Meta-Messages – Kyle Baker Buries the DC Universe
In this feature I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments!
Today, based on a suggestion by Travis Pelkie, we take a look at Kyle Baker’s mockery of the DC Universe in his final issue of Plastic Man back in 2006…
Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man was an excellent comedic series by writer/artist Baker, one of the greatest creative talents working in comics today. Sadly, it only lasted 20 issues. Before the book ended, though, Baker decided to spend a lot of his last issue making fun of the DC Universe at the time (during the time of Identity Crisis, where we learn that the villain Doctor Light raped Sue Dibny years before she was brutally murdered by one of her friends and Infinite Crisis, where Wonder Woman snapped Maxwell Lord’s neck to stop him from taking control of Superman’s mind). Do note that this comic was made BY DC Comics, so you have to give DC a whole ton of credit for allowing Baker to mock them like this.
Plastic Man was in a long arc at the time involving his sort-of adopted daughter, Edwina. Eventually he and his supporting cast led to a big battle with Ra’s Al Ghul. However, in a completely unrelated plot point at the end of the previous issue, Billy Batson is killed off. This allows Baker to give us these brilliant three pages mocking the funeral of Sue Dibny, the revelations about Doctor Light and the general oddity of turning everything, even kid’s characters, grim and gritty…
The rest of the issue concludes Plastic Man’s story, except for when, in the middle of their battle with Ra’s, a bickering Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman show up to have their own little conflict in the middle of Plastic Man’s conflict…
Very funny stuff.
Great job by Baker and, again, kudos to DC for having a good enough sense of humor to allow Baker to go with such sharp satire.
Thanks to Travis for the suggestion! If YOU can think of a future Meta-Message, be sure to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!