|First appearance||The Flash vol. 1, #112 (May 12, 1960).|
|Created by||John Broome (writer) and Carmine Infantino (artist)|
|Alter ego||Randolph William "Ralph" Dibny|
|Team affiliations||Doom Patrol|
|Abilities||Superior deductive reasoning. Finite ability to stretch and shape his body.|
The Elongated Man (Randolph "Ralph" Dibny) is a fictional comic book superhero in the DC universe. He is a member of three incarnations of the Justice League. His first appearance was in The Flash vol. 1, #112 (May 12, 1960).
The character has won and been nominated for several awards over the years, including winning the 1961 Alley Award for Best Supporting Character.
He was partially created by editor Julius Schwartz, who wanted a new supporting character for the Flash. Despite inker Murphy Anderson, and penciller Carmine Infantino stating that Schwartz never acknowledged any relationship to Plastic Man, it's commonly claimed that he said that if he had known that DC owned the name "Plastic Man" (acquired in 1956 along with other Quality Comics properties), he'd never have chosen Elongated Man as the name for his own character. In further appearances with the Flash, he makes a fortune in show business, marries Sue Dearbon and it is revealed that he gave away his secret identity.
Due to the character's popularity, he got a solo backup feature in Detective Comics, where he was redefined as a detective who loves odd mysteries and travels the United States in a convertible with his wife searching for them. Sometimes they would travel the world or meet other DC superheroes like Batman, Green Lantern, the Atom and Zatanna. This feature became sporadic during the late 60s and throughout the 70s. However, in 1973 he became a member of the Justice League of America, so he's mostly seen in that title from 1973 to 1995.
Fictional character biography
As a teenager, Ralph Dibny was fascinated by contortionists, or people who displayed feats of agility and suppleness. He learned that all of the body-benders he spoke with drank a popular soda called "Gingold." Ralph set to work learning chemistry and developed a super-concentrated extract of the rare "gingo" fruit of the Yucatan, which gave him his elasticity. In his first appearance, the Flash suspects the Elongated Man is behind several crimes, but the Elongated Man helps capture the criminals, who reveal they used a helicopter to frame him.
Ralph Dibny was one of the earliest Silver Age DC heroes to reveal his secret identity to the public, and also one of the first to marry his love interest. After teaming up with several other superheroes like Batman, Green Lantern, the Atom, Zatanna and the Justice League of America, he became a member of the team. Eventually, his wife became a member as well. The couple was also notable in having a stable, happy, and relatively trouble-free marriage — an anomaly in the soap operatic annals of comic books. Fans of the characters often referred to Ralph and Sue as the "Nick and Nora Charles of the super-hero set" (a reference to The Thin Man movies). The very novelty of the Elongated Man stories was that unlike most superheroes, including the Detective Comics Batman, Ralph Dibny solved mysteries, often challenging the reader to do the same. He didn't just use his extraordinary powers or gadgets to chase criminals, but recalled the problem-solving of a genre just that bit older than superheroes: the tale of mystery and detection.
Ralph Dibny played a central role in the events of Identity Crisis, with the main arc of the series revolving around the DC Universe's response to the murder of Sue Dibny. The healthy, stable relationship between Ralph and Sue, and the events that led to and resulted from her death, were used as primary narrative devices throughout the series for examining the respective personal relationships of other JLA and JSA members (and to a lesser extent, members of the supervillain community).
The effect of Sue's death on Ralph (compounded by the fact that Sue was apparently pregnant at the time of her death) would come to shape his character significantly in the events following Identity Crisis, eventually culminating at the end of the weekly series 52.
Ralph and Sue appeared as members of the Justice League offshoot the Super Buddies in the miniseries Formerly Known as the Justice League and its sequel story arc "I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League" published in JLA: Classified #4-9. The latter arc was produced before Identity Crisis but published afterwards. A running joke in "I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League" involves the possibility of Sue's pregnancy.
In the 2006 weekly series 52, a grief-stricken Ralph Dibny is contemplating suicide when he is informed that Sue's gravestone has been vandalized with an inverted version of Superman's 'S' symbol — the Kryptonian symbol for resurrection. He confronts Cassandra Sandsmark, and she tells Dibny that she is in a cult that believes that Superboy can be resurrected. She steals Ralph's wedding ring after the cult members try to drown Ralph.
