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.


  1. Jack Cole Plastic Man stories are great! DC has never gotten the formula right, always playing him for the worst kinds of laughs. I'd like to see him as far from the JLA as possible, though. Ugh!

  2. When Morrison's JLA was expanding, they were looking for thinkers, which lead to Ralph, Superman said that Plas is "much more versatile" -- Forget that he went back to muscle, the way Plas acted in fight scenes makes him a complete liability. I get that, when he's alone, that stuff might work to distract enemies, but in a team, he also distracts teamates.