Ralph grew up with an older brother who always stole the spotlight. He was a successful academic, star athlete and popular with everyone in their small town. Ralph on the other hand became the opposite, a troublemaker and class clown. Due to the nature of their work, Ralph adored cartoonists as well as contortionists as they displayed feats of agility and suppleness. Trying to get into the secret of these abnormally flexible persons he found out that all the people he talked to who were body-benders had a similarity: they all drank a soda called Gingold. Once this discovery was made, Ralph set to work studying chemistry and made a super-concentrated extract of the rare Gingo fruit, which gave him his elasticity.
Ralph was one of the first costumed heroes to reveal his secret identity to the public, and one of the first to marry his love interest. Ralph and his wife Sue Dibny became effective partners participating in Justice League Of America adventures solving mysteries. The two had a stable, happy, and relatively trouble free marriage, which is very uncommon in the lives of superhero marriages.
Elongated Man first appeared in The Flash #112 (May 1960), created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. When it came to naming the character, DC editor Julius Schwartz was unaware that DC owned the name "Plastic Man", so there have been many claims this is why he went with the much more unwieldy moniker. However, Infantino and inker Murphy Anderson went on record stating that Plastic Man was never mentioned as a reference in the office.
The character quickly became a fan favorite and won the 1961 Alley Award for Best Supporting Character. In May 1964, he got his own backup feature in Detective Comics, and in 1973, he became the 12th regular member of the Justice League.
Ralph is a character of two faces. In light of major crises he always attempts to provide a lighter tone, along the lines of comic relief, but he is nonetheless a serious hero who values teamwork and dedication above all else. During the later years of the Justice League International era, the comic relief aspect was emphasized, but later stories like Identity Crisis and 52 go back to his detective skills.
One of the most endearing aspects of the character was the love he shared with Sue, a bond not even broken by death.
Major Story Arcs
Justice League Detroit
After an invasion by the Martians which destroyed the JLA Satellite and left Earth almost conquered, Aquaman (the lone remaining original member of the Justice League of America) decided to disband the team as they had lost sight of their goal. He felt that the League could not work on an ad hoc basis, where heroes came and went as available. Instead he envisaged a full time Justice League which would be able to deal with problems immediately as they arose.
Immediately after disbanding the team, some of the remaining heroes pledged to Aquaman that if he would lead them that they would agree to his concept of the new League. Joining were Zatanna, the Martian Manhunter (who technically was not a member at the time and thus could not make such a decision that Aquaman had) and Ralph. They were soon after joined by a group of younger and more inexperienced heroes, to which Ralph provided a form of veteran leadership.
Formerly Known as the Justice League
For more information see :Superbuddies
When Maxwell Lord tries to form a team of superheroes who are available to the common man, Sue and Ralph are near the top of his list. The pair quickly join, citing that non-superhero life is boring. Before Max's Superbuddies could do there first official mission they are kidnapped by Roulette. They break free, but Captain Atom almost dies. Back in Queens they are confronted by Lord Manga and the Cluster. With the help of the real Justice League, the Superbuddies are able to divert a intergalactic war.
During Identity Crisis, tragedy struck their marriage with the death of Sue Right before she was going to surprise Ralph with the news that she was pregnant. Ralph was devastated and his first suspect for who was responsible for the loss of his wife was Dr. Light as he had at one time sexually assaulted Sue and threatened to find her again. It was revealed that Sue was murdered by Jean Loring, the ex-wife of Ray Palmer (the Atom) in an attempt to reconcile with her ex-husband.
Crisis of Conscience
During this arc, Ralph stopped taking his daily intake of Gingold, gradually losing his ability to stretch and become elongated. During the crisis, the Super-villains that had their memories wiped were starting to get them back. Zatanna wanted to re-wipe their minds but in the end only erased their knowledge of the League's secret identities.
Prior to the events surrounding the DC maxiseries 52, Ralph's life had turned towards depression due to the death of Sue. He was about to commit suicide when he learned that her tombstone was vandalized.
He confronts Wonder Girl and accuses her of the act because of the inverted Kryptonian symbol on the tombstone which means resurrection. She and the Cult of Conner steal Dibny's ring. Ralph then goes to Booster Gold for help in the investigation but stops when he realizes that Booster might have been able to save Sue's life and Ralph attacks him in anger. While Booster later disperses a mob, an actor he hired for a staged battle reveals the truth to the press. Dibny tells reporters that Booster is a fraud.
After Dibny finds Wonder Girl, she informs him that they may be able to resurrect Superboy but need to have a trial run, Ralph agrees to cooperate so that Sue might be brought back to life and be with him again, however his friends disrupt the ceremony and destroy the necessary elements for it to work. The straw doll that represents Sue calls out to him while it burns. The cult leader, Devem, tells Dibny that because of the disruption, he no longer can resurrect anyone.
After the disruption of his only hope to retain Sue in his life, he suffers a breakdown, vowing to "try again". Recovering in Marseilles, he receives a visit from Detective Chimp who brings with him the helm of Doctor Fate. The Shadowpact assembles in Giza for a scrying to reveal the helm's recent history. The helm speaks to him and tells him that it will grant him his wishes if he makes the necessary sacrifices for it. Dibny accepts, and he takes off with the helm, beginning his pilgrimage. Traveling the Land of the Dead, Ralph learns his ways in the act of magic and most importantly in the prices and bargains that must be paid in order to achieve magical power.
