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Wonder Man

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Back in the day, the point of superhero teams like the JSA or the Avengers was to showcase all of a company's big-name moneymakers in one book. You put Hulk, Iron Man and Thor in the same room, and something big is gonna happen. These days, teams are a mix of the big stars, the also-rans and the nobodies, but it wasn't always that way. The guy who paved the way for the change was Wonder Man.

Simon Williams has been an industrialist, an actor, a superhero... and a crook. Along the way, he died. Twice. Delivered from the unreality of beyond by the power of love, and driven by a desire to atone for the sins of a past life, Wonder Man strives to make the most of his second chance!

Wonder Man was the first character created specifically to join the Avengers - both from the editorial and in-world views of the story. Wonder Man first appeared in Avengers #9, and was inducted to the team that very issue. And then by the end of the book he was dead, leaving him with an even shorter tenure than the Hulk. See, he was actually a plant: Simon Williams was that most vile of villains, a corporate executive that ran his company into the ground and left his employees and shareholders penniless. Dick. For some reason or another, he blamed Tony Stark for this. He went to Baron Zemo, who gave him superpowers so he could infiltrate the Avengers and betray them. But when Williams decided he liked being a hero, Zemo let him die. Dick.

But comicbook death never lasts forever. Even before Simon was clawing his way out of the grave, the villainous Ultron used a scan of his brainwaves to give some semblance of personality to his own sleeper agent, Vision. Which did cause a bit of awkwardness when Wonder Man finally came back to life and started macking on his "brother's" wife.

Sculpted by Dave Cortes, Wonder Man shares the majority of his body with Black Panther, so his costume has the same nubbly texture. Actually, Wondy's had a lot of terrible costumes over the years, so it's a good thing they went with this relatively plain number. And believe me, when I say "terrible," I mean "some of the most god-awful eyesores to ever grace the printed page."

Thankfully eschewing the original Zemo-designed costume, the red-green-and-yellow body tube, the bon-vivant smoking jacket, the Christmas elf suit and the trying too hard '90s number, ToyBiz has put Simon in his simplest and most iconic set of clothes: a black body suit with red accents and bare arms. Though the figure's arms look like they could have come off of Namor, don't worry - they're actually new. So are the boots, though they really look odd - they're smooth until just above the ankle, where they look like they've been cut apart and glued to pieces from another figure.

There are a few paint issues, but only if you're going to be really picky about your figure. The skin of Simon's arms tends to pick up spots of the black from his suit, and if you want one that's pristine in the package, be prepared to search. The brown wash on his hair is, in some cases, less of a "wash" and more of a "giant blob of brown paint," so watch out for that as well. The paint around his neck can get a little sloppy, but the red of his eyes looks great.

Wonder Man's powers are based on ionic energy (which, if infomercials have not led me scientifically astray, means he swiftly and silently removes odors from the air). Heck, more than that, his whole body is based on ionic energy - Simon Williams is no longer flesh and blood, which is why he keeps coming back from the dead. To signify his powered-up state, Wonder Man has a pretty cool Ionic variant.

The variant figure is molded from translucent purple plastic, but his belt, eyes and the W on his chest are still painted red. The fact that the figure is basically one solid color really allows you to appreciate the sculpt - for instance, the way his costume is textured but his arms are smooth. The goofy boots are still here, so it's not just some random error.

Both Wonder Men come with the same accessories. First of all, as part of the "Legendary Riders" series, Wondy has a little sled thing to ride. It's designed to look like a giant W, so you know it's his, but it really is about as goofy as you can get. Besides, Wonder Man's main form of travel is under his own power - like the early Superman, he gets around by jumping huge distances. Anything longer than that and he takes the Quinjet. This little thing doesn't look like it'd make it down to the corner convenience store and back, let alone be sturdy enough to take into battle.

Wonder Man's other accessory is much better, however. Following the lead of Silver Surfer and Deadpool, Simon has a secondary pack-in character, in this case his teammate Yellowjacket.

Tiny, unarticulated Yellowjacket is 2¼" long from toes to fingertips, and has a clear plastic "swoosh" that makes him look like he's flying. The swoosh plugs into the small of Simon's back, though it's a bit too short to really clear his arm, so Yellowjacket often looks like he's bumping against his bigger teammate. Yellowjacket is the same with both versions of Wonder Man - you get the same guy whether you buy the variant or the normal figure.

Wonder Man includes a reprint of Avengers #51 (or #466, depending on who's counting), which sees a pretty exciting jailbreak as Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch discuss their relationship. It's not a bad issue, but something from Wondy's own series might have been better. All the ML11 figures include a card for the Marvel CCG; in a really impressive move, though both versions of the figure have the same card, the normal version shows a human Simon, while the variant shows Simon powered up. Cool attention to detail.

Wonder Man is a great character, and he's really been overlooked for action figure glory for years now. Both the regular and Ionic Wonder Man figures are great, and if you can, it's worth it to get both. However, if you only want one, either is a fine choice. Just ignore the sky bike included with him and everything will be cool.

-- 02/02/06

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