The Elongated Man. Worst. Name. Ever. Even Nameless of the Metal Men who didn’t have a name was better off than the Ductile Detective also known as Ralph Dibny. Editor Julius Schwartz later said he’d never have used such an unwieldy name, if he’d known DC had acquired the rights to Plastic Man in 1956.
But the Elongated Man debuted in 1960 as a supporting character for the Flash, awkward name and all. He got his stretching powers from an elixir he created and had to drink regularly or he would lose his elasticity. He was the first hero to get married, tying the knot three years before Aquaman, and the first superhero at DC Comics to reveal his secret identity to the public.
Having made a fortune in show business, Ralph retired from working and traveled the country with his wife Sue, encountering and solving mysteries like a nomadic Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man movie series. Whenever Ralph would “smell” a mystery his nose would start to twitch and within 10 pages or so he would have the case all sewn up.
The Elongated Man stories were well drawn and fun, appearing regularly in Detective comics from 1964 through the early 70s. He even eventually joined the Justice League, but it’s hard to believe that silly name didn’t hold him back at least a little bit.
Illustrating one playing card a day using characters found between 1957-1967 in DC Comics. Tomorrow: Batgirl!