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Elongated Man
Elongated Man.jpg
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance The Flash vol. 1, #112 (May 12, 1960).
Created by John Broome (writer) and Carmine Infantino (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Randolph William "Ralph" Dibny
Team affiliations Justice League
Doom Patrol
Croatoan Society
Black Lantern Corps
Abilities Finite ability to stretch and shape his body.

The Elongated Man (Randolph "Ralph" Dibny) is a fictional comic book superhero in the DC universe. He is a reserve member of the Justice League. His first appearance was The Flash vol. 1, #112 (May 12, 1960).[1] He was partially created by Julius Schwartz, who noted he only created the character because he didn't realize DC Comics had acquired Plastic Man in 1956.

The character has won and been nominated for several awards over the years, including winning the 1961 Alley Award for Best Supporting Character.


Fictional character biography

As a teenager, Ralph Dibny adored contortionists, or people who displayed feats of agility and suppleness. He learned that all of the body-benders he spoke with drank a popular soda called "Gingold." Ralph set to work learning chemistry and developed a super-concentrated extract of the rare "gingo" fruit of the Yucatan, which gave him his elasticity.[1]

Ralph Dibny was one of the earliest Silver Age DC heroes to reveal his secret identity to the public, and also one of the first to marry his love interest. He and his wife Sue Dibny effectively became partners, solving mysteries and participating in Justice League adventures as equals. They were also notable in having a stable, happy, and relatively trouble-free marriage — an anomaly in the soap operatic annals of comic books. Fans of the characters often referred to Ralph and Sue as the "Nick and Nora Charles of the super-hero set" (a reference to The Thin Man movies).

Identity Crisis

Ralph Dibny played a central role in the events of Identity Crisis, with the main arc of the series revolving around the DC Universe's response to the murder of Sue Dibny. The healthy, stable relationship between Ralph and Sue, and the events that led to and resulted from her death, were used as primary narrative devices throughout the series for examining the respective personal relationships of other JLA and JSA members (and to a lesser extent, members of the supervillain community).

The effect of Sue's death on Ralph (compounded by the fact that Sue was apparently pregnant at the time of her death) would come to shape his character significantly in the events following Identity Crisis, eventually culminating at the end of the weekly series 52.

Ralph and Sue appeared as members of the Justice League offshoot the Super Buddies in the miniseries Formerly Known as the Justice League and its sequel story arc "I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League" published in JLA: Classified #4-9. The latter arc was produced before Identity Crisis but published afterwards. A running joke in "I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League" involves the possibility of Sue's pregnancy.


In the 2006 weekly series 52, a grief-stricken Ralph Dibny is contemplating suicide when he is informed that Sue's gravestone has been vandalized [2]with an inverted version of Superman's 'S' symbol — the Kryptonian symbol for resurrection. He confronts Cassandra Sandsmark,[3] and she tells Dibny that she is in a cult that believes that Superboy can be resurrected. She steals Ralph's wedding ring after the cult members try to drown Ralph.[4]

During Week 11, after scaring some cult members and chasing them off, he gets a report that someone broke into a storage container in Opal City and stole Sue's clothes.[5] In Week 12, Ralph finds Wonder Girl and she tells him they stole the clothes and ring to make a Sue Dummy. She invites him to the ceremony.[6]

During Week 13, Ralph goes to the ceremony. Metamorpho, Green Arrow, Zauriel, and Hal Jordan come with him. Despite his initial agreement, Dibny and his friends disrupt the ceremony, but the effigy of Sue crawls to Dibny and calls out to him as it burns; Dibny suffers a nervous breakdown as a result.[7]

During Week 18, other members of the Croatoan Society: Detective Chimp, Terri Thirteen, and Edogawa Sangaku find Tim Trench dead with the helmet of Dr. Fate, Nabu. Ralph comes to investigate and asks for help from Shadowpact, Detective Chimp's other group. A voice from within the helm of Doctor Fate, unheard by the other members of the group, speaks to Dibny and promises to fulfill his desires if he makes certain sacrifices.[8] Dibny journeys with the helm through the afterlives of several cultures, where he is cautioned about the use of magic.

