This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.
Tights, unitards, and spandex are probably the top three words that come to mind when one pictures a superhero’s wardrobe, but let us not forget the capes! Sure Superman and Batman are the typical cape wearing suspects, but there are plenty of other comic book heroes that wore capes, like Spy Smasher and The Doll Man!
Originally created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck the Spy Smasher was introduced in Whiz Comic’s No. 2 in February 1940 as a shadowy figure of menace to villians. Spy Smasher, also known as Alan Armstrong, was a master detective who possessed a number of gadgets, in particular a specialized vehicle called the “Gyrosub” which was a combination airplane, automobile, and submarine. Spy Smasher was such a popular character at the time that a film was made in 1942 starring Kane Richmond, where the Spy Smasher battles a Nazi villain called The Mask. The Harvard Film Archive actually has a print of this film version of Spy Smasher. Another comic book caped-hero was The Doll Man, a research chemist named Darrell Dane, who invents a formula that shrinks him down to 6 inches, but allows him to retain the strength of his normal-sized self in order to fight criminals. In his first adventure he rescues his fiance Martha Roberts, and decides after his success to fight crime in a red and blue costume that Martha sews for him. Often referred to as “The World’s Mightiest Mite,” he battled villains such as the Black Gondolier, the Vulture, and the Phantom Duelist.
The Doll Man was created by comics legend Will Eisner and originally published by Quality Comics. Both of these comics are special reprints by Flashback, a company that specialized in providing inexpensive reprints of often rare and expensive Golden Age Comic Books. The Golden Age of Comic Books began in America in the late 1930s and lasted until the late 1940s. During this time modern comic books featuring superheroes were first published and became hugely popular resulting in a significant comic book industry. Comics also began to emerge as a mainstream art form during this Golden Age, however after World War II popularity of the superhero comic waned so many publishers branched out into horror, science fiction, romance, and Western comics.
Both of these comics can be found in our online catalog- Spy Smasher, no. 1. East Moline, Ill. : Special Edition Reprints, 1974. PN6726.F55 no.24 and The Doll Man quarterly, no. 1. East Moline, Ill. : Special Edition Reprints, 1974. PN6726.F55 no.9.
Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post.