During Week 11, after scaring some cult members and chasing them off, he gets a report that someone broke into a storage container in Opal City and stole Sue's clothes. In Week 12, Ralph finds Wonder Girl and she tells him they stole the clothes and ring to make a Sue Dummy. She invites him to the ceremony.
During Week 13, Ralph goes to the ceremony. Metamorpho, Green Arrow, Zauriel, and Hal Jordan come with him. Despite his initial agreement, Dibny and his friends disrupt the ceremony, but the effigy of Sue crawls to Dibny and calls out to him as it burns; Dibny suffers a nervous breakdown as a result.
During Week 18, other members of the Croatoan Society: Detective Chimp, Terri Thirteen, and Edogawa Sangaku find Tim Trench dead with the helmet of Doctor Fate, Nabu. Ralph comes to investigate and asks for help from Shadowpact, Detective Chimp's other group. A voice from within the helm of Doctor Fate, unheard by the other members of the group, speaks to Dibny and promises to fulfill his desires if he makes certain sacrifices. Dibny journeys with the helm through the afterlives of several cultures, where he is cautioned about the use of magic.[volume & issue needed]
During Week 32, Ralph ventures to Nanda Parbat, and gets into a fight with the Yeti. The Perfect Accomplished Physician comes to the rescue. Both he and the Yeti are members of the Great Ten, defenders of China. At Nanda Parbat, Rama Kushna tells Dibny, "The end is already written".
During week 42, Dibny is in Dr. Fate's tower. He begins the spell to resurrect Sue, puts on the helmet of Fate, and shoots it, revealing Felix Faust, who was posing as Nabu. Faust planned to trade Dibny's soul to Neron in exchange for his own freedom. Ralph reveals that he was aware of Faust's identity for some time, and that the binding spell surrounding the tower is designed to imprison Faust, not to counter any negative effects of the spell. Neron appears and kills Dibny, only to realize too late that the binding spell responds only to Dibny's commands: Through his death Ralph has trapped Faust and Neron in the tower, seemingly for eternity, though his methods of doing so are unknown. His spirit is later seen reunited with his wife. However, Neron (who is, after all, the Devil) is able to escape almost immediately. During the Black Adam Dark Ages miniseries, Faust is shown to escape with the help of Black Adam and a resurrected Isis, who is under Faust's mental control. These events take place just prior to Countdown, indicating that Faust had only been there for a few weeks.[volume & issue needed]
At the end of Week 52 it is revealed that Dibny's magical, wish-granting gun (a souvenir from "The Anselmo Case", a reference to The Life Story of the Flash), worked—Ralph's last wish was to be reunited with his wife, even in death—and that Ralph and Sue are now reunited as ghost detectives investigating a school where a paranormal phenomenon has just occurred.
One Year Later
In the 2007-08 Black Adam miniseries Dark Ages, it is shown that Ralph's remains are still inside Fate's Tower when Teth-Adam asks Faust if his deal to trick Dibny had worked. Ralph's skeleton is used by Faust to create the illusion that Adam's attempt at resurrecting Isis had failed.
In Batman and the Outsiders #5, it is revealed (after appearing unknown in the previous two issues) that Ralph and Sue have gained or discovered the ability to possess human bodies, like the ability of Boston Brand, AKA Deadman.
Reign in Hell
Ralph and Sue, in their ghostly forms, appear before Doctor Occult with news of the war brewing in Hell. Sent by Giovanni Zatara, who as a member of the Hell Resistance Movement hopes to take advantage of the war, they ask Doctor Occult to aid him in his plan. They then dissipate and leave him to make his decision.
In Blackest Night #0, Ralph and Sue Dibny's graves are shown during Black Hand's chant. At the end of the issue (in the promotional profile image of the Black Lantern Corps) his hand is easily identifiable as popping out of its grave. Ralph and Sue's corpses are revealed as having been reanimated as Black Lanterns, attacking Hawkman and Hawkgirl; Ralph beating Hawkman with his mace before ripping out Hawkman's heart. Next, they are seen in Gotham City with the Black Lanterns Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Firestorm preparing to kill the Flash and Green Lantern. He and Sue are both turned to ash when the Indigo Tribe destroys their rings. In the final battle, the Flash looks around to see if Ralph and Sue were among those resurrected by the White Entity only to be told by Green Lantern they were not coming back.
