Debuting in 1964, Simon “Wonder Man” Williams is a longtime member of The Avengers and a fan-favorite Marvel hero. As such, he’s entirely too well known to appear in the pages of My Hero, as he’s been turned into an action figure numerous times over the years. However, his most immediate predecessor to the name, DC’s Wonder Man from Superman #163 in 1963, is indeed part of our Custom Action Figure Collection and the character we’re talking about today.
The Man of Yesterday’s News
Wonder Man appears on the scene in Metropolis and quickly renders the Man of Steel obsolete: it seems that he has all the hero’s powers and none of his weaknesses. Being a Silver Age story, the potential horrors of such a situation are unaddressed in favor of Metropolis’ notoriously fickle citizenry immediately turning their backs on Superman.
Which is exactly what the Superman Revenge Squad wants! As it turns out, that somewhat amorphous band of alien criminals got their hands on Ajax, one of Kal-El’s doubles of limited artificial intelligence that fill in for Superman when he needs to be in two places at once. They heavily modified the robot (changing its face, making it blonde, new costume, etc) and sent him to Earth to help them kill Superman…only the modifications to his programming could not override the strong moral center Superman programmed.
Ajax then teamed up with his original creator to route the Revenge Squad yet again, but succumbed to one of their mechanical fail-safes shortly after the battle. One wonders why they could program a death code but not an evil code, but such was the story-telling connection of the age. Superman gave his (literally) short-lived ally a full burial under a headstone reading:
Wonder-Man Formerly Called Ajax
He was born a robot
…but he died a man
Superman #163 is one of the few stories to impart one of the apparently super-lifelike Superman robots with some measure of humanity and autonomy, making it worth noticing. It is, however, slightly perplexing that folks are so bowled over by Wonder Man in-story since other Silver Age stories make it clear that Kryptonian super powers are shockingly easy to replicate.
This aptly-named one-off wonder has never made a second appearance, not even in Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman or Green Lantern Season Two, meaning that there’s a goodly chance that our Custom Action Figure Collection is the 1st you’ve ever heard of him. Follow My Hero every Friday to read up on even more obscure characters!