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Flatman. Art by Paul Pelletier.
|First appearance||West Coast Avengers (Vol. 2) #46 (July 1989)|
|Created by||John Byrne|
|Alter ego||Val Ventura|
|Team affiliations||Great Lakes Avengers|
|Notable aliases||2-D Avenger|
|Abilities||Excellent hand to hand combatant
Flatman (Dr. Val Ventura) is a fictional mutant superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by John Byrne, he is a member of the Great Lakes Avengers and first appeared in the pages of West Coast Avengers in 1989.
Fictional character biography
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.
He was first seen in public with the team by Hawkeye and Mockingbird, who later agreed to become their mentors. With the team, he helped Hawkeye and the West Coast Avengers against "That Which Endures." They also assisted Mockingbird in a holding action against Terminus. After aiding the Thunderbolts against the villain Graviton, the team clashed with the mercenary Deadpool.
Called the "2-D 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". He was able to identify a woman'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").
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". 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.
During the G.L.A. mini-series, the team took on Maelstrom who was trying to destroy the universe. After Dinah Soar's death, Mr. Immortal suffered a nervous break down and Flatman stepped up as deputy leader. Deciding that the team needed some new members, he and Doorman went to New York City where they failed to recruit dozens of heroes. While in Central Park, they're saved by Squirrel Girl and her sidekick Monkey Joe from muggers. They later offer her to join the team and she accepts. Soon after, they hear an alarm on a nearby factory and encounter the Grasshopper, who was battling Batroc the Leaper and his lackeys. During the battle, Flatman offers Grasshopper membership in the team and he accepts. Seconds later, Zaran, one of Batroc's minions, kills him. 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 universal destruction. However, it was not until Mr. Immortal regained his sanity that the team rallied together to defeat Maelstrom. During the final battle, Flatman was seemingly sucked into a vortex created from Maelstrom's device, 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. 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. After discovering that they were all mutants, the team changed their name to the Great Lakes X-Men, complete with new costumes.
During the GLX-Mas Special, the team confronted Dr. Tannenbaum, who had released an army of living Christmas trees on the citizens of Wisconsin.
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 the names "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 registered with the United States government as required by the Superhuman Registration Act, as revealed when Deadpool mistakenly attempted to apprehend them for violating the Act, only to be defeated and informed that they had already registered.
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 and was captured by A.I.M., who planned to use his powers to cause mental instability on all the superheroes they consider a threat. During the task, Flatman and Mr. Immortal were ambushed by Deadpool. Flatman instead recruited him as a reserve member of the team, but the mercenary eventually overstayed his welcome. The two came to blows over Deadpool's financial misadventures, and Flatman unveiled 'Origami Fu,' but was defeated when he became a boat at Deadpool's urgings. The merc stapled him together and used him in the bath. Finally, Squirrel Girl kicked Deadpool out of the team.
During the Secret Invasion storyline, the team confronted a Skrull disguised as Grasshopper, with help from Gravity and Catwalk. During the battle, Flatman invites Gravity to join the team but he quickly rejects the offer. They later appeared to welcome Gravity as leader of the team, after he was transferred to Wisconsin by Norman Osborn.
During the Fear Itself storyline, the team confronts Asbestos Man, who takes advantage of the fear and chaos that is happening. None of the group actually wish to touch the man due to the toxicity of his suit. Mr. Immortal talks him into giving up in return for being remembered by the others.
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 withstand all forms of physical injury at a superhuman level, appear to be nearly invisible by standing at just the right angle and slip through very thin spaces, thanks to his nearly two-dimensional body. He can also turn his entire body into origami shapes and animals such as frogs or monkeys. However, he never appears to be able to assume a "normal" three-dimensional shape. He is also an excellent hand-to-hand combatant.
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!".
- G.L.A. #4
- West Coast Avengers #46
- West Coast Avengers #48-49
- Avengers Annual #19
- Thunderbolts #15–17 (June–August 1998) and #25 (Apr. 1999)
- Deadpool #10–11 (November–December 1997) and #61 (2002)
- Deadpool vol. 1 #11 (1997)
- Deadpool vol. 1 #11 (1997)
- G.L.A. #2
- G.L.A. #3
- GLA: Misassembled #1–4 (2005)
- GLX-Mas Special #1
- Thing vol. 2 #8 (2006)
- Cable & Deadpool #30
- Avengers: The Initiative #1 Character Map
- Deadpool/GLI Summer Fun Spectacular (2007)
- Avengers: The Initiative #19 (Dec. 2008)
- Avengers: The Initiative #25
- Fear Itself: The Home Front #6 (2011)
- "The Cure". Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes. Season 1. Episode 18. 2007-06-09.
- Comics Continuum