During Week 27, the Spectre promises to resurrect Sue in exchange for Dibny's taking vengeance on Jean Loring, but Dibny is unable to do so.[9]

During Week 32, Ralph ventures to Nanda Parbat, and gets into a fight with the Yeti. The Perfect Accomplished Physician comes to the rescue. Both he and the Yeti are members of the Great Ten, defenders of China. At Nanda Parbat, Rama Kushna tells Dibny, "The end is already written."[10]

In Dr. Fate's tower, Dibny begins the spell to resurrect Sue, puts on the helmet of Fate, and shoots it, revealing Felix Faust, who was posing as Nabu. Faust planned to trade Dibny's soul to Neron in exchange for his own freedom. Ralph reveals that he was aware of Faust's identity for some time, and that the binding spell surrounding the tower is designed to imprison Faust, not to counter any negative effects of the spell. Neron appears and kills Dibny, only to realize too late that the binding spell responds only to Dibny's commands: Through his death Ralph has trapped Faust and Neron in the tower, seemingly for eternity, though his methods of doing so are unknown.[1] However, Neron (who is, after all, the Devil) is able to escape almost immediately. During the Black Adam Dark Ages miniseries, Faust is shown to escape with the help of Black Adam and a resurrected Isis, who is under Faust's mental control. These events take place just prior to Countdown, indicating that Faust had only been there for a few weeks. Interestingly, Dibny's remains seem to have decomposed at an accelerated rate, leaving only bones behind by the time of the Black Adam mini-series.

At the end of Week 52 it is revealed that Dibny's magical, wish-granting gun (a souvenir from "The Anselmo Case", a reference to The Life Story of the Flash and homage to the long-running, unsolved case on the TV series Moonlighting), worked--Ralph's last wish was to be reunited with his wife, even in death--and that Ralph and Sue are now reunited as ghost detectives investigating a school where a paranormal phenomenon has just occurred.[1]

One Year later

In Blue Beetle #16, Traci 13 mentioned that she had been taken in by Ralph and Sue after her mother died.

In the 2007-08 Black Adam miniseries Dark Ages, it is shown that Ralph's remains are still inside Fate's Tower when Teth-Adam asks Faust if his deal to trick Dibny had worked. Ralph's skeleton is used by Faust to create the illusion that Adam's attempt at resurrecting Isis had failed.

In Batman and the Outsiders #5, it is revealed (after appearing unknown in the previous two issues) that Ralph and Sue have gained or discovered the ability to possess human bodies, like the ability of Boston Brand, AKA Deadman.

Blackest Night

In Blackest Night #0, Ralph and Sue Dibny's graves are shown during Black Hand's chant. At the end of the issue (in the promotional profile image of the Black Lantern Corps) his hand is easily identifiable as popping out of its grave. Ralph and Sue's corpses are revealed as having been reanimated as Black Lanterns, attacking Hawkman and Hawkgirl; Ralph beating Hawkman with his mace before ripping out the hero's heart.[11] Next, they are seen in Gotham City with the Black Lanterns Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Firestorm preparing to kill the Flash and Green Lantern.[12] He and Sue are both turned to ash when the Indigo Tribe destroys their rings.[13]

Powers and abilities

The Elongated Man gets his abilities from a combination of drinking a soda named Gingold that contains the extract of a (fictional) fruit called gingo and his natural latent metahuman physiology. The extract interacts with a latent gene that Ralph has, thus activating his super powers. It was revealed in Invasion #3 that it was a metagene reaction to the Gingold elixir that had always provided him with his stretching powers, meaning that he is, in fact, a metahuman and that an ordinary human would not develop such powers through ingesting the extract. Also, most people are extremely allergic to highly concentrated Gingold. The only other hero in the DCU who uses Gingold is Stretch, a member of Hero Hotline who has been using the compound since the 1940s.

As his name suggests, the Elongated Man can stretch his limbs and body to super-human lengths and sizes. These stretching powers grant the Elongated Man heightened agility enabling him flexibility and coordination that is beyond the natural limits of the human body. He can contort his body into various positions and sizes impossible for ordinary humans, such as being entirely flat so that he can slip under a door, or using his fingers to pick conventional locks. He can also use it for disguise by changing the shape of his face, although this is painful and difficult for him. Ralph's physiology has greater physical limitations than Plastic Man; there is a limit to how far he can stretch his finite bodily mass.

The Elongated Man's powers also greatly augments his durability. He is largely able to withstand corrosives, punctures and concussions without sustaining injury. It has been demonstrated that he is resistant to high velocities that would kill an ordinary person and that he is also more resistant to blasts from energy weapons that would kill ordinary humans. His physiology is more like that of an ordinary human than Plastic Man and as a result he does not share Plastic Man's nigh invulnerability.

In addition to his stretching abilities, Elongated Man is professionally trained as a detective and is highly skilled in deductive reasoning. Often considered one of the most brilliant detectives in the DC Universe (compared with Batman only differing in the actual course of their logic), his name is also a play on The Thin Man detective serial. He is a talented amateur chemist as well. A meta-side-effect of his powers coupled with his detective skills is enhanced olfactory sense, allowing him to "smell" when something is "not right", or if a clue or mystery is at hand. This results in a rubbery "nose twitch".

