Wonder Man (Simon Williams) is a fictional former supervillain before redeeming himself as a hero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Stan Lee and artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby, he first appeared in The Avengers #9 (Oct. 1964). In 2012, Wonder Man was ranked 38th in IGN's list of "The Top 50 Avengers".
Wonder Man debuted in the superhero-team title The Avengers #9 (cover-dated Oct. 1964), but appeared to die in that issue. Four years later, Avengers #58 (Nov. 1968) revisited the events of #9, explaining that the Avengers had electronically saved Wonder Man's mind in a computer. Wonder Man was not seen again until The Avengers #102 (Aug. 1972), where he made a cameo appearance in a comatose state. Wonder Man's body was revived by the villain Kang in The Avengers #131-132 (Jan.–Feb. 1975), and then again by the Black Talon in The Avengers #152 (Oct. 1976), and finally by the Living Laser in The Avengers Annual #6 (1976). After this last encounter, Wonder Man finally recovered his faculties and joined the Avengers in a full-time capacity in Avengers #160 (June 1977).
Marvel Comics' then-publisher Stan Lee said in 1978, "You know, years ago we brought out Wonder Man, and [DC Comics] sued us because they had Wonder Woman, and... I said okay, I'll discontinue Wonder Man. And all of a sudden they've got Power Girl [after Marvel had introduced Power Man]. Oh, boy. How unfair."
Wonder Man later appeared as a founding member of the spin-off West Coast Avengers first in a four-issue miniseries (Sept.-Dec. 1984), and continuing as one of the primary characters in the series' 102-issue run. After that team disbanded, he joined the team Force Works in a series that debuted with a July 1994 cover-date. After that team splintered, Wonder Man rejoined the Avengers in The Avengers vol. 3, #4 (May 1998). After the collapse of the team in The Avengers #503 (Dec. 2004), Wonder Man joined a new splinter group called the Mighty Avengers, co-starred in that team's series, which premiered with March 2007 cover-date.
Wonder Man starred in a self-titled graphic novel in 1986. He then starred in a 29-issue series, Wonder Man (Sept. 1991 - Feb. 1994). which was followed in by the three-issue miniseries Avengers Two: Wonder Man and the Beast (2000). In 2007, he starred in the five-issue miniseries Wonder Man: My Fair Super Hero.
Wonder Man appeared sporadically throughout the 2010-2013 Avengers series, but played an important role in the "End Times" storyline in issue #31 (December 2012) through its final issue #34 (January 2013).
Comic book writer Rick Remender revealed in an interview that Wonder Man would be a member of the Uncanny Avengers, starting with issue #5.
Fictional character biography
Simon Williams is the son of rich industrialist Sanford Williams, owner of Williams Innovations. Simon inherits the munitions factory after his father's death, but the company's profits fall due to its biggest competitor Tony Stark. On the advice of his brother Eric, Simon tries to embezzle funds from his company but is caught and incarcerated. Simon blames Stark for this and accepts the proposition of master villain Baron Heinrich Zemo after the Enchantress pays his bail, as a pawn is required to infiltrate the Avengers. The desperate Simon Williams agrees and is transformed into an ion-powered being with superhuman powers. His powers are tested, and he is shown to have great superhuman strength and durability, even defeating the Executioner. Called Wonder Man by Zemo, he is then sent to meet and join the Avengers, with instructions to betray them at a critical moment so that Zemo's Masters of Evil can destroy the Avengers. Zemo ensures Wonder Man's loyalty by advising him that as a result of the treatment his body now requires periodic doses of a serum to survive—a serum that only Zemo can provide.
The Avengers are lured into a trap and captured. The plan fails when Wonder Man decides to save the Avengers and aid them against Zemo, apparently at the cost of his own life. Iron Man (Tony Stark) records Wonder Man's brain patterns in the hope that one day he can be revived. Unbeknownst to the Avengers, Wonder Man's body has simply entered a catatonic state as it adjusts to the effects of the treatment.[volume & issue needed] Eric Williams becomes distraught over the apparent death of his sibling and, blaming the Avengers, assumes the identity of the Grim Reaper in an effort to destroy them. The Grim Reaper steals Simon's body at one point, and attacks the Avengers three times before Wonder Man finally returns.
Wonder Man remains in suspended animation for years, and it is during this period that Ultron, the evil robot creation of Hank Pym, steals the brain patterns recorded by the Avengers for use as a template for the synthezoid Vision. It is later revealed that Vision is built from the original Human Torch, an android created by Professor Phineas Horton. This only happened in mainstream continuity and other origins were possible courtesy of the Forever Crystal of Immortus.
