Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The top 20+ Rubbery Rivals of Ralph

This is my top whatever list of stretchers. Ralph could take a thing or two from some of them. For instance Dhalsim and Luffy really make stretchy fighting look menacing and I love the way Mrs. Incredible moves.
The rationale is a combination of overall popularity, originality, and fame as stretchers; but I went by feeling.

23. Parallel Elongated Men

The Elongated Man has several doubles from other dimensions of the DC Universe, so I decided to give them a spot. Among the most differently notorious, there are Elong-Gator, Elasti-Man, and his animated equivalent, the Extruded Man.
22. 'Tec #310's Rubber India Man
Bat-mite's creation. He only lasted one issue with those powers. He looked almost exactly like Ralph, who was already created when this guy first appeared.

21. Elongated Kid
This new character, a 16 years old boy named Ethan Kramer, is an Elongated man legacy-- that debuted already murdered in Geoff Johns' Flash, vol. 3 #9. Let's see where that goes. Frankly, I wish nowhere. I'm not much of a fan of child heroes or legacies. Which reminds me...

Honorable mention: Billy Warner

Although not officially, this character was the original "Elongated Kid". He didn't have stretching powers, but he is Ralph's #1 fan. He is also the closest thing to an Elongated Man recurring character (with 3 appearances).

20. Poly-man
Alan Moore's tribute to the Elongated Man and Plastic Man. He was just a background character.
19. The Elongated Evildoer

Actually, a hoax. But a classic Elongated Man story.

18. Malleable Man

A one-note villain who got Plas' powers and fought him along with Ralph, Elastic Lad and Superman. 

17. The Stretch Armstrong supporting characters: Stretch X-Ray, Evil X-ray Wretch Armstrong, Stretch Monster, Stretch Ollie & Stretch Olivia, Fetch Armstrong, and Vac-man.
 These characters kept elongating the Stretch Armstrong franchise throughout the years. The might get a bump from the upcoming movie.

16. Rubberband man
Adam Evans is the Elongated Man to Static's Flash in various senses. He's a purple wearing stretcher who started as a villain (although Ralph wasn't actually a villain).

15. Stretch Dude
Bart Simpson gets stretching powers in a Treehouse of Horror special. He's friggin' Bart Simpson, so he gets a decent spot. 

14. Elongated Woman
Actually a fake stretcher, but since she's Sue, she deserves some attention in this post.

13. Offspring
Plastic Man's kid. He's actually more powerful than his father, since he can also change colors. 

12. Monkey D. Luffy
Ok, this one should rank at least 3 spots  higher, but I don't like cheesy japanimation, the character design is really fugly and it's my freaking list, so, screw him. Luffy from One Piece, a Japanese comic series turned animated series is a nice showcase of a ductile fighter and its creator was also very practical in explicitly establishing that the fruit also enhanced strength and resistance (needed for the stretchability to really work),  I'll admit that much.
Also interesting is that, like the Elongated Man, he also got his powers from a fruit, in this case one called "gumu gomu". As shockingly revealed in Bat-Manga: The Secret Story of Batman in Japan, after the sensation produced by the Batman 60s show, a Japanese series was created. What few people know is that the Elongated man also made it to that incarnation and a number of his Detective Comics features were adapted there, and get this: his Japanese name was "Gomu Ningen" (Gum Man). Gomu, as in Gomu Gomu, the fruit that causes the same effect as the Gingo elixir. How odd is that!

11. The Metal Men
Well, they are not rubbery at all, but they are definitively ductile and malleable. Their other abilities often distract from the fact that they are also stretchers. Like Ralph, these guys (robots, actually) are lighthearted DC silver age classics.

10. Professor Impossible
This Mr. Fantastic parody got ahead in my book by being a. a recurring Venture Bros. character and b. originally voiced by none other than Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A.

9. Metamorpho
He stretches. His shapeshifting goes as far as actually becoming what he looks like, changing the chemical composition of his body.

8. The Martian Manhunter
Being a full shape shifter the fact that he stretches is not that notorious, and having so many other powers, he's rarely portrayed stretching. He's one of the most famous elastic guys, but that situation prevents him to right higher in this list.

