Wonder Man #10-12
Issue(s): Wonder Man #10, Wonder Man #11, Wonder Man #12
This arc is the only story in Wonder Man's regular series between the Operation: Galactic Storm and Infinity War events, and indeed this story shows Wonder Man dealing with the repercussions (mental and physical) of Galactic Storm and then it bumps into the beginning of Infinity War. So even here the crossovers have an impact on this series, and they definitely have the effect of interrupting the tone and flow of this book. But, at least for the Galactic War impact, Gerard Jones embraces the interruption. I think that's admirable. The way he embraces it, pretty much by necessity, does result in a major change in tone for the book, though. The early issues of this series were pretty much pure comedy. But after Wonder Man has had to face the genocide of the Kree, these issues are understandably much darker. And on top of that, thanks to being there when the Nega-Bomb exploded, Wonder Man finds that his powers only work now when he's filled with rage. Any moment of doubt or hesitation and he loses his strength. So that clearly has impact on the way Wonder Man approaches things.
The interruption of Infinity War in these issues is not handled as gracefully, but it's interesting in its own way.
This story starts with Wonder Man having nightmares about dead Kree, and the nightmares extend to showing the Avengers and Wonder Man's supporting cast also being dead. Simon wakes up thinking that he needs more contact with humanity, so he calls Alex Flores, the more mature of his two current love interests (not counting the Scarlet Witch), and asks to spend the day with her while she does research for a project she's going to be writing about. Alex is interviewing Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees, and they head to the part of LA where a lot of refugees are living. Wonder Man is being tracked by the crimelord Lotus Newmark, and she worries that Wonder Man has figured out that she's connected with the Triad which has connections with Vietnamese gangs. So she accelerates a plan that she already had in motion, which is to send out criminals to make random attacks on wealthy civilian targets, with the intent of implicating gangs.
Meanwhile, a Cambodian monk that Alex is talking to has some kind of mystical experience, and Wonder Man sees a vision of elements from the monk's past, the atrocities in Southeast Asia, mixed in with his own experiences from Galactic Storm.
Lotus also sends goons to question the monks that Wonder Man was talking to, but they instead find an entity called Angkor, who kills them.
Despite these dark elements, the book does retain its sense of humor. Alex tells Simon that she has a kid, but it's done in a way that makes Simon initially think that she has an STD.
Simon says he can't have kids, so he never considered the possibility of being with someone who had them, and he doesn't even like them.
It turns out that Wonder Man has been followed by his other love interest, Ginger Beach, and her brother, Spider. Spider takes an interest in Alex's daughter, Jamie.
But Spider also alerts Wonder Man to the fact that Angkor is on a rampage. So Wonder Man tries to jump away, although his powers are still acting funny. He initially overshoots his target, and then he finds himself under-powered. But when Spider and the others catch up to him, his powers surge again. So he realizes that his annoyance at Spider and the others is what's fueling him, and that his emotions determine his power level.
With that, he's able to face Angkor, who recognizes something about Wonder Man's energy signature.
Wonder Man recognizes Angkor as the monk that he was talking to earlier, and while he wonders where Angkor's powers came from, doubt starts to seep in and he loses his own power.
Lotus is upset about Angkor, since he is distracting from her own efforts, but she begins to make lemonade out of it.
Wonder Man is knocked out, but despite Lotus' wishes he isn't killed. He's brought back to his apartment by Spider and friends. Simon's landlord, Gloria, calls the West Coast Avengers, but the Scarlet Witch only says that Wonder Man needs to get over to the compound because of a crisis (Infinity War). Then Wonder Man has a kind of explosion while everyone, including some of Wonder Man's building mates, are in the room.
After the "explosion" everyone seems a little dazed but no one seems hurt. When Wonder Man hears that Gloria spoke to the Avengers, he decides to bring in the Avengers to fight Angkor after the meeting, so he happily jumps off to join them. However, after the meeting, it turns out that none of the Avengers want to help.
As i said, this isn't the most graceful scene. "Sorry, we can't help deal with an imminent threat because we have to go to New York to hear about something else in a little while, and we have to pack." I almost see this on a meta level, like Gerard Jones getting frustrated by his storylines getting interrupted by crossovers. The good news is that Wonder Man is so infuriated by this that his powers are back to full strength.
It turns out that the monk that transformed into Angkor always had low level mental powers, but Wonder Man's unstable powers sparked something that transformed them. As we'll see, this has implications beyond Angkor, given that Wonder Man's supporting cast was just exposed to a similar spark.
Wonder Man is able to defeat Angkor (and that includes fighting some visions or personifications of the things that have been troubling him from Galactic Storm), and at the end of the arc he declares that going forward he's going to be a Savage Wonder Man.
I don't think much of Angkor and his associated mystical mumbo jumbo, but i think Gerard Jones is doing some interesting things with the hand that he's dealt.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place during Infinity War #1, with Wonder Man's appearance at the video monitor for the Mr. Fantastic doppelganger's summoning in that issue taking place during this issue. Regarding Wonder Man's powers, since Wonder Man now knows how to manipulate his feelings so that his powers will continue to work, i'm not going to worry about placing Wonder Man in other books unless i see a specific contradiction. In the main Infinity War series, we'll see Wonder Man's powers seemingly working normally, but in the parallel Wonder Man tie-ins, we'll see that he's keeping himself hyped up in order to retain his powers. So we can assume that's happening anywhere he appears after Infinity War, like in Avengers West Coast #84-86.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showAndrew (Lotus henchman), Attractive Lad (Aundray Phelps), Auteur (Alex Flores), Buff (Lahoya Scripps), Dreamer (Jamie Flores), Father Phim, Glamour Girl (Gloria Angel), Henry Pym, Lady Lotus, Living Lightning, Mr. Fantastic Doppelganger, Neal Saroyan, Scarlet Witch, Snap (Ginger Beach), Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Stat (Spider Beach), USAgent, Visionary (Argus LeVecchio), Wonder Man
A few years ago, my Dad and I were going through some spare comic books. He wanted me to pick out some that would be acceptable for his office; something kids could read while their parents handled their business with him.
I vetoed WONDER MAN #10 based on the cover alone; I didn't want any little kids to have nightmares.
(I presume Angkor's "killing fields" to be a reference to the Khmer Rouge)
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 29, 2016 9:59 AM
Yes, the "killing fields" was a reference to the Khmer Rouge.
Posted by: Michael | March 29, 2016 7:56 PM
I really like the fill-in pencils on issue #11 by Mike Parobeck. He was a very talented artist who did great work. He's definitely well-suited to drawing the more humorous elements of Gerald Jones' story. It's likely that Jones was responsible for Parobeck being asked to draw this issue, since they had previously worked together at DC Comics.
Parobeck was unfortunately an often-underrated artist due to the fact that he was active at a time when the styles of the Image Comics founders became mega-popular. He did finally gain a certain measure of recognition for his penciling on The Batman Adventures series. Sadly he passed away in 1996 at the age of 30.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 29, 2016 9:23 PM
Looking at the panel where Simon turns to look at Jamie, I instantly realized this was the same penciller who did the short-lived JSA series in the early 90's. Parobeck's style always seemed cartoony to me, which makes sense, since he did work in cartoons before he died really tragically young.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 16, 2016 8:09 AM
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