SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Super Sons Annual #1 by Peter J. Tomasi and Paul Pelletier, on sale now.
DC Comics' Rebirth has been especially kind to the animals of the DC Universe, finding forever homes for Krypto and Ace the Bat-Hound with their respective caretakers – even the Bat-Cow has found a place in the Wayne Manor barn. Peter J. Tomasi and Paul Pelletier's Super Sons Annual #1 takes it a step further with a new menagerie of furry and feathered characters who call themselves the Super Pets.
This collective of crimefighting critters features not only Krypto and Bat-Cow, but also Batman's other hound Titus, the reintroduced Streaky the Super-Cat, and the fan-favorite Detective Chimp. But there are also two brand-new creatures introduced into the annals of Rebirth that have seeming connections to some other familiar DC characters.
Flexi the Plastic Bird bears powers similar to those of his namesake Plastic Man, and his markings clearly evoke the whimsical character's traditional red costume – the dark colors around his eyes even recall Plas' trademark goggles. Oddly enough, Flexi's appearance predates Plastic Man's own official return to DC continuity, as Plas remains nestled in his egg, as seen in Dark Nights: Metal.
Then there's the ambiguously blobby Clay Critter, who's more akin to the malformed runt from a batch of gingerbread cookies than any kind of animalistic creature. Sadly, though, Clay Critter is only seen in flashback, having apparently met his demise during the Super Pets last adventure. Alive or dead, though, just who could these creatures be, exactly?
What Is Flexi's Connection to Plastic Man?
Well, since Flexi is a bird, it's fair to assume that he hatched from an egg – just like his presumed companion Plastic Man is expected to do at some point during Metal. Little is known about the mysterious egg that showed up in Batman's lunar cave as seen in Dark Days: The Forge, other than it's at least partially composed from the highly coveted Nth metal, and that Plas is presumably contained inside, like a giant glob of Silly Putty. Plastic Man might not be the egg's only occupant, though – since the egg's nature and purpose largely remains unknown, it's entirely possible that Flexi could be cooped up inside with him. This would postulate that the story in this issue takes place after Metal, or at least after Plastic Man emerges, so Plas might very well be out in the world while his pal Flexi joins up with his furry colleagues.
In the aftermath of Metal, Plastic Man is slated to join up with DC's new team known as The Terrifics, and the promotional images for this upcoming title show Plas in a new black and white costume – a far cry from his near-iconic red outfit with its yellow and black trim. With Flexi's markings replicating Plas' old uniform, though, that classic design is apparently stored in his DNA, although an origin explaining exactly how that happened is still a story yet to be told. If Flexi ever starts a family, however, that design stands to become an aviary staple, forever preserved in nature.
Clay Critter, We Never Knew Ye
Now, what about Clay Critter? Did Basil Karlo, aka Clayface, try to fashion himself a pet at some point from his own form, only to have it take on its own sentience, and escape? Based solely on name and appearance, Clay Critter seems to have an obvious connection to Batman's shape changing villain. Or does it tie somehow into Wonder Woman's origin, and Diana of Themyscira's own creation from clay? With two of the Super Pets having a connection to Superman, and two more with Batman, the third member of DC's Trinity seems deserving of a pet of her own – even if it's by far the ugliest of the bunch.
An origin for the character might be a moot exercise at this point, though, as poor Clay Critter is only introduced to the DC Universe posthumously. While clearly a revered member of the team, according to Detective Chimp, its seemingly smoldering remains are mourned over by Krypto in flashback – either CC died heroically in a battle atop the Daily Planet building, or it simply baked itself to dust while catching some rays atop the Planet's rooftop globe.
If the deadly serious Batman can have a pet cow, and the stoic Superman's two four-legged pets help him fight for truth and justice, then surely there's a place for the glib and flippant Plastic Man to have an animal sidekick as well, so Flexi's place in Rebirth seems secure. Clay Critter, though, will need a resurrection – which is certainly something well within the realm of possibilities in the comic book world.