7. Elasti-Girl
Like all of the Doom Patrollers -- she's weird. She doesn't have the type of powers you would expect from a character named "Elasti-girl"; however she's technically a stretcher too.

6. Dhalsim 
Dhalsim, of Street Fighters II popularity, is the first really popular actual India rubber man. The game was huge in the early 90s.   

5. Mrs. Incredible / Elastigirl
Disney-Pixar exposure goes a long way, and the fact that she made the best animated showcase of elastic powers only improves her case.

4. Elastic Lad 
Jimmy is popular, but his time as the Elastic Lad not so much. Still, he's the original stretcher (keep in mind that Plas is more like a shape shifter), so he gets a high rank.

3. Mr. Fantastic 
Probably the most popular stretcher. However, his popularity is mostly due to his team and being the brains of it. He didn't break any ground, so he gets spot #3. Also noteworthy, Reed is the second stretcher genius with a public identity, a wife named Sue and a name starting with R.

2. Stretch Armstrong
This guy probably ties with Mr. Fantastic in popularity. He's the first stretcher I can remember. I actually has the toy. I didn't know it was mine, since my parents kept in in a closet and never formally gifted it to me. I broke it, put it in its box and somehow was fixed by the next time I took it out. I was really amazed. Lots of TV exposure, merchandising since the late 70s and upcoming movie. I think DC missed the boat with that toy, they should have tried to place their properties (Eel and Ralph) to get a bit of that action. Even more, they should still try to do a Stretch Armstrong / DC stretchers line. 

1. Plastic Man
Papa Eel started it all. He might not actually be the most popular, but he's probably the most influential. After the Jack Cole run he faded. DC has been trying to revive him with little success, but there have been a couple of great miniseries and was part of one of the best JLA runs.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How about that new header?

 I finally fixed the header mess, and I'm quite pleased with the new look. I  was delaying it because I don't have Adobe Cs4 or whatever the number is, but I had the hunch that there must be some online photo editing service, and I was right. I used which is not excellent (you can lose your work if you accidentally go a page back) but it did the trick.

I decided to go with the font that I thought was the closest to the 80s "EM" logo. As I did with the rest of the blog design, I and used the colors of that uniform. The only exception I've been using is the really dark gray, which kinda fits, anyway.

I'm not sure the word blog makes sense there (English is nt my first language).

I hope you enjoy it.

The blog's new logo.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Many Names of Randolph W. Dibny

For a superhero with no secret identity, the Ralph has many aliases. I thought it might be fun to make a list:

  • Randolph William Dibny - His birthname.
  • Ralph Dibny - This is the way he formally introduces himself.
  • The Elongated Man - Originally a secret identity, this is his name as a superhero and as an entertainer. He often introduces himself as "the World-famous Elongated Man.
  • The Molder - A temporary alter ego he adopted when an expirated gingo elixir messed with his mind.
  • The Stretchable Sleuth - Informal nickname.
  • The Ductile Detective - Another informal nickname.
  • The Malleable Marvel -  You guessed it: yet another informal nickname. 
  • L'Homme Étendu - The way people call him in France.
  • El Hombre Elástico - "Elastic Man", the way some Spanish speaking countries call him.
  • El Hombre Elongado - The way the other Spanish speaking countries call him.
  • Rafael Rivas - For some reason, some Spanish publishers changed his name to that.
  • Homem Elástico - The way Portuguese speaking countries call him.  
  • ゴム人間 ("Gomu Ningen": Gum Man or Gum Human Being) - Ralph's manga name! (That's Japan). This was discovered by Bcbdla from the DC Comics Message boards.
Here are a couple of scans India Ink made from Chip Kidd's book. I think the art was done by Jiro Kuwata, although I suspect that I'm wrong. As noted by India Ink himself, and hinted by the portrayal of Billy Warner and his prize, the Elongated Man story might be an adaptation, reprint or (even better) tie-in of 'tec #335 "Breakup the Bottleneck Gang!.
  • Elastoman - Can you guess? That's right, it's German.
Oh, and I almost forgot. Some people write his surname "Dibney". He was meant to be called "Ralph Disney", but Julius Schwartz had a cold that day.