Powers and abilities
The Elongated Man gets his abilities from a combination of drinking a refined version of a soft drink named Gingold that contains the extract of a (fictional) fruit called gingo and his natural latent metahuman physiology. The extract interacts with a latent gene that Ralph has, thus activating his super powers. It was revealed in Invasion #3 that it was a metagene reaction to the Gingold elixir that had always provided him with his stretching powers, meaning that he is, in fact, a metahuman and that an ordinary human would not develop such powers through ingesting the extract. Also, most people are extremely allergic to highly concentrated Gingold. The only other hero in the DCU who uses Gingold is Stretch, a member of Hero Hotline who has been using the compound since the 1940s.
As his name suggests, the Elongated Man can stretch his limbs and body to super-human lengths and sizes. These stretching powers grant the Elongated Man heightened agility enabling him flexibility and coordination that is beyond the natural limits of the human body. He can contort his body into various positions and sizes impossible for ordinary humans, such as being entirely flat so that he can slip under a door, or using his fingers to pick conventional locks. He can also use it for disguise by changing the shape of his face, although this is painful and difficult for him. Ralph's physiology has greater physical limitations than Plastic Man; there is a limit to how far he can stretch his finite bodily mass, and he cannot open holes in his body as Plastic Man can.
The Elongated Man's powers also greatly augment his durability. He is largely able to withstand corrosives, punctures and concussions without sustaining injury. It has been demonstrated that he is resistant to high velocities that would kill an ordinary person and that he is also more resistant to blasts from energy weapons that would kill ordinary humans. His physiology is more like that of an ordinary human than Plastic Man and as a result he does not share Plastic Man's nigh invulnerability.
In addition to his stretching abilities, Elongated Man is professionally trained as a detective and is highly skilled in deductive reasoning. Often considered one of the most brilliant detectives in the DC Universe (compared with Batman only differing in the actual course of their logic). He is a talented amateur chemist as well. A meta-side-effect of his powers coupled with his detective skills is enhanced olfactory sense, allowing him to "smell" when something is "not right", or if a clue or mystery is at hand. This results in a rubbery "nose twitch". Firehawk once told Ralph that Green Arrow said the nose twitch was not a real thing but rather something he made up to get more press. Elongated Man responded by telling her that Green Arrow's hat covers a bald spot.
- Elongated Man has appeared in the Justice League Unlimited spin-off comic book.
- Elongated Man appears in the third issue of JLA/Avengers, replacing Plastic Man after the merging of the DC and Marvel Universes.
- In Frank Miller's Elseworlds series The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Dibny is mentioned as a man in a bar who was reminiscing about the Silver Age and when he heard mention of Batman, his face sagged and his jaw dropped to the floor. Later Dibny is seen hawking a "male enhancement" drink "Gingold" in a TV infomercial. He is then recruited to aid Batman in his attack against the American government (taken over by Lex Luthor). He retains his rivalry with Plastic Man as well as his friendship with Barry Allen and Oliver Queen.
- In Kingdom Come, Ralph is all stretched out and cannot control his stretching.
- An unpowered Ralph Dibny appears as a detective in the Elseworlds series Flashpoint. He is hired by J'onn J'onzz to investigate Vandal Savage's company, which is searching for a Martian artifact. J'onzz refers to Dibny as "the Earth manhunter".
- Recently the Ralph Dibny of Earth-51, where secret identities are no longer needed by superheroes, has been seen in Countdown to Final Crisis. He is subsequently killed by the Monitor of New Earth, Bob.
In other media
In July 1966, he appears on the cover of issue 127 of Betty and Veronica. He is dancing with Veronica who refers to him as "Stretchman".
- The Elongated Man appears in several episodes of the Justice League Unlimited animated TV series, voiced by Emmy-winner Jeremy Piven (Judgement Night). This is the first television series in which he has made an appearance. Although he appears in numerous episodes as a background character, Elongated Man has only three speaking roles.
