His fathers’ powers

It ends in a distressing moment at the therapist’s, in a Psychiatrist-meme Rhymes With Orange cartoon from 10/24. Here I show only the troubled patient, the engaging young superhero OP Man; the missing therapist’s response supplies what amounts to the punchline of the joke, which I’ll delay for a while, until I can say a bit more about the lives of the superheroes (among them, the patient’s two fathers):

(#1) Same-sex relationships, up to and including marriage and mating, have come to the world of superheroes; as for same-sex mating, superheroes, not being subject to the limitations of human anatomy (in sexual matters as well as others), have abilities way beyond those of ordinary mortals — so OP Man inherits his powers equally from his two fathers

But what does it mean to say that Aquaman and Plastic Man were drawn to one another romantically and sexually, and then married and mated (in some order), to produce OP Man? Superheroes often exist in other worlds, on timelines quite different from ours, and (like the gods of classical mythology) routinely manifest themselves in a variety of ways — differing in form and character and inclinations and abilities. Jupiter, as lord of the sky, manifests himself not only in something like human form, but also in thunder, lightning, or in rain (I am fond of his manifestation as Jupiter Pluvius, probably because the name is a nice double dactyl, in both Latin and English) or as an eagle (also a favorite of mine, because I’m etymologically a sea eagle, though I’m not otherwise Jovian), and that’s just the beginning.

So: some manifestation of Aquaman and some manifestation of Plastic Man — there are many of each — had their worlds and timelines intersect in such a way that they could join together and raise a superhero son someplace, sometime, an OP Man who has now manifested himself in a fictive cartoon world that in many ways resembles our own and that seems to be roughly contemporaneous with our current time. Whoa.

Aquaman. From Wikipedia:

Aquaman (Arthur Curry) is a superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, the character debuted in More Fun Comics #73 (Nov. 1941). Initially a backup feature in DC’s anthology titles, Aquaman later starred in several volumes of a solo comic book series. During the late 1950s and 1960s superhero-revival period known as the Silver Age, he was a founding member of the Justice League. In the 1990s Modern Age, writers interpreted Aquaman’s character more seriously, with storylines depicting the weight of his role as king of Atlantis.

… Aquaman discovered as a youth that he possessed various superhuman abilities, including the powers of surviving underwater, communication with sea life and tremendous swimming prowess.

From the DC Universe Infinite site, “Where to Start Reading Aquaman Comics”:


The legend of Aquaman begins here — in a story in November 1941’s ‘More Fun Comics’ #73 (written by Mort Weisinger with art by Paul Norris) — as the future king of the sea takes on Nazi submarines during World War II! In this story, our hero isn’t given a name other than Aquaman, and the first version of his origin story is less refined than what would come later. Despite all this, Aquaman’s inaugural adventure sets him up as the champion we know today. After all, who could think of a better first outing than throwing active grenades at Nazis? Weisinger introduces Aquaman with a sense of fun, swashbuckling action, while Norris’s pulp style illustrations establish Aquaman’s iconic look.

Over the years, then, we have a series of manifestations of Aquaman as depicted in the comics. One of these manifestations of comics Aquaman was one of the fathers of OP Man in #1.

Already we have two characters: the superhero (Aquaman) and the ordinary human (Arthur Curry) he’s a transformation of. But then they are portrayed by actors on-screen (in the movies and on tv), and each of these portrayals is another manifestation of the superhero; there are many manifestations of screen Aquaman. (Yes, all these identities are somewhat dizzying.)

From my 10/3/13 posting “Alan Ritchson (and Justin Hartley)”:

(#3) Superheroes from tv’s Smallville: Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow; Tom Welling as Clark Kent aka Superman; Alan Ritchson as Arthur Curry aka Aquaman

[Digression: size matters. Superheroes began in comic books aimed at boys and young men, where their attraction was in large part the fantasy of supermasculinity — heroic action, power, strength, and raw size — they provided. The characters were mostly male, large, and muscular from the beginning (with some notable exceptions over the years, like the female character Captain Marvel and the often goofily comic character Plastic Man, yes, our Plastic Man).

The actors in #3 are almost at human scale (which is, I suppose, one of the reasons I find all three of them, and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen aka The Flash, so attractive; I am not naturally a superhero guy), though Welling is significantly bulkier than the other two. But all three are quite tall — Hartley and Welling at 6′3″, Ritchson at 6′2″ — and all three are costumed so as to highlight their genital packages, Hartley with an unabashed codpiece. (Codpieces, some grotesquely exaggerated, became all the rage for screen superheroes, to the point where critics began to poke fun at them.)]

And then comes the 2018 film, with the now-gigantic Jason Momoa playing its manifestation of Aquaman. From Wikipedia:

Aquaman is a 2018 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is the sixth film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film was directed by James Wan, from a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall. It stars Jason Momoa as Aquaman, who sets out to lead the underwater kingdom of Atlantis and stop his half-brother, King Orm, from uniting the seven underwater kingdoms to destroy the surface world.

The movie is so action-filled that even the trailers exhausted me, and steered me away from the actual movie. As for Momoa’s Aquaman, two images:

(#4) Momoa in his scaly Aquaman costume (complete with trident and massive codpiece), looking fierce

(#5) Shirtless fish-tattooed Momoa, looking almost genial (he actually has a very sweet smile)

Digressive note. Momoa was not always such a muscle-hunk. Here are Michael Bergin and Momoa as surfer dudes in 1989 in the tv show Baywatch: Hawaii, showing off their lean but muscular swimmer’s bodies:

(#6) Lean but extraordinarily tall (long torso plus long legs) — 6′7″ by some reports

Plastic Man. OP Man’s other father is some manifestation of Plastic Man. From Wikipedia:

Plastic Man (real name Patrick “Eel” O’Brian) is a fictional superhero first appearing in Police Comics #1 (August 1941), originally published by Quality Comics and later acquired by DC Comics. Created by cartoonist Jack Cole, Plastic Man was one of the first superheroes to incorporate humor into mainstream action storytelling.

