Avengers (Vol. 1) #9

Credits:

Cover Date: October 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

“The Coming of the…Wonder Man!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

What’s Going On?

Baron Zemo gives a man super powers, so he can go undercover and destroy the Avengers from within. But will this Wonder Man follow Zemo’s orders, or will he help the Avengers?

Details:

  • The last time Baron Zemo and his companions, the Enchantress and the Executioner, fought the Avengers, Thor sent them to another dimension. Apparently, that wasn’t really that big of a problem for the Enchantress.

  • Once on Earth again, Zemo hatches a new plan to defeat the Avengers. The first step is to find a suitable volunteer with an axe to grind with the Avengers. The volunteer they find is a recently disgraced inventor, Simon Williams.

  • Simon submits to the experiments of Baron Zemo, who seeks to transform Simon into a living weapon.

  • Baron Zemo has transformed Simon Williams into the mighty Wonder Man! Wonder Man is tough enough to defeat the Avengers, but he was designed with a weakness. The ionic rays Zemo used to give Wonder Man his strength will also kill him, unless Zemo gives him an antidote on a regular basis.

  • Zemo’s plan is to have Wonder Man infiltrate the Avengers, and then destroy them. To help Wonder Man earn the Avengers’ trust, the Masters of Evil attack the Avengers, only to run away when Wonder Man shows up.

  • The Avengers welcome the new hero, and are pleased to learn that he wants to join the Avengers!

  • However, Captain America is suspicious.

  • That’s when the Enchantress casts a spell that makes the Avengers sympathetic. They all decide to try and help Wonder Man find a cure for his ionic illness.

  • Meanwhile, Wonder Man kidnaps the Wasp and lures the Avengers into Baron Zemo’s trap.

  • Against two Asgardians and the strength of Wonder Man, the unsuspecting Avengers quickly fall to the Masters of Evil. Wonder Man hesitates, though, when Zemo reveals that they will be killing the heroes.

  • Will Wonder Man help the Avengers, at the cost of his own life?!?

  • The short answer is: yes. Wonder Man frees Thor, which causes enough of a distraction for the other heroes to free themselves and send the Masters of Evil retreating.

  • The villains got away, and the heroes were saved. Wonder Man, however, died without Zemo’s antidote. He sacrificed his life so the Avengers could live.

Is It Good?

It’s okay. Zemo’s plan is kind of dumb, but Wonder Man’s sacrifice was executed well. We finally saw the Avengers get defeated (temporarily) by a team of bad guys, so that was a nice change of pace. I do miss Jack Kirby’s pencils on this title, though. Don Heck is fine —- he can tell a story, and his characters fit the “house style” —- but he just doesn’t capture action like Jack does.

Continuity:

  • Baron Zemo, the Enchantress, and the Executioner last appeared in Avengers #7.
  • This is the first appearance (and apparent death) of Simon Williams, AKA Wonder Man. He is bulletproof, has super-strength on par with Thor, and has a belt that enables him to fly.  He joins the Masters of Evil in this issue, partially against his will.
  • Presumably, this will be cleared up in Tales of Suspense #58, later this month.  Otherwise, why would anyone think Tony Stark was missing?

Comics Are Goofy:

  • So…the Enchantress returned Zemo’s ship to Earth pretty easily. Why didn’t they return earlier?
  • I don’t think Don Heck really understood Jack Kirby’s character design for the Executioner. Kirby drew him with a bald head, and what appeared to be tattoos on his scalp. Heck has instead created one of the odder bits of male pattern baldness I have ever seen.

  • Hmm…yeah, that sounds like a reasonable origin story. Now, explain that awful costume.

  • Also, I am disappointed that no one points out that it’s weird that both the Wasp and Wonder Man felt the need to have a “W” on the front of their outfit.
  • Couldn’t they have come up with an origin story for Wonder Man that didn’t include Baron Zemo? Like, maybe he drank magic coffee, or was zapped by a cursed amulet or something? This just seems designed to make Cap doubt him.

  • Strange that Iron Man wouldn’t have a defense against magnets…I mean, aside from the reverse magnetism and repulsor rays he’s been using since his first appearance.

<<<Avengers #8

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