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Pionic Man & Head Dollie

The Pionic Man and Head Dolli have a connection in that each of them were used by Henry Hewitt, founder of Hewitt Industries, who used his industrial resources in an experiment to recreate Firestorm, thus giving birth to Firehawk. Due to a successful cloning experiment to repair his body, Hewitt went on to create a series of clones that he dubbed DOLLIES, which referred to the successfully cloned “Dolly the sheep”. Working behind the scenes, Hewitt created “accidents” at various nuclear test sites across the world in which he placed his DOLLIES fitted with devices to siphon and contain any released energy for his own purposes.

Dr. Julius Hastur was in charge of one such test at the Large Proton Collider Facility at Lowrance University. Hewitt’s plan went awry when Firestorm, who was touring the college campus in his Jason Rusch identity, stepped in to avert disaster. Though unknown at the time, Hastur was trapped inside the facility during this event, and Firestorm’s transmutation powers inadvertently bombarded Hastur’s body with radiation, turning his mass into pions, short lived, sub-atomic particles. Hastur is disoriented and in extreme pain when he emerges later that night, and quite susceptible to Hewitt’s offer to help with a containment suit in exchange for fighting Firestorm. The hero takes a gamble by turning the containment suit into helium and using a STAR Labs device to hold his pionic form.

The DOLLIES first appear in #23. Four are dispatched to abduct Jason, whom they secure in their surprise attack. In turn, they’re surprised by Lorraine Reilly who turns into Firehawk and engages one clone who distracts her long enough for the others to speed away with Jason, and thus unknowingly causing an explosion since the pair must be within one mile proximity of the other to remain stable. This same clone attained a level of self-awareness (and speech) from the fight with Firehawk, a fact that piques the curiosity of “The Pupil”, a former intellectual thorn in Martin Stein’s side and villain du jour who’s “borrowed” the DOLLIES from the still secretive Hewitt. This particular DOLLI asserts will when he prevents the Pupil from inflicting pain on Gehenna, Jason’s girlfriend, during an attempt led by Firestorm to rescue Stein. He continues to protect her during the fight and disappears when faced by Firestorm.

A phrase tossed out during another fight between the DOLLIES and Firestorm leads Stein to believe there may be a connection with the Pionic Man. After some discussion, Stein builds a new containment suit and with Firestorm and Firehawk on hand, the former scientist is released into it. He rushes forward, unexpectedly hugging Firestorm and thanking him for the imprisonment which led to an intense self-reflection (he had been quite unhappy in his human life). In appreciation, he informs Stein every thing he knows about his unknown benefactor. It’s sufficient intel to lead them to Hewitt Industries, and of course, the obligatory confrontation between Firestorm and crew and Hewitt in his guise as Tokomak.

The last time Pionic Man is seen is in the company of the rogue DOLLI (now calling himself Head Dolli) as the sit at a New York diner discussing the woes of apartment hunting. They’re joined by Firestorm and we learn that Head Dolli approached the Pionic Man during the fight at Hewitt’s lab and persuaded him with the logic that “…one needn’t jump straight into every civil war or crisis that comes along” so the pair left and began “[to make] plans for a quieter, more sedate life.” Firestorm asks them: “Is this a ‘Brokeback Mountain’ thing, or a ‘Felix and Oscar’ thing?” to which Pionic Man exclaims “What a rude question!” Gehenna interrupts the conversation before more can be said. They appear in a few more panels and disappear; the book is canceled with the following issue. Hopefully they found happiness and a great, yet reasonably priced apartment!

Pionic Man appears first in Firestorm #15 (vol 2). Head Dollie first appears (as an anonymous cyborg) in Firestorm #23 (vol 2). During a fight with Firestorm in #16, Pionic Man recounts spending a summer in France with a young undergraduate student named Giselle, who then dumps him. While no longer referring to himself as Hastur, the Pionic Man gives no indication he thinks of himself as genderless, in spite of the Ken doll anatomically correctness of his containment suit. As a clone of a man, it can be presumed he has some genitalia. How or if they express themselves sexually is left to the imagination. While not explicitly stated by either character, I believe inclusion for both is warranted based on my reading.

Created by Stuart Moore and Jamal Igle. Art by Igle, Keith Champagne, and David Baron.

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August 2, 2021
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