I gotta check if Sue has special names for him. As for her, she's Susan "Sue" Dearbon Dibny, she briefly used the alias "Elongated Woman", people often call her Sue "Dearborn" and I guess that she'd be Susana Rivas in some Spanish translations (am I right?).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Showcase Presents: The Elongated Man, vol. 1

Believe it or not, there was no Elongated Man trade until 2006's Showcase Presents: The Elongated Man, vol. 1 (don't wait up for the color version). The good:
  • 559 pages of Elongated goodness in 52 stories.
  • The lack of coloring Joe Giella, Sid Greene and Carmine Infantino's wonderful ink work.
  • You get the full Elongated Man 101.
The bad:
  • The lack of color is a bit tiresome. The impact is not the same.
  • The Table of contents is a mess.
  • No foreword, articles, annotations.
  • The cover is ruined with the "Over 500 pages of Comics!" crap.
  • It's missing about 30 stories and we have not seen volume 2 after 5 years.
Since I didn't get JLE, I only new Ralph as the stretchy guy in the superhero crowds of the early 90s. After the Super Buddies miniseries, Identity Crisis and 52 I was hooked on Gingold. Europe '92 was mostly a disappointment, and even though there was no color trade I decided to give Ralph a second chance with Showcase Presents and I've never regretted it. I have to admit that it's a decent introduction that doesn't go hard on the pocket. After that I've been collecting the rest of the Elongated Man material issue by issue.

When it comes to Carmine Infantino's art, I always say the same: flawless. By the different art styles, you can tell how much was up to the inkers back then. save for the last 15 stories, all the art was done by Infantino, and yet, some of that look really different. Joe Giella is really neat, Infantino (who did some inking) is very scratchy (but not any less appealing) and Sid Greene is somewhere in between. Carmine's sense of fashion and design is something most artists, including modern ones could only wish to have (Cooke and Sale come close to it, though). When Sid Greene does the pencilling as well, the stories look a bit funnier. Other artists include Murphy Anderson (who also did some of the inking in the Carmine issues), Irv Novick,  Neil Adams, Gil Kane and Mike Sekowsky (recognize any names?).

Same artist, different inker. Note: this images are from the original publications, the Showcase doesn't have color.

The writing and editing in all is done by the guys who revived the super hero genre in the late 50s: John Broome, Gardner Fox and editor Julius Schwartz. Back then stories were mostly for kids. They are very naive, might present huge deal events as if it was nothing and introduce every single aspect (nowadays editors do the opposite, which is a lot worse). It's not the type of trade you read in a couple of hours, but something you calmly enjoy during 10 minutes every day. The great and now late Dwayne McDuffie once told me that, since younger generations are only trained to read post modern comics, we're bound to have some troubles with silver and golden age stuff. If you are not used to silver age story telling, be patient, you'll get there at no time. And it's really worth it, these guys are the source of many mind-blowing stories by Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Space-Boomerang Trap!

Cover of Flash #124, The Space-Boomerang Trap!, the second in which Ralph appears.

Title: "The Space Boomerang Trap!"
Issue: The Flash No. 124
Date: November 1961
Format: 16-page main feature.
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Writer: John Broome
Penciller:Carmine Infantino
Inker: Joe Giella
Main characters: The Flash (last seen in Justice League of America #7), the Elongated Man (4th appearance, last seen in The Flash #119).
Supporting Characters: Sue Dibny (2nd appearance, last seen in The Flash #119).
Villains: Captain Boomerang (2nd appearance, last seen in The Flash #117), interdimensional alien invaders (1st and only).
Setting: Central City, a "super-scientific dimension adjoining ours" (true story), somewhere with a beach.
Stolen Item: The Crown Jewels of Normark.
Mystery: How did Captain Boomerang steal the Crown Jewels while witnessing the crime?
Method: They just caught the boomerang. 
This is the first time:
  • The Elongated Man saves the Flash.
  • The Elongated Man fights Captain Boomerang or any Flash rogue.
The Space-Boomerang Trap! I love how silver age stories emphasize every title with exclamation marks! And you can't put a price on the weird combination of elements that somehow represent a treat to the heroes: It's a trap (a) that consist of a boomerang (b) that travels through space (c).  On top of that, on the cover, we have the Flash tied to a giant boomerang. Only during the silver age! It's actually not that bad considering that nowadays' "realism" can become a bit tiresome. These days, it takes Grant Morrison to make a silly premise like that a mind-blowing concept.

