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REVIEW: MARVEL UNIVERSE QUICKSILVER & WONDER MAN COMIC PACK
By Thomas Wheeler

The characters of the various Marvel movies we've enjoyed over the past several years come together to present the first live-action movie starring all of the main heroes of the Marvel Universe in -- THE AVENGERS!

Of course, there will be other characters involved. We'll see the return of the Black Widow from the Iron Man movie, and we'll finally get to meet that daring archer, Hawkeye.

But not every Marvel Universe character who's ever been a member of the Avengers will be in the first film. At the very least, that would make for a very crowded movie. There's been literally dozens of Avengers over the decades of the team's existence.

However, while many of the characters who can claim the name "Avenger" on their resume in the comic books may not be in the movie, that doesn't necessarily mean that they won't turn up elsewhere -- like in the Marvel Universe action figure line from Hasbro.

Two of these stalwart heroes who will simply have to wait at least until the sequel movie to make their debut on the big screen, have recently turned up in one of the Marvel Universe two-packs that also includes a comic book featuring their characters. This particular set features the heroes known as QUICKSILVER and WONDER MAN, spelled as one word, "Wonderman", on the toy package, doubtless for legal reasons, but I'll be using the two-word spelling for my review.

Since apart from their membership in the Avengers, these two individuals don't really have all that much in common, I thought we would have a look at them separately in this review. It's a little curious that they're even in a set together like this, except I suppose it was the most effective means of bringing both out in action figure form. Neither Quicksilver nor Wonder Man are exactly what you'd call A-list players in the Marvel Universe, but they're well worth receiving action figures of themselves.

Let's first have a look at the Marvel Universe's best-known speedster --

QUICKSILVER - real name Pietro Maximoff, first appeared in X-Men #4 (March 1964) and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He is the son of Magneto, the twin brother of the Scarlet Witch, and the paternal half-brother of Polaris.

Debuting in the Silver Age of comic books, Quicksilver has featured in four decades of Marvel continuity, starring in a self-titled series and as a regular team member in superhero title the Avengers. The character has also appeared in other Marvel-endorsed products such as animated films; arcade and video games; television series and merchandise such as action figures and trading cards.

The character first appears with his twin sister, the Scarlet Witch, as a part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in the title X-Men. The siblings are mutants, with Pietro possessing superhuman speed and Wanda able to control probability. The pair are recruited by their father Magneto after he saves Wanda from a mob after she accidentally causes a house to burst into fire, although they would not learn of their relationship to Magneto for many years. Quicksilver stays with her to protect her.

After several brief appearances in the title X-Men where the X-Men realize they are not evil, they depart when Magneto and his lackey the Toad are abducted by the cosmic entity the Stranger. They then travel back to Europe.

Pietro and his sister reform and are recruited by Avenger Iron Man to join superhero team the Avengers, after they discover they are advertising for new members and want to get support for themselves.

Together with leader Captain America and former villain Hawkeye, the four become the second generation of Avengers, and are later dubbed as "Cap's Kooky Quartet". Quicksilver first thought he should be leader, though he is captured by the Mole Man on the first mission he is rescued by the Avengers, who defeat the Minotaur without him, and would sometimes quarrel with the other members.

The Scarlet Witch becomes close friends with Hawkeye and both become loyal members of the team until Wanda is accidentally shot on a mission against Magneto. Quicksilver then flees from the Avengers with his wounded sister. The pair accompany Magneto back to his mid-Atlantic base, where the character captures the X-Men and Pietro skirmishes with the X-Man Cyclops.

After a solo appearance by Quicksilver in the title The Amazing Spider-Man, the twins finally realize that Magneto is the true villain. Pietro and Wanda reappear in the title X-Men and are then kidnapped along with several other mutants by the robot Sentinels, and are subsequently freed by the X-Men.

The character reappears in the title Avengers, and advises the team that Wanda has been kidnapped and taken to another dimension by the warlord Arkon. After Wanda is rescued, Pietro and his sister rejoin the team. During one mission Quicksilver is wounded by a Sentinel and in the title Fantastic Four is found by Crystal, a member of the Inhumans. Crystal nurses Pietro back to health, and the pair are eventually married.

In the title Giant-Size Avengers Pietro and Wanda also meet Robert Frank - formerly World War II hero the Whizzer - who was present at Mount Wundagore (the birthplace of the siblings) with his wife at the time of their birth. Frank briefly joins the Avengers, believing Pietro and Wanda to be his children. The Scarlet Witch also becomes romantically involved with her Avengers teammate the android Vision. Although Pietro initially disapproves, the character eventually gives his blessing to their marriage, featured in Giant-Size Avengers.

Quicksilver is featured with the Inhumans and Fantastic Four against the villain the Sphinx in a Fantastic Four annual, and the siblings' origin is explored in the title Avengers when gypsy Django Maximoff kidnaps Pietro and Wanda and returns to Mount Wundagore in the country of Transia, where they were born.

