than Plastic Man and as a result he does not share Plastic Man's nigh invulnerability.

In addition to his stretching abilities, Elongated Man is professionally trained as a detective and is highly skilled in deductive reasoning. Often considered one of the most brilliant detectives in the DC Universe (compared with Batman only differing in the actual course of their logic). He is a talented amateur chemist as well. A meta-side-effect of his powers coupled with his detective skills is enhanced olfactory sense, allowing him to "smell" when something is "not right", or if a clue or mystery is at hand. This results in a rubbery "nose twitch". Firehawk once told Ralph that Green Arrow said the nose twitch was not a real thing but rather something he made up to get more press. Elongated Man responded by telling her that Green Arrow's hat covers a bald spot.

Other versions[edit]

Kingdom Come[edit]

In Kingdom Come, when Superman comes out of retirement and re-establishes the Justice League, Batman recruits Ralph Dibny to become part of his faction. They infiltrate Lex Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front and once they discover that Luthor is brainwashing Captain Marvel, they attack and incarcerate the MLF members.

The Dark Knight Strikes Again[edit]

In Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Dibny is mentioned as a man in a bar who was reminiscing about the Silver Age and when he heard mention of Batman, his face sagged and his jaw dropped to the floor. Later Dibny is seen hawking a "male enhancement" drink "Gingold" in a TV infomercial. He is then recruited to aid Batman in his attack against the American government (taken over by Lex Luthor). He retains his rivalry with Plastic Man as well as his friendship with Barry Allen and Oliver Queen.

JLA/Avengers[edit]

Elongated Man appears in the third issue of JLA/Avengers, replacing Plastic Man after the merging of the DC and Marvel Universes.

Justice League Unlimited[edit]

Elongated Man has appeared in the Justice League Unlimited spin-off comic book.

Countdown to Final Crisis[edit]

Recently the Ralph Dibny of Earth-51, where secret identities are no longer needed by superheroes, has been seen in Countdown to Final Crisis.[22] He is subsequently killed by the Monitor of New Earth, Bob.[23]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Live-action[edit]

  • Hartley Sawyer portrays Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man on The Flash.[24] The character was originally credited as deceased due to Eobard Thawne's particle accelerator explosion in season one but the death was erased by the timeline being reset following the Flashpoint timeline and personally appears in season four.[25] This version was a police detective until Barry Allen discovered that he had committed perjury and he was removed from the force. As a private investigator, Ralph winds up specializing in infidelity cases. His permanent elastic powers manifest after Team Flash open up the Speed Force to free Barry. The breach was in front of a city bus Ralph was riding on, exposing the passengers to dark matter and transforming them into metahumans due to the Thinker's machinations. Upon discovery of Ralph's powers, Barry takes him to S.T.A.R. Labs where Caitlin Snow helps him take control of his elastic powers. Deciding to give Ralph a second chance after hearing Dibny only planted evidence because he was certain that the suspect was guilty but couldn't prove it, Barry adds him to the S.T.A.R. Labs team and works with him to help become a superhero. Cisco Ramon creates a special, unadorned costume for him to use. Ralph debuts as a solo superhero while Barry is in prison after being framed for Clifford DeVoe's murder, and is at first nicknamed "Stretchy Man" before appearing in his new costume and being dubbed Elongated Man in a misunderstanding with the press. Unlike the comics, he later learns that he can morph his appearance into any person he focused on being, including having their voice and changing his skin colour, posing as DeVoe's original form (Neil Sandilands) to arrange for Barry to be released from prison,[26] and later as Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) to help Barry. He is seemingly killed in the episode when DeVoe's mind is transferred into Dibny's body. However, Barry later discovers Dibny is alive and trapped inside of the Thinker's mind and kept alive as DeVoe will cease to exist without him, allowing Barry to help Dibny regain control of his body. When DeVoe's banished consciousness activates a 'dead man's switch' on Central City, Elongated Man helps Team Flash getting the civilians out of harm's way.

Animation[edit]

