We gather here today to celebrate the history of D-Man, one of Marvel Comics’ most appropriately named D-List superheroes. Dennis Dunphy, whose full superhero name is Demolition Man, has a storied career including stints as a professional wrestler, an Avenger, the sidekick of two different Captains America, and a reveal as one of the few openly homosexual Marvel characters. Through it all, he’s been the good-natured butt of constant jokes, but has always managed to prove himself a true hero, worthy of the admiration of his more famous colleagues.
D-Man first appeared in Thing #28 back in 1985, although he was just Dennis Dunphy back them. He picked up his costume a few years later in a Captain America comic, and he’s been mostly associated with the star-spangled superstar ever since. D-Man has been used sparingly by Marvel writers over the years, but he remained a cult favorite for his unique characteristics and wholesome earnestness. D-Man gained a supporting role in the Sam Wilson: Captain America series, and it’s in that comic he’s gained his most character development to date. So let's learn some facts about Marvel's D-Man, the gay superhero who started off costumed life looking like a combination of Daredevil and Wolverine.
Dennis Dunphy first gained his superpowers (the astoundingly generic super strength, stamina, and durability) in an attempt to give his prospective football career a boost. Yup, D-Man got his start looking for superpowered performance enhancing drugs.
He got hooked up with the Power Broker, a shady character who exchanged artificial powers for favors, and Dunphy ended up with the ability to lift 15 tons. Being a responsible human being, Dunphy promptly retired from football when he realized he was too strong, instead of doing what most of us would have done and becoming the LeBron James of the NFL.
After retiring from his would-be football career, Dennis Dunphy didn’t leave sports altogether. He was invited by the Power Broker to join the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation, a wrestling league that employed superpowered individuals and almost certainly put the Marvel universe version of the WWE out of business.
The UCWF was actually a major part of Marvel Comics in the ‘80s – because the ‘80s were awesome – and Dunphy found himself facing off against wrestlers like the Thing, Armadillo, and Vance Astrovik. The UCWF was split into divisions based on how many tons a wrestler could lift.
Dennis Dunphy had a set of superpowers and a sweet wrestling gig in the UCWF from the Power Broker, but all that gain came with a catch. The villainous Power Broker gave out powers through ability-enhancing pills, which left the user addicted and at the Power Broker’s mercy.
He used this to coerce the wrestlers into moonlighting as supervillains, and several of his wrestlers suffered brain damage as a result of the pills. When the Thing and Sharon Ventura, the future She-Thing, uncovered this dastardly plot, the Power Broker ordered Dunphy and other wrestlers to take them out. Dunphy’s heroic streak showed itself when he turned on the Broker and took a stand with ol’ Ben Grimm, taking down the corrupt UCWF.
The one-and-only Captain America became interested in the dealings of the Power Broker, which led to him bring Dennis Dunphy into the fold as an ally/sidekick. Dunphy, whose wrestling name had been “Demolition Man,” borrowed some spare, leftover costumes from Daredevil and Wolverine to become “D-Man.”
The outfit of his costume was made up Daredevil’s original yellow and brown costume, complemented by the mask, gloves, and boots from Wolverine’s famous brown and tan ensemble. This ludicrous outfit somehow managed to fit D-Man perfectly, and he didn't upgrade to something more original for decades.