Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Barton Mathis (Dollmaker)

This week's episode of ARROW introduced quite a creepy villain: BARTON MATHIS, also known as the DOLLMAKER, portrayed in the show by MICHAEL EKLUND. In BROKEN DOLLS, Mathis is a serial killer who killed eight young girls, turning them into "dolls" with chemicals, before being arrested by detective QUENTIN LANCE and closed up in IRON HEIGHTS PRISON. Unfortunately, the earthquake allowed him to escape, and he started his "career" back where he left it, haunting Lance in his vengeance. Well, the comics' character is pretty much similar to the show one, even if he's, if possible, even creepier. He's quite a young character, introduced only a couple of years ago, but he's got anyway a story to be told. Let's see together who the Dollmaker is in the comics.

There are a lot of sick families in the comicbook universe, but Barton Mathis' one has got the numbers to be on the top step of the podium. Barton was born the son of WESLEY MATHIS, apparently a normal man who, from time to time, enjoyed going on hunting with his best friend RAY QUIMBY. When Barton was old enough to join the two men in their "hunting trips", he found out the truth about his father: the preys were actually random people, set free in the woods and chased, hunted and killed, one after the other. Still a kid, Barton assisted to many murders. But this wasn't all: Wesley and Ray skinned their victims, they cleaned them up, and finally they cooked them: even Barton joined them in their meals, becoming accostumed with the taste of human flesh. This nightmare went on for years, until GOTHAM CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT finally found a good trail in their hunt for the serial killers. Wesley Mathis was found and exposed, and, when he tried to resist arrest, a young cop named JIM GORDON shot him down, killing him right before his son's eyes. Son of a dead killer, alone in the world, Barton was put in foster care. The boy wasn't made for that life, simply put, and he didn't want another family, he already had his father. More or less. He escaped just a year after, and disappeared. Before leaving Gotham, he exhumed his father's body, and cut his face off, bringing it with himself. He made a mask out of Wesley's face, and donned it as a memento, completely identifying himself as his father. In the years out of Gotham, he made a family for himself, with a lot of sons and daughters just as deranged as he was (actually, not everyone in the FAMILY was a natural son or daughter, but it's quite impossible to distinguish the relatives from the simple goons). He then studied medicine on his own, gaining quite a skill.

Finally, Barton was ready to come back to Gotham, this time under the identity of the Dollmaker, a killer for hire. For first, he sent one of his "sons" to the JOKER. The CLOWN PRINCE OF CRIME had other plans, and he killed the goon by ripping his troath off with a bite. BATMAN intervened too late, only in time to arrest the Joker and to bring him into ARKHAM ASYLUM. It was here, however, that the Dollmaker was waiting for Joker, his client. In the Clown's cell, the two spoke for a long time, and the Joker clarified that he killed the Dollmaker's son because he required the father's expertise, distrusting the son's one. Then the Dollmaker started the procedure he had been paid for: he surgically removed Joker's face, letting the madman enjoy the pain and escape from the mental hospital, now an unrecognizable man. Out of Arkham, also the Dollmaker proceeded with his plan: to kill Batman and to sell his "dollified" body to the best bidder. He set up a trap for the DARK KNIGHT, and he kidnapped Commissioner Gordon, making it look like an act of vengeance. Batman, investigating, arrived to Ray Quimby, but, when he reached him in TAYLOR STREET IMPORTS, he found the old serial killer dead. On place, Batman was attacked by the entire Family, and was momentarily subdued. The Dollmaker made his appearance, throwing to Batman Gordon's lifeless body that actually was a jigsaw of three different bodies swen together to look like the Commissioner. The hero managed to escape, but came back to MERCY HOSPITAL as soon as he learnt that Gordon was kept there as a prisoner only to fall into another trap, as the massive BENTLEY (another Family member) knocked him unconscious and positioned him into a gladiatoral cage, where the bidders could admire him and name their price. The PENGUIN was winning the auction, when Batman freed himself of his chains with a demagnetizer and knocked out both the Penguin's goons and the Family. Only the Dollmaker managed to escape, along with his (natural) daughter MATILDA. Batman tried to catch them at the last minute, but failed, leaving them at large.

Barton Mathis is a violent and dangerous individual, a deranged man with no regard at all for human life, who sees people just as material for his "art". As the Dollmaker, he possesses quite a good knowledge of medicine and chemistry, that allows him to practice on the corpses of his victims to transform them into gruesome dolls. A monster, a cannibal, an organ dealer, and the undisputed leader of the deranged Dollmaker's Family, Mathis is one of the most horrifying serial killers Gotham City has ever known.
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