Patrick “Eel” O’Brian, aka Plas or Plastic Man was one of the Golden Age classics. Shown here is my Plastic Man #16 from March 1949. I appreciate it for it’s “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” cover, and the fact I recollect #12 from the ‘Ole Man’s collection.
In those days comics were considered a quick, throw away, inexpensive form of entertainment. But if professional reviews would have been handed out, Plastic Man would have likely been critically acclaimed.
Creator Jack Cole had a unique sense of humor that showed in his casting of mad capped characters. Ironically, the superhero Plas was the serious one – yet he was able to stretch and form into any shape (frequently a silly one). Plas eventually acquired a sidekick named Woozy Winks.
Plastic Man’s origin was a criminal who encountered a nasty mix of chemicals on a robbery job. The blend empowered him with super stretch abilities. After his co-conspirators left him in the lurch, Plas decided to switch sides and fight crime with his newly acquired abilities.
The character first appeared in publisher Quality Comics Police Comics #1 on August, 1941. By 1943 Plas had his own title. The series lasted all the way to 1956, when Quality Comics was bought by DC. By that time the series was no longer done by Cole (who had since moved on to even greater success as illustrator of good girl/pin up gag art for Playboy Magazine). DC did not continue running Plastic Man. It did try a revival in 1966, but that lasted just two years. Plas made occasional appearances for DC since, including a Saturday morning TV cartoon in 1979 and occasionally in The Justice League of America.