- In "The Greatest Story Never Told", he is one of the members to help in the battle against Mordru, although to his disappointment he is put on crowd control (along with Booster Gold) as Green Lantern told him that Plastic Man was already fighting Mordru and that they did not "need two stretchy guys". As they were on crowd control, he complains to Booster about his position. This soon annoys Booster Gold, with Elongated Man saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Wonder Woman then appears and says that the team needs Elongated Man's help. He willingly follows her to the fight, much to Booster's disappointment as he thought the team needed his help. The episode goes on to follow Booster's attempt to stop a black hole. At the end of the episode, it is shown that Elongated Man had devised a plan to defeat Mordru and the team is shown praising him. As he is helping clean up the mess in the city, Booster walks past him with Dr. Tracy Simmons beside him (as he won a date with her by stopping the black hole) and says "Squeaky wheel, buddy. Squeaky wheel."
- In "The Ties That Bind", Elongated Man and Flash express concern about the fact that some other members of the League don't show them enough respect. Flash asks Elongated Man if he seems immature to him. Elongated Man replies "Not in the least". It is then shown they are playing "Brawlin' Bots" (a parody of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots).
- In "Clash," his powers are stolen by Parasite, who uses them to nearly defeat Metamorpho and Batman before the timely intervention of Captain Marvel. After Parasite is defeated, Elongated Man notices Captain Marvel blushing and tells him not to be modest as he thinks Superman couldn't have done a better job. Superman appears as he says this, with Elongated Man quickly saying, "We were just talking about you."
- The Elongated Man appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Journey to the Center of the Bat" voiced by Sean Donnellan. In the teaser, he works with Plastic Man and Batman to stop Baby Face. The two ductile metahumans constantly bicker on who is the better partner to Batman. Batman later gives the truth: between them, he prefers to work alone. This version of Elongated Man possesses shape-shifting abilities, enough to pass himself off as Baby Face to fool his henchmen. He is also shown in an image with Batman in the season 2 episode, "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases", along with Detective Chimp, the Question, and Martian Manhunter. Additionally, Elongated Man appears in a non-speaking cameo in the two parts of the episode "The Siege of Starro!", during which, he first appears among the heroes possessed by Starro and later, among the heroes that have already broken free of Starro's mind control.
- Elongated Man appears in Mad voiced by Ralph Garman. He joins the other superheroes in a musical number that asks Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman about being called "Super Friends." In his part, Elongated Man stated that he was strapped for cash and asking Superman for money seems to be his Kryptonite.
- An evil version of Elongated Man appears as a member of the Crime Syndicate of America in the animated film Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths as one of the Owlman's men who face the Justice League. He was caught by Wally West, the third Flash, who runs around the place to tie him up on pillars and building structures. Then the Flash teases him with a flick of his elongated body with a rubber sound.
- In the animated film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Elongated Man is mentioned to have been murdered. He was known as Elongated Kid.
- Beatty, Scott (2008), "Elongated Man", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 114, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- The Life and Art of Murphy Anderson.
- Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher, Provocateur.
- "Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Elongated Man". Toonopedia.com. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
- 52 Week One (May 10, 2006)
- 52 Week Two (May 17, 2006)
- 52 Week Four (May 31, 2006)
- 52 Week Eleven (July 19, 2006)
- 52 Week Twelve (July 26, 2006)
- 52 Week Thirteen (August 2, 2006)
- 52 Week Eighteen (September 6, 2006)
- 52 Week Twenty-Seven (November 8, 2006)
- 52 Week Thirty-Two (December 13, 2006)
- 52 Week Forty-Two (February 21, 2007)
- 52 Week Fifty-Two (May 2, 2007)
- Reign in Hell #1 (September, 2008)
- Blackest Night #1 (July 2009)
- Blackest Night #2 (August 2009)
- Blackest Night #3 (September 2009)
- Blackest Night #8 (May 2010)
- Flashpoint #1 (May 2011)
- Countdown to Final Crisis #18
- Countdown to Final Crisis #17
- Index to Ralph's Earth-1 solo adventures
- Dibny Dirt – A site devoted to Elongated Man.
- Ralph Dibny, the World-Famous Elongated man – Another site devoted to Elongated Man.
- Elongated Man's secret origin on dccomics.com
- The Elongated man at The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe.