I Think Doll Man Went A Little Far This Time


I know that, as a rule, Golden Age superheroes were incredibly hardcore compared to the pantywaists who claim the title today - Batman casually shot people or tossed them off roofs, Superman drowned people in the ocean or forced them off the road - but even considering that, Doll Man's actions in this story may cross a line of decency. So, without too much further ago, I'll present, from Doll Man Quarterly - Issue 6 (Summer, 1943).

No, it isn't a story about an artist with a terrible grasp of perspective, but you'll be forgiven for thinking so.

Our tale begins when Darrel Dane and his fiancee, Martha, are driving through the woods. They come across an exhausted man telling bizarre tales of 'Little Green Men'. Naturally they dismiss it as the ramblings of a shock victim - little do they know that off in the woods the madman responsible for said 'little green men' is crafting a scheme to kill all possible witnesses!

A fairly run-of-the-mill mad scientist, this unnamed bald man has a stereotypically unfeasible plan. He seals people inside of a glass cylinder, then exposes them to a mysterious gas which transforms them into green pygmies. His endgame?

You know, until you come up with a way where this doesn't have to be done one person at a time, that's just not going to work out. Hell, in the five minutes it takes you to create one pygmy something like a thousand new people are born.

To his credit, the doctor has a failsafe planned:

That's right, he's working on a way to reverse the process. I only bring that up because it's going to be important a little later on.

The Doctor sends his green men to lure Martha (how he discovers who she is and where she lives goes unexplained) into the woods where she can be abducted. They do this by dropping off a letter:

Even though this can only be a trap, she drives off into the woods, where she's grabbed by the mad doctor. Darrel finds the note and tracks her down, then follows her tracks through the woods, where he's grabbed by the lilliputians!

Of course, the green men didn't realize they were dealing with a man capable of shrinking, so the moment they've abandoned him to his captivity, Darrel slips out of his bonds and covers himself in green dust, hoping to blend in among the other green men. This works surprisingly well, despite the fact that he's the only one of them wearing a unitard and cape:

Also, he has hair.
Doll Man viciously beats up the doctor, and then, in his first questionable choice of this issue, pulls Martha out of the conversion chamber and tosses the semi-conscious doctor in, so that he'll be transformed into a mute pygmy! Then it's simply a matter of rescuing Martha from an upsetting scene of pygmy bondage:

Then he beats up his fellow tiny people, and makes a frankly shocking announcement.

Really? What are you basing this on, Darrel? You found out about this shrinkification process literally two minutes ago - you didn't question the doctor about it, or search for his notes - for all you know, there's a simple method of reversing the disorder.

While it's true that there's no known cure for this condition (Doc was still working on it himself, not that you'd know that), as a scientist who invented a serum that allows you to shrink and grow at will (not to mention retain your full-size strength and fly), wouldn't you be the best possible person to work on that cure?

Well, it seems that Darrel isn't especially interested in 'helping' people he's not engaged to, so after moving Martha to safety, Darrel uses his scientific acumen to whip up some TNT!

With the doctor and his still-living victims all trapped in the lab and the dynamite set to detonate, there's just one more step to Darrel's plan-

Making sure escape is impossible!

With the case wrapped up and the day saved, Darrel takes a little time to gloat over his unique perspective on the events that have captivated the press.

Darrel Dane: Murdering helpless criminals, putting innocent victims out of their misery, and then never telling anyone about it. Not actions that we've been taught to associate with heroism - but hey, it was the 40s - maybe we're in the wrong this time?

Although the sinister framing in the final panel would tend to suggest that no, Doll Man's the bad guy around here.

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