There are so many great heroes who have been introduced in the past near-century of comic books. Superheroes like Captain America, Superman, and Batman have maintained their positions of popularity and reverence since their origins. While these icons make it appear easy to stay relevant in consistently changing times, others are not so fortunate. Some, in fact, are never able to reach the higher echelon of “superherodom,” let alone maintain it. There may be no greater example of this than the dismal tale of Dennis Dunphy, aka D-Man.
A Promising Career
Dennis Dunphy grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he played college football as a young man. He hoped to play professionally, but he didn’t garner any interest from the NFL. Fortunately for Dunphy, he was approached by the Power Broker, who gave him an opportunity he could not refuse. The Broker, who was trying to recreate the super soldier serum that gave Captain America his abilities, gave Dunphy augmented strength through a dangerous process that would bring about serious complications down the line.
The Power Broker gave Dunphy his first big break, hiring him on as a professional wrestler, where he came to be known as “Demolition Dunphy.” This gig was given to him so that he could pay off the debt accrued from the augmentation process. Unbeknownst to Dunphy, the addictive “stabilizing pills” he took were designed to keep him and other augmented people under the control of the Power Broker and his criminal organization.
D-Man is Born
Dunphy eventually broke away from the Power Broker’s criminal enterprise and teamed with Captain America to bring down the shadowy organization. He donned a brand-new costume that he patterned after his favorite superhero, Daredevil. He called himself “Demolition Man,” but eventually went by just “D-Man.” D-Man went on to assist Steve Rogers on several missions. However, he lost his confidence after taking a beating from the much stronger supervillain, Titania. Following this fight, Dunphy would typically avoid battles with supervillains, even hiding from those he feared would expose his weakness.
Dunphy went on to suffer several more losses. In one battle with the “Serpent Society,” he was poisoned by Viper. He was then arrested by the Commission on Superhuman Activities, where he was the victim of inhumane interrogation tactics. These traumatic experiences began to mount for Dunphy, who was eventually presumed dead following an explosion over the ocean.
Return & Mental Breakdown
D-Man resurfaced later, having survived the incident and spent time living with an Inuit tribe. The psychological effects from his trauma, paired with heart problems brought on by his past addiction to the strength augmenting pills given to him by the Power Broker, would prove too much for Dunphy to handle. It got so bad for Dunphy that, at one point, he found himself living with a group of homeless people in the sewer. Though he was always pure in his intentions as a hero, Dunphy was taken advantage of by several villains due to his fragile mental state.
Dennis often had mental breakdowns and reminisced about his time serving as a partner to Captain America. During one of his lower points, he won an Avengers pie eating contest. Perhaps his lowest moment came when he was interviewed by Jessica Jones and Luke Cage to be their daughter’s nanny. Dennis cried during the interview, asking if Captain America ever mentions him anymore.
Dennis was later brainwashed into becoming the new “Scourge of the Underworld,” which brought him face-to-face with his former friend and ally, Captain America. His anger toward his former partner almost resulted in Cap’s death, and was only averted after Scourge was fatally shot by Sharon Carter.
Resurrection & Later Exploits
Dunphy was seemingly killed and resurrected several times, landing many different odd jobs in between. At one point he became a pilot and mechanic for the new Captain America, Sam Wilson. After that, he returned to professional wrestling for a charity event, where he helped stop two criminals from stealing money from the event. More recently, Dennis was a security guard at the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane.
Unfortunately, his bad luck streak hasn’t ended even in recent comics, as he was turned into a vampire during an uprising at the institute. What a life…