Episode 155: Death and Secret Identities (Avengers #9) -- October 1964
In this episode:
Mike and Ed discuss the death of Wonder Man. He joined the Avengers and died before his joining was even announced. It is hard to mourn someone you never knew, but his death leads to many questions about how things are handled for superheroes with secret identities. Is the government involved in creating a cover story for a civilian identity? Is StarkCorp? Who is told about the identity before death? What processes kick into place when the death happens? Have these things been planned for, or are the Avengers operating off the seat of their pants? Will they be better prepared when the next hero dies?
Behind the comic:
This is the first appearance of Wonder Man. He is introduced as a villain, but dies a hero. It is later revealed that his brain waves were saved and he is brought back to life (multiple times) in different artificial bodies, eventually becoming a hero and member of the West Coast Avengers in the 1980s. He may also be the only hero whose opposite sex version is owned by a different company. All the Bat-heroes are DC. All the Spider-heroes are Marvel. But the Wonder-heroes are split between the two companies. Wonder Man and Wonder Woman may never meet…
In this issue:
Simon Williams is arrested for embezzlement - and blames Tony Stark. Seemingly for this sole reason, the Masters of Evil decide that Simon will make for the perfect pawn in their fight against the Avengers. They experiment on him, granting him amazing powers. He is named Wonder Man and dispatched to integrate into the Avengers, which he does by joining a staged fight with the Masters of Evil. Wonder Man is admitted to the Avengers, and they treat him as one of their own. The team then fights the Masters of Evil again, and Wonder Man shows his true colours by fighting the Avengers. He eventually flips back and joins the Avengers, helping save them from the Masters of Evil, although he is killed in the process.
Assumed before the next episode:
People are wondering how rigorous the Avengers admission process truly is.
This episode takes place:
After Wonder Man develops his strange powers, joins the Avengers, betrays the Avengers, rejoins the Avengers, and dies.