Saturday, August 7, 2010

The DEATH of LASTIKMAN

Not a dream, not a hoax, not an imaginary story (but aren't they all?). In the same decade that saw the death of Superman and the breaking of Batman's back, one of the Philippines' greatest superheroes would also find himself at death's door. And it happened in the very first issue of his new comic book!

Cover Art by Sonny Trinidad

Lastikman is, of course, the stretchable alien crimefighter created by Mars Ravelo and artist Mar T. Santana in the pages of Aliwan Komiks in 1965.


In the mid-1990's, Aliwan's publisher Graphic Arts Service, Inc. (GASI) brought back the character in a new series of stories by various writers and artists. For this revival, Lastikman was given a new costume and, for the first time, a secret identity, that of scientist Dr. Manuel De Lastico (Very inconspicuous. The world will never know).

Cover Art by Lan Medina

The feature was apparently so successful that GASI decided to spin off Lastikman into his own magazine. The first issue of the new Lastikman Komiks was released on September 28, 1995. However, it seemed as though success had gone to the checkered champion's head.


In the first episode Color of Death (written by Almel de Guzman and illustrated by Arnel Coronel), the once-noble hero has become boastful and arrogant, much to the dismay of his once-adoring public.



One day, an old soothsayer warns Lastikman of his impending doom. Naturally, the proud hero laughs the prophecy off.



Soon after, Blaab, an alien from the planet Thufpox, threatens to move the Earth a few degrees from its orbit because it's blocking the radiowaves vital to his new intergalactic weapon, the Cyberbeam. Kind of reminds me of Marvin the Martian wanting to destroy the Earth because it obstructs his view of Venus. At first, Lastikman doesn't take the alien runt seriously. But once Blaab makes good on his threat, causing several natural disasters in the process, the prideful protector is forced to take action.


Lastikman first takes on Blaab's bulky minion Megan, who manages to twist and bend him out of shape, but the elastic egotist eventually succeeds in keeping his opponent under wraps. And to prove just how big a jerk he has become, Lastikman shows blatant reckless disregard by hurling his defeated foe towards an oncoming plane.


Next up to challenge our hero is Frikton, who looks like an evil teaspoon with arms and legs.


As expected, Lastikman underestimates his new foe, which turns out to be a fatal mistake. Frikton transforms into a super-heated ball that causes the swell-headed hero's body to melt (It also causes him to scream like a girl. Rather undignified way for a hero to go).


And with that, Lastikman kicks the bucket. Or rather, oozes right into it.


Detaching from his liquefied remains, Lastikman's spirit ends up in Limbo. There, he is confronted by the League of Pinoy Superheroes, whose members include a big muscular guy with a barbell and a woman with stars on her bra.

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Standing trial before a jury of his peers, Lastikman is judged guilty of the sin of pride. The fallen hero shows remorse for his arrogance and pleads for a chance to redeem himself. The jury of heroes exercises leniency, combining their powers to restore Lastikman back to life.

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When Lastikman returns to action, he flies through the air by turning his ears into little-bitty wings. I'd just like to point out that I don't get this at all. I know it sounds silly quibbling over this while I'm perfectly willing to accept a guy who can stretch and change his shape. But really, I just can't get myself to believe a man can fly just by flapping his little wing-shaped ears. Heck, I even have a problem with the Sub Mariner flying on those tiny wings on his feet! And why does he even have tiny bird wings on his feet, he's from under the sea, for cripes sake! It just doesn't make sense!

Oops. Getting side-tracked. Sorry 'bout that.
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Anyway, the resurrected Lastikman eventually defeats the alien invaders and emerges from this adventure with a renewed sense of humility.

But this was only the beginning. Next, we shall take a look at Lastikman's further 90's exploits, including the time that he contemplated suicide!

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