Wonder Man #5-6
Issue(s): Wonder Man #5, Wonder Man #6
The friendship between Wonder Man and the Beast was a highlight of their time in the Avengers in the late 70s and early 80s, but we haven't seen them interact much since the Beast left for the Defenders (and then X-Factor and the X-Men). So issue #5's fun guest appearance by the Beast is a welcome callback to those days. These issues also feature a villain that has already established (albeit minor) as living on the West Coast where Wonder Man is currently residing. It's Rampage, who the Beast knows by reputation from the times that he fought Angel and Iceman while they were in the Champions.
But first, Captain America is trying to teach Wonder Man Liefeld Pose #1.
"No no no!", says Cap. "You need more speedlines. And try to mush your hair into a triangle shape".
Cap is actually teaching Wonder Man Aikido, since after last issue's battle with Splice, Wonder Man has realized that relying on his brute strength is not always enough.
Then the Beast shows up. Scarlet Witch is also around, and she notes that Wonder Man is so much more playful than usual.
This book is also teasing the possibility that Scarlet Witch may be romantically interested in Wonder Man after all. She likes the lighter side of Wonder Man that she sees here.
A lot of issue #5 just has Wonder Man and Beast out on the town, having fun.
Meanwhile, Rampage is currently a homeless man after his past setbacks and defeats. But he's been patiently waiting for Pactech, the company that took over his business after Stark Industries (indirectly) drove him to bankruptcy, to activate a version of his Rampage suit. And today's the day that they do. Once it's online, Rampage is able to remotely take control.
He heads back to their building (notice that the Pactech scientists are drawn to look like the Professor and Cornelius from the Weapon X program, but a later lettercol response confirms it's not actually meant to be them; "they're just a bunch of Weapon X-tras")...
...and collects additional suits that they've been working on.
The Beast and Wonder Man hear about the disruptions, and go into action.
Wonder Man is at a slight disadvantage since he still hasn't replaced his jetpack, and Rampage can fly. But Wonder Man and the Beast still easily defeat Rampage, at least temporarily. The problem is that in the aftermath of that defeat, someone else throws some rubble at the Beast, putting him in a coma.
The new attackers are the Recession Raiders, some of Rampage's homeless friends wearing the additional suits.
Rampage tries to make the point to Wonder Man that they're both victims of Stark, but Wonder Man isn't interested in hearing that, and the fact that the Raiders start tossing Beast's unconscious body around certainly wasn't going to endear them to Wonder Man.
Wonder Man is able to recover the Beast, and he leaps away to bring him to a hospital. Rampage tells the Raiders not to follow. At the hospital, we see the other romantic interests in Wonder Man's life.
Look at Wonder Man arrogantly berating himself for being such a good guy.
Meanwhile, we see what Rampage's goals are. He's less idealistic than the people following him, and his end goal makes him sound like an original AIM scientist.
Wonder Man catches up with them and the fight continues. Cap's Aikido lessons come in handy against the flying opponents, and the disconnect between Rampage and his followers results in the Raiders abandoning him. Wonder Man is able to defeat Rampage, and in the end the Beast comes out of his coma.
Rampage's rampage does attract the attention of Lotus Newmark, who at the very end of the issue arranges for his bail to be paid.
I don't really love Jeff Johnson's art. I get that it's deliberately stylized, but it still comes across looking very amateur to me. I also am not really sold on the idea of a Wonder Man solo series, but i would definitely make an exception for the Beast appearance here. I think Rampage might have worked better if he were legitimately trying to advance a populist economic agenda; the understandable concerns of the Recession Raiders are interesting, but not really explored. Without that, the return of a forgotten D-list villain from the 70s is fun for me only in the continuity sense. I think Gerard Jones is actually doing a lot of things right, from the humor of the series to the comparison of Wonder Man and Rampage's pasts to the idea that Wonder Man would get training from Cap after having trouble with Splice. But it doesn't feel like it's gelling yet. We're still early in the series, but the next three issues are Galactic Storm crossovers, where Jones will have to put the things that he's been developing on the backburner (and the Infinity War crossovers are soon after that).
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAuteur (Alex Flores), Beast, Captain America, Lady Lotus, Rampage, Scarlet Witch, Snap (Ginger Beach), Stat (Spider Beach), Wonder Man
For what it's worth, I think Jones manages to implement his Wonder Man solo issues into Operation: Galactic Storm quite well. While it might've put some of his immediate plans on the wait, I think things like the Rick Jones issue manages to keep the comedic tone set by the book so far and the (obvious, and somewhat overdone) Wonder Man/Vision "fight" issue was inevitably going to be explored in a Wonder Man series eventually and using one of Wonder Man's tie-in issues for that kills two birds with one stone. Mind you, enormous tonal whiplash between those two stories alone.
Posted by: AF | January 15, 2016 4:14 PM
Personally, I liked Jeff Johnson's art in this series, as it felt like an actual comic book as opposed to all the "Image" and "Image-lite" stuff going around at the time. It seemed like a bit of a breath of fresh air compared to too many other titles at the time.
Posted by: Bill | January 15, 2016 9:03 PM
It must have looked on paper. I know I wanted to see Simon have some spotlight. But the art is so Imagey-light, a bit like Rick Leonardi on a bad day. And while Gerard Jones has a lot of good plot ideas, the characterization is very pedestrian and the dialogue is very amateurish.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | January 16, 2016 5:01 AM
I think the main problem with Johnson's art is the thing he is worst at drawing is Wonder Man; the star of the book.
Posted by: AF | January 16, 2016 7:51 AM
The main failure of the series is that Wonder Man is supposed to be in the same league as Thor, Hulk, Namor, and Iron Man. He is one of the heavy hitters which means his villains need to be of the same caliber. We haven't seen anyone like that. Even though we have seen some powerful villains, they are played for laughs rather than taken seriously. Trying to boost the "LA vibe" has had a detrimental effect to the menace of the villains.
The supporting cast isn't very interesting either. They have bland personalities. Likable enough, but not distinctive. I think a lot of this has to do with the background of Wonder Man as a stunt man and later film actor - this always seemed weird to me. Wondy as a celebrity outside the hero biz has never seemed right or that interesting. I think something else needs to form the basis of his supporting cast even if some elements can be kept.
Simon Williams was originally a failed business man (granted, his competition was Stark) and implied to be some kind of inventor/engineer. That's never been followed up on, but something in that background could have been used to bolster his supporting cast or give Simon something else to do than be in Hollywood.
Posted by: Chris | January 17, 2016 2:18 PM
I think part of the problem with Simon is that he was such a great character on the Avengers when he hung out with Hank. There's been a lot of character development since then, but almost all to the detriment of Simon's personality. This issue, with Hank back, just highlights that. A series with Simon and Hank would be fantastic...
... if, someone else drew it. The opening Liefeld Pose #1 would have actually looked better if drawn by Liefeld and that's saying something.
Posted by: Erik Beck | February 17, 2016 7:16 AM
Sadly wasn't that great.
Posted by: AF | February 17, 2016 8:30 AM
Comments are now closed.
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