On returning to the land of the living, he approaches the Spectre telling him that he will do anything asked of him if the Spectre brings his wife back. The Spectre, desiring revenge on Eclipso for her manipulations of him but not being able to do anything himself tells Dibny to punish Eclipso in return for his wife's life. Realizing this means taking revenge on the women who murdered Sue, he takes her to the point in which she murdered his wife and intends to put her in a time loop forcing her to watch herself murder Sue Dibny over and over for all eternity.
After coming to her sanity, she begs Ralph for forgiveness and vows that it wasn't her that killed Sue. Dibny, affected by her pleas, his sense of compassion and his own feelings on watching his wife's death, finds himself incapable of such ruthlessness and refuses to complete his pact with the Spectre and yells at him and sends Eclipso back to orbit the sun, but now aware that their is a way to return his wife back to life. He moves on with the helm to find another who could help him in his attempts to return sue back to life. Arriving at Nanda Parbat, Dibny is attacked by a yeti-like creature, but is rescued by Yao-Fei, a Chinese 'super-functionary', whom he later helps to capture the creature. He receives and audience with Rama Kushna and he tells him that "Death is only an illusion of being in time; a trick of the light".
Seemingly disillusioned, Dibny travels to Central City, where he recovers the gun he intended to kill himself with after the Crisis. He then later retrieves the ring of "Shackles of Arion" hidden in the destroyed ruins of Atlantis, guarded by a crazed and amnesiac Aquaman, by trading his wedding band for the link of chain. Ralph Dibny was killed in 52 #42 when he shot off the mask of Dr. Fate and turned back in to his wedding ring and it was Faust that was brain washing him all the time. Netron came and told Ralph Dibny that Faust was his and Ralph said it was his responsibility to take him. Ralph Dibny subsequently confronted Netron where Ralph lost and was killed by Netron when he shot his ring thought his heart. In the though, Ralph had planned for it all as he trapped Netron and Faust in the wall. In 52 week #52. Ralph and Sue are together at last as ghost detectives investigating the hole on the ground in a prep school. In Batman and the Outsiders Ralph and Sue were there helping Batman and his team as ghost detectives to solve a mystery before disappearing into the light.
During the events of Blackest Night Ralph and Sue are reanimated by the power of the Black Power Rings, and become part of the Black Lantern Corps. As one of their first actions as Black Lanterns, Ralph and Sue ambush Hawkman and Hawkgirl at Carter Hall's museum. He mauls Hawkman using the hero's own Nth metal mace against him.
Being resistant to physical blows, there is little Hawkman can do to stop Ralph from beating him, then extracting the fallen Hawkman's heart for consumption by the black rings. Ralph is then seen in Gotham City with the Black Lanterns Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Sue, and Firestorm preparing to kill the Flash and Green Lantern. He then proceeds to torment Barry Allen before Indigo-1 shows up and destroys him using Hal's ring and willpower with her own.
Ralph first appears in DC's rebooted continuity under the aliases of Big Shot and Damon Wells as a part of the new Secret Six that are imprisoned for mysterious reasons under the orders of Mockingbird. In this guise, Ralph sports the ability to swell up in size and dresses as well as speaks like a 50's Private Investigator. After seemingly escaping confinement, Big Shot allows the Six to hide out in his suburban home in Gotham City. In his home, he has a shrine dedicated to his wife, who he describes as his Forever Girl, who died on him. Later, after taking care of some corrupt cop neighbors, Big Shot is seen reporting to Mockingbird that the Six are together as planned and trust him, to which he calls Big Shot Mr. Dibney.
Powers and Abilities
The Elongated Man gets his abilities from a combination of drinking a refined version of a soft drink 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, and he cannot open holes in his body as Plastic Man can.
The Elongated Man's powers also greatly augment 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). 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". Firehawk once told Ralph that Green Arrow said the nose twitch was not a real thing but rather something he made up to get more press. Elongated Man responded by telling her that Green Arrow's hat covers a bald spot.
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, Dibny also speaks French. He can also understand Interlac well enough to translate.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
He appears in the ninth episode of series: "Journey to the center of the bat!". Along with Plastic Man fight against Baby Face and his gang of henchmen. Babyface didn't know who he was. During the confrontation competes with Plastic Man to determine who is the favorite hero to Batman, due to their competition they were wrapped and Baby Face manage to escape only to be stopped by Batman. At the end Batman said that he preferred to stay alone rather than work with one of the two.
Justice League Unlimited
In Justice League Unlimited, Elongated Man appears in a few episodes voiced by Jeremy Piven. He did not have many speaking roles and appeared as mostly a background character. He was seen in the following episodes: "The Greatest Story Never Told", "The Ties That Bind" and "Clash." Ralph Dibny only had three speaking roles.
Ralph appears in the fourth season of the Flash. Similar to his comic counterpart Ralph is a private detective with his elastic powers. He is played by Hartley Sawyer.