Elongated Man (left) alongside Booster Gold (right) and Skeets (background) in Justice League Unlimited.
  • The Elongated Man makes his first television appearance in several episodes of Justice League Unlimited, voiced by Emmy-winner Jeremy Piven (Judgement Night). Although he appears in numerous episodes as a background character, he has only three episode with speaking roles. In "The Greatest Story Never Told", he is one of the members to help in the battle against Mordru, although he is put on crowd control (along with Booster Gold) to his disappointment as the Green Lantern told him that Plastic Man was already fighting Mordru and that they did not 'need two stretchy guys'. As they were on crowd control, he complains to Booster Gold about his position. This soon annoys Booster Gold, with Elongated Man saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Wonder Woman then appears and says that the team needs Elongated Man's help. He willingly follows Wonder Woman to the fight, much to Booster Gold's disappointment. Although the episode goes on to follow Booster Gold's attempt to stop a black hole, Elongated Man (off-screen) had devised a plan to defeat Mordru and the team is shown praising him. As he is helping clean up the mess in the city, Booster Gold walks past him alongside Dr. Tracy Simmons, saying 'Squeaky wheel, buddy. Squeaky wheel.'. In "The Ties That Bind", Elongated Man and the Flash (Wally West) express concern about the fact that some other members of the Justice League don't show them enough respect. Flash asks Elongated Man if Flash seems immature. Elongated Man replies 'Not in the least' as they are shown playing Brawlin' Bots (a parody of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots). In "Clash", Elongated Man's powers are stolen by Parasite to use to nearly defeat Metamorpho and Batman before Captain Marvel's timely intervention. After Parasite's defeat, Elongated Man notices Captain Marvel blushing and says not to be modest as he thinks Superman couldn't have done a better job, saying 'We were just talking about [Superman]' to the Man of Steel.
  • The Elongated Man appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Sean Donnellan. This version possesses shape-shifting abilities. In the teaser of the episode "Journey to the Center of the Bat", he works with Plastic Man and Batman to stop Baby Face, using his shape-shifting abilities to pass himself off as Baby Face to fool Baby Face's henchmen. The two ductile metahumans constantly bicker on who is the better partner to Batman. Batman later gives the truth: The Dark Knight prefers to work alone between them. Elongated Man is also shown in an image with Batman in the episode "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases" along with Detective Chimp, the Question and Martian Manhunter. Additionally, Elongated Man appears in a non-speaking cameo in the two-part episode "The Siege of Starro!", first appearing alongside the heroes possessed by Starro and later among the heroes that have already broken free of Starro's mind control.
  • The Elongated Man appears in Mad, voiced by Ralph Garman. He joins the other superheroes in a musical number that asks Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman about being called "Super Friends". In his part, Elongated Man stated that he was strapped for cash and asking Superman for money seems to be Kryptonite.

Film[edit]

  • An evil version dubbed Extruded Man appears as a member of the Crime Syndicate of America in the animated film Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths as one of the Owlman's men (originally one of the henchmen of the parallel Earth Martian Manhunter) who face the Justice League. He was caught by Flash, who runs around the place to tie him up on pillars and building structures. Then the Flash teases him with a flick of his elongated body with a rubber sound.
  • In the animated film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Elongated Man is mentioned to have been murdered in the Flashpoint universe and was known as Elongated Kid.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Beatty, Scott (2008), "Elongated Man", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 114, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017 
  2. ^ Amash, Jim (2010). Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher, Provocateur. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 978-1605490250. [Jim Amash]: Was there any discussion about Plastic Man when you did 'The Elongated Man' with Julie? [Carmine Infantino]: No, he never mentioned him. 
  3. ^ Harvey, R.C. (2003). The Life and Art of Murphy Anderson. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 150. ISBN 978-1893905214. Not knowing that DC owned these old Quality characters—and Julie'll deny it, I guess, and say they wanted to do something different—but they came up with the Elongated Man instead of Plastic Man, and they came up with the Atom instead of Doll Man. They could have resurrected either of these two characters ... [b]ut the whole concept of Plastic Man would have escaped them. It's just crazy humor, and it needs someone who really understands that stuff. 
  4. ^ "Elongated Man". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on June 17, 2016. Retrieved 2011-04-25. ...editor Julius Schwartz later said that if he'd known DC owned the name 'Plastic Man' (which it had acquired when Quality Comics, Plas's publisher, sold its properties to DC in 1956), he'd never have chosen such an unwieldy name for his own character. 
  5. ^ 52 Week One (May 10, 2006)
  6. ^ 52 Week Two (May 17, 2006)
  7. ^ 52 Week Four (May 31, 2006)
  8. ^ 52 Week Eleven (July 19, 2006)
  9. ^ 52 Week Twelve (July 26, 2006)
  10. ^ 52 Week Thirteen (August 2, 2006)
  11. ^ 52 Week Eighteen (September 6, 2006)
  12. ^ 52 Week Twenty-Seven (November 8, 2006)
  13. ^ 52 Week Thirty-Two (December 13, 2006)
  14. ^ 52 Week Forty-Two (February 21, 2007)
  15. ^ 52 Week Fifty-Two (May 2, 2007)
  16. ^ Reign in Hell #1 (September, 2008)
  17. ^ Blackest Night #1 (July 2009)
  18. ^ Blackest Night #2 (August 2009)
  19. ^ Blackest Night #3 (September 2009)
  20. ^ Blackest Night #8 (May 2010)
  21. ^ Secret Six #3 (June 2015)
  22. ^ Countdown to Final Crisis #18
  23. ^ Countdown to Final Crisis #17
  24. ^ "The Flash Casts Its Elongated Man To The Season 4". Comic Book. July 31, 2017. Retrieved July 31, 2017. 
  25. ^ "The Flash: About that Ralph Dibny reference in season 1..." Entertainment Weekly. October 31, 2017. Retrieved March 29, 2018. 
  26. ^ http://comicbook.com/dc/2018/01/31/the-flash-season-4-episode-13-true-colors-preview/

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