48 years ago - Rita Farr is born.
29 years ago - 19-year-old Rita stars in her first slasher film & becomes a movie star.
24 years ago - 24-year-old Rita is lost in an Amazonian River during a movie shoot. She is incapacitated by mutogenic volcanic mist & barely manages to get to safety. Niles Caulder is called to save her. He helps her sustain her body shape and brings her into the Doom Patrol.
22 years ago - 26-year-old Rita helps the Doom Patrol save Gar Logan. She meets Steve Dayton. He becomes Mento & becomes a part-time Doom Patrol member to be closer to her.
19 years ago - 29-year-old Rita helps the Doom Patrol save Gar Logan from his abusive foster family. She adopts him.
17 years ago - 31-year-old Rita "dies" with the rest of the Doom Patrol, scattering her body across the ocean.
2 years ago - 46-year-old Rita's body is slowly recollected by both Niles Caulder, The Brotherhood of Evil & Vandal Savage. Gar Logan & the Titans help the Doom Patrol to save her & Gar stays with them to help Rita re-learn how to be a human. After the death of Niles Caulder she is recruited into the new Justice League.
Elasti-Girl is just one of the many reasons why the Doom Patrol is one of the best superhero teams to never really gain popularity in crossover media. The team is loaded with fantastic characters and ideas, and is inarguably the inspiration for the most popular team in comic book history, the X-men. Rita herself is a classic character that manages to avoid almost every cliche of female characters of the era. She's an important member of her team with engaging, physical powers that make her a real powerhouse, even in her early appearances. We've done everything we can to honor her history with the Doom Patrol while still building her up so that this truly fantastic character has a larger and more impressive role to play in DC at large.
Elasti-Girl's Comic History
Elasti-Girl first appeared, along with the rest of the Doom Patrol, in 1963. Like the other members of the team she is pretty clearly a riff on a member of the Fantastic Four which had only been introduced a few years previous, in her case she obviously has similar powers to Reed Richards while also filling the obligatory role of "pretty girl".
The similarities really stop there, however. Rita could very easily have been another wallflower of a team member, but for whatever reason she defied a lot of the conventions of the era. Perhaps it was the fact that she has a much more physical power than is usually given to female characters, but she really eschewed a lot of the traditional pitfalls. She was rarely talked down to or sexualized in a way that makes her a less vital member of the cast. She's given a romantic arc, but rather than reduce her to being a supporting character in her own book it actually made her even more compelling. Her role as adopted mother of Beast Boy also humanized her a great deal. After the initial death of the Doom Patrol in its original run, Rita made a few odd appearances here and there as the team's status in continuity was continually up in the air, but eventually resurfaced in 2009 when the book was written by Keith Giffen, who finally depicted her as the unstoppable engine of awesomeness she really is.
It's kind of tragic that this dynamic character isn't more popular, but part of the appeal of the Doom Patrol is that it's always been a hidden gem in the world of Comics. People just don't know about the team, and this amazing character just isn't the public eye.
Elasti-Girl's Absolutely Insane Badassery
It is actually impossible to overstate how gamebreakingly badass Elasti-Girl was. Female characters TODAY struggle to achieve the level of agency that Elasti-Girl had in the mid sixties. The closest contemporary she had at the time was the Fantastic Four's Invisible Girl, and while she would go on to be an incredibly powerful character it would take her decades to achieve it. In her early appearances Invisible Girl's entire contribution to the story was being told how useless she was by every guy she knew, crying about how useless she was, and being kidnapped. Meanwhile, Elasti-Girl was bitch-slapping dudes who tried to kiss her and fistfighting giant robots.
Rita's powers are pretty insane. She had all the body-shaping abilities of characters like Mister Fantastic, but she was also unbelievably strong, practically invulnerable, and could grow as big as a skyscraper. While this was an era when giving superheroes this level of power wasn't unheard of, usually it was by giving them some sort of godly omnipotence. This wasn't that at all, it was basically building the single most physically powerful character anyone has EVER created. This is Wolverine, Plastic Man, and Godzilla all wrapped up in a girl in a mini-skirt.
So where did this come from? How did they go about letting this character happen? Even in the sixties, wasn't there at least a little bit of attention given to making your characters THIS overpowered? The best explanation is that, to those 60's era writers, the fact that she was a woman just made her seem like a more docile character. The job of fighting people was left to Robotman. She was often relegated to lifting heavy things or protecting the others. Still, whether they meant to or not she was an absolute powerhouse, and even way back in the 60's you can find her absolutely wrecking shop.
Our Elasti-Girl Story
Elasti-Girl's story follows along with the Doom Patrol for the most part. She is the most outwardly normal of the original members but she can lose control of her shape if she's not careful, and that has left her feeling like as much of a freak and outsider as the others. She is a faithful member of the team, having her sometimes relationship with Steve and adopting Beat Boy... and then she, along with the rest of the Doom Patrol, are seemingly killed in an explosion at sea.
While the other original characters are found and return to the team over the years, it's Rita that really experiences the worst of the explosion that sundered the team. Her polymer body is scattered across the seabed and remains disembodied for a full 15 years. Recovering her becomes a major story for the Doom Patrol, marking the moment the original family and team are finally reunited.
Of course, we didn't keep it that way for long. In transitioning the team into its new Beast Boy-led lineup we didn't want him to have any original members of the Patrol to undermine him, and we also wanted to give Rita more attention, showing that she really is one of the best characters in DC's catalog. Moving her into the new Hall of Justice League seems like a outlandish idea, but it's very clear that she would absolutely thrive in this new role. This is the place for her to discover a new wellspring on confidence and step up to the plate as one of the most powerful heroes in the world.
We're pretty torn on the topic of Rita's costume. On one hand, it is really hard to argue with the red jumpsuit that she was equipped with in her 2009 return to comics; this is the outfit she's wearing in a lot of her best images since this series was the first time a writer really let her take full advantage of her powers... also, it has the added advantage of not putting her in a miniskirt while towering over a city full of people. As cool as it is, however, it doesn't really stand out as being uniquely Rita.
Her classic miniskirted Doom Patrol costume, on the other hand, is a far more iconic look. It creates a silhouette that is unmistakably Elasti-Girl. If she were standing in a group of unrelated characters, the red jumpsuit would seem like just another generic heroine, while the dress would make it clear who we're looking at. That'd probably be the look I'd with, because ultimately the costume needs to tell the story of the character.
There are small changes that we've made here and there to our timeline that don't really come from anywhere, just original ideas that we put into place because we really do think that they make sense. Something DC could use. Moving Elasti-Girl into the Justice League is actually one of my personal favorites of those original ideas.
As we leave out timeline, she's been in the League for a few years and is clearly coming into her own. One of my favorite things about our new Justice League lineup is the distribution of powers. The more you read these classic superhero teams, the more you see this tendency to give physical powers to men and more passive, support-style powers to women. Rita is one of very few characters that REALLY turn that on its head. She and Big Barda are the two characters right up in front punching invading space warlords, and that's fantastic.
Rita has missed a lot of time, and I imagine that watching her return to the world and rediscover herself is going to be a lot of fun.