Thursday, May 14, 2015

The 6 Birthday Mysteries of the Elongated Man

"The Elongated Man's Other-Worldly Wife" (Detective Comics #332) started one of the earlier traditions of the Dibny: The birthday mysteries.Every year, around Ralph's birthday, March 21, Sue prepares a mystery for him to solve. She does so many of those that, at some point, the Daily Planet runs an entire section on them.

Some of his partners in crime include the Sue's uncle Jim, Flash, Green Lantern, Alfred Pennyworth, the entire Justice League International and his last was going to be Green Arrow.

Since Ralph turned 55 on Tuesday, in order to keep the celebration going, I decided to make the list of birthday mystery stories.


Detective Comics #332 (October 1964), "The Elongated Man's Other-Worldly Wife" - Ralph discovers that Sue is the beautiful leader of an alien invasion. Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene.
This is the one that started the tradition. Epic art, Carmine is the master of design Sue looks incredible as an alien queen. This is by far, her most elaborated scheme.


Detective Comics #350 (April 1966), "Green Lantern's Blackout" - Hal can't remember that he is the Green Lantern, so, since Ralph and Sue are in Coast City, Pieface recruits him to save the day.
This birthday Ralph got a very memorable present from Sue (and Paul Gambi?).
Written by 
Gardner Fox, with art by Carmine Infantino.
Somehow, this one has a dark feeling, a bit hardboiled for an Elongated Man story.


Detective Comics #375 (May 1968), "The Face That Stopped Clocks" - In Wayside City, a man can stop clocks by staring that them. Even though Ralph is expecting Sue's mystery and his nose doesn't twitch, he agrees with her to follow him. 
Written by Gardner Fox, with art by  Mike Sekowsky and George Roussos.
Out of all the DC superheroes of the 60s, the Elongated Man feels the most like a sitcom of that era. This story is just like watching Bewitched, The Dick Van Dike Show or My Favorite Martian


Detective Comics #449 (July 1975), "The Mystery Man Who Walked On Air" - Sue spots an old man walking on air outside their hotel room in Key West, FL.
Written by 
Mary Skrenes, with art by Dick Giordano.
I don't know if its the 70s, or the "old man", but the only thing missing is a scary monster to make it a Scooby Doo story.


Justice League Quarterly #6 (January 1, 1992), "Take My Wife--Please!" - Sue goes missing in Seaside City and the Ralph gets help from the Justice League International to find her.
Written by Mark Waid, with art by Eduardo Barreto, this is often considered the best birthday mystery by fans. Personally, I have to agree; this one feels like Ralph and Sue take the JLI gang on a roller coaster of mystery, keeping both the Giffen-DeMatteis line of humor and the silver age vibe of the Elongated Man stories. 
Ralph is perhaps the only silver age superhero that kept his mid-60s spirit, this feels like a celebration of that.


Identity Crisis #1 (June, 2004) - "Chapter One: Coffin" - Ralph thinks Sue is only going to get him a magnifying glass he saw in Belgium, but at their Opal City home, she has a bigger surprise and a mystery set with Green Arrow on board... We end on a sad note...Written by Brad Meltzer, with art by Rags Morales.
It's controversial... I'm not touching that one with a 60-feet pole.

And that was the last one. Hopefully, the new DC horizon will bring us many more.


OR IS IT? (Update: 06-30-2015)

Nope, it wasn't. And that's great news.


The pic is from Justice League 3000 #12 (feb 2015), and it shows the Blue Beetle and Booster Gold of what I like to call "Earth-Bwah-Ha-Ha" (hey, the term kind of got a blog laugh from J.M. DeMatteis), a continuity in which the events after I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League are completely different from what was published by DC. This means that Identity Crisis, Countdown, 52 and all the stories that turned the lives of Ralph and Sue, along characters like Maxwell Lord, Blue Beetle and Rocket Red into deaths and tragedies didn't happen. Instead, we get a number of extra birthday mysteries for Ralph, including the one Blue Beetle is talking about in the picture.  

In this continuity, sometime after the events of  I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, disappear when the Super Buddies were having a surprise party for Ralph and wake up some 3000 years in the future. This means that, although they didn't plan it, their disappearance became the 7th published birthday mystery, and, since Ralph obviously didn't find them, we can assume it's the only one he never solved... 

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