Anywho... the subject of this post is Flash #124, "The Space-Boomerang Trap!". It's the 4th appearance of the Elongated Man, the second appearance of Captain Boomerang (his first was Flash #117) and about the 50th appearance of Flash (counting second features). It is also the third of what I call the "alien trilogy" or "era" and the first of what I call "the rogue's gallery series". As I explained before, after his debut in Flash #112, the next three appearances of Elongated Man, issues 115, 119 and this one, 124, the red and purple duo fight alien menaces. After this one, Ralph won't fight this kind of threats until his first Justice League case (if I'm not mistaken).

This is a transition story, while the last of the alien fighting series, it's the first out of four ones in which Elongated Man teams-up with Flash to defeat returning villains:
  • Captain Boomerang in this issue, 
  • the Weather Wizard in #130, 
  • Captain Cold in #134, 
  • and the Pied Piper II in #138. 
Save Captain Cold, all of them are facing alone Flash for the second time; so, it's pretty much a re-frying formula. Returning villains with Elongated man as a variable.

Another important aspect of The Space-Boomerang Trap! is that it marks the first time Ralph goes to aid the Flash an not the other way around. In Flash#112, they were rivals and team-up at the end; in #115, Ralph seeks the Flash's aid; and in #119, Flash rescues him. However, they all end up with team-ups in which they look equally effective. In this story, Flash writes the Elongated Man to update him on a Captain Boomerang case that he has not been able to crack. The criminal appears at exhibitions but a boomerang comes from elsewhere and takes the valuable objects. Since he can't fly, the Flash is not able to catch the boomerang.

After reading from Flash about the Captain Boomerang situation, Ralph decides that this case requires his talents.
Note that, although the Elongated Man has not been formally called a detective, we have a mystery drawing his attention. The Same can be said about The Elongated Man's Secret Weapon in Flash #115. Then again, this a conjecture that I'm making, but Flash, Batman, Superman and the other heroes were probably drawn to mysteries as well. Which is why my theory is that Ralph became a detective to fit Detective Comics, and most of his merits as one were being called so by the caption boxes. More on that in future posts.

Since the Elongated Man mentions that Flash usually leaves messages for him at the police headquarters whenever there's an emergency,  page 6 makes it official, we missed a lot of team-up adventures before the wedding. The same page is probably the first indication that Ralph loves the attention:

1. Flash makes a habit of leaving information for Ralph. 2. Ralph declares loving attention for the first time.

Once Ralph enters, the case is solved by the duo's combined talents. While a time and space traveling boomerang is a challenge for a speedster who can't fly, catching it takes almost no effort for somebody who can stretch 100 yards at "rocket speed", much less when he borrows impulse from Flash.

Thankfully, the story has a couple of twists that keep it going, as it turns out that the mysterious boomerang not only travels time and space, but also whatever the other one is called (for practical reasons, let's call it Bob), so it attracts the attention of extra-dimensional invaders. Freaking extra-dimensional invaders! Once again, with this story we get another example of how silver age writers had the habit of making the most extraordinary circumstances look ordinary. My guess is that it's storytelling style. The very same story would be shocking to modern readers if narrated with Grant Morrison's style. Well, maybe he'd cut out the fatigue guns, haha. I wonder from where did Broome get his sci-fi concepts.

The extra-dimensional invaders.
I didn't like the extra-dimensional invaders look individually, but they really look interesting when Carmine portrays them together.

This story also help me find out how come a villain like Captain Boomerang can be a match for the Flash. I like that he's capable to inventing a weapon that travels time, space and the other one.

I thought I wouldn't find much out from rereading this story, but it turns out I was wrong.  Next time I'll review Kid Flash Meets the Elongated Man!, the first story in which Wally teams-up with Ralph, a duo that would return in the Justice League Europe era.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Diabolu and the Justice League Detroit blog!

Author of numerous blogs, including The Idol-Head of Diabolu, a Martian Manhunter blog, The Flame of Py'tar,...nurgh..., Diana Prince: Wonder Woman, Crisis Building, Power of the Atom, and DC Bloodlines, Diabolu, my long lost music and movies taste twin from Texas (I think he's the evil one), has a blog that is all about Justice League Detroit, which, as you might know, is one of the three Justice League rosters that featured Ralph Dibny, the so-called (mostly by himself) "World-famous Elongated Man".