After his sacrifice, he and Sue are ghosts, with all the powers that a ghost possesses such as flight/levitation, intangibility, invisibility and maybe others.

In addition to being a native English speaker, Dibney also speaks French. He can also understand Interlac well enough to translate.

As part of his induction into the Black Lantern Corps, Dibny possesses a black power ring which must be charged. The powers of a black ring are unknown, but apparently grow in strength by.01% with each heart the Black Lantern Corps claim.

Other versions

  • Elongated Man has appeared in the Justice League Unlimited spin-off comic book.
  • Elongated Man appears in the third issue of JLA/Avengers, replacing Plastic Man after the merging of the DC and Marvel Universes.
  • In Frank Miller's Elseworlds series The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Dibny is mentioned as a man in a bar who was reminiscing about the Silver Age and when he heard mention of Batman, his face sagged and his jaw dropped to the floor. Later Dibny is seen hawking a "male enhancement" drink "Gingold" in a TV infomercial. He is then recruited to aid Batman in his attack against the American government (taken over by Lex Luthor).
  • In Kingdom Come Ralph is all stretched out and cannot control his stretching.
  • An unpowered Ralph Dibny appears as a detective in the Elseworlds series Flashpoint. He is hired by J'onn J'onzz to investigate Vandal Savage's company, which is searching for a Martian artifact. J'onzz refers to Dibny as "the Earth manhunter".
  • Recently the Ralph Dibny of Earth-51, where secret identities are no longer needed by superheroes, has been seen in Countdown to Final Crisis. He is subsequently killed by the Monitor of New Earth, Bob.

In other media


Elongated Man (left) alongside Booster Gold (right) and Skeets (background) in Justice League Unlimited in the episode "The Greatest Story Never Told" as he reminds Booster about the squeaky wheel.
  • The Elongated Man appears in several episodes of the Justice League Unlimited voiced by Emmy-winner Jeremy Piven (Judgement Night). This is the first television series in which he has made an appearance. Although he appears in numerous episodes as a background character, Elongated Man has only three speaking roles.
  • In "The Greatest Story Never Told", he is one of the members to help in the battle against Mordru, although to his disappointment he is put on crowd control (along with Booster Gold) as Green Lantern told him that Plastic Man was already fighting Mordru and that they didn't "need two stretchy guys." As they're on crowd control, he complains to Booster about his position. This soon annoys Booster, with Elongated Man saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Composite Superman (with Wonder Woman's voice) then appears and says that the team need Elongated Man's help. He willingly follows her to the fight, much to Booster's disappointment as he thought the team needed his help. The episode goes on to follow Booster's attempt to stop a black hole. At the end of the episode, it is shown that Elongated Man had devised a plan to defeat Mordru and the team is shown praising him. As he is helping clean up the mess in the city, Booster walks past him with Dr. Tracy Simmons beside him (as he won a date with her by stopping the black hole) and says "Squeaky wheel, buddy. Squeaky wheel."
  • In "The Ties That Bind", Elongated Man and Flash express concern about the fact that some other members of the League don't show them enough respect. Flash asks Elongated Man if he seems immature to him. Elongated Man replies "Not in the least". It is then shown they are playing "Brawlin' Bots" (a parody of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots). Flash then notices Big Barda and Mr. Miracle walk by and goes to see what's going on, as they are not in the League.
  • In "Clash," his powers are stolen by Parasite, who uses them to nearly defeat Metamorpho and Batman before the timely intervention of Captain Marvel. After Parasite is defeated, Elongated Man notices Captain Marvel blushing and tells him not to be modest as he thinks Superman couldn't have done a better job. Superman appears as he says this, with Elongated Man quickly saying, "We were just talking about you."
  • The Elongated Man appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Journey to the Center of the Bat" voiced by Sean Donnellan. In the teaser, he works with Plastic Man and Batman to stop Baby Face. The two ductile metahumans constantly bicker on who is the better partner to Batman. Batman later gives the truth: between them, he prefers to work alone. This version of Elongated Man possesses shape-shifting abilities, enough to pass himself off as Baby Face to fool his henchmen.

External links


  1. ^ a b c d Beatty, Scott (2008), "Elongated Man", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 114, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017  
  2. ^ "52" Week One
  3. ^ "52" Week Two
  4. ^ "52" Week Four
  5. ^ "52'" Week Eleven
  6. ^ "52" Week Twelve
  7. ^ "52" Week Thirteen
  8. ^ "52" Week Eighteen
  9. ^ "52" Week Twenty-Seven
  10. ^ "52" Week Thirty-Two
  11. ^ Blackest Night #1 (July 2009)
  12. ^ Blackest Night #2 (August 2009)
  13. ^ Blackest Night #3 (September 2009)

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