Doll Man + Doll Girl

Created by Will Eisner and Lou Fine

NAME + ALIASES:
Darrel Dane

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Martha Roberts (Doll Girl, wife, deceased), Prof. Roberts (father-in-law, deceased), Tommy (brother-in-law), Thomas Dane (great-grandfather), Jeremiah Dane (ancestor)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS: All-Star Squadron, Freedom Fighters

FIRST APPEARANCE: Feature Comics #27 (December 1939)

APPEARANCES:

Doll Man Quarterly #1-47 (Autumn 1941–Oct. 1953)

Freedom Fighters v.1 #1-15

Feature Comics#27-139 (December 1939–Oct. 1949)

Justice League of America #107-108

Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters v.2 #3-8

SEE ALSO:

Freedom Fighters

A Big Little Star, Quality Comics' Doll Man by Steve Stiles

doll girl

Doll Girl

NAME + ALIASES:
Martha Roberts, a.k.a. Midge

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Darrel Dane (Doll Man, husband), Prof. Roberts (father, deceased), Tommy (brother)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS: None

FIRST APPEARANCE:
As Martha:
Feature Comics #27 (December 1939). As Doll Girl: Doll Man #37 (December 1951)

DEATH: Reported in Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters v.2 #4 (February 2008)

APPEARANCES:
Doll Man #37–47 (Dec. 1951–Oct. 1953)

Molecule (Doll Man II)

NAME + ALIASES: Unrevealed

KNOWN RELATIVES: None

GROUP AFFILIATIONS: Teen Titans

FIRST APPEARANCE: Titans Secret Files #2)

DEATH: Terror Titans #1 (December 2008)

Doll Man III

NAME + ALIASES:
Lester Colt

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Emma Glenn (wife), Julia (daughter), Richard Glenn (father-in-law, deceased)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS: S.H.A.D.E., Freedom Fighters

FIRST APPEARANCE: Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Blüdhaven #3 (July 2006)

APPEARANCES:

Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Blüdhaven #3-6

DCU: Brave New World #1

Freedom Fighters v.2 #6-9

Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters v.1, #1-8

Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters v.2, #1-8

+ History

The Doll Man holds the title for being the first super-powered hero published by Quality Comics. He was however, preceded by four costumed heroes (the Hawk, the Clock, Bozo the Iron Man and the Invisible Hood). Like many of Quality’s most memorable heroes, he was created by Will Eisner (before his split with Jerry Iger). Today Doll Man’s appearances on the covers of Feature Comics are classics. Many of them were drawn by Gill Fox, who began with Feature Comics #54 (1942). Inside, the feature was a proving grounds for exceptional talents like Lou Fine, Reed Crandall, and Al Bryant. The feature was a favorite among readers—and Busy Arnold himself, who later promoted the character to its own solo title.

Golden Age

Feature #27 (1938). Art by Will Eisner.
Shrinking much like his DC successor, the Atom. From Feature Comics #47 (1941), Art by Reed Crandall.
Martha becomes Midge! From Feature #77 (1944).
The Undertaker, from Feature #91 (1945).
The Dollplane, from Doll Man #22 (1949).
Doll Girl arrives! From Doll Man #37 (Dec, 1951).
Tinyman, from Captain Marvel #4 (1966). Art by Carl Hubbell.
 
The second Doll Man (Molecule) and Doll Girl
Lester Colt, from Uncle Sam & the F. F. v.1 #1 (2006). Art by Daniel Acuña.

Scientist Darrel Dane had developed a revolutionary formula, but with a suggestion from his friend, Prof. Roberts, he perfected it into a fluid using the chemical acid called “aqua regia.” Dane found that the resulting concoction could reduce a human to the size of a doll! And despite his small size, he now also had the strength of twenty men. Against the Professor’s warning, Dane used the formula on himself. Sure enough, he shrunk, but he was driven temporarily mad. Roberts challenged him: would Darrel use his new powers for good or evil? As Dane’s mind cleared, his choice was obvious. In his first adventure as a crime fighter, Dane followed his fiancé, Martha (the Professor’s daughter), who was being blackmailed. Using his new strength, he saved her from the extortionist, and crafted a new name for himself—Doll Man. Curiously, Martha was privy to Darrel’s transformation in this tale, but she soon completely “forgot” about it. It would be years before Martha (re)discovered the truth. (Feature #27)


[ Read the full profile in the Quality Companion ]

