- "After all, everyone loves a pretty doll."
- —Barton Mathis[src]
Barton Mathis (died October 23, 2013), also known as The Dollmaker and The Broken Doll Killer, was a psychotic serial killer in Starling City. He would drown his female victims by pouring a polymer down their throats, before dressing them up like dolls for police to find, thus giving him his name.
Mathis developed a personal grudge against Detective Quentin Lance after the latter apprehended him. Upon escaping prison during the Undertaking, he resumed his killing spree and targeted Laurel Lance to get revenge on Quentin, only to be murdered by the Canary in retribution.
Barton Mathis likely never formed a meaningful relationship with any female figure throughout his life. This indicates he was an orphan who missed the period of initial mother-child bonding or felt victimized by such a person, including a mother or mother figure. However, an older individual was likely involved in Mathis' formative years, which may have fueled his fascination with idealized historical ages, such as the Victorian or Edwardian era.
Around late 2007, Mathis established himself as a serial killer in Starling City when he left the bodies of his victims on display, dressed up as dolls. This earned him the moniker, "The Dollmaker". Unbeknownst to anyone, Mathis targeted women who used Mermaiden, a high-end skin cream marketed for delicate complexions, which he deemed perfect to help produce "dolls". After killing eight women, Mathis was taken down by Detective Quentin Lance and sent to Iron Heights Prison.
Escape and revenge
Mathis was in jail during the Undertaking. An escaped Cecil Adams/Count Vertigo gave Mathis the keys to his cell during the earthquake and ensuing chaos out of admiration for a "fellow artist". Mathis repaid Cecil with a warning about aftershocks, something the drug dealer guaranteed.
After escaping, Mathis eventually continued his killing spree and set up his operation in an abandoned facility of Metamorpho Chemical. Seeking revenge on Quentin for his imprisonment, Mathis killed another woman and left her body for the police to find as a message to the former, revealing his return. When Quentin and the Arrow arrived at the Bisque Museum to try and capture him, Mathis called Quentin and taunted him as he killed another girl.
After discovering how Mathis chooses his victims, Quentin and Team Arrow tried to lure him out by using Felicity Smoak as bait. Mathis ambushed Felicity and tried to kidnap her, but the Arrow intervened. Mathis tried to flee as the archer attended to an injured Felicity, only to be pursued by Quentin. Mathis knocked Quentin down with a piece of wood and tried to shoot him, but was stopped again by the Arrow. He then took off when the police arrived.
Shortly after, Mathis kidnapped Quentin's daughter, Laurel Lance. He then posed as a homeless man in the SCPD parking lot, tasing Quentin when he approached him. While Mathis then drove his captives away, he shot a guard dead, triggering an alarm in the precinct.
Mathis brought the duo to his hideout, where he planned to turn Laurel into one of his dolls while forcing Quentin to watch. Quentin tried to plead for his daughter's life, but Mathis angrily ranted how the only way he could truly defeat the detective was to destroy his soul by killing Laurel. However, the Arrow interrupted the process and saved Laurel. Mathis tried to flee, only to be attacked by the Canary. The two fought until Mathis used some pipes to trap the vigilante. He admired the Canary's skin and prepared to unmask her but the Arrow pinned Mathis down with two arrows in his shoulders. The Arrow told Mathis he was going back to jail, but the Canary refused to accept that, and killed Mathis by impaling him through the chest with one of her escrima sticks.
- "What comes next is really quite exquisite. The sound of an esophagus slowly hardening. Like a symphony."
- —Barton Mathis[src]
Barton was an utterly disturbed psychopath who took sadistic pleasure in killing women and dressing them up like dolls, for no clear reason other than his own entertainment. According to his psychological profile, Barton's fixation on dolls' dresses and curvature leads to him fetishizing his victims' mouth, feet, hands, and especially skin; he took great care to only target women with certain complexions and frequently complimented their pigmentation. Barton believed, in his own twisted way, to be doing these women a favor in turning them into showpieces, claiming their beauty will be forever preserved and not fade with age. He spoke in a calm, almost reverent manner during his killings, admiring them like a piece of art.
Barton is extremely meticulous in his workings, knowing exactly how long to heat up polymer and how long it would take to harden the victim's esophagus. He was very detailed in observing his victims, such as commenting how Laurel Lance has more melanin in her skin than the other women he targeted. Barton specifically leaves his dolled up victims on display in abandoned, disorganized spaces so as to produce elegance and order from chaos. These actions seem to stem from Barton's inner feelings disorder and self-loathing, believing he needs to sacrifice a symbol of beauty to escape them.
As a sociopath, Barton is incapable of forming any sort of connections or relating with others and instead lives in a warped fantasy world of glorifying dolls. He seemingly feels no strong emotions towards others, even as the Dollmaker when torturing young women, such as simply noting in response to his last victim's screams that she was "a little inarticulate". While observing Laurel about to die, Barton only smugly reminded her that struggling against the polymer would prolong the process. Barton's murders are speculated to be a way to pull other people into his mind, so they could revel in his so-called accomplishments. In this sense, Barton is shown to have a sense of theater, wanting a large audience for his killings, yet content to operate in the shadows, where he has the most freedom and control. Apropos, Barton had a level of appreciation for criminals who crossed the same lines as him, as seen with Count Vertigo.
Barton lacked any form of logic or reason. After being arrested by Quentin Lance, he developed a deep-seated hatred for the police detective, unable to understand that he deserved to be imprisoned for his crimes, with this desire for revenge even shattering his usual tranquil facade. Barton desired to torment Quentin on a personal level, as seen when he forced the latter to listen to one of his victims' screams over the phone and even tried to murder Quentin's daughter, Laurel, in front of him to destroy his spirit.
- High-level intellect/Skilled tactician: Barton was a notorious serial killer who managed to successfully evade the police for a time before and after his incarceration. He also concealed the secret of his modus operandi for years. Barton proved to be able to anticipate his opponents' thinking, as seen when he set up a telephone at the Bisque Museum to call and taunt Quentin Lance, knowing the latter would track him there. Barton was also shown to be a quick analytical thinker; he blindsided and disarmed Quentin by ambushing him in an abandoned warehouse, and when confronted by the Canary, pulled a chain to make pipes fall on and pin her down.
- Weapons proficiency: Barton was adept in using guns and a taser.
- High tolerance for pain: When the Arrow shot Barton in the back with an arrow, Barton simply pulled it out and continued running with no sign of pain.
- Stealth: Barton stalked and kidnapped multiple women during his killing spree. He also quickly vanished after his first confrontation with the Arrow despite police approaching and was even able to abduct Quentin from the SCPD parking lot.
- Barton was considered the most dangerous serial killer the SCPD had encountered in over a decade.
Behind the scenes
- In the mainstream DC comics universe, Barton Mathis is a supervillain and the third character in the DC comics to adopt the moniker of the Dollmaker. He made his first appearance in Detective Comics #1 (November, 2011). This version of the Dollmaker is a deranged surgeon who runs an organ transplantation racket and uses the empty husks of his victims to create life-sized puppets. Mathis' alias is derived from his rag-doll appearance, the result of his own sewing. Dollmaker is assisted in his organ trafficking ring by a gang of patchwork madmen, his "family".