Wonder Man #22-24
Issue(s): Wonder Man #22, Wonder Man #23, Wonder Man #24
In 1993, the spot in the Bullpen Bulletins usually reserved for Stan Lee or Mark Gruenwald was used as a rotating spot for editors, allowing them to promote their projects. In the Apr 93 Bulletin, Fabian Nicieza uses it to hype Wonder Man, which he says is "one of Marvel's strongest - and least recognized - super hero titles". He suggests that the book is "such a well-kept secret" because "we haven't done enough to shake things up for Simon". So he touts the four part story ending in issue #25, which comes with interlocking covers. And the fact that Wonder Man is getting a new costume is also brought up as a selling point.
The book had already gone through some major shake-ups, so i don't think that the failure to shake things up was the problem. It might have been nice to get this level of promotion a little earlier, because the tone of the early books in the series was indeed something unique. By now it had become dark and grim like much of Marvel's output at this time. And with Grim Reaper as the villain, this is less a shake-up and more a retreat to exactly the sort of thing that the book admirably avoided in its early issues. It also uses Mephisto and Blackheart and so covers ground that the Midnight Sons books were already working to death.
In any event, the promotion doesn't help much because the series will be cancelled with issue #29 (and Fabian Nicieza leaves as Editor after these issues, and these are Jeff Johnson's last issues too).
The story starts as seen above, with Wonder Man shouting at Mephisto. It turns out that Mephisto is threatening Alex Flores, who is hovering between life and death (after being injured in the last arc) in addition to trying to leverage the fact that he has possession of Wonder Man's brother's soul.
We then flash back to Wonder Man at the hospital with Alex. He was tricked into kissing the Enchantress.
Inside the Escher painting, she showed him flashbacks of his life. But she wonders what really makes him what he is, and points to a flashback that he refuses to look at. She then tells him that two beings are fighting for him, and she owes a debt to one of them. Wonder Man takes a swing at the Enchantress when she mocks him for not being truly alive...
...and that triggers an attack from the Executioner.
Note Wonder Man saying that he never really died. The Enchantress then morphs into a few of Wonder Man's love interests - Ginger Beach, Alex, and Scarlet Witch - with each seemingly representing some desire of his (Ginger is his desire to be physical, Alex his desire to be human, Scarlet Witch his desire to be superhuman). Wonder Man tells the Enchantress to tell Hela that he's not interested in all of this, and that's when Mephisto reveals that it's really him behind it all (it seems not even the Enchantress was real).
Back in the hospital, Spider and Ginger Beach start wondering where Wonder Man is, and they find his costume near a wall that has been burned with weird energy. And then they are approached by some hooded figures.
They go through the portal in the wall.
Mephisto tells Wonder Man that his recent inaction has been a service to him ("each moment of inaction and indifference adds to the negative side of the scale"). He then shows Wonder Man a "Necklace of Service" saying that if Wonder Man wears it, Alex will go free and Wonder Man will be reborn and Mephisto will give him "a new kingdom". After the speech about inaction, Wonder Man is ready to take it, but then the hooded figures show up. They are Grim Reaper and Blackheart.
Wonder Man jumps in to fight them (hoping to save Alex and because he always fights his brother). But the Grim Reaper reveals that he's holding some souls hostage too: their parents. Wonder Man doesn't believe it's really them until his mother mentions a secret that he shared only with her.
While Wonder Man fights Grim Reaper, Mephisto sends demons to attack Blackheart.
The Reaper slices off Wonder Man's hand, and then threatens to burn their parents' souls if he won't join him in fighting the demons.
The Reaper then replaces Wonder Man's missing hand with his own.
Mephisto then shoots a blast, and Wonder Man finds himself back in the hospital. Alex is screaming in pain. Wonder Man worries about touching her with his Grim Reaper hand. So he heads to the West Coast Avengers compound for the first time since he quit the team. He tries to ask Scarlet Witch how to reach Mephisto, but he touches her with the hand and she starts to choke. That's when the other Avengers come out and get the wrong idea. But it's not a Misunderstanding Fight; Wonder Man tells War Machine to blow off his hand.
The blast knocks Wonder Man's hand away from the Scarlet Witch, but it doesn't disintegrate it. Wonder Man tells War Machine to blast it again, but it turns out that the Beast is at the compound as well, and he wants to talk.
Hawkeye contacts the East Coast Avengers, and it's said that everyone will have to sit tight until "Dr. Strange or somebody else" can be contacted to reach Mephisto's realm. Wonder Man then calls the hospital and learns that Alex is dead (due to further actions from Blackheart and Grim Reaper). Wonder Man cries, asking why someone else couldn't have died instead, like Tony Stark, who "made my life this nightmare". He turns on War Machine, blasting him with eyebeams.
He stops attacking War Machine when his hand morphs into a scythe, which the Reaper then talks through.
Wonder Man then tells Scarlet Witch that the Vision was all the good parts of his soul, without his "secret", which was buried so deep that even Ultron couldn't copy it. Scarlet Witch tells him that for tonight, they can be together.
We next see them in Scarlet Witch's bedroom.
After he leaves her room, he's met by Blackheart, the Grim Reaper, and his parents, who tell him that they're all joining Blackheart's Legions of the Night. That results in him participating in raids fighting against demons sent to Earth by Mephisto. Some of these battles happen on property owned by Lotus Newmark, and she recognizes Wonder Man's handiwork and assumes (again) that she's being targeted. She says she's going to reach out to some mystic allies to contact people that have "used... possessed... and fought alongside him".
She summons Black Talon...
...who in turn summons Man-Ape...
Meanwhile, the Enchantress, the Executioner, and the original Baron Zemo seemingly show up at Ginger and Spider's place.
They send Ginger and Spider to "the other realm", and then the Enchantress takes the form of Ginger and waits for Wonder Man to show up. But Black Talon's group shows up first. The Talon says he knows what the Enchantress and company really are, and offers to let them join his "Masters of Evil" (not the Lethal Legion?).
While that's happening, Wonder Man decides to break away from the Grim Reaper. He goes to talk to Alex's daughter Jamie, and the Beast is waiting for him there. The Beast says that Wonder Man's demon hand might be the key to getting out of his situation.
And i'm going to pause there and cover issue #25 in a separate entry, because Wonder Man annual #2 has to take place between issues #24-25.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after War Machine joins the West Coast Avengers in Avengers West Coast #93-95. After the opening segment with Mephisto, there is a flashback showing Wonder Man at the hospital with Alex Flores and then getting tricked into kissing the Enchantress. Beast mentions thinking about death lately, but doesn't reference anything specifically (could be just the discovery of the Legacy Virus as opposed to, say, the death of Illyana or something). Someone is heard saying "Avengers out" after Hawkeye contacts the East Coast Avengers to find Dr. Strange, but it could be a member of the support staff or anyone. I'm placing Wonder Man annual #2 between this arc and issue #25; more regarding that on the annual's entry. And while the placement of the annual is awkward, the fact that i'm leaving a space for that means that i can also fit in the USAgent miniseries, which shows Wonder Man in his pre-Wonder Man #25 costume but with the West Coast Avengers.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): show
I like it that Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch got together in this issue. She should have been his girlfriend in this entire series instead of those other girls.
Posted by: Steven | October 12, 2016 6:52 PM
It could be the recent near death of Professor X may be on Beast's mind too.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | October 12, 2016 7:34 PM
"It also uses Mephisto and Blackheart and so covers ground that the Midnight Sons books were already working to death."
Posted by: Michael | October 12, 2016 8:33 PM
Comments are now closed.
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