I'd actually be surprised if someone reading this blog never came across any of Diabolu's. He's one of the ultimate sources on Martian Manhunter trivia and his JL Detroit blog includes all you need to know about the motor city JLAers. He's currently dedicating himself to what, in centuries to come, will be universally known as "The Vixen Year" (dammit, it's never been Ralph's year since he stole it from the Flash in 1960!), so, you might want to give it a try and be part of such an historical event.

The Elongated Man's power control

When it comes to the Elongated man's powers, there's a lot of limitations to set a lot of details that were in specific stories and a lot that are implied. For instance, we know 100 yards is his limit (Detective Comics #344), because of an editor's note; and we know his stretching is super fast, because of a caption box specification (Flash #119). Those were specifications, but other capabilities are just shown:  we know he is super resistant to friction, because the Flash used him as a treadmill (Justice League of America #150); and we know he has some super strength, because he's able to lift and even juggle with 4 men by making his hands big. There are other abilities that can be inferred, for instance, if he can make a blanket out of himself , he can probably ride the winds; and if he can mold his face, he can probably tune his voice and senses and create voids to reproduce sounds with his body. Flash got a lot of secondary powers that way.

I'll dedicate this post to define Ralph's capabilities and limitations according to the stories, specifying the sources. You might want to check it every now and then, because I'll be updating it as I re-enjoy all the Elongated Man's stories.

  • Ralph is capable of lifting 2 men with each arm (Detective Comics #358). In Detective Comics #361 he also juggled a big man.
  • In Detective Comics #361 he holds seats with children in different parts of his body first as a human ferris wheel, and then as a human roller-coaster.
  • She can lift a person and carry him vertically (Flash #115) or horizontally while stretching without collapsing.

  • In Detective Comics #344, a caption box establishes that 100 yards is Ralph's stretching limit.
  • Detective Comics #331 showed that he can squeeze to pass through a keyhole and issue #337 that he can pass through the valve of a tire as well.

  • In Flash #252 Ralph demonstrated the never before seen capability of molding his face to look like other people. This power has rarely been displayed again; however, in Europe '92, he molded his hand to look like the head of a bulldog.
  • Ralph can resist Flash using him as a treadmill to run at light speed (Justice League of America #150).
  • Ralph is highly resistant to sonic attacks. In Justice League of America #258 he takes Vibe's "best" without trouble and in Europe '92 he grounds a sonic weapon attack.
  • While some stories have him getting knocked out (Detective Comics #572) or breaking an arm from stretching it too long (Justice League of America #211), both of which at least to me, sounds unreasonable, Justice League of America, vol. 2, #6, has Amazo using Ralph's powers to resist Hawkgirl slamming her mace halfway through his head. Which makes, since since Ralph has been able to stretch during all of his hero career without getting wrinkles or striae.
  • Detective Comics #337 showed that he can get inside a tire and survive a car ride there. Which implies that he can survive high temperatures.
Shrinking and expanding
  • In Batman #177, he grew twice his size evenly to look like a giant Batman. 
  • In Detective Comics #337 he shrank to fit inside a tire.

    Squeaky wheel: Elongated Man in Justice League Unlimited

    For an early silver ager featured in the companies flagship title (Detective Comics, mainly during most of the 60s), the Elongated Man has a terrible record in other media: not a single TV, radio or movie appearance during the 20th century! His first guest star role came with Justice League Unlimited, a popular series produced by Bruce W. Timm and the late and great Dwayne McDuffie, that featured a version of the League with 52 members operating from a satellite Watchtower. Ralph guest starred in:

    He also made several non speaking cameos:

    • Initiation
    • This Little Piggy
    • Dark Heart
    • The Once and Future Thing Part One: Weird Western Tales
    • Flashpoint
    • Shadow Of the Hawk
    • The Great Brain Robbery
    • Destroyer
    Ralph's voice was done by non other than one Jeremy Piven. And it suits him greatly. However, his speaking scenes barely amount to a bit more than 3 minutes. Luckily for fans, there's plenty of non-speaking cameos (so many that it seems unbelievable that he only spoke 3 min.). One of the most interesting ones has him fighting Khunds with Hawkgirl in Shadow of the Hawk. I loved the way his powers look in action.

