Sunday, May 11, 2008

Obscure Character Handbook: The Wonder Man

Real Name: Fred Carson
Other Aliases: None Known
Dual Identity: Secret
Occupation: Radio Engineer and Inventor
Legal Status: Citizen of the United States with no known criminal record.
Place of Birth: Unknown
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: None
Known Confidants:None
Supporting Cast: Donald Hastings (boss,) Brenda Hastings (imperiled boss' daughter and love interest,) Reggie "Playboy" Berold (well-heeled jerk and fiancee of love interest)
Known Allies: None
Major Enemies: General Attilla
Base of Operations: Unnamed city
Place of Employment: IBC Incorporated (International Broadcasting Company)
Group Affiliation: None
Extent of Education: Likely extensive
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blond
Other Distinguishing Features: Narrow face, high cheek bones, slightly receded hairline.
Intelligence: High, as he is a brilliant inventor, logical and clearly aware of happenings in the world.
Strength Level: High, with upper reaches unknown. Could rend steel like paper and lift massive objects.
Skills: Talented inventor, airplane pilot.
Superhuman Powers: Endowed with "Herculean Powers" that include supernatural strength with the potential to be "the strongest human on Earth." Impervious. Uncanny accuracy. Can bound hundreds of yards. Mighty lungs.
Special Limitations: All powers derived from ring.
Source of Powers: Supernatural ring.
Special Weaponry: "A new type television apparatus... so small you can carry it on your belt." Long-range televisor. Tiny radio transmitter/telephone.
Personality: Supposedly "timid" as Carson, but actually just well mannered and gung-ho to take on new challenges and dangerous assignments. Terrifically assertive if judgmental as Wonder Man.
First Appearance: Wonder Comics #1 (May, 1939)
Origin: Unrevealed
Publisher: Fox Feature Syndicate
Status: Public Domain
Tagline: Mightiest Human On Earth
Mission Statement: Pledged to be forever the champion of the oppressed, defender of the weak and relentless foe of all that is evil and unjust.
Created by: Will Eisner (credited as "Willis.")

"So, Fred Carson, wear this ring as a symbol of the Herculean powers with which you are endowed-- as long as you wear it, you will be the strongest human on Earth-- you will be impervious-- and now in the name of humanity and justice, go forth into the world."

For reasons unrevealed, Carson visited Tibet, and through unknown circumstances was given a ring by the Old Yogi and a mission to use the abilities it bestowed for the common good. His employer was impressed with Carson's work on returning to the States, but still insisted "I've no time to listen to your goofy ideas," unless of course he saw immediate profit potential.

When the boss' spoiled dilettante daughter Brenda announced she had joined the Red Cross as a nurse in civil war torn Tatonia, Carson was assigned to chaperon the girl, against either's wishes. However, when Carson used his "long-range televisor" to view the thousands of starving, destitute refugees set upon by soldiers in the foreign land, he changed his mind. Flying Brenda out in a two-seater, Carson landed to meet her wealthy fiancee, Reggie "Playboy" Berold. The surly Berold grabbed Carson by the collar and threatened him after taking offense to his use of the "Playboy" nickname. That bit of unpleasantness was was diverted by another, a immanent bombing raid on the hospital base. Carson volunteered his plane to Brenda and Reggie, the latter of whom showed gratitude with a "So long, sucker!"

Carson removed his civilian garb to reveal his Wonder Man costume, and stood ready to take on the incoming planes. "Bomb hospitals, will you? I'm going to teach you a lesson!" The Wonder Man caught a bomb in midair, landed on his feet, and launched it like a football back at its deliverer to explosive result. He next righted a truckload of refugees and directed them to safety, calling ahead for the return of hospital staff.

Meanwhile, evil rebel leader General Attilla's forces had downed Brenda and Reggie's plan, intent on holding them for ransom.

The Wonder Man made his way to the rebel forces' headquarters, outside of which hungry masses were denied food horded for troops. "I think it's time someone stopped this horror!" The Wonder Man leapt to the top of the towering building, smashed through a wall, and manhandled Attilla and company. "Here's a little love tap to put you to sleep 'til I get back." Wonder Man shrugged off all manner of attack, snatching shells from the air and launching them back at mighty cannons. The hero released the rebel's prisoners, including Brenda and Reggie. The former had stolen a gun she intended to use against a guard, while the latter had been reduced to whimpering cowardice. In fact, Wonder Man had to seize Reggie and force him to help control the hungry masses as Brenda doled out food. Reggie proved ineffective, so Wonder Man, "endowed with mighty lungs... bellows above the tremendous roar of the crowd."

The Wonder Man continued his assault on the rebels, "with no apparent effort... rips through steel doors," and carried food reserves to the people. "Personally, Wonder Man aids in the distribution." By nightfall, Brenda was so exhausted from the effort she fainted in Wonder Man's arms. "Tenderly, the Wonder Man kisses the unconscious girl," before taking her to safety. The coward Reggie was next located, and commanded to fly himself and his intended home in a vacant plane. Finally, the Wonder Man threw General Attilla another beating, scarring his face. "The Wonder Man stamps an indelible impression on him with his ring..." He leapt off into the night, suggesting, "If you ever feel like starting trouble again, just look at yourself in the mirror and remember me!"

Carson radioed a report into Mr. Hastings. "Say-- Carson's gadget worked after all-- great work! With this new invention, we'll scoop every radio news service in the world!" By the time Carson returned home a few days later, Reggie Berold had painted himself a hero. "What? He did--? How nice--" That was all well and fine, as Carson's only thought was for lovely Brenda, and he claimed to have never heard of "this mighty Wonder Man everyone's talking about..."

According to Ain't It A Wonder, Will Eisner produced a second Wonder Man story, which never saw print, thanks to an injunction from National Periodical Publications accusing the character of infringing their Superman copyright. It took a few years and Eisner's honest testimony that Wonder Man's creation was intentionally derivative of Superman per publisher instruction to insure the end of Wonder Man's heroic career.

Brenda was accidentally called "Nora" twice.

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