AVENGERS #9 (1964): 1st Wonder Man (dies)

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 pencils move the story along, without adding to it, which is probably why Stan Lee gave him so much work–Stan got to fill in a ton of space with word balloons.  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).

He’s obsessed with revenge against Zemo.

Speaking of revenge and Zemo, Zemo, Enchantress, and Executioner are also looking for revenge. 

They turn to (yet another) inventor, named Simon Williams.  Seems everyone in the 1960s was either a scientist or technologist.

Simon got in trouble.

Zemo gives Williams “ionic” powers…

…and a terrible costume.

And turned him into a powerhouse…

…and renamed him.

I love that Simon calls the name corny when it is an obvious attempt to brand the male version of DC’s leading lady before they can do it themselves.

Executioner feels threatened by the new character.

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).

At first he fights the heroes, and it’s epic.

But then he has a crisis of conscience and helps stop the villains.

He betrays them, 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? I think he was. The power set is pretty similar: Super strength and resiliency.  He’s also got a “W” on his chest, just like she does.

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