Martha Roberts Goes to Work

Doll Man was one of the few Quality heroes who battled regular arch foes. The first of these was the macabre and sadistic Undertaker. When Martha heard about a condemned hotel, she announced that she’d been trying to get a job as a reporter. She was certain this hotel held the kernels of a great story but soon found herself face-to-face with dangerous parties keen on preventing its destruction. One was the movie star Randolph Perry, who sought records of his lost love in the hotel. Meanwhile, Doll Man ran afoul of the Undertaker, “Lord of the Plunderworld.” This balding villain was obsessed with anything related to death and sought to raid the hotel’s valuables. (Feature #91) The Undertaker returned three issues later to plunder the dead again, this time in Canada. In the end, he went down in a boat amid frozen waters. (#94) Nothing could keep him down. He shot at people willy-nilly and even fought Doll Man in the air. (#125) He kept a cache of mini-coffins for Doll Man, tossing the hero from planes and into water. His resources also included a “helicycle.” (Doll Man #15, 20, 24)

[ Q. C. ]

Doll Girl: The Last Quality super-hero

Just before Martha donned her own costume, she’d actually been eliminated from Doll Man completely. She was replaced by Elmo, a dog adopted by Doll Man to help him fight crime. Elmo served primarily as transportation for Doll Man. In their first case, Darrel used the reward money to help establish a new crime lab. (Doll Man #31) Elmo became a regular fixture, and as with Quality’s remaining super-hero features, the foes became more ordinary. In Chinatown, they ran into the hooded Secret Six who temporarily swapped Elmo with a vicious look alike. (#36)

[ Q. C. ]

M. F. Enterprises: Same but Different

In early 1966, an ambitious publisher launched a strange reinvention of Captain Marvel. In addition to pinching Plastic Man, the second issue introduced a mighty mite called Tinyman—Plastic Man’s ally and Captain Marvel’s enemy. Like Doll Man, Tinyman could shrink. He was a circus performer who in the fourth issue actually reformed and became Captain Marvel’s ally. DC’s shrinking Atom hit stands later that same year. Tinyman returned in two issues of Captain Marvel presents the Terrible Five (1966–67).

DC

The original Martha Roberts has never appeared in a DC Comic, but Doll Man next appeared in 1973’s Justice League of America #107–108. Darrel was reintroduced to readers along with other former Quality heroes as the Freedom Fighters. This story and the successive Freedom Fighters series are no longer in DC continuity because they involved Earth-X, an Earth in DC’s former multiverse. In that series, Doll Girl was said to have perished on Earth-X. Subsequently, Doll Man met her Earth-One counterpart, also named Martha Roberts. (Freedom Fighters #5)

[ Q. C. ]

Doll Man II (Molecule)

A pair of young heroes once took the names Doll Man II and Doll Girl II. This pair were apparently a couple and attended a recruitment party for Teen Titans in Los Angeles.(Titans Secret Files #2) It is unknown what relation, if any, these two had to the originals. This Doll Man presumably changed his name to Molecule and briefly joined the Titans at a time when the team was in much turmoil. ( 52 #32, Teen Titans v.3 #38) He was killed by the Terror Titans’s Persuader (Terror Titans #1) Doll Girl’s fate is unknown.

Doll Man III, Lester Colt

Lester Colt was a decorated soldier, master of martial arts and gymnastics, and student of international politics. Colt volunteered to be a nonmilitary test subject for miniaturization, administered by Dr. Richard Glenn and his daughter, Dr. Emma Glenn. Glenn theorized that a smaller population would consume less of the world’s resources. But after Lester had been shrunk, Glenn’s lab was invaded by government agents who killed Glenn and stole his work. Lester was trapped at six inches tall and became the third (Uncle Sam & the F.F. v.2 #3)

[ Q. C. ]

Return of the Original

Lester and Emma soon discovered that her father’s size-change research had been used to build a miniature city within the Pentagon. The original Doll Man, Darrel Dane, was recruited by Father Time to manage the experiment, leading an army of tiny soldiers. Officials abandoned the experiment, which left its inhabitants suffering from starvation and mental side effects. Darrel was especially militant because the government had promised a cure for Martha’s cancer. She died while he was trapped in the small city. His shrunken army retaliated by kidnapping the Vice President. Lester and Emma offered to help restore them (as it was Lester’s goal too). (US&FF v.2 #3-4)

[ Q. C. ]

Doll Man IV

The Doll Man of the New 52 is covered in a joint profile: Phantom Lady & Doll Man

+ Powers

By injecting or ingesting a special formula, the Doll Man could “compress the molecules in his body” and shrink to about six inches in height. He could not achieve any intermediate sizes. At first, the effects would wear off and required additional dosages. While small, he had the strength of twenty men. His weight appeared to fluctuate at will because one moment he could ride atop a bird, and the next he could knock out a full-sized man. Sometimes Dane’s clothes shrank with him, other times only his uniform. He had some measure of imperviousness, too. He could weather being shot from a cannon, and could alter the course of a missile in flight. He once shrunk in order to tap into the Doll Man’s more analytical mind. (Feature #79)

Originally, Doll Man III was trapped at six inches tall. With the help of his wife, Emma Glenn, he can now change between that and full height. When small he also appears to possess super-strength and density control.