Wonder Man v.2 #1
“My Fair Super Hero”
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Andrew Currie
Inks: Drew Hennessy
Colors: Rob Schwager
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Cover artists: Currie & Hennessy
Editor: John Barber
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99 US/$3.75 CAN
I’m rather indifferent when it comes to the character of Wonder Man. I’ve read a few Avengers stories over the years that made good use of the character, but I attribute that to good writing, not any inherent potential in the character. Peter David is a writer whose work usually appeals to me, so I decided to give this new title a look. The first thing that strikes one about this Wonder Man mini-series is how much the art hurts the book. The figures are so distorted that the visuals completely distract one from the story. Andrew Currie’s linework isn’t at all palatable. And if that weren’t disappointing enough, the story itself is far from David’s finest work. The title character here is a complete cipher. There’s no hint of any real personality here. David’s riff on Pygmalion/My Fair Lady is the star here, and the idea fails to sustain my interest for a few pages, let alone a few issues.
In the wake of his beloved Scarlet Witch’s insane and fatal rampage through the ranks of the Avengers, Simon Williams, better known Wonder Man, seeks out a new start in life. A lunch meeting with a former agent-turned-filmmaker brings about the possibility of a reality series centred around the ionic hero. And when a berserker assassin named Ladykiller causes a stir at the fancy bistro, the premise for the show presents itself. Simon’s friend challenges him to reform the seemingly rabid, blade-wielding murderer, and the hero’s own boasts and beliefs force him to take up the gauntlet.
Andrew Currie has a solid comics resume. In recent years, he’s inked Bryan Hitch’s pencils on The Ultimates and Zander Cannon’s work on Smax. He’s also had stints in the past as a penciller on super-hero comics. I’m not familiar with that work, and I’m not enamored with what he offers up here. His work strikes me as a weird cross between the styles of Ben (The Tick) Edlund and Kieron (Sea of Red) Dwyer. It’s not a good mix. Faces — especially those of the male characters — are so elongated and distorted throughout the book that they’re laughable. Ladykiller’s design is rather dull. Furthermore, while the opening flash-forward sequence is set in New York, one doesn’t get the same sense of place from the art in the rest of the comic. It looks more like Los Angeles — and I might just be assuming that, given the entertainment deals being struck in the restaurant — but two other New York-based heroes turn up on the final page.
The moment when Peter David really lost me was during the Wonder Man/Ladykiller fight scene. The assassin appears to kill a regular guy, but she just happens to be outfitted with special “anionic” weaponry that can hurt a man who cannot die. It’s a ridiculous moment, crafted to bring some kind of artificial tension to the super-hero conflict. Furthermore, the gag scene about the properly spelling of the term “super hero” ends up being irksome rather than amusing.
The point of this story — which is made in the third act, but in the form of the story’s title at the bottom of the cover — is second chances. Peter David explores Simon Williams as a criminal who was able to reform and turn his life around, and he’s basically dared to try the same with a savage killer. In order for the story to work, David and the readers pretty much have to ignore the entire legal system and the title character’s complete lack of any kind of psychological or psychiatric training. Though the script has its comedic moments, David doesn’t seem to be playing the core premise for laughs, so I’m at a loss as to how this plot could hope to suspend the audience’s disbelief. 2/10