Thin Man (comics)

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Thin Man
The Thin Man (upper left) makes his first cover appearance alongside the Liberty Legion. From Marvel Premiere #29 (April 1976). Cover art by Jack Kirby & Frank Giacoia.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics, originally Timely Comics
First appearance Mystic Comics #4, June 1940
Created by Unknown writer
Klaus Nordling (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Bruce Dickson
Team affiliations Invaders
Liberty Legion
New Invaders
Abilities Accomplished airplane pilot
Intense superhuman water pressure resistance
Eternal youth
Immunity to all known diseases
Advanced knowledge of Kalahian science and technology
Ability to become nearly two-dimensional

The Thin Man (Bruce Dickson) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by artist Klaus Nordling and an unknown writer in Mystic Comics #4 (July 1940), and published by Marvel predecessor Timely Comics during the time fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books, the Thin Man was one of the first "stretching" superheroes, predating the more famous Plastic Man by more than a year and Mister Fantastic by more than twenty years.

Publication history

The Thin Man made no further Golden Age appearances following his debut. He next appeared in 1970s comics in World War II flashback stories, beginning with Marvel Premiere #29 (April 1976). Through retroactive continuity, this story, by writer Roy Thomas and penciller Don Heck, posited the Thin Man as a founding member of the superhero team the Liberty Legion. The Thin Man appeared in that capacity in a story arc that also included The Invaders #6 (May 1976). He also appeared with the Liberty Legion in The Invaders #35-37 (Dec. 1978 - Feb. 1979); in the final two-thirds of a three-part story arc running through The Fantastic Four Annual #11, Marvel Two-in-One Annual #1 (both 1976), and Marvel Two-in-One #20 (Oct. 1976); and in issue #3 (June 1993) of the 1990s miniseries The Invaders. The Thin Man would go on to co-star in the series The New Invaders.

Fictional character biography

In the 1930s, scientist and explorer Dr. Bruce Dickson attempts to climb Mount Kalpurthia in the Himalayas. There, he encounters the lost civilization of Kalahia, which possessed extremely advanced technology. The Kalahian people expose him to a mutagenic substance which alters his body to give him the same physical abilities as they had: eternal youth, and tremendous physical resilience and flexibility, including the ability to become "thin", or rather, flat.

Dickson learns much of their advanced technology, and falls in love with Olalla, daughter of the Kalahians' leader. He and his new love travel to the outside world and become superhero contemporaries of Captain America, the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, and others. The Thin Man, which Dickson has adopted as his superhero name, becomes a member of the stateside team the Liberty Legion during World War II.[1] The Liberty Legion then began battling Nazi agents in the USA.[2] With the Liberty Legion, he battled the Invaders, who were hypnotically controlled by the Red Skull.[3] In 1942, the Liberty Legion encountered the Thing who had traveled back in time, and then aided them in battling Master Man, U-Man, and Skyshark.[4] The Liberty Legion also battled Iron Cross.[5]

At some point, the Thin Man reveals to Captain America[6] that Olalla, whom he has married, had returned to Kalahia. The Thin Man remained in order to serve his country, and when he returns to Kalahia after the war he finds that the Nazis had located the valley and slaughtered all its inhabitants, including his wife. After this, he becomes an obsessed Nazi hunter for decades, eventually discovering that an old foe, the Nazi's Agent Axis, had been responsible for Kalahia's destruction. With the help of Captain America, he tracks down and confronts Agent Axis. The war criminal brags that since he had been brought to America under Operation Paperclip, he cannot be prosecuted for his wartime activities. The Thin Man becomes so outraged that he wraps his pliable body around Agent Axis and snaps his neck. Shocked, Captain America immediately brings him to the authorities for murder.[7]

He eventually is pardoned so that the U.S. government can obtain his knowledge of advanced Kalahian technology.[8] He is made a member of the New Invaders, and begins to contribute his knowledge to the group. Unfortunately, the entire operation was actually a ruse by the ex-Nazi villain the Red Skull, who had disguised himself as the Secretary of Defense. Once this deception is revealed, Dickson forges ahead with the plan to create a new Invaders unit armed with Kahalian technology, specifically to thwart the Red Skull and his organization, the Axis Mundi. Dickson designs the battleship Infiltrator, which can travel through multi-dimensional space, effectively allowing it to teleport long distances; the Infiltrator is sacrificed when it is rammed into a doomsday weapon in order to protect the Earth from another World War II-era supervillain, U-Man.[9]

Powers and abilities

Bruce Dickson has been genetically modified through a scientific process developed by the people of Kahalia, to be able to convert the mass of his entire body into a highly malleable state at will, enabling him to stretch, deform, expand, or compress all or any part of his body into any shape. His costume is made of an unknown Kahalian fabric that stretches and contracts in size as he does. He most often uses his power to elongate portions of his body to the thinness of an average sheet of typing paper, enabling him to pass under a shut door. The limits on the Thin Man's powers are unknown. He can absorb the impact of a projectile shot at him or of any concussive force, within certain unknown limits, by deforming his body. When underwater he can resist intense water pressure to a superhuman extent for a period of minutes. He can become nearly two-dimensional, while his limbs can effectively become blades in the process.

He does not age and is seemingly immune to all known diseases. Thin Man has tremendous knowledge of the advanced sciences and technology of Kalahia, but only what he could memorize or take with him. All else is now lost.

The Thin Man is a good hand-to-hand combatant who has received coaching from the Patriot and Miss America. He is also an accomplished airplane pilot.


  1. ^ Marvel Premiere #29
  2. ^ Invaders #6
  3. ^ Marvel Premiere #30
  4. ^ Marvel Two-in-One Annual #1; Marvel Two-in-One #20
  5. ^ Invaders #35-37
  6. ^ Behind-the-scenes, Marvel Comics Presents #34 (Nov 1989)
  7. ^ Marvel Comics Presents Vol.1 #34
  8. ^ The New Invaders #0 (Aug. 2004)
  9. ^ New Invaders #9 (June 2005)


  • The Thin Man Profile at International Hero
  • A Profile of the Infiltrator at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
  • Don Markstein's Toonopedia: The Thin Man
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