… and then she said said that she saw him in the food court talking to … wait a minute. Where was I?!
Oh, yeah! We were just about to take a look at the first half of one of my favorite Plastic Man stories!
In Police Comics #4, Plastic Man is pretty much fully formed as a character, having embraced his role as a hero completely. But just because Eel O’Brian isn’t pulling off crimes of the century anymore doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of enterprising bad guys running around — including one of my favorite Plastic Man rogues and his first recurring villain, Madam Brawn!
Right from the beginning, I love everything about Madam Brawn. She’s running a crime school for women, wears overalls and diamond earrings that look as if they came off a chandelier, and is tough enough to pull it all off. Soon enough, she’s smoking stogies and putting her big plans into motion. She’s the best.
I’d assume there’s a high bar just to get into Madam Brawn’s School for Delinquent Girls, so I can only imagine how tough the graduates must be. They’re on a hair-trigger and take no guff from anyone! After smacking Lefty Goon’s … goon … around a little, they send the gang leader a message in lipstick, delivered courtesy of the bald-headed lug they just tossed around. (Who claims he was ambushed by “six giants in a dark alley.”)
Lefty, of course, doesn’t much care for threats or anyone trying to muscle in on his territory. He goes down to Madam Brawn’s farm to warn the “ambitious wench” that she’s playing a dangerous game, and Brawn gives a stern reply.
After Lefty gets a right for his trouble (and a broken arm), the gang is chased off by Brawn’s attack dogs and they don’t stop running until they get back to their hideout. Smarting from the beating and the complete disregard she’s shown them, Lefty hatches a plan to rout her from her farm and out of his hair.
Naturally, it involves stolen Army tanks.
Luckily, Eel O’Brian is hanging around the hideout, and soon Plastic Man is on his way to Madam Brawn’s farm to try and stop what he’s sure will be a massacre!
Madam Brawn might appreciate the warning, but she doesn’t need Plastic Man’s help — her own gang soon has Plas in literal knots, and it’s time for the Brawn blitz!
Hoo boy — one thing you’d don’t want to do is tick off Madam Brawn. The story has given us an idea of how rough-and-tumble she is, but what does she do when she’s pushed too far?
She pulls the pin out of a grenade with her teeth and LETS YOU HAVE IT.
Is it any wonder I love Madam Brawn so much? And she’s really a perfect foil for Plastic Man — a powerful woman who has immersed herself in a life of crime as much as Plas has tried to pull himself out of it. She’s tough, smart, and as solid as Plas is pliable. I’ve said it before, but I’d like to see what Gail Simone or Jeff Parker could do with Plastic Man, and I would love to see them bring Madam Brawn back as a permanent part of his rogue’s gallery.
Back in our story, Plastic Man has managed to free himself, but it’s too late; Brawn and her ladies of mayhem have wiped out Lefty Goon and his entire mob. And not just beaten up or run off — they’re all dead, killed at the hardened hands of Brawn’s delinquent girls. In spite of this, Plas refuses to fight her. He’s a gentleman, after all.
Once Madam Brawn tires herself out, Plas offers her a way out — after all, the slaughter was all in self-defense, right? Er … anyway, they come to an agreement: If Brawn and her gang leave town forever, Plas won’t arrest them all for illegal possession of firearms. Realizing she’s not in position to negotiate, Madam Brawn agrees to Plastic Man’s terms … or does she?!
And boy, does she have plans. But we’ll have to wait until next time to find out how this story ends!
Police Comics #4 (Plastic Man): Jack Cole, writer/artist