There have been an awful lot of characters called Wonder Man in the history of comic books. My personal favorite happens to be the version that sparked one of the comics industry's most historically important lawsuits in 1939. But it's indisputable that the version that debuted in Avengers #9 from Marvel in 1964 is the most famous, and the most enduring despite Marvel's initial attempt to kill him off in that issue. Or as we'll soon see, perhaps he's become the most famous because of that reason. A curious little twist of Marvel and comic book history, there's an Avengers #9 (Marvel, 1964) CGC VF 8.0 White pages in today's 2021 August 29-30 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122135 from Heritage Auctions.
Stan Lee told a couple of different versions of this story over the years, but the one he told to the publisher of the Crusader fanzine a few months after Avengers #9 hit the newsstands in August 1964 may be the most accurate. Responding to the interviewers question as to why Wonder Man was killed off in that issue, he replied, "We intended to bring him back, but, we found out that DC had a story about a year ago, concerning a robot named WONDER MAN. I myself never saw him or heard him. The head of NATIONAL comics wrote to us and informed us of the fact that he had already used the name WONDER MAN. We do not want to use anyone else's name, so only for that reason, we are not bringing WONDER MAN back."
Of course, they eventually did bring him back, but perhaps that's a story for another day — and as it turns out, the fact that they didn't bring Wonder Man back immediately after Avengers #9 would have a significant impact on another noteworthy contribution to pop culture in the modern day. George R.R. Martin has frequently cited Avengers #9 as a significant influence in his work: "In that issue Wonder Man is a villain who pretends to be a hero, and joins the Avengers as a hero in order to betray them from within–and at the end he can't go through with it and dies as result…and boy you look at that! I loved this issue, in fact it blew my mind… I loved the fact that they killed him and I loved the fact that he was a villain pretending to be a hero–became a real hero–at the end. That kind of reversal, dealing with themes of betrayal and redemption…and you look at my work and you see the fingerprints of something like this all over it."
There have already been some hints that Simon Williams is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it would be little surprise if Wonder Man doesn't make a noteworthy entry into the MCU sometime soon. An important and influencial character debut, there's an Avengers #9 (Marvel, 1964) CGC VF 8.0 White pages in today's 2021 August 29-30 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122135 from Heritage Auctions.
The Avengers #9 (Marvel, 1964) CGC VF 8.0 White pages. First appearance, partial origin, and "death" of Wonder Man. Baron Zemo, Enchantress, and Executioner appearances. Jack Kirby cover. Don Heck art. Featuring Captain America, Giant-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and the Wasp. Overstreet 2021 VF 8.0 value = $456. CGC census 8/21: 79 in 8.0, 156 higher.