While never exactly my favorite Quality title I’ve always enjoyed Feature Comics, though mostly for the inexplicable reprints of Lank Leonard’s newspaper comic strip Mickey Finn . Feature Comics began life as a combination of old strips and original material, and while it generally struck a balance between humor and adventures features the reprints were widdled down until only Mickey was left. Though oddly enough there were a couple of humorous one and two page humor fillers that started out as strips, Rube Goldberg’s Big Top and Ed Wheelan’s Lala Palooza, which were continued by artist Bernard Drabble. Unlike Kid Eternity I never really had a problem, as such, with the comics headliner, Doll Man; I found his adventures to be generally well drawn if a little on the dull side. Perhaps because the possibilities of a six inch superhero possessing the strength of a regular sized guy was kind of limited to going unseen, then springing up and snacking crooks in the jaw. But maybe that was enough for kids in the 1940′s.
But after coming across the impressive list of proper supervillains he fought, according to the Public Superhero Wiki, maybe I’ve haven’t read enough Doll Man stories. Among the bad guys were the Angle, the Bearded Lady,Beauty, the Black Atom, Black Gondolier, Bollini, Botanist, the Brain, Cateye, the Crimson Claw, the Crimesmith, the Druid, Dr. Thirteen, Fat Catt, the Flame, the Fool Killer, Goon Gibett, Hag, Hand of Horror, the Headless Horseman, the Highwayman, the Huntress, the Hyena, the Image, Iron Mask, King of Beasts, the Knife, the Laughing Puppeteer, Little Miss Murder, Madame Diablo, Mad Hypnotist, Magog, Mandragora, Masked Rider, Master Diablo, Mechanical Man, Mephisto, Mind Monster, the Minstrel, Mr.Curio, Mr. Skeleton, Murder Marionettes, the Night, Nite-Owl, Peacock, Phantom Duelist, Pluvius, Queen Mab, Queen of Ants, Shawunkas the Shaman, Silver Dollar, the Skull, the Sphinx, the Sword Fish, Thrawn the Lord of Lightning, Tom Thumb, the Undertaker, Vibro, and the Vulture. But this issue featured The Corpse, Slick Murdock, “a killer sentenced to die in the electric chair” who (for no apparent reason) came back to life as a crispy zombie and went on a murder spree.
Wow. I generally don’t do this, but I think it important I underline what I consider to be the story’s bullet points:
Doll Man unnecessarily punches out a cop — at that size he could easily run away or elude him, but no, he (excuse the expressions) smacks the bitch up.
The Corpse smacks a woman, who frankly kind of had it coming, while shouting my new catch phrase; “Fool! You Don’t Obey! You Are Stupid!”
The Doll Man cops a squat on a ladies decolletage, or is that cop a feel?
“A tiny man enters the scene”.
Although quite capable of killing with (to quote the Grand Comic Book Database) his ability to ” instill rigor mortis in living people”, keeping with his supervillain theme (i.e. guy what gets killed in an electric chair) he also has an electric ray gun, which seems to be kind of overkill. Besides there’s the little matter of how and where he got it. Plus, ”Eeek! A little man!”.
And sadly according to the Public Domain Wiki this was the one and only appearance of The Corpse, which seems like a terrible waste. He’d make a great Batman villain. Paging Scott Snyder…
Also in this issue was an outing with Zero, Ghost Detective.
Then there’s those humor fillers I was writing about. First, a couple of Lala Palooza one pagers. Here’s an example of it when it was drawn byRube Goldberg (this sample is from the Masters of Screwball Comics website)…
..but frankly I prefer the Bernard Dibble version.
Then there’s The Spider Widow. A beautiful woman who decides to fight crime as a Halloween witch is strange enough, but the strip also frequently featured appearances by The Raven, a flying superhero who somehow never got his own strip. Here they fight an unhyphinated Spider Man, a weird, half naked Spider Man..
And finally a couple of Bernard Dibble Big Top one pagers.
— Steve Bennett