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Monday, June 26, 2017

Plastic Man Key Comics Part 1

Alright, and surprise, surprise! It's another key issues series and this time was requested by Mike R. I thought it would be a fun series to explore for a bit. 

Never touched on this character, and, hey, I remember watching a few episodes of that late 70s and early 80s Plastic Man cartoon. Well, I vaguely remember them.

It was on right after Super Friends. Well, I admit that I never really became a fan of the character so I'm no expert for sure.

So, quite a bit of reading had to be done, and reading Golden Age comics is fun, a whole different experience. Speaking of Golden Age, that's where we're obviously going to begin.

1st appearance & origin of Plastic Man

Created by Jack Cole, the original Plastic Man was one of the popular super-hero characters for Quality Comics back in the good ole Golden Age of comics. Yes, character was later acquired by DC Comics.

So the original was Patrick "Eel" O'Brian, a crook who had grown up on the wrong side of the tracks to say the least. Orphaned at 10 years old, Patrick learned the tricks of the trade when it came to robbin' and thievin' and ended up becoming a pretty reputable safe cracker.

To be blunt, he was a well-known crook. So with this in mind, we get the first appearance of Plastic Man and the origin. Jeez, I love when these firsts were so much easier to pinpoint.

Although the villain of Skizzle Shanks is the first villain for the character, he's not really anything major nor appears all that much. For the most part, Plastic Man during the Golden Age did not have a recurring nemesis, and had a revolving door of different villains he encountered.

Plastic Man is one of the first super-hero characters that utilized humor in the super-hero genre of comics. After watching the video, I do remember quite a bit more about his cartoon series and revisted fond memories of watching the cartoon during the early 80s. If you grew up around that time, you may remember it as well.

If not, here's what my generation was geeking out on the TV back in the day as kids. If the video is blank, it got taken down on the youtube.

Oh, man, memories flooding back and remember the show had a real dude play Plastic Man. This is a bit ahead and the show was when DC Comics owned the character.

I think Plastic Man would be a cool character for a live action movie or TV show. Pretty zany and if the DCeU is constantly picked on for being too dark, serious, and gloomy...well, this would be a good character to do an action/comedy like they're planning with Booster Gold & Blue Beetle.

That's just my thoughts and not to hype up this comic or anything. This issue is already pretty up there in price and it's currently pinned at over 17k for a low NM or 9.2 in the OPG.

In terms of sales of slabs at Heritage, this comic is definitely not over-looked for sure. An 8.0 CGC copy sold May 19, 2017 for $11,950. Overstreet has a VF raw at $6,906.

CGC Census for this comic currently is seen below. Judge for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

Police Comics #1 and the debut and origin of Plastic Man (the original) has the cover date of August, 1941 and was released around May of the same year.

2nd appearance of Plastic Man
1st Captain Murphey 

Captain Murphey is the first recurring character in the original Plastic Man comics during the Golden Age. Of course, he is a police captain and has no idea that the well-known former criminal Eel O'Brian is also the crime fighting Plastic Man.

Because of that, he constantly desires and attempts to arrest the notorious O'Brian. An interesting twist on the double life gag in super-hero comics.

So Eel continues his schtick to masquerade as a criminal and get the inside scoop in order to take down criminals in this fantastic second tale of Plastic Man. This time, he takes down a drug racket and the drug is opium.

Did our grandparents have an opiate problem also? You've heard of the "French Connection", right? 

As depicted in this Plastic Man story, the dope was being smuggled into the U.S. via Canada which originally came from France and Turkey in the really, real world. As their deal states, Plastic Man did break up the dope racket and led the po po to Eel O'Brian.

In the end of the story, Eel O'Brian eludes capture and Plastic Man is still allowed on the force. Back then, it was good to be a super-hero. 

CGC Census is also pretty low for this issue as of this writing. No 9.8s nor 9.6s for this issue yet.

Pretty interesting stuff. 2nd Plastic Man in comics, 1st Captain Murphey,  and Police Comics #2 has the cover date of September, 1941.