    I can't help but wonder how come Mr. Piven bothered to participate in such a small role. I'm glad he did, though. The portrayal was very proper: he's a funny guy, but closer to Jerry Seinfeld than Jerry Lewis. I love that at least once he gets to save the day and I think it was funny that it was one of the biggest threats the Justice League ever faced (Mordru the Merciless, an evil wizard from the 30th Century) and that we still don't get to see exactly what he did.

    Ralph's design for Justice League Unlimited.
    I must confess that I don't have a favorite Elongated Man costume (there are four in the comics), but Bruce Timm's design comes really close to that. I suspect it has a lot of influence from Mr. Fantastic. I like that the purple and white border is not at the middle - that always looked weird in the comics for me, the collar was really needed, and I like what was done with the black, specially around the logo. However, I prefer the logo he used during the JLE years. He's the thinest and one of the tallest members of the league (the rest of the male characters have ridiculously enormous backs, chests and shoulders), which suits him well.

    The powers look fantastic with that design and animation; very neat. Too bad there was no scene to showcase him fast stretching (he's supposed to be able to do it at "rocket speed", according to Flash #119) or making giant fists.

    We don't get to learn much about his background in this version of the DC Universe; however, he mentions that he's mainly a detective, and he's just called Ralph by his co-workers, which means that this animated version doesn't use a secret identity either. He's seen talking or collaborating with characters he usually associated with in the comics, specially in the last two decades: Batman, Flash, Metamorpho, Fire and Booster Gold. He also mentions that he has been around longer than the Flash; now, since this cartoon is in the same continuity of Superman: The Animated Series, it means that he started working as a ductile detective some time before the Speed Demons episode, most likely, during the first season of that series.

    The sad part is that, in this series, there's no nose twitching and we don't get to see him solve a mystery. I love that series, but I wish they could have had episodes featuring the Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Zatanna and Firestorm before making the change from Justice League to Justice League Unlimited.

    A great thing about this appearances is that it also got him an action figure. The made him with the enormous chest that characterizes other characters in the series, but I still think it's fantastic. Mattel (which still has to get cracking with the long over due DC Universe Classics Ralph figures!) has also made a variant with the red uniform from the late 60s and 70s.

    "The squeaky wheel gets the grease, my friend". As you can see from the video I posted at the top, that's a line from the show. I think Elongated Man's fans should go by that motto to get DC and Warner to do stuff with him.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    The Elongated Man's Undersea Trap!

    Title: "The Elongated Man's Undersea Trap!"
    Issue: The Flash No. 119
    Date: March 1961
    Format: 14-page second and main feature.
    Editor: Julius Schwartz
    Writer: John Broome
    Penciller:Carmine Infantino
    Inker: Joe Giella
    Main characters: The Flash (40th appearance, last seen in The Flash #119 / 1), the Elongated Man (3rd appearance last seen in The Flash #115).
    Supporting Characters: Sue Dibny (1st appearance), Iris West.
    Villains: The Bredens (1st and only).
    Setting: Central City, somewhere at the Caribbean coast of a Central American country, Breda.
    Stolen Item: Ralph.
    Mystery: Where's Ralph?
    Method: Mere searching. 
    This is the first time:
    • The Elongated Man is established as a World-famous celebrity.
    • Sue appears.
    • Ralph and Sue are seen as a married couple.
    • Sue meets the Flash.
    • It becomes apparent that the Elongated Man gave his secret identity away.
    • The Flash saves the Elongated Man.
    This is the last issue I consider essential to understand Ralph's background and, again, a key element is only read between the lines. In the first panel of the story (second page), we see a news papper with the header "Elongated Man marries debutante Sue Dibny". We have 6 messages, 3 of them are developments and 4 of them are hidden between the lines. Let's see the image:

    So, we have that:
    1. The Elongated man marries Sue Dearbon.
    2. Sue is upper class.
    3. Sue is a young adult.
    4. The Elongated Man is famous enough for his wedding to make it to banner newspaper headliners. The caption indicates that's he's one of the country's most distinguished celebrities.
    5. His friendship with Flash grew to the point of making him his best man.
    6. Ralph gave away his secret identity (he cand marry with his Elongated Man identity as the news papers show.
          NOTE: This is Sue's first appearance.

