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Flatman

Contributed by Ronald Byrd

Flatman first came to attention as a member of the Great Lakes Avengers, a super-team operating out of the upper US; his origin, along with those of his teammates (Mister Immortal, Big Bertha, Dinah Soar, Doorman), is unknown. The team was led by genuine Avenger Hawkeye for a while; when he moved on to other projects, the Great Lakes Avengers renamed themselves the Lightning Rods and continued their crimefighting activities, appearing in Deadpool and Thunderbolts. Their effectiveness as super-heroes tends to depend upon the whim of the writer in question.

The question of Flatman’s sexual orientation arose during his appearance in a Deadpool storyline, when his uncanny ability to recognize a woman’s shoe sent forward in time (although he gives every appearance of understanding various aspects of the space-time continuum, perhaps his doctorate is in podiatry?) is viewed as somewhat odd by his teammates. He attributes this to having “studied fashion in college.” When he colloquially refers to a man he is rescuing as “sailor,” however, we are perhaps led, despite his denials, to wonder if more is (ahem) afoot here than it seems. These rather stereotypical traits are probably more indicative of the Deadpool creative staff’s tendency toward the offbeat and a disinterest in treating the Lightning Rods seriously than anything else, but they should still be kept in mind.

Flatman exists in a somewhat two-dimensional humanoid form, in which condition he can stretch his limbs and body to great lengths. This ability is somewhat similar to that of the Thin Man, member of the Liberty Legion in the 1940s, but no specific connection between the two has been established. It is possible that Flatman is in fact unable to return to normal human form, but this, too, has not been definitively established.

Dan Slott, writer of the 2005 GLA mini, wrote a scene in which the GLA fought a villain named Leather Boy and had all of them make stereotypical presumptions that the villain was gay. Ventura set his teammates — ahem — straight and then came out himself.

Flatman exists in a somewhat two-dimensional humanoid form, in which condition he can stretch his limbs and body to great lengths. This ability is somewhat similar to that of the Thin Man, member of the Liberty Legion in the 1940s, but no specific connection between the two has been established. In the first issue of Great Lakes Avengers (2016), Ventura demonstrates that he can switch back to a three dimensional form.

Also in Great Lakes Avengers #1, Dr Ventura also successfully negotiated with a law firm to have the “Great Lakes Avengers” officially reinstated as a permanent addition to the Avengers. Ecstatic at his accomplishment, Ventura is trying to get the GLA members back together. So far only Big Bertha and Door Man have responded.

The following paragraph includes information from the recently released Great Lakes Avengers #3 (2017) and should be considered as spoilers!

Writer Zac Norman expands on Flatman’s history through a sequence of flashback scenes. He’s a harried coffee barista (whose name is really Matt) at Coolio Beans Coffee when a man named Andrew flirts as he gives his order. The firtation embarrasses him, causing his first power manifestation. Rather than being scared, Andrew circles a newspaper classified ad for super powered people and tells him to get in touch. Andrew’s job is aa a party planner and specializes in birthday parties. The two men soon become a couple, but a growing dissatisfaction with working parties leads to a split with the couple. This in turn leads to the creation of “Dr Val Ventura” and his alter ego Flatman.

Flatman’s creator is John Byrne and he first appears in West Coast Avengers #46. Deadpool #11 (1997) is the issue in which his possible homosexuality is construed by the writer. Dan Slott had Flatman come out in G.L.A. #4 (2005). Art by Paul Pelletier and Rick Magyar. Updated information by Joe Palmer.

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July 12, 2021
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