Wonder Man annual #1
Issue(s): Wonder Man annual #1
Wonder Man has accepted a job acting in a beer commercial despite worrying that he's sending a bad message to the kids. One of his love interests, Ginger Beach, is also acting in the commercial, and her younger brother - Spider, the kid that Wonder Man's agent hired to be Wonder Man's sidekick - has come along as well.
However, the island where they are filming the commercial turns out to be have an old Hydra base beneath it, and the Ultra-Max virus has infected the computer equipment in the base. This starts with just a strange signal that Wonder Man decides to investigate. A little beefcake for you.
When Wonder Man tries to leap to the top of a mountain to trace the signal, he finds that his powers seem to have gone out of wack thanks to the explosion of the Nega-Bomb. At first he can't jump very far at all, and then he overshoots the mountain. Meanwhile, the Ultra-Max virus increases its control of the Hydra base, and it grabs Ginger from a tunnel beneath the beach. Wonder Man follows, and so does Spider.
Wonder Man has to fight through the Hydra base's defenses while Ultra-Max talks about wanting to "interface" with him.
Why i hate Spider:
Just let him die.
Wonder Man locates Ginger before it can "interface" with her.
He then tricks Ultra-Max into transferring its consciousness to a Hydra rocket. He takes advantage of the fact that computer programs aren't programmed to detect lies or understand the concept of them.
I think that's pretty clever.
His plan is to have Ultra-Max cause the rocket to blow up, but Ultra-Max gets ahead of Wonder Man and figures out how to launch the rocket. The rocket had a pirate satellite in it, and Ultra-Max is going to take over "the air defense system".
But Wonder Man jumps onto the rocket as it's launching and is able to stop it. He does this despite the fact that his powers are on the fritz, and without any reference to the fear of death that he used to have. I'm glad about that. It shows development. I wouldn't have minded if he had a thought like "Once i would have been terrified to do this" or something, just to show that Gerard Jones knows about Wonder Man's history and to remind readers, but it wasn't necessary.
I will say that there is a lot of emphasis, and not just in this annual but throughout the series so far, on Wonder Man's experience as a defense contractor. In this story he uses it both to trick Ultra-Max and to destroy the rocket. This isn't incorrect, exactly, but Wonder Man went a long time without a lot of references to this sort of thing, and to have it all coming up with such frequency now is a little odd. I'd also think his expertise is a little out of date, even taking the sliding timescale into effect.
More beefcake after Wonder Man crashes back down to Earth after the rocket is destroyed, along with his clothes.
Just about every annual this year has a top ten villains list.Wonder Man's list includes the original Baron Zemo, and it occurred to me that Wonder Man has yet to have an encounter with his son.
The number 2 spot on Wonder Man's list is funny: his past costume designers.
Another story focuses on Wonder Man's other love interest, Alex Flores. Wonder Man's agent tries to convince her to write a screenplay based on Operation: Galactic Storm, even though Wonder Man himself is feeling depressed over the war. Alex's daughter Jamie convinces her not to take the job by reading a poem that she wrote about the Gulf War. Annoyingly, this story takes place after Wonder Man #10 while the main story takes place prior to Wonder Man #10. Since nothing really happens in this back-up, i'm ignoring it (and haven't listed the Floreses or Neal Saroyan as Characters Appearing). Normally i'd cut up an annual and place the back-up in the proper place, but it just doesn't feel worth it.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part three of The System Bytes. Part four is in Guardians of the Galaxy annual #2. This is where Wonder Man learns that his powers are on the fritz, so the main story here takes place before Wonder Man #10. Wonder Man's appearance in Cage #6-8 probably takes place prior to this, since his powers are fine in that, although you could argue that they have temporarily stabilized. The Alex Flores back-up takes place after she learns about Operation: Galactic Storm from Wonder Man, which happens in Wonder Man #10 (so, as noted above, i'm just not counting it).
Crossover: System Bytes
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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