    I think it's interesting that a character that would evolve to be DC's top detective after Batman has some "mysteries" in his origins.

    This story makes Ralph the first superhero to marry as well as the first to give up his secret identity (he probably did both things at the same time, which would also make him the first to do so). Various superheroes like the Flash, Hawkman, Batman (Earth-2),  the Atom, Red Tornado, Wonder Girl, and eventually, Clark, Ollie would follow his example.  The Atom follows it to the point of giving up his secret identity as well (this happens right after the Crisis). Additionally, the fact that this is Sue's first appearance, also makes the Elongated Man the first superhero to break the formula of keeping a troubling and endless romance on the side.  They will also remain a relatively drama-free marriage for the rest of their adventures.

    The past issue also established him as the first superhero to make a living out of his super powers, to do so as an entertainer, and to make a fortune out of it.

    I think all of what has been shown in these 3 stories makes him a pretty assertive guy: he goes for the super powers, he gets them; he goes for the fame and fortune, he gets it; goes for the debutante beauty, he gets her. Vini, vidi, vici. Compare that with poor repressed Barry and you won't wonder why he felt so jealous at first.

    There are some factors to Ralph giving up his secret identity:
    1. His civil identity wasn't developed (we don't get to see his job or daily life).
    2. Barry was constantly giving it away.
    3. He earned more money as the Elongated Man.
    4. He enjoyed more being the Elongated Man than Ralph.
    5. As established in future stories, he dated Sue as Elongated Man, not Ralph.
    The goofiest one is Barry repeating his real name in public (special thanks to Indiaink for helping me notice):
    "Wait, did I thought that or did I say it out loud?! Ahhhh"
    If you're a superhero, whatever you do, never, never tell your secret identity to Flash! I mean, it's almost deadpan comedy! The great and late Leslie Nielsen couldn't have screwed Ralph secret identity better. And to think Ralph didn't even tell Barry's identity to his own wife (who lived years among superheroes)!

    Barry will keep repeating Ralph's name like and oblivious goof during this and the following stories until the secret identity status is clarified by Julie. This was all obviously writing and editing mistakes (there are a lot of  clear thought balloon/speaking balloon mistakes in these issues), which leads me to believe that giving up his identity was a happy accident. This is Elongated Main's 3rd appearance; the status of his secret identity won't be specified until the 6th (and the specification is repeated in most of the stories after that). My theory is that the creative team realized that there was no secret identity anymore 3 issues after writing Barry as a clutz and after the Elongated Man married in his superhero identity. Again, stuff that somebody should be rushing to ask Carmine Infantino.

    I think what we missed would have made some dynamite pages; Flash and Elongated Man crashing Sue's debut, and a showman stealing her from the high class elite juniors would have been really cool to see. Deciding to give up his secret identity in his wedding would have also been a nice shock. 

    Interesting thing abut Sue: thanks to Infantino she had a great fashion sense even in her first panels (note that she changed clothes in the same scene).

    Oh, and I almost forgot! there's the rest of the story after that panel. Another "alien" story (the second of the "alien phase"). This time is the Bredans, a sub aquatic civilization that kidnap people to use as "kotas" (slaves). In this one Ralph doesn't do detective work of any sort, the story is basically about rescuing the Elongated Man from them (somehow, by no merit of his own, Barry doesn't lose his memory). I like that it's very "Twilight Zone" with a lot of pulp sci-fi vibe; a world in which fish fish men. The art is awesome as always. I love the Bredan's design and their tech (funny thing, they look aquatic, but they don't breathe water), too bad they don't become recurring characters after this story.
    The Bredans.

     This issue defines Ralph's stretching speed as rocket-like, which helps explain how come he did some stuff faster than flash in his first appearance.

    FINAL NOTE: The final caption of the story got me thinking about what might have been the Elongated Man's popularity like. I did a little researching in The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe and it turns out that up until he left Flash to get his own Detective Comics feature, he was the most recurring character after Iris and Wally. Not even the most recurring villains (Grodd and Cold) appeare as much as him.  

