Friday, March 18, 2011

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.


  1. I love that compilation. The Piv did this before Entourage, but stars love getting immortalized in animation anyway, even cameos. I like the violet and white costume from the comics best. The cartoon one is close enough, but the symmetrical variations there were too much like the golden age Daredevil & Thunderbolt.

  2. The only thing I like better from the comic purple and white costume is the EM symbol. He looks like a naked man with gloves and boots. I like that they added the Fantastic Four type of collar for the cartoon, but the shape is a bit clownish (I have the same problem with John Stewart). I do't know which one is weirder, split in half or split at the heart.