3rd appearance of Plastic Man
2nd Captain Murphey
3rd Plastic Man cover

Anything much to talk about here other than the 3rd appearance of Plastic Man and the 2nd appearance of Captain Murphey? Well, now Eel O'Brian is an official undercover lawman and this issues villain is a not so well-known or recurring baddie named Baldy Bushwhack.

Eh, okay, this is the 3rd Plastic Man cover but he is not the feature of the cover or the spotlight character. Firebrand is and Firebrand is the comics main featured story or character in the pages of this issue. That would not remain long.

Not making a big deal out of this being the 3rd Plastic Man cover or anything just to make clear. His face also shows up on the side in issue #2. 

CGC Census? Awe, do we have to? Eh, I guess it won't hurt. Besides I want to see five years from now how different the census looks from now, because now they look pretty scarce or just over-looked when it comes to getting these comics graded?

So far not a very high census for this issue. No one really talking about this issue or Plastic Man comics in general. 

Supposedly back in 1996, the Wachowskis were talking about writing a Plastic Man flick. The film didn't gain much traction and the Matrix ended up happening instead.

Overstreet tags this comic at $3,800 for a raw 9.2 copy and $490 for a VG. Police Comics #3 has the October, 1941

4th appearance of Plastic Man
1st Madam Brawn

Is Madam Brawn Plastic Man's 1st recurring villain? Not sure, but if she is, it's not like she appears all that much after her debut.

In fact, she dies the next issue. Like I mentioned before, Plastic Man stories during the Golden Age had a rotating door of some pretty unmemorable villains. Nobody that really became iconic when it came to baddies in the comic collecting world.

Plastic Man still isn't the featured character on the cover or the featured story in the comic yet. Alright, what's the CGC Census damage. I doubt it will be heavy since these comics aren't talked about on a large scale which I do find appealing.

Not to say that they aren't up there in price for high grade copies, so some out there still have their eye on these, but they don't really sell that often or at least there aren't that many records of them online. Here's Heritage's archives on this particular issue.

eBay's sold page for this issue is zilch or nil and even for raw copies. As for selling, quite a bit of photocopy copies.

Overstreet has raw 9.2s at $3200 and VG 4.0s at $412. That is from the 46th OPG.

In the 44th, prices at those grades were at $400 for VG and $3100 for low NM or 9.2 raw copies.

Just a bit more information you can use or consider and Police Comics #4 has the cover date of November, 1941.

5th appearance of Plastic Man
1st Plastic Man as feature character on cover
Death of Madam Brawn

Not sure what to call this in terms of cover goodness, because this is the first cover where Plastic Man is the main feature for Police Comics. It's obviously not his first cover as his face does show up in those side pictures on the very first issue. He doesn't become the main feature story in this issue either.

Despite not becoming the main feature in the pages of Police Comics, this issue does begin when Plastic Man becomes the main featured character on the covers. I guess you can just note it "Plastic Man covers begin" as well, as Overstreet notes. They also note that Plastic Man is forced to smoke the mary jane also.

I suppose that's definitely worthy of a key issue. Hey, a super-hero smoking pot long before Speedy does smack? Pretty historic. That was written with sarcasm.

So Madam Brawn recurs for only one issue after her debut before she bites the dust. Once again, don't expect too many iconic villains to pop up here during Golden Age Plastic Man.

$5600 for a 9.2 raw according to the OPG. A CGC 4.5 sold on eBay back in March 24 for around $795 and that price is around Overstreet.

Here's the CGC Census for this comic at the time of this writing. Judge for yourself when it comes to the data below.

Dang! Don't wanna express too much surprise or excitement or it will seem like I'm "talking up" this comic too much.

Overstreet prices for this one in the current 46th Edition that's about to be replaced by the 47th Edition soon are as follows:

9.2 - $5600
9.0 - $3920
8.0 - $2240
6.0 - $960
4.0 - $640
2.0 - $320

The 44th Edition of OPG has this comic at these values:

9.2 - $5200
9.0 - $3635
8.0 - $2070
6.0 - $900
4.0 - $600
2.0 - $300

As usual, make up your own mind and conclusions about the rarity or not or the potential concerning this issue or anyother Plastic Man comics. December, 1941 is the cover date for Police Comics #5.

