Wednesday

Plastic Man vs. Professor X

In 1966, DC Comics attempted to relaunch Plastic Man in his own series, a character they had acquired from defunct rival Quality Comics about ten years before. The new series was written by Arnold Drake and the first issue was illustrated by Gil Kane.



In the story, “The Dirty Devices of Dr. Dome,” Plastic Man is attacked by a mad scientist called Professor X, who is recruited by the arch-villain Dr. Dome.



Of course, in 1966, Marvel Comics already had a major character called Professor X -- Charles Xavier, leader of the X-Men. This issue of Plastic Man came out around the same time as The X-Men #27, when that series was written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Werner Roth.

One can’t help but wonder if Roy Thomas heard that DC was using a character called “Professor X” and picked up a copy of this issue to check it out. Then, looking at the first panel above, thought “Baron Blood” was actually a pretty cool name, and ultimately used it for his WWII-era vampire super-villain in The Invaders ten years later.

Stranger things have happened.

Curiously, “Lady Death” also became a real comic book character in 1991. Whether Brian Pulido was inspired by this issue of Plastic Man may never be known.

As far as I know, “Kid Catastrophe” and “Mr. Morbid” are still up for grabs.

In 1968, after 10 issues of Plastic Man, Arnold Drake left DC and took over writing The X-Men (with issue #47), although, as fate would have it, Marvel’s Professor X was “dead” throughout Drake’s run on the book. Thus, Drake was cheated out of being able to claim to have worked on both characters, which I’m sure must have grated on him throughout the rest of his life.

Perhaps in the next DC vs. Marvel Comics, the two Professors X can go head-to-head.

Arnold Drake died in 2007, although Plastic Man is still going strong.


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