During this vulnerable time, Wonder Man is used as a pawn on three occasions. Wonder Man is briefly revived by Kang the Conqueror to battle the Avengers as part of his Legion of the Unliving, and later "resurrected" as a zombie by Black Talon and the Grim Reaper to attack the Avengers once more. On the final occasion, the Living Laser hypnotizes a now-awake but still very weak Wonder Man, in an unsuccessful attack on the Avengers. After this encounter, Wonder Man was restored to true life and chooses to remain with the Avengers, aiding them against Attuma and Doctor Doom. He also fought the Vision, and helped the Avengers battle Graviton. He soon after defeats the Grim Reaper, who was intent on destroying the Vision as he was "artificial" and a "mockery" of his brother; Wonder Man at this point is revealed to have become a being of ionic energy.
Wonder Man eventually joins the Avengers in a full-time capacity and becomes close friends with his teammate, the Beast. For several months after his resurrection, Wonder Man suffers from slight claustrophobia and a fear of dying in battle, as he did once before. Wonder Man finally overcomes his fear of death during the final battle with Korvac. Wonder Man invaded his former plant which had been taken over by the Maggia, and fought Madame Masque and the Dreadnought. Developing an interest in acting, Wonder Man stars in minor roles before moving to Hollywood, where fellow Avenger Hercules uses his contacts to establish Wonder Man's career. Wonder Man also works for a time as a stuntman, an ideal vocation since he is invulnerable to virtually all conventional weapons.
Wonder Man helps form the West Coast Avengers, and his new-found confidence begins to become arrogance. He develops a serious rivalry with Iron Man, but sees the error of his ways after a brutal battle with the Abomination. He also foils Doctor Doom's plot to control the world. Wonder Man eventually accepts the Vision as his "brother," but there is a setback when the Vision is dismantled and rebuilt as an emotionless machine by a global conglomerate. The Scarlet Witch—the Vision's wife—asks Wonder Man to provide his brainwaves once again in order to rebuild the foundational personality matrix of the original Vision, but Wonder Man refuses, having feelings for her himself. The Wasp further deduces that the Vision's original relationship to the Scarlet Witch may even have been predicated by Wonder Man's initial donation for the original personality matrix; at this, Wonder Man confirms that several of his hesitations about making the attempt arise from these doubts and the subconscious desire he's felt toward the Scarlet Witch since her separation from her husband. He is then ensorcelled by the Enchantress, and battles the Avengers.
Wonder Man battles old foes Goliath and the Enchantress, before meeting his would-be sidekick "Spider" and battling Gamma-Burn, resulting in wrecking his jet-pack. Wonder Man then battles the assassin Splice for the first time. Wonder Man takes part in the Kree/Shi'ar War, and had his powers altered when he and the Vision failed to prevent the Shi'ar Nega-Bomb from detonating. He battled Angkor, and then journeyed to Hades where he battled Mephisto, Blackheart, the Enchantress, and the Grim Reaper; he then learned that he was immortal. When Avengers West Coast (renamed) disbands after a dispute, Wonder Man becomes a founding member of its successor group Force Works, but is disintegrated in an explosion during their first mission against the alien Kree. Many months later, the Scarlet Witch accidentally resurrects Wonder Man in ionic form; while in this form he appears when she is in need. Several months later, the Scarlet Witch is able to fully revive Wonder Man and he now exists in an independent, more human form. It is also discovered later that the Grim Reaper - dead at the time - is also revived. Wonder Man becomes romantically involved with the Scarlet Witch, but ends their affair during the Kang Dynasty saga, due to her residual feelings for the Vision.
Wonder Man is blackmailed into working for S.H.I.E.L.D. during the Civil War storyline. Due to charges of misappropriation of funds in his non-profit organization, Wonder Man is pressured to work for the pro-registration side in the ensuing Civil War drama. In addition to capturing renegade vigilantes and criminals, Wonder Man is instrumental in creating televised messages to educate the public and yet-unregistered superhumans about the specifics of the Registration Act. Wonder Man became a member of the Mighty Avengers.
Wonder Man began a romantic relationship with fellow Mighty Avenger Ms. Marvel warning her not to use her position as leader of the Avengers to keep him out of potentially dangerous situations just because of their relationship.
Following the events of the Secret Invasion, Norman Osborn created a new team of Avengers, effectively retiring Wonder Man during the Dark Reign storyline. Wonder Man later appears on television, lamenting his tenure as an Avenger, claiming it was all a waste of time, and that using violence to uphold justice has caused nothing but heartache and death. He ends his speech by sadly admitting that having Osborn in charge is exactly what the country deserves. After this, Wonder Man is imprisoned as a member of the new Lethal Legion. This group opposes the tyrannical efforts of Osborn; Wonder Man joins to try to keep them from hurting innocents.
Wonder Man has been seen alongside his old West Coast Avengers teammates, Ronin, Mockingbird, Tigra and War Machine in battle with a new version of Ultimo.
