Wonder Man #1: Review

Mar 1986
David Michelinie, Kerry Gammill

Story Name:

(No title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Wonder Man #1 Review by (July 27, 2020)

Review: Wonder Man, with that generic name and constantly changing costume is one of the most unappreciated Avengers but it wasn’t for want of trying. He was introduced as a villain, died, was reborn, and since then has bounced around the MU in a variety of titles and only rarely had a series to himself. Aside from a test issue of MARVEL PREMIERE (issue #55), this special issue was his first solo adventure (he would have an ongoing series that ran 29 issues in 1991-1994 and a five-issue miniseries in 2006) and it’s a shame it went nowhere. Wondy/Simon does well as a lighter type of hero, mixing a lot of comedy with his heroics. And this issue’s premise would have been a nice showcase for his abilities, making him trouble-shooter for a lab where anything can go wrong at any time. His interactions with Dulcy Kimble also come off as amusing in view of the fact that she’s a more competent adventurer than he is. While no classic, this issue had enough to sustain an ongoing series for Wondy back in the day and it’s a shame he couldn’t make a go of it.

Comments: Wonder Man first appeared in AVENGERS #9, making him a pretty early entrant into the MU, though it would be years before he returned as a regular and a good guy. First appearance of Dr Calvin Oakly who would show up in a handful of IRON MAN issues over the years. The guard dog Belker appears to be named after the character Mick Belker in the TV series HILL STREET BLUES, a tough cop known for barking at and biting rowdy crooks.  


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Wonder Man #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Would-be actor Simon “Wonder Man” Williams blows a screen test when his forgets to change his eyes from red to normal. Then his frustration leads him to accidentally knock down the wall of the leading actress’ dressing room. He takes a taxi to Avengers Mansion, on the way meditating on his previous history (for the benefit of new readers): he was an ex-con recruited by Baron Zemo and given superpowers though exposure to ionic radiation. Zemo sent him undercover against the Avengers and he turned against his evil master, dying in the process. His body was stolen by his brother the Grim Reaper, restored to life by voodoo, mutated further by the radiation into a being of pure ionic energy. He joined the Avengers and quit to become an actor which is where we came in. His cab is stuck in a traffic jam and he carries it over his head to a clear road and makes it to the Mansion. He is met on the doorstep by Ant-Man who dashes around the back and opens the door as Scott Lang. Simon goes for a workout in the combat simulation room, battling all sorts of mechanical menaces. Then a giant robot freezes in mid-clobber: Scott pauses the program to tell him that Cordco Inc. is looking for someone with his unique abilities. Scott then unpauses the game and Simon is clobbered….

Simon goes to Cordco where he meets director Calvin Oakly who explains that the company was created by Tony Stark as the ultimate research lab, experimenting with the craziest ideas to see which ones work; they are looking for a superpowered trouble-shooter to stand by in case anything goes wrong. Simon meets Dr. Wheetly who is working on a machine that will see into other dimensions; when the boss isn’t looking Wheetly channels power from the other labs and wreaks havoc with other scientists’ projects. It also opens a portal to another world….

Simon is introduced to Dulcy Kimble who will be his supervisor and suddenly the alarm goes off; two bands of small orange men are pouring through the portal and fighting. Simon leaps into action but Dulcy has to feed him suggestions for how to cope with the chaos. He uses a huge metal pipe to gather the gnomes up but their weapons burn right through. He stops the power tower from falling and rescues Belker the guard dog from injury. Following Dulcy’s orders, Wonder Man breaks into the lab, fights his way through two armies of gnomes and unplugs the machine, which causes them all to vanish….

Later, security guard Al takes Simon to a diner to thank him for saving Belker; Simon confides in him that he left the Avengers because he is afraid of dying. Simon also scares off a bully who is trying to pick a fight….

Later, Dr. Wheetly sneaks into the lab and tinkers with the machine, opening a portal to another dimension and Cal Oakly, entering at the wrong time, is sucked into it. Wonder Man is summoned and Dulcy has him outfitted to go into the other world when Simon receives a call from the Avengers, telling him he is urgently needed. Simon goes off so Dulcy enters the portal alone….

Simon arrives at a medical center where he is met by Captain America, Wasp, and Vision. William “Sandman” Baker is a cancer patient there. Desperate to be cured he took over the labs and started releasing radiation at random which now threatens to create a meltdown. Only Wonder Man can enter the lab without being killed by the radiation; Simon enters and fights with the unbalanced villain. He ends up soaking his foe into mud with a fire hose and then, after stabilizing the reactor, he uses the damping rods to drain excess radiation from Sandman. Later, they learn that Sandman accidentally cured his own cancer but through his fear of death, everything was ruined so the process can never be recreated. Simon wonders if his own fear of dying has had similar destructive effects on his own life….

Simon returns to Cordco to find that Cal Oakly brought an end to the war of the gnomes before Dulcy brought him home. Oakly also admires Simon for his choice to help the Avengers save the world but it also means he can’t work for Cordco because they need a full-time trouble-shooter. Simon leaves with a smile on his face.

Kerry Gammill
Vince Colletta
Christie Scheele
Bill Sienkiewicz (Cover Penciler)
Bill Sienkiewicz (Cover Inker)
Bill Sienkiewicz (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Scott Lang)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Janet Van Dyne)

> Wonder Man: Book info and issue index

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