Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Even though I think the first two issues were stronger than the rest of the series, Infinity War remains one of my favorite Marvel crossovers. So much so, that I'm still picking up tie-in issues for it twenty-some years later; albeit out of the severely discounted bin. From 1992, Wonder Man #14, "Infinite Memory" Written by Gerard Jones, pencils by Jeff Johnson, inks by Dan Panosian.
One of the things I love about the Infinity War tie-ins, is seeing the events from the main series through the lens of the hero of the tie-in. Before this issue, I could barely have confirmed Wonder Man was in Infinity War--I actually had to go back through the tag, and sure enough, he's in the background or the group shots more than once. But I definitely didn't think he did much more than throw a punch or two, and yeah, in the main story he probably didn't. Here, though, we see what those punches, and the whole experience, meant for Simon Williams. More than you'd think!
Along with being a long-time Avenger with powers near the level of Thor or Hercules, Simon Williams also wanted to be an actor in Hollywood. Which makes it seem like he was acting the role of invulnerable flying brick--in the regular title, Wonder Man seemed fine--while up close in this issue the cracks are far more apparent. His ionic powers had been erratic, seemingly affected by his moods, which were also erratic. Simon also seemed to wonder (so to speak) if he was still human, or something less, since gaining his powers and returning from the dead; while at the same time feeling all-too-human remorse over his past. His encounter with an Infinity Doppelganger earlier has him questioning, is he really Simon Williams, or just energy in his shape pretending to be human?
Simon even drags Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, away to ask her about it. In a panicked, dickish fashion.
Somehow, the next panel isn't Wanda bitch-slapping Simon; but I kind of have the feeling she was less a character in this series than a crush-object, a goal. This was Simon's title, not hers.
With the bulk of the crossover moving along without him, all Simon can do is resolve to settle things with the Magus and his Doppelganger. Elsewhere, a group of people exposed to ionic energy are starting to come together; a subplot that I know would come back years later in Kurt Busiek's Avengers. This wasn't my favorite IW crossover--and how weird would that be, if it had been, so many years later? But there was more going on with Wonder Man than you would guess at first glance.
An unexpected bonus: Lorna Dane, Polaris, in her X-Factor uniform from my favorite run of that character: when she seemed settled and ready for full-time super-heroing, without being mind-controlled or obsessed with Havok or bulimic or any other nonsense. I wouldn't have considered that she and Simon would be on a first-name basis, unless they were introduced during this event. Simon has a moment of guilt when he worries how he would feel if Warlock killed Lorna, or Storm, or Wanda...they aren't exactly helpless little flowers, man. It would be fun to write Simon being interested in Lorna, then finding out her relation to Wanda: that would generate some drama, I think.