Brand Echh – Plastic Man #16

As interest in comic books and super heroes began to grow in the 1960s, several fly-by-night companies attempted to get in on the action. One such organization was Super Comics, published by Israel Waldman. Waldman’s M.O. was to try to make a buck as cheaply as possible, and so for his Super Comics output, he had sourced a big stack of existing film and reproduction materials for comics published during the Golden Age and, without securing any rights whatsoever, he wrapped them in new covers and released them in bulk lots to supermarkets and toy and department stores. The books were undated, so they were effectively evergreen and could remain on sale indefinitely. Waldman stayed away from anything that would draw the ire of the publishers still in the field, but everything else was open game to him. For a goodly portion of fans in the 1960s, the Super Comics releases were the first place they were able to experience actual Golden Age pre-Comics Code comic books. (Waldman didn’t bother with the Code since he was selling his wares directly to retail outlets and bypassing the regular newsstand distribution model entirely.)

Among the varied and assorted books that Super Comics released was this issue of PLASTIC MAN, one of three they reprinted. The issue numbers on the covers were pretty randomly placed–it seems that Waldman wanted to give the impression that all of his titles were long-running series, but this gave early fans conniptions as they tried to track down issues that didn’t actually exist. Super released three issues of PLASTIC MAN in total, numbered #11, #16 and #18. Two of them contained the complete editorial content from a pair of Quality Comics’ PLASTIC MAN series, while the last was taken from an issue of POLICE COMICS and included the Spirit and Manhunter as well as adventures of Plas himself.

This particular issue contained the contents of Quality’s PLASTIC MAN #21 initially published in 1950, thirteen years earlier. And it gave readers of the day a chance to experience the unbridled zanyness of Jack Cole’s elastic hero. The new cover on this book was done by Gray Morrow, and it’s really quite nice.

As you can see, the printing quality on the Super book was haphazard at best–Waldman wasn’t that concerned with quality control, only with squeezing nickels out of customers without having to work too hard at it. These bootleg Plastic Man releases were one of the motivators for DC to bring the character back into active use in 196 (They had purchased Plastic Man along with all of the other Quality titles in 1957, but only continued to publish a few titles, such as G.I. COMBAT and BLACKHAWK. Plas was exiled to limbo until events caused him to be focused upon once again.)

This issue contained a pair of Plastic Man stories drawn by Jack Cole and written by Bill Woolfolk bracketing a Woozy solo feature that Cole both wrote and drew. As such, it was a very entertaining package for the money spent.

Lousy, almost criminal registration of the printing plates on this page.

One thought on “Brand Echh – Plastic Man #16

  1. They must have deluged grocery stores with these things. I remember picking one up at a tiny store in Norristown Pennsylvania. I was kind of a palled, not being a fan of plastic man, but I knew something wasn’t right.

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