Publisher: DC Comics
First Appearance: Fury of Firestorm #7 (December 1982)
Created By: Gerry Conway and Pat Broderick
Bette Sans Souci was dedicated to the separatist cause for her home province of Quebec – so dedicated she decided to speed things along with a heaping helping of, well, terrorism. Her first outing against Firestorm didn’t go so well – he used his powers to make her clothes disappear – so she used genetic experimenting to give herself innate explodey powers. Try and make those disappear, Hibachi Head!
An attempt to blow up the Statue of Liberty saw her thwarted again, this time by Captain Atom. After a brief and unsuccessful stint in the Suicide Squad, she gained her freedom – but her followers deserted her, and she turned to mercenary work to pay the bills.
Her new career led her to Cambodia, where she found herself stranded, with an injured Captain Atom her only ticket out of the country. She nursed him back to health, sparking a connection that would eventually lead her to reform and earn pardons from both the US and Canada. A newly-minted hero, she joined the Extreme Justice branch of the JLA (sorry, Bette), and she and Cap tied the knot.
Shockingly, a marriage between an ultra-Canadian former terrorist and an ultra-’Murican stick-in-the-mud didn’t work out and the two divorced, citing poutine-based differences. Bette returned to her criminal ways, doing a few more stints on the Suicide Squad, and helping Prometheus plant a bomb intended to blow up Fawcett City.
In the DCnU, Plastique is a member of the Secret Society of Supervillains.
So What’s So Great About Her?
Plastique is one of those rank and file villains who tends to be written wildly differently in “her” book versus her random guest appearances. When she shows up in crowd scenes, working with Prometheus or Grodd or whoever, she’s a generic supervillain, distinguished only by a pink latex suit and explodey fingers, and completely remorseless when it comes to villainy.
In comics with Captain Atom, though – and make no mistake, though she was initially a Firestorm rogue, she’s a Captain Atom supporting character through and through – she’s a bit more complicated. She’s still ruthless – she’s willing to kill hundreds if not thousands in pursuit of her political goals, and she initially saves Captain Atom only because she needs him alive to fly her to safety – but she’s also human. She experiences compassion when she thought she was beyond it, and regret, and even love. In her last bout with the Suicide Squad (where she was written with more complexity than most “guest” appearances, seeing as how “writing Z-list villains with nuance and sensitivity” is kind of John Ostrander’s thing), she’s fiercely angry over the death of the young and mostly-innocent Windfall. Despite her evil deeds – and they have been many – she has a heart.
Plus, she can blow shit up with her hands, and she’s super sassy. That’s always fun to read.
I know “villainess whose moral code wavers all over the place and who has a thing for the hero” isn’t exactly a new trope (that reminds me, I really have to write about Catwoman one of these days), but Plastique is a fun example of the type with a lot of potential. I hope the DCnU uses her accordingly.
The Fury of Firestorm #7, 33-36
Captain Atom v2 #2, 7-9, 21, 22, 44, 49, 50
Suicide Squad v1 #1-3
Extreme Justice #6-12, 16-18
Suicide Squad v3 #5-8
Justice League of America v2 #2-4, 15, 17, 18, 43
The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #19, 20