    The Elongated Man's Secret Weapon!

    Title: "The Elongated Man's Secret Weapon!"
    Issue: The Flash No. 115
    Date: September 1960
    Format: 12-page second feature.
    Editor: Julius Schwartz
    Writer: John Broome
    Penciller:Carmine Infantino
    Inker: Murphy Anderson
    Main characters: The Flash (31st appearance, last seen in The Flash #114), the Elongated Man (2nd appearance last seen in The Flash #112).
    Supporting Characters: Iris West.
    Villains: Barik, Kunar and he other alien invaders.
    Setting: Central City, the Yucatan jungle.
    McGuffin: A shrinking ray.
    Mystery: All the sentient beings of Yucatan were shrunk.
    Method: Mere spying and searching. 
    This is the first time:
    • The Elongated Man activities as an entertainer are mentioned.
    • Ralph is establishes as rich and famous.
    • The Elongated man travels to Yucatan.
    • The Elongated man fights alien invaders, and the first he does so with Flash.
    3 issues after his debut, the Elongated Man returns. Again, some of the most interesting stuff happened off panel, and is presented as nothing. By the end of Flash #112,  it is established that his fame as a superhero is matches that of Flash; however, there was no mention of his line of work. As far as we know he might be a chemist (taking in consideration that he did create a Gingo serum and a suit that stretches and shrinks as much as he does). Now, by the beginning of Flash #115, he's famous as an entertainer and made enough money to retire and travel around the world.

    We don't know if the performing began even before the events in Flash #112, we only know that he wasn't famous (even as a hero) to be acknowledged by Barry or Iris before it and that, as a hero, he became the obsession of newspapers during that issue. We also know that, once he became a TV and on stage performer, he must have put one hell of a show, since he made all that money in about a year (or less) and we have to consider that his retirement includes living in hotels and as we'll see in future issues, maintaining an expensive wife and even a kid (which he wanted to have).

    In the past adventure he revealed that he got his power by using chemical means to isolate the essence of the tropical fruit in the "Gingold" soft drink, which he noticed was the preferred of India rubber men (he was fascinated by them and "their secret" since childhood). What is great for me about this issue is that it elaborates on that mysterious fruit and it turns out it's called Gingo and it's from Yucatan, my own state.

    The odd part about that, is that this is the first time Ralph actually visits Yucatan; he did the serum without need to see the plant or even the fruit. Both issues establish that he got the elixir directly from the drink. We can guess he didn't have the money to do that kind of traveling back then. By the way, he's making he trip as the Elongated Man, not Ralph.
    Ralph goes to Yucatan and sees the gingo tree and fruit for the first time.

    Infanino's art is flawless as always, but I can't help find his interpretations of Yucatan and Yucatecans a bit funny. Nothing drastically wrong, but it still amuses me. Firstly, we have a very dry kind of jungle with mostly short trees and we don't use wood in any construction; secondly, the great Mr. Infantino seems to have thought that we look like Spaniards in ponchos and charro hats (a.k.a. "sombreros"). There are white Yucatecans, but we're a minority.
    Ralph and the charro Spaniards.

    Once the Elongated Man finds his Gingo tree, he bumps into his mystery, which turns out to be aliens trying to shrink all animal forms of the world in order to rule it. His secret weapon against them is, of course, the Flash. Well, it's his title after all. And knocking out four giant aliens probably does take 2 superheroes anyway.

    I kinda liked the aliens, instead of being interesting-ugly (you know, like Killer Croc or Two-face) they are just fugly.

    Barik and Kunar, ugly-ass aliens.
    This is the first out of what seems to be "the alien fighting phase" of Elongated Man. He'll also fight aliens with Flash in his next two appearances. I think that it was odd that they didn't chose the same alien race for the other two adventures. I could totally see Barik and Kunar trying to run a submarine slave colony.

    This issue establishes a couple of things about the Elongated Man's capabilities: that he's strong enough to lift a person several yards and strangle a giant ten times his size; and that his stretching is fast enough to catch a person that is shoot through a cannon. It has never been stated, but the things that he does in his stories require enhanced speed and enhanced strength.
    Ralph's capabilities.