Action 865 – the dark secrets of the Toyman


Geoff Johns and Jesus Merino craft the best Toyman story in…umm…ever, in Action 865 (July 2008). Over the years, the Toyman went from a relatively harmless villain, to one obsessed with revenge, to a child killer.  This story puts a new light on all of that.


It begins as the Toyman kidnaps Jimmy Olsen, wanting to tell him his story.  He doesn’t like being labelled a child killer, and insists that he did not kill Adam Grant. Olsen is skeptical.  Toyman never made any such claim at his trial.


But that was not the real Toyman.  We discover that Winslow Schott is a master of building robots, so real that no one ever suspected.  As well as the bald killer robot, whose actions infuriated Schott, we see the more recent Toyboy is also one of his creations.  The second Toyman from the 70s, who Winslow worked with Superman to capture, was yet another of his robots.  Most disturbingly, Hiro, the Japanese boy who has been an ally of Batman and Superman, is yet another Toyman robot.


Batman breaks in to save Olsen.  He had tracked the Toyman from Arkham. Neat that it isn’t Superman.  Batman has to deal with all the Toymans.  But he’s Batman, so he succeeds.  The real Toyman is carted off to prison.


The reference to Adam Grant should have cued me in, but I didn’t see it coming.  Cat Grant’s return is set up at the end of this issue.  She had not been seen in the Superman books for at least five years.





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2 thoughts on “Action 865 – the dark secrets of the Toyman

  1. Jeff November 19, 2015 at 12:14 am Reply

    Was just looking for a write up about this story given the recent announcement that a character named Adam with a connection to Cat Grant would be showing up in the Supergirl TV show. Was trying to explain the weird retconny story that Geoff wrote. Love your summary (with pictures!) but man, calling this the best Toyman story ever? To me it kind of ruined the character, not because I just loved the creepy, killer Toyman… but because A) it destroyed my favorite Toyman, Hiro (who had some of my favorite stories involving the Toyman name), B) it just zapped away the consequences since somehow making a killer robot was a lot better… and I mean, a dark story is a dark story, why this one mattered so much while Geoff was also busy beheading and tearing off limbs in other books, is beyond me… and the idea that it was an android rather than a guy making Cat feel a ton better is… really weird, and C) wait, the Toyman is great at making robots? Lifelike robots? Robots that even Superman couldn’t tell were robots when he was vetting allies (Hiro) or capturing others? So he didn’t just make robots then. He must have been bioengineering expert. Like… T.O. Morrow and Ivo, but better. What???

    No, I’m sorry, no. In my mind, this story was the ruse. Winslow felt remorse for what he did to Adam and other kids and tried to separate himself from it by giving it physical form in a (not going to trick Superman, but still pretty good) robot. Hiro annoyed Winslow by using his name, so he tried to discredit him with another robot. The others he used for other things or to separate himself from other emotions. It’s WAY more interesting if it was his nutty coping mechanism than if, like naive Jimmy Olson, we take him at his word.

    I’m definitely not saying that we need tons of dark stories like Adam’s death, but this story taken at face value was kind of worse for just shrugging off what happened in the past, for discrediting basically every hero who’s ever fought the “fake” Toymen and every mad scientist in the DCU who actually makes semi-real androids, and for trying to erase a great character in Hiro.


    • ultraboy8888 November 19, 2015 at 5:58 pm Reply

      Hey Jeff

      Well, your arguments impressed me a lot. I like you thesis that the Toyman was lying to himself (and us), and particularly the idea that he create the Hiro robot to discredit him. I suppose I liked this one so much largely because, for such a very very long time, the Toyman was such a lame villain. For me, the first Toyman I knew was his brief 70s replacement, Jack Nimble. So the first Winslow Schott story I read, which also involved Bizarro, had Schott kill Nimble, and then express remorse over what he had done. Seeing Nimble in a robot form in this tale made that all the crazier.

      Anyway, thanks a lot for the feedback!


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