Becomes main feature in Police Comics

Plastic Man becomes the featured character and story in Police Comics in this issue. Yep, Plastic Man story is first and front and center beginning with this issue. Well, that's until the super-hero comics fell out of favor during the later part of the Golden Age.

He obviously becomes the star of this comic title, or treated as such. Despite this momentous moment in comics, this issue isn't really all that sought-out by collectors, speculators or even comic investors yet.

CGC Census isn't impressively high or anything, and I think that's a good thing. 

Not that many people talking about this issue or Plastic Man comics yet, and that may be considered a good thing. Regardless of whether it is, Police Comics #9 has the cover date of May, 1942.

1st appearance of Woozy Winks

Wolfgang Winks is the sidekick of Plastic Man and primarily used as a comic relief character. Created by Jack Cole, Woozy's personality was based on the comedy of Lou Costello and his appearance was based on Hugh Herbert.

Much like many comic relief characters in early comic books, Woozy was a bumbling and inept fool but also a former small time crook that often had moments of usefulness also. This character was carried into the DC Universe when they acquired the character.

In terms of this comics desirability at the time of this writing, it's not hugely expensive. OPG has low 9.2 raw copies pegged around $2,900. High grade copies of this issue are cheap at all, but let's get the CGC Census out of the way. 

If we're talking about CGC or slabbed copies, they are not easy finds and do sell for quite a bit. They may even sell for more than what they're going for in any current OPG as of this writing. 

Here's screen shots of past sales at Heritage Auctions:

Zero recorded CGC eBay sales on GoCollect so far, and the most recent Heritage sale was of a raw VG/FN back in November of 2014 that sold for $227.05 smackers. In the 2014-2015 OPG, this comic at VG was pegged at $348 dollars.

Pretty over-looked comic? Once again, leave that up to you to decide. 

If you're looking for alternatives to Marvel and DC keys to invest or collect and somewhat a fan of this character, these Police Comics may be something to consider.

Released around September 9th, Police Comics #13 has the cover date of November, 1942. 

Asked to join the FBI

It's war time and the adventures of Plastic Man need an upgrade to represent that. What happens in this issue that's of importance?

Well, it's the fact that the President himself calls ole Plastic Man and requests him to actively serve the FBI. Here's how this plays out and it's seen at the very end of the story.

In the adventures to follow after this issue, we learn that Plas' role is counter-espionage. Perfect, right?

Plastic Man is a natural undercover agent since he can distort his face and features into various different appearances. Anyway, major change for Plas but Woozy is still his sidekick throughout. 

46th Overstreet Guide Values:

9.2 - $1200
9.0 - $847
8.0 - $493
6.0 - $231
4.0 - $154
2.0 - $77

CGC 5.5 sold on eBay for $288 in December of 2016. Still not that much sales data online to go off of. Police Comics #18 has the cover date of April, 1943.

1st Plastic Man as G-Man 
Last Eel O'Brian

That's right! Instead of being drafted, the President called upon Plastic Man's service and thought he could do more good here as an FBI G-Man. This issue marks a pretty important change in the Plastic Man story direction during the Golden Age.

Instead of Captain Murphey and a member of the po po, he would be an agent of the FBI. This issue here is his first adventure as an FBI agent.

When it comes to the last Eel O'Brian bit, that's what CGC notes the issue as. I'm not sure why they note it exactly like that, but I think this is the last issue where his identity of Eel O'Brian is mentioned in Quality Comics.

Not sure but I think that's what it means. If not, I have no clue then.

46th Overstreet Guide Values:

9.2 - $1200
9.0 - $847
8.0 - $493
6.0 - $231
4.0 - $154
2.0 - $77

Basically six Universal submissions as 2 of them ended up being Restos in the CGC Census to date or at the time of this writing. 

Overstreet values are the same as issue #18, and a 9.4 CGC sold at Heritage for $1314.50 around May of 2017. Not that much of a price difference between a CGC 9.4 and what raw 9.2s are guided at in the OPG.

