Doll Man on the cover of Feature Comics #77 (April, 1944), Quality Comics.
Feature Comics #27 (December 1939)
Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Blüdhaven #1 (Early June 2006)
|Alter ego||Darrell Dane
|Abilities||Ability to shrink to six inches in height.|
Doll Man is a fictional superhero from the Golden Age of Comics, originally published by Quality Comics and currently part of the DC Comics universe of characters. Doll Man was created by comics legend Will Eisner and first appeared in a four-page story entitled "Meet the Doll Man" in Feature Comics #27, the December, 1939 cover date of which makes Doll Man one of the earliest costumed comic book heroes.
The secret identity of Doll Man, "The World's Mightiest Mite," is research chemist Darrell Dane, who invents a formula that enables him to shrink to the height of six inches while retaining the full strength of his normal size. He was probably the first example of a shrinking superhero, and also one of the few that was unable to change to a height in between his minimum and maximum sizes (though artists would never keep his scale visually consistent). His first adventure in Feature Comics #27 involves the rescue of his fiancee, Martha Roberts, from a blackmailer; he subsequently decides to fight crime and adopts a red and blue costume sewn by Martha. Years later, somehow Martha's wish to be able to join him in his small size comes true, and now possessing the same shrinking powers, she becomes his partner as "Doll Girl" in Doll Man #37. He also has the aid of "Elmo the Wonder Dog," a Great Dane who serves as his occasional steed and rescuer, and the "Dollplane," which was "disguised" as a model airplane in his study when unused. In his adventures published during World War II, Doll Man was also frequently depicted riding a bald eagle.
Doll Man was the lead feature of the anthology series Feature Comics through #139 (October, 1949), with Eisner writing the early stories under the pen name "William Erwin Maxwell", and art contributed first by Lou Fine, and later by Reed Crandall. Doll Man's own self-titled series ran from 1941 until 1953, for forty-seven issues. The covers of both titles frequently portrayed Doll Man tied in ropes or other bindings, in situations ranging from being tied crucifixion-style to a running sink faucet, to being hogtied to the trigger and barrel of a handgun. The persistence of this male bondage motif in Doll Man comics among others suggests that the theory that comic books have historically tended to portray women rather than men in positions of vulnerability and submission is debatable. After the cancellation of Doll Man, original stories involving the character were not published again for two decades.
After Quality Comics went out of business in 1956, DC acquired their superhero characters. Doll Man and several other former Quality properties were re-launched in Justice League of America #107 (October, 1973) as the Freedom Fighters. As was done with many other characters DC had acquired from other publishers or that were holdovers from Golden Age titles, the Freedom Fighters were located on a parallel world, one called Earth-X where Nazi Germany had won World War II. The team were featured in their own series for fifteen issues (1976-1978), in which the team temporarily leaves Earth-X for "Earth-1" (where most DC titles were set). Doll Man was an occasional guest star in All-Star Squadron, a superhero team title that was set on "Earth-2", the locale for DC's WWII-era superheroes, at a time prior to when he and the other Freedom Fighters are supposed to have left for Earth-X. Doll Man then appeared with the rest of DC's entire cast of superheroes in Crisis on Infinite Earths, a story that was intended to eliminate the similarly confusing histories that had DC had attached to its characters by retroactively merging the various parallel worlds into one. This erased Doll Man's Earth-X days, and merged the character's All-Star Squadron and Freedom Fighter histories so that he is primarily a member of the Squadron, of which the Freedom Fighters are merely a splinter group.
Until the relaunch of the Freedom Fighters characters in 2006, Doll Man was little used by DC except for the retelling of his origin from Feature Comics #27 in Secret Origins #8 (November, 1986). According to Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #5 (January, 2007), Darrell Dane is currently alive and confined to an unnamed mental institution.
In Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters v2 #3 (Nov 2007) Dane (whose given name is given as "Darryl" or "Darrel") appears as the leader of a subersive group of doll-sized soldiers. He reveals that the years spent at compressed size have damaged his mind, leaving him mentally unstable.
Lester Colt is a famous U.S. special operator, holding a B.A. in international politics and advanced degrees in the sciences. He is an “Operational Management and Strategic Advisor” to S.H.A.D.E. Colt seems to be highly trained in the martial arts, as well as being a very capable battlefield leader. Lester has a series of action figures named in his honor. However, he follows an "ends justifies the means" policy in his mission, and in Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #1 is shown cold-bloodedly killing a drug dealer in front of the man's young son at the boy's birthday party (he had infiltrated the drug dealer's home disguised as one of his own action figures). This action earns him a severe rebuke from the revived Uncle Sam in later issues when he defects from S.H.A.D.E. and joins the new Freedom Fighters.
Colt is romantically involved with scientist and former S.H.A.D.E. employee, Emma Glenn. Eager to contribute to his country in something other than war, Lester agreed to an experiment created by Emma's father, which reduced him to his present height. A S.H.A.D.E. squad, masquerading as a terrorist group, killed Emma's father and destroyed the lab. Now stuck at a permanent height of six inches tall, Colt attempted to distance himself from Glenn, hoping to spare her the pain of a miniaturized boyfriend. Despite this, there are still strong feelings between the two and they are learning to cope with their new situation. This is aided by trips to The Heartland, the current Freedom Fighters' extradimensional home base, where Colt is mystically restored to full height for brief periods.
In the new Freedom Fighters series (2007-8), Lester undergoes a procedure with several other shrunken people, including Darrel Dane, to be returned to normal size. However, the experiment goes horribly wrong, and the group are fused together in a human-sized monstrosity. Lester is eventually freed and returned to his normal size.
In the final issue of 52, a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated "Earth-10". As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-X, including the Quality characters. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear, but a character visually similar to the Darrell Dane Doll Man appears.