THE AVENGERS #9 (1964): Wonder Man!

So Jack Kirby is gone, and now we have Don Heck.  Heck is certainly capable of decent work, but I don’t know anyone who is clamoring for a Heck art book.  Heck’s art moves the story along, without adding to it, which is probably why Stan Lee gave him so much work.  Heck did great service to Lee’s ego.

The story starts with fallout from the Masters of Evil story, with Captain America having flashbacks (and appearing to be crazy) to the battle and Zemo, Enchantress, and Executioner looking for revenge.  They turn to (yet another) inventor, named Simon Williams.  Seems everyone in the 1960s was either a scientist or technologist. Zemo gives Williams “ionic” powers and a terrible costume.

He’s also able to go toe-to-toe with Thor.  Note how his hand disappears and he seems to absorb Thor’s arm.  I wonder if they weren’t allowed to show fist-to-skin contact?

Wonder Man is established as a sympathetic villain, because he needs a serum from Zemo to stop his powers from killing him.  He works his way on to the Avengers by staging a crime and helping prevent it (something Hank Pym would do, in the mid-1980s, to reestablish himself as a hero).

But in the end, Wonder Man dies trying to save the team from the very same trap he put them in.  I’d love to know if there’s a backstory behind the name “Wonder Man.”  I mean, was Marvel trying to create a direct answer to DC’s Wonder Woman? The power set is pretty similar: Super strength and resiliency.  He’s also got a “W” on his chest.

There’s also some “character” work, which is really just giving everyone solo screen time to sell their solo books:

Creators: Stan Lee and Macon Blair (script), Don Heck (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks)
First appearance: Wonder Man
Grade: C.  The story isn’t bad, but that Heck art makes this just an average 1960s Marvel book.

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