Cover date is May, 1943 for Police Comics #19.

1st self-titled comic series
1st appearance of Chief Branner

Okay, technically this comic doesn't really have a number, or it's un-numbered. We all know it's a first issue though.

Issue #2 doesn't have a number either but it's still issue #2. This comic series starts numbering their issues beginning with issue #3.

Now we got that out of the way, this is the first head-lining and on-going comic series for Plastic Man. Yep, he was so awesome back in the day that Quality decided he needed to star in his own comic title.

Other than being a 1st issue to his own comic title, we do get the debut of a Chief Branner. This Branner guy is Plastic Man's superior at the FBI.

Branner is a pretty important supporting character in the world of Plastic Man comics. This Chief Branner would cross-over into DC Comics, and so does Woozy Winks.

Regardless, he is a main supporting character for Plastic Man during this time. With the introductions out of the way, let's take a peep at the CGC Census for this particular issue.

Still pretty low considering. Alright, some Overstreet values?

9.2 - $8200
9.0 - $5717
8.0 - $3234
6.0 - $1329
4.0 - $886
2.0 - $443

Definitely not a cheap book or that under the radar currently. Let's peep the 44th Edition of OPG has this comic at these values:

9.2 - $7800
9.0 - $5444
8.0 - $3088
6.0 - $1269
4.0 - $846
2.0 - $423

Not super impressive growth but healthy growth for this comic concerning VF and up. Of course, that is according to Overstreet. Not a whole lot of sales data out there for this issue.

So back in 2013, a CGC 5.5 of this issue sold on eBay for $1,151. In January of 2016, a CGC 3.0 on eBay sold for $750. A copy of the same 3.0 grade in 2015 sold for $800.

Not a whole lot of copies of this one make it to market either, and Plastic Man #1 of the first Quality Comics series has the cover date of July, 1943.

Last Plastic Man in series

Enter the era of the Golden Age when comic readers got bored of super-hero comics. Yep, I've talked about this many a times, and super-hero comics fell out favor during this time in comic history.

Didn't matter if it was Atlas, or DC or Quality, many publishers began to change formats and switch to other genres like romance, horror, suspense, crime, western, science-fiction, whatever the trend was. Not all super-hero comics were ka-put. 

We all know that Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman comics were still published during the super-hero drought. With that said, this is the last Plastic Man in this titled series. 

No more story feature, no more spotlight character on the cover (his last one in this Golden Age comic title). Plastic Man was cut from this series but still had adventures in his own titled series for an extra few golden years.

Basically, the character was still published all the way up until the very beginning of the Silver Age and then that was it for Plas for over a decade.

Kinda the beginning of the end for Golden Age Plastic Man, but the character would surprisingly survive for the next six years in his own titled series.

Well, five to be accurate. The last year and last couple of issues of the very 1st Plastic Man titled comic series were all reprints of earlier stories.

October, 1950 is the cover date for Police Comics #102.

Last original Plastic Man story in series

Okay, key issue? Kinda, sorta. I wouldn't say it's anything major, but historically this issue does mark the last original story for Plastic Man during the Golden Age. The rest are all reprints and the series did last until issue #64.

Issue #64 had a cover date of November, 1956. That is after Barry Allen as the Silver Age Flash made his debut in Showcase #4 and supposedly kicked off the resurgence or revival of the super-hero genre in comics again.

Plastic Man? This character was on it's way out by then, and "a character" of Plastic Man didn't appear in a new or original story until nearly 10 years after 1956. A bit of semantics here as I did use "a character" and not "the character" wording.

You'll see what I mean most likely in Part 2 when we cover Plastic Man under DC's banner. Okay, per the usual: CGC Census and definitely still low which shouldn't be surprising by now.

46th Edition Overstreet values? Check!

9.2 - $345
9.0 - $249
8.0 - $152
6.0 - $78
4.0 - $52
2.0 - $27

44th Edition Overstreet values? Check again!

9.2 - $360
9.0 - $259
8.0 - $158
6.0 - $81
4.0 - $54
2.0 - $26

Alright, so a 9.2 CGC copy sold at Heritage for $406.30 in May of 2017. Plastic Man #52 of the 1st series has the cover date of February, 1955.

