64 years ago - Patrick "Eel" O'Brian is born.
52 years ago - 12-year-old Eel is left by his parents to fend for himself.
47 years ago - 17-year-old Eel starts his career as a burglar.
42 years ago - 22-year-old Eel is abandoned by his gang after a botched robbery job. He is shot, and nearly drowns in a mysterious chemical. He becomes Plastic Man.
30 years ago - 34-year-old Eel semi-retires.
51-year-old Eel O'Brian starts helping his son Luke McDunnagh O'Brian's practice with his newly manifested powers.
1 years ago - 63-year-old Eel comes out of retirement to temporarily join the Watchtower and help in the fight against Maggeddon.
While you'd think that having an elastic body would be a pretty weird, outlier superpower; it's actually surprisingly common. Elongated Man, Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel, Elasti-Girl of both the Doom Patrol and Incredibles variety... there's quite a few characters that have taken this power and ran with it. Of all of them, however, Plastic Man is undoubtedly the first, and the one who takes that power to its most rediciulous extreme. Eel O'Brian has been Plastic Man since the Golden Age of comics, and more than any other stretchy hero Plas operates with the logic of a cartoon character. It really works, and when a writer like Grant Morrison decides to lean into cartooniness, make it a character trait, and let it stand on its own in a more serious story, what you get is a fantastic character that just makes comics awesome.
Plastic Man's Comic History
Plastic Man was created by cartoonist Jack Cole. He's one of the original comic book characters, debuting in 1941 in Police Comics #1, a publication by Quality Comics. Plastic Man wasn't a character that needed anything as complex as an origin, he was just a wacky cartoon character that went on world-saving adventures with his girlfriend and sidekick.
He got his own series in 1943, and continued to be one of Qualities flagship characters for the duration of their existence. Their assets were sold off in the 50's, a victim of the decline of comic sales. DC bought the bulk of their characters, although most of them weren't kept in publication. He remained a relic of the golden age, until the mid seventies, when he made a one-time guest appearance on the animated series Super Friends, which led to the creation of the Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, which ran from 1979-1981.
He returned to the comics after the Infinite Crisis in 1986, reimagined by comic artist and cartoonist Phil Foglio, being given some small degree of backstory. It was Grant Morrison who introduced the idea that Batman, of all people, recognized what a resource Plastic Man could be despite his weirdness, and suddenly this relic of the Golden Age was a member of the JLA. We got to see him and all his zany antics right in the midst of the League's serious missions. Only in comics.
Our Plastic Man Story
This is a really fun character to include, because his influence on the overall timeline is actually pretty limited, but when he does show up he's a lot of fun. He's a Golden Age character, but wasn't owned by DC at the time, so he doesn't ever appear in any of the superhero teams of that era. We absolutely want to reference the fact that he's a legacy character, but still want him to be able to appear in the modern stories as a member of our Watchtower.
We've already created a team specifically for this sort of character: the All-Star Squadron. He fits in incredibly well alongside other heroes that have gone on to influence modern heroes, to have their children follow in their footsteps. In his case, he's actually both.
Plastic Man's son came into modern continuity in 2005, and while we imagine that there's the seeds of a good idea in that character, we really love the idea that Plastic Man's retirement from superheroics came about because he had a kid, and wanted to be there for him. It makes sense that he wouldn't actually age, given his powers, and it works to have him basically just pop in occasionally when characters like Batman ask for his help, and even have him briefly join the Watchtower for a time, but for the most part he's just a dedicated parent focused on raising his son. It's not something you see a lot, but it totally works for what is otherwise a very wackadoodle character that just makes DC as a whole better for having him in it.