During the Heroic Age storyline, Simon is approached by Steve Rogers to join the new team of Avengers. Simon refuses stating that the Avengers have caused more problems than they have solved and implies as Rogers leaves that he will make sure his old allies realize the mistake they are making. Simon also mentioned as having been in jail until Steve bailed him out. After learning that Rogers had disregarded his advice, Wonder Man attacks the new team causing some damage to their base before inexplicably disappearing. Thor and Iron Man later contact him to try and reason with him, but Simon refuses to listen to their arguments, stating that the dead heroes that have resulted from the Avengers working together should be a clear sign that the concept is doomed, departing as Thor and Iron Man try to argue that all heroes are aware of the risks when they begin. Significantly, Iron Man notes that Simon is 'leaking' ionic energy, suggesting that his current mental condition may relate to his powers rather than being simply a matter of choice. Wonder Man put together Revengers, a team of super-powered people to stop the Avengers because he believe they do more harm than good, blaming the Avengers for Ultron's existence, the damage caused by the Scarlet Witch and the Hulk, the Civil War, and Osborn's Dark Avengers. His team subsequently defeats the New Avengers in a quick attack on the mansion before he moves on to attack Avengers Tower, stating that he will destroy the tower unless the Avengers immediately disband. Although Iron Man manages to trap him in a prison specifically designed to contain his ionic energy with the Revengers being quickly defeated by the combined Avengers teams, Wonder Man has still successfully managed to spread doubt among the population about the merits of the Avengers as a concept particularly since Captain Rogers has yet to officially rebuff any of his arguments, asking Beast to remember his words simultaneously reflecting that he may be able to see the Avengers from the outside as he has not been 'real' since his resurrection before he apparently disappears from his prison.
Wonder Man later reappears to Captain America (Steve Rogers), telling him that he feels sorry for his past actions and that he is trying to redeem himself. Before he can accept help from the Avengers, he is attacked by the Red Hulk. He managed to take him down and looks at Avengers Tower, claiming that he will "earn his way back". He later plays a pivotal role in rescuing the Wasp from the Microverse. After this, Wonder Man is shown celebrating Jan's return alongside the rest of the Avengers at Stark Tower.
At Wasp's urging, Simon later joins the Avengers Unity Squad. During conversations with Jan and Sunfire, he makes it clear has no intentions of fighting, and only wants to help use his PR skills to win over skeptical citizens. He and the Scarlet Witch rekindle their relationship. During the final confrontation with the Celestial Executioner, he allows Rogue to absorb him to give her the power to oppose the Celestial, but his essence remains in Rogue after Wanda expels the other absorbed powers from her, leaving Rogue with Simon's powers and once again unable to touch others.
Powers and Abilities
Simon Williams gained his superhuman powers due to chemical and radiation treatments with "ionic" energy by Baron Zemo, giving him superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility, and reflexes. While Zemo's initial aim is to use ionic energy treatments to make Wonder Man at least "the equal of any Avenger," his treatments surpass his expectations and endowed Wonder Man with strength comparable to that of Thor. In Avengers: Children's Crusade #3, Captain America describes Wonder Man as having "Sentry-level" strength. Zemo's treatments also grant Wonder Man virtual invulnerability, immortality, and instantaneous reflexes. Zemo also outfits Wonder Man with a rocket pack in his belt to achieve flight.[volume & issue needed]
During the beginning years, Wonder Man sometimes wore an ionic jet flight-pack which allowed him to fly.
Following his resurrection and metamorphosis, Wonder Man is capable of true flight.[volume & issue needed] Due to Wonder Man's self-regenerating ionic energy, he has the ability to go without air, food, or water. Wonder Man's eyes also glow a bright red and he usually wears sunglasses to conceal the effect.
Before his "death" at the hands of the Kree,[volume & issue needed] Wonder Man discovered new abilities, such as changing his size (enabling him to grow taller than his adversary Goliath) and emitting energy from his eyes.[volume & issue needed] Since his resurrection, Wonder Man has not used these powers. When the Scarlet Witch resurrected him during Kurt Busiek's tenure as head writer, Wonder Man was able to transform into a state of pure ionic energy at will and back again.[volume & issue needed]
Wonder Man has begun to "leak" ionic energy, allowing Iron Man to track him by following the energy, the other heroes speculating that his condition is responsible for his currently unstable attitude and anger at the Avengers.
Wonder Man is an exceptional hand-to-hand combatant, having received Avengers training in unarmed combat by Captain America. He has an advanced degree in electrical engineering, is an experienced stuntman, and a talented actor.
He later gained the ability to manipulate ionic energy, primarily in the form of energy blasts.[volume & issue needed]
Later Main Team Members