The Elongated Man
The world-famous Elongated Man enjoys seeing Princess Portia in tiny Glen View until his nose for a mystery begins to twitch! Featuring the birth of Ralph and Sue’s daughter, Deborah Dibny!
Ralph Dibny was annoyed as he strolled down the tidy streets of Glen View, frowning as he passed by rows of potted plants and colorful flowers. It wasn’t that the hero objected to the fact that the tiny town lacked the flashy entertainment spots offered by a Gotham City or a Metropolis, nor did Elongated Man really mind the slower pace of the tiny community. Rather, he was irritated because no one was really paying any attention to him, even though he casually elongated his neck or ears as he made his way down the street.
His very pregnant wife, Sue Dibny, rolled her eyes as she detected what was bothering the sleuth she loved. She was a pretty, dark-haired heiress of the Dearborn family who wore a nautical-styled maternity dress, much to her disgust. “Honestly, Ralph, why don’t you just bulge your eyes out like some sideshow freak?” she said.
Ralph smiled. “That’s geek, not freak. It’s sideshow geek — I’ve told you before.”
Sue elbowed him and said, “Honey, you shouldn’t mind being upstaged just this once. After all, Princess Portia of Moldacia is like another Grace Kelly — American starlet turned European royalty. No wonder when she returns for a rare visit to her hometown, the folks ignore even the famous Elongated Man to gape at her.”
“That’s world-famous Elongated Man!” quipped Ralph as he snaked an arm around Sue’s white, red, and blue outfit.
“Excuse me for the slip,” she replied. “I’m looking like a member of the Disney World Navy. I wish maternity clothes weren’t so — so–”
“Sickeningly cute?” said Ralph as they stopped to rest.
“I married you for your way with words,” she said.
“Not to mention my adorable and downright infectious sense of humor,” he added.
“I tried not to,” she said as they joined the crowds assembled to greet Portia Storme, who had been born as Julie Madison, only later changing her name to make it big in Hollywood.
Sue smiled indulgently. She was deeply in love with her husband, and their banter was a long-established part of their relationship. For all of her rather spoiled unbringing as a New York blue blood débutante, she took most things with a good-natured spirit. Her passion for fashion had left her feeling aghast at the maternity clothes she had to endure, but nothing Ralph did really made her all that mad — most of the time. “Look, Ralph, there she is! She’s lovely. Although I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing those heels with that gown.”
Ralph saw the crowd thicken while cameras flashed in unison. “Here, hon, let me give you a boost so you can get a clear photo.” He expanded one hand enormously and elevated his wife. She rose above the heads of the crowd and snapped away eagerly with her camera.
“Got some good shots!” she began. “I–”
A murmur rose from the crowd, and police and Moldacian security men scrambled at once.
Ralph’s nose began to twitch wildly. “My gosh! Princess Portia’s disappeared!” he yelled.
Later, the Elongated Man listened attentively as the local cops and the Moldacian security team discussed the vanishing princess.
“All possible security steps were taken,” whined a fat mayor. “All visitors carefully screened. In a town so small as ours, it’s easy to know who belongs and who does not.”
“Heck, chief, I know you pulled out all the stops,” said Ralph. “Why, even a world-famous crime-fighter and detective like myself received a real screening before entering the town limits.”
“We appreciate your help, Mr. Dibny,” said Reynoir, the Moldacian head of security. “A Justice League hero could surely solve this baffling mystery.”
“OK, let’s take things in order,” said Ralph. “One: Portia’s visit was well-publicized, and thus anyone who wanted to grab her could plan for this particular spot. Two: Security guarantees no one has exited town in hours. Three: No odd energy patterns like a teleportation beam can be detected. My buddy Hawkman’s device proves that. Luckily, he was able to beam it down to me.”
Sue yawned wearily. “Ralph, I’m feeling really beat. I need… Oh, dear! Ralph, it’s time!”
“Sure, sure, honey,” he replied. “We’ll take you back to the room in a sec.”
Sue spoke firmly, “Ralph, it’s time for the baby!”
He gulped and cried, “Ohhh! Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll get you to Glen View General fast. Mayor Pike, boil water! Alert the press!” He elongated his legs and arms and wildly carried Sue to the hospital.
Outside the delivery room at Glen View General Hospital, Ralph Dibny paced with gigantic strides that left other fathers startled and disturbed.
Poor dear! he thought. I sure hope everything goes OK! Me and my nose for trouble. The poor kid could have been in comfort, but I had to drag her on one more trip cross-country. Once I’m a father, that’ll stop. No more living out of suitcases for the Dibnys. No more life on the road like camera-happy tourists. He stopped cold. “Camera-happy! That’s it!”
Ralph hesitated as he whirled first toward Sue’s delivery room, then back toward the exit of the hospital. “I’ll be back! Have to… stretch my legs!” he yelled.
Literally racing over town with legs stretched to the limit, he snaked out both arms and, like a human slingshot, propelled himself into the hotel window.
He surprised a balding man who was searching through their luggage. “Ah-ha! as Ellery Queen might put it!” snapped Ralph.
The man gasped and pulled out a gun.
“Stupid! Stupid and a waste of time,” said Ralph as his fists shot out to knock the thug flat. “I knew you could not have taken Portia out of town with all the security around, so you played it smart. You set me and Sue up to do your dirty work for you.” He picked up Sue’s camera, smiling knowingly.
Later, at the hospital, the Elongated Man sat in the waiting room and explained his feet of deduction to a smiling Mayor Pike and a beaming Princess Portia.
“I realized that Portia Storme vanished right when Sue took her photo. That came to me later. I figured that it might tie into a case Batman once told me about that involved an atomic camera — a device a criminal scientist named Hal Durgin used to rob things. The machine looked like a normal camera, but whatever it took a photo of became a film image like on a negative — stored inside the camera. Then, later on, the user could develop the atomic film, so to speak, and whatever was in the picture would materialize again.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Negative Batman,” (October, 1960).]
Mayor Pike said, “So this thug knew you were one of the celebrities headed for Julie’s — er, I mean Portia’s visit and substituted this atomic camera for Sue’s real one right before you reached our town. Then, when Sue took Portia’s picture, she turned into a living negative and was trapped inside the camera’s other dimension until the thug could retrieve the camera from your room, eventually leave town with it, and restore her elsewhere after their safe escape!”
“Exactly!” said Ralph. “Luckily, I have the type of mind that thinks in non-traditional manners. Shape-shifting is my way of life. Plus, I knew about the atomic camera from Batman and all, since we once shared a case involving a different atomic camera that could alter people’s facial features and give them amnesia for several hours. (*) I figured the goon would need to break into our room to steal back the atomic camera and Portia inside it.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Museum of Mixed-Up Men,” Detective Comics #331 (September, 1964).]
“Mr. Dibny, your wife is ready for you,” said a smiling nurse. “You’re the proud parents of a baby girl!”
Ralph raced in and kissed Sue, who held their tiny newborn child. “Isn’t she wonderful?” Sue said tearfully.
Grinning hugely, Ralph said, “She is! She’s the best mystery I ever saw. Raising her will keep me ever finding new things to learn and do!”
“She has your eyes!” said Sue.
As the tiny child stirred slightly, one little hand suddenly elongated.
“She has my powers, too! Innately!” he cried. “Well, Deborah Dearborn Dibny may get a second name one of these fine days!”
Sue nodded. “Elastic Girl? Elongated Girl?”
“Elastica!” said Ralph, snapping his fingers. “Or maybe Elongated Man’s Daughter, in all caps?”