Flatman. Art by Paul Pelletier.
|First appearance||Avengers West Coast (Vol. 2) #46 (July 1989)|
|Created by||John Byrne|
|Alter ego||Val Ventura|
|Team affiliations||Great Lakes Avengers|
Superhuman physical resistance
Fictional character biography
Great Lakes Avengers
Flatman is a member and second-in-command of the Great Lakes Avengers, an unauthorized division of the regular Avengers superhero group. The GLA watches over the Wisconsin area. Although no true origin was given at first for his stretching abilities and odd appearance, it was later revealed that he is a mutant.[volume & issue needed]
Called the "2D Avenger", his primary roles include long-ranged rescues and helping the team solve crimes with his extensive knowledge of fashion which he was reported to have "studied in college."[volume & issue needed] He was able to identify a women's shoe and describe it in detail, and later rescued Weasel — referring to him as "sailor" — which led his team to question his sexuality.
At first, Flatman denied any claims that he is gay. However, when a new Avenger recruit called Living Lightning first approached the Great Lakes Avengers (usually abbreviated as GLA), he thought they were actually the Gay/Lesbian Alliance. After apologizing, he left quickly, but his willingness to come out to others gave Flatman the courage to do it himself. He revealed that he is in fact gay to his teammates, though he felt one-upped by Mr. Immortal being dubbed the pinnacle of human evolution (using the ambiguous phrase "Homo Supreme").[volume & issue needed]
Though Flatman refers to himself as Dr. Val Ventura, his doctoral background is highly questionable. He is not able to present a degree to prove his education and when asked by Doorman what he was a doctor of, he replies that he is a doctor of "stuff."[volume & issue needed] When told by a fellow doctor (who had confused him for Mr. Fantastic) that time moved in only a single direction, Flatman asked which direction that was.[volume & issue needed]
Flatman and his fellow GLA members took on Maelstrom, who was trying to destroy the world. When Dinah Soar was slain, GLA leader Mr. Immortal suffered a nervous break down, and Flatman stepped up as deputy leader.[volume & issue needed] Deciding that the team needed some new members, he and Doorman went to New York city where they drafted Squirrel Girl.[volume & issue needed] They also recruited Grasshopper, who died moments after accepting.[volume & issue needed] Refusing to let the deaths of Dinah Soar and Grasshopper get him down, Flatman continued to try to persuade the team to further research Maelstrom's plans for world destruction. However, it was not until Mr. Immortal regained his sanity that the team rallied together to defeat Maelstrom. Flatman was seemingly sucked into a vortex during the final battle, but it turned out that only his clothes had been sucked off and he was merely standing at an extreme angle so he wouldn't be seen naked.[volume & issue needed]
With the GLA possessing a stronger resolve than ever, they returned to their headquarters only for Flatman to find that Tony Stark had sent a cease and desist notice ordering them to stop using the Avengers name. They changed their name to the Great Lakes X-Men, complete with new costume. On the team's first mission, Flatman assisted with defeating the evil Dr. Tannenbaum and his killer Christmas trees.[volume & issue needed]
Great Lakes Champions
The team was invited to the annual Superheroes Poker Tournament. In the end, Flatman won the Tournament with a straight-flush, beating the Thing's four fours. After being discouraged from using "Great Lakes X-Men" and "Great Lakes Defenders" by members of those teams present at the Tournament, and since Flatman was the champion of the Tournament, the team was inspired to rename themselves the Great Lakes Champions, despite protests from former Champions of Los Angeles member Hercules.
Civil War/The Initiative
All of the Great Lakes Champions have registered with the United States government as required by the Superhuman Registration Act.
Great Lakes Initiative
Flatman and his teammates became the Initiative group in charge of Wisconsin, calling themselves the Great Lakes Initiative. They were given a rescue mission to save Dionysus after he fell from Mount Olympus. During the task, Flatman and Mr. Immortal were ambushed by Deadpool. Flatman instead recruited him, but the mercenary eventually overstayed his welcome. The two came to blows over Deadpool's financial misadventures, and Flatman unveiled 'Oragami Fu,' but was defeated when he became a boat shape at Deadpool's urgings. The merc stapled him together and used him as a boat in the bath. Finally, Squirrel Girl kicked Deadpool out.
Powers and abilities
Flatman has the ability to stretch any part of his body to great lengths (although not nearly as long or complex as Mister Fantastic). He can also appear to be nearly invisible by standing at just the right angle, and slip though very thin spaces, thanks to his nearly two-dimensional body. He can also turn his entire body into origami animals such as frogs or monkeys. However, he never appears to be able to assume a "normal" three-dimensional shape.
In other media
- Flatman made a brief cameo in the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "The Cure." In the episode, the Thing's "condition" had been cured and the team was holding auditions for possible replacements (including Captain Ultra, Frog-Man, and Squirrel Girl). Flatman's audition consisted of demonstrating his powers and stating "I can stretch, too!", before his immediate dismissal by Reed Richards.
- Flatman appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "The Ice Melt Cometh", voiced by Jonathan Mankuta. Throughout the episode, he denies the existence of global warming though the icecaps have actually melted (due to the self-destructing of a machine) and the entire planet has been flooded.
- The one-shot GLX-Mas Special features a Flatman "action figure" on its last page, with "infinite" points of articulation; it is of course a paper doll. It features three phrases that can be provided by the user (speech balloons), one of which is "I'm not Mr. Fantastic!".
- The band Black Hills have a song called "Flatman", featuring the lyric "Worst superhero in the world!" chanted over and over to a pounding synth beat.