The reasons for the suicide remain shrouded in mystery. The brilliance of Jack Cole almost from the beginning of his professional comic-book career is not a mystery but pretty much a fact: he was a genius.
And a very weird genius at that, one weird enough to captivate Art 'Maus' Spiegelman, whose contempt for superhero comics is pretty well-documented, and Ace Book Designer Chip Kidd. Spiegelman's essay on Jack Cole appeared previously in a magazine; here, in book form, it's buttressed by comics and art and Chip Kidd's oddball lay-out.
Jack Cole's Plastic Man was a wonder for about a decade. Plastic Man's stretchable, squeezable, Protean nature allowed Cole to play with lay-out and space and panel composition in innovative, always enjoyable ways. Plastic Man always seemed on the verge of breaking out of his comic book altogether. Even the best of those who came after Cole couldn't recapture Cole's manic, fluid, occasionally polymorphously perverse vision of the comic book.
The latter stages of the book showcase Cole's own protean ability to change styles, from his full-page, one-panel 'Good Girl' art cartoons for Playboy to his stripped-down comic-strip style. He was a rare sort of genius, doing popular yet often dazzlingly weird and avant-garde work. Highly recommended.