This is a Plastic Man key comics series, but some of the issues do hold key notations for other Golden Age comic characters. One of those characters is Will Eisner's The Spirit.

Police Comics was an anthology comic, and it had a bunch of other characters that had stories and adventures in each issue of Police Comics. The 1st comic book appearance of the Spirit is in issue #11.

The story is actually a reprint from the newspaper comic strip, but it's still technically the first appearance of the character in a comic book or comic book format. Also Ebony White, the sidekick of The Spirit, also makes his 1st comic book appearance a bit later in the Police Comics series.

Furthermore, by issue #15 of Police Comics, Will Eisner's The Spirit character starts sharing the cover spotlight or feature with Plastic Man. No, not just his face at the side of the covers. He moves up to prime time sort of and actually shares the cover feature will Plastic Man as shown to the left over there. 

Big deal? Wouldn't say it's huge but still worth mentioning. Actually, despite the sharing of covers, The Spirit and Plastic Man never crossed-over and shared an adventure together during the Golden Age, and that is surely a shame.

Other than Plastic Man,  there's other key issue stuff going on in Police Comics, but this is a Plastic Man specific series. In the next part we are going to get into the Silver Age and when DC acquired the character. 

Believe me, it definitely gets a bit hairy, but I will try my best to explain it. We shall see how badly I fail. Alright, see ya all soon for Part 2.


  1. Hey Mayhem,

    I don' t like Plastic, I prefer... MISTER FANTASTIC!!! Ok, cheap jokes aside, here are my personal investments of the week. Finally I got my copy of Spectacular Spiderman 64, first Cloak and Dagger. I wanted this one for a long time, without wantin to pay to much. I got it for 15 in a condition of probably 6.0, so no big deal. Story and art did not disappoint and you can immediately understand why this team got such a quick and big fan following back in the day. Next ist Green Arrow - Green Lantern 85. Wow - what a cover! Neal Adams at it' s best! I would say my copy is a 7.0 which cost me 30. Still I wonder why this one is considered a key. I can' t believe that DC didn' t deal with serious issues like drugs before. Maybe you could clue me in, Mayhem.

    So long, gotta go

    Max Rebo

    1. Just my opinion here. You probably should have bought a copy of Spectacular Spider-Man 64 a while back before the hype of the book started. You definitely could have gotten a better copy for $15. I think the Green Lantern 85 was a better buy. If you don't have a copy of Green Lantern 86. You should look into getting one to complete that story. You can't go wrong with DC Bronze Age Neal Adams comics.

    2. Thanx, pal. Totally agree, allthough Spectacular Piderman 64 was always hot, wasn' t it? Hope the Cloak & Dagger tv show delivers...

      Max Rebo

    3. "we" as in collectively believe, Green Lantern #85 is the first time an actual super-hero in comics was depicted as an addict of what's considered a "hardcore" illegal substance. All about Comic Code and how they wouldn't allow certain subjects to be addressed or discussed in comics. Thing is that comics geared more towards teens and adults during this time, but it is a key because of what it depicted and when.

      The comic did help to push the boundaries of subject matter in comics, so historically a great key issue.

    4. Not really Max. It didn't start getting hot until about 2-3 years ago. I was able to snag a 9.2/9.4 range raw copy off EBay around that time for $30. So even then you where able to get affordable high grade raw copies. Not sure what graded copies where going for though.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm a huge Plastic Man fan. Scooby Doo Team Up 27 has his most recent appearance.

    1. Hi, there David, any suggestions for Plas keys? Does Earth-2 Plas from All-Star Squadron die? Heard about it but can't find any issue mentioning that.

  3. Plastic Man is just another Golden Age character that DC got and didn't do much with over the years. He's not in many major modern comics or story lines to get any recognition. I've had a FN copy of Plastic Man #1 (Silver Age) in my personal collection for over 10 years. It was only about $10 so why not. If an obscure character like Squirrel Girl can become popular then Plastic Man could do the same. You just never know.