Wonder Man #1
Issue(s): Wonder Man #1
The story begins with Wonder Man not a member of the Avengers and having landed a somewhat better than usual role in pursuit of his acting career (i.e., not just a stunt-man or a Mr. Muscles kiddie-show role) but screws it up by failing to control his eye color.
After that, a tip from Scott Lang lands him a job at a cutting edge technology company called CordCo.
CordCo used to be part of Stark International but Stark let it break away as an independent company before the Stane takeover.
Wonder Man's job is a security role, and he finds that the company is engaged in some really dangerous stuff, including interdimensional probing which opens up a portal to a world of gnome warriors.
This of course has nothing to do with acting, and as the story notes, means that Wonder Man might as well go back to being an Avenger.
A conflict is set up when the Avengers call Wonder Man in to deal with a crisis only he can handle at the same time a CordCo executive gets trapped in the gnome dimension. The Avengers' crisis is the Sandman, who was being treated for cancer in a facility that used radiation for research and treatment...
...and Sandman, desperate for a cure, started releasing all the facility's radiation in the hopes that something would cure him. And it's gotten to a point where Wonder Man's indestructible body and the fact that he's "composed of pure energy" makes him the only Avenger that can withstand the radiation to face the Sandman and shut down the reactor. Even "the Vision's synthozoid circuitry would melt in minutes".
You'd think in return the Avengers could have sent someone to deal with the gnome situation, but that possibility isn't raised. So Wonder Man has to abandon the CordCo exec to face the Sandman.
Considering the placement of this issue (again, see Considerations below), it's worth observing that the Sandman seems to be his typical villainous self, not particularly crazed or mind-controlled and certainly no hint of any reformation attempt.
Sandman's civilian name is given as William Baker instead of Flint Marko throughout this story. William Baker was also the real name given in the first Marvel Handbook; it's said there that he adopted the name Flint Marko while working as a henchman for a protection racket gang. As Michael notes in the comments, the first use of the William Baker name was in Amazing Spider-Man #154, but it's really hit home through repetition in this story that this is his name.
Wonder Man manages to deal with Sandman by using a hose to harden his body while he's in a sandstone form, and then he deactivates the reactor and uses fuel rods to absorb the Sandman's radiation.
Somewhere along the way, Sandman's cancer is cured, but the scientists are going to be unable to duplicate the process (the way it's phrased it seems somewhat contrived, like we cured his cancer but we can never do it again so the status quo is maintained! It might have been better to just say that it was something about the Sandman's unique biology.).
Meanwhile it turns out that the CordCo exec, Cal Oakly, managed to rescue himself with the help of Wonder Man's boss Dulcy Kimble...
...and Wonder Man's employment is amicably ended with the message that Wonder Man is over his fear of death and is indeed a hero.
It's a decent story - well told, cute gnomes, decently clean if unspectacular art by Kerry Gammill - that's a bit marred by the fact that Wonder Man's fear of death is an over-explored topic. As i mentioned with Wonder Man's appearance in Marvel Premiere #55, it does seem like Michelinie was trying to develop a little pocket of characters building off of his Iron Man run. This one doesn't play directly off of an Iron Man story like the Premiere issue did, but it does feature Scott Lang, who figured into the Michelinie/Layton Iron Man issues, and CordCo was a (former) Stark company.
Michelinie will use CordCo and Cal Oakly (sometimes will his last name spelled Oakley) in his Iron Man and Amazing Spider-Man run a few years after publication date of this issue. The name will also be used years later as part of a viral marketing campaign in support of the second Iron Man movie (link is to the Wayback machine archive; may take some time to load).
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: A note at the beginning of this issue says it takes "before Marvel Two-In-One #86 and West Coast Avengers volume 1 #1". This was definitely written for a period when Wonder Man wasn't an active Avenger, hence the push prior to the first West Coast series. Marvel Two-In-One #86 is when Sandman reformed, which is why the note says it happens before that issue. But Two-In-One #86 is also the issue where Sandman de-merges with Hydroman, so this would really have to take place prior to Amazing Spider-Man #217 (Jun 81), when the two villains merged. And that really does support the idea that this was originally plotted circa Wonder Man's solo story in Marvel Premiere #55 (Aug 80). However, the script refers to Obadiah Stane's takeover of Stark International in Iron Man #173 (Aug 83). Something has to give there, and so i'm ignoring the editorial note's placement regarding Sandman and Two-In-One #86. That's unfortunate because it means we have Sandman acting as a bad guy after the beginning of his reformation. One thing we can do to sort-of mitigate that, and this follows the MCP's placement, is put this after the Marvel 1985 series where the Sandman also was used as a bad guy and blame his actions here as the lingering effect of Clyde "Marqis of Death" Wyncham's taking control of him. Or we can just blame the fact that Sandman has cancer; reforming is one thing but imminent death might put things in a different perspective.
Following the MCP, i've placed this between Avengers annual #13 and Avengers #246. Based on this placement, the Wasp's costume isn't right, but the costume she's wearing in this book is actually what she was wearing at publication time, well after when this book could take place, and the Wasp's costume changes are easily ignored for placement purposes.
Note that i've marked this issue as a Continuity Insert in the sense that it was published after the period it takes place in, but it's not a true Insert like, say, Untold Tales of Spider-Man.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAnt-Man (Scott Lang), Cal Oakley, Captain America, Sandman, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man
This issue also features Simon learning that he can survive indefinitely without food, water or air. Simon mentions that he learned that in West Coast Avengers 4 (the limited series) but this is where we find out how he learned it.
Posted by: Michael | October 9, 2013 9:46 PM
I wouldn't say this is the first appearance of Cordco, since it's clearly the same company as Cord Manufacturing that was started by Drexel Cord and inherited by his daughter Janice Cord when he died. Janice and Tony Stark were in talks for Tony to buy the company, though he thought she'd be better off keeping it. After Janice was electrocuted by the Titanium Man, Tony probably went ahead and acquired her company, making it a subsidiary of Stark Industries. See Iron Man #2-22.
Posted by: Tony Lewis | September 1, 2016 10:08 AM
Tony- not quite. In Iron Man 248, Cal Oakley says Tony deserves consideration as their founder, which is odd if it's Drexel Cord's company. However, EDWIN Cord's company was called Cord CONGLAMERATE and in Amazing Spider-Man 237, we find out Tony had acquired it after Edwin went to jail. So are Cordco and Cord Conglamerate the same company? I don't know why Michelinie would give two different companies similar names. But OTOH, why would he have Cal Oakley say that Tony founded Cordco if Edwin Cord founded it?
Posted by: Michael | September 1, 2016 9:52 PM
Oh, that's interesting. Maybe when Tony Stark acquired Edwin Cord's company, he merged it with his holdings from Janice Cord to form the new entity Cordco, and that's why Oakley says Tony "deserves consideration" as its founder.
Posted by: Tony Lewis | September 2, 2016 9:49 AM
What kind of cancer does Sandman have? Sand cancer?
Posted by: OrangeDuke | January 9, 2018 10:22 PM
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