(#7) Police Comics #15

… One of Quality Comics’ signature characters during the Golden Age of Comic Books, Plastic Man can stretch his body into any imaginable form, for example a ball or a car, etc. His adventures were known for their quirky, offbeat structure and surreal slapstick humor.

This is Plastic Man the Shapeshifter Superhero. Alas for the young OP Man, there are at least two other possible manifestations of Plastic Man, corresponding to two other senses of the adjective plastic. From NOAD:

adj. plastic: 1 [a] made of plastic: plastic bottles. [b] not genuine; artificial or unnatural: she smiled a little plastic smile | long-distance flights with their plastic food. 2 (of a substance or material) easily shaped or molded: rendering the material more plastic. …

Plastic Man the Shapeshifter has sense 2. Then there’s

— Plastic Man the Material Superhero (sense 1a). The lord of all things made of plastic. Including, oh dear, plastic models of superheroes (see below). The first law of Material Plastic Man’s domain is:

Sunshine Degrades Plastic

So the subjects of Material Plastic Man’s domain fight by night, live in the shadows, thrive in sheltered spots — lest they degrade into greed, violence, and moral depravity.

— Plastic Man the Superhero of Artifice (sense 1b). Better, for short, Artifice Plastic Superhero, so as to assign no gender to its manifestations. This superhero’s manifestations have a positive side, representing Tekhne / Techne, the (Greek) personification of art, technical skill, craft, and invention (the daughter of Hephaestus and Aphrodite); and a negative side, representing Apate (or her Roman equivalent Fraus), the personification of deceit, fraud, and guile (the daughter of Nyx / Nox (Night), perhaps without a partner; after all, nothing says that gods — or superheroes — can’t just reproduce asexually if they want to).

Plastic Fantastic Superheroes. Superheroes of plastic(s). You can buy toy simulacra of these superheroes, for instance, this set of six (articulated!) Marvel Titan Heroes:

(#8) In order: 1st row, Iron Man, Black Panther, Spider-Man; 2nd row, Captain Marvel, Captain America,Thor

Yes, toy simulacra of Plastic Aquaman too, like these:

(#9) A Japanese toy, harking back to the original (blond) Aquaman

(#10) An American toy, modeled on the (dark-haired) Momoa Aquaman, including the exaggerated codpiece

And then, of course, toy simulacra of Plastic Plastic Man, like this one:

(#11) From Iron Studios: Plastic Man 1/10-scale polystone statue from by Ivan Reis; polystone is a compound largely of polyurethane plastic resin, mixed with powdered stone additives to give it a stone-like finish

The tragedy of young OP Man in #1. Aquaman as one father, Plastic Man as the other — but which Plastic Man? I would have supposed Plastic Man the Shapeshifter Superhero, but by some cosmic joke, or accident, it turns out to have been Plastic Man the Material Superhero, the plastics guy: Aquaman fell in love with, and mated with, a guy not of flesh and bone, but of plastic. The full Rhymes With Orange cartoon:

(#12) Ocean Plastic Man: the lord of marine plastic — and its devastating pollution

From Wikipedia (excerpts from an entry sadly lacking in coherence and cohesion, mostly sentences just patched together any which way):

Marine plastic pollution (or plastic pollution in the ocean) is a type of marine pollution by plastics, ranging in size from large original material such as bottles and bags, down to microplastics formed from the fragmentation of plastic material [AZ: sunlight degrades plastic, but it doesn’t destroy it, just breaks it into smaller and smaller bits]. Marine debris is mainly discarded human rubbish which floats on, or is suspended in the ocean. Eighty percent of marine debris is plastic.

… Aquatic life can be threatened through entanglement, suffocation, and ingestion.

… The 10 largest emitters of oceanic plastic pollution worldwide are, from the most to the least, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Bangladesh, largely through the rivers Yangtze, Indus, Yellow, Hai, Nile, Ganges, Pearl, Amur, Niger, and the Mekong, and accounting for “90 percent of all the plastic that reaches the world’s oceans.”

Who would want to be lord of this domain? Lord of the garbage patches that have been created in the gyres of the world’s oceans, most spectacularly the Great Pacific Garbage Patch:

(#13) Massive marine pollution by plastics in mid-Pacific (just the stuff you can see floating on top; it goes all the way down to the ocean floor); for some alarming information, see the Eradicate Plastic site on “10 interesting facts about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch”

There’s a variety of initiatives and enterprises aimed at fighting marine plastic pollution, one discussed in a section of my 7/29/20 posting “Portrait of a man: the head and bare torso image” on Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper and their 4Ocean company, devoted to removing plastic from the ocean.

As for Ocean Plastic Man, well, genetic inheritance isn’t necessarily destiny, so there’s still plenty of room for him to play up another side of his plastic gene — to manifest as, say, a plastic water toy for kids. He could be, oh, Plastic Pool Boy, or something like that. That could be fun.


One Response to “His fathers’ powers”

  1. Sim Aberson Says:

    And NOAA can help you monitor ocean debris and incidents at https://marinedebris.noaa.gov.

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