After a battle with the Avengers against the Elder God Chthon, the siblings learn from Bova, one of the New Men created by the character the High Evolutionary, that they are the children of Maximoff, and not Robert Frank. Quicksilver then returns to Attilan, city of the Inhumans, and in the title Fantastic Four is revealed to have had a daughter, Luna, with Crystal.

During the limited series title Vision and the Scarlet Witch, Magneto forces Bova to reveal the truth about his missing children, who are revealed to be Pietro and Wanda. After their mother Magda dies in childbirth, the children are given by the High Evolutionary to Django Maximoff to raise as his own. Pietro and Wanda reject Magneto when told.

Quicksilver makes several appearances in the second limited series Vision and the Scarlet Witch, and his marriage to Crystal is also strained when she has an affair. In a West Coast Avengers annual Crystal's uncle Maximus the Mad (also brother of Inhuman king Black Bolt) uses technology to cause Quicksilver to become psychotic. This probably didn't take all that much, as the character has been known for being as short-tempered as he is fleet-footed.

Quicksilver battles the West Coast Avengers and in an X-Factor annual is captured by the Inhumans and cured of his condition. In an effort to repent for his actions, Pietro appears in Avengers West Coast and aids the team against Magneto and the villain Immortus, who has captured Wanda. Although successful, Pietro refuses to return to Crystal and in the title X-Factor joins a revised version of the now U.S. government-sponsored superhero team.

Quicksilver and Crystal are reunited during the storyline Bloodties when the Avengers, X-Factor and X-Men team to stop a group of mutant terrorists who kidnap their daughter Luna, and are responsible for a civil war on the island nation of Genosha. After dealing with the threat, Quicksilver learns of Crystal's relationship with Avenger the Black Knight and leaves, also resigning from X-Factor.

Quicksilver is also featured in a self-titled limited series, taking daughter Luna and traveling to Mt. Wundergore, aiding the High Evolutionary and his Knights of Wundagore against villains Exodus and the Man Beast. Quicksilver uses the experimental Isotope E to augment his powers, allowing him to move at greater supersonic speeds. A future version of Pietro called "Nestor" appears and reveals that his powers are not speed but rather temporal based. Quicksilver also rejoins a reformed Avengers in the third volume of the series and features briefly in the second volume of Heroes for Hire.

Quicksilver is a mutant capable of moving and thinking at superhuman speeds. Originally capable of running at the speed of sound; exposure to the High Evolutionary's Isotope E made it possible for the character to run at supersonic speeds of up to Mach 5 and resist the effects of friction, reduced oxygen, and kinetic impact while moving at super-speeds. The character's speed allows him to perform feats such as create cyclone-strength winds; run up walls and cross bodies of water.

So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive. The Marvel Universe line uses a number of fairly standard body molds, which gives the line a certain amount of consistency, which is something that I appreciate. There's one set of male body molds that is rather slender, although still possessing good body definition and musculature, and this is the set that has been used for Quicksilver, appropriately enough.

Of course, the figure has its own distinctive headsculpt. Quicksilver has whitish-silver hair, that has always tended to brush back and upwards on the sides. Not quite as ferocious-looking as Wolverine, but the same sort of basic idea. One almost wonders if it's a common trait among mutants, since I can think of a few other characters with a similar hairstyle.

I've tended to believe that it's probably not the easiest hairstyle in the world to sculpt, since I have seen it botched a few times, but on this Quicksilver figure, it looks superb. The hair has been painted white, and given an overcoat of light gray, that has been slightly wiped off to bring out the white underneath. Sometimes this particular detail trick works, and sometimes it doesn't. Generally when it works best is when it's used to accentuate hair, and on Quicksilver, it's worked remarkably well.

Quicksilver's facial expression is remarkably friendly. It's a superb likeness of the character, but he has a hint of a smile on his face, and almost looks polite. Not bad for a character as notoriously short-tempered as Quicksilver has tended to be. In the comics, Pietro is not a patient man. One tends to believe that this is due to his mutant abilities. To him, the entire world must seem to be moving in slow motion. He's been known to chew out waiters in restaurants when he thinks they're taking too long. It's not hard to imagine him seeing the Express Lane in the checkout area of grocery stores as a misnomer. Quicksilver is the type of person who would stand next to a microwave oven and mutter, "Come on, already, I haven't got all minute!"

So, for him to look as calm and friendly as this figure -- well, it's nice to see, if a little atypical for the character. But in this case, that's not really a complaint. My compliments to the sculptor.

Quicksilver has had several costumes over the years, but this figure uses his best known. It's commonly portrayed as a light blue, but for the figure, it's been darkened slightly to what I would call a light steel blue. It still looks good. There is a narrow white lightning bolt running from the right shoulder down the front and back, and another lightning bolt running across the waist like a belt.

You know, between figures like this, and Flash from the DC Universe line, who has similar uniform characteristics, I wonder just how hard it is to draw out a really good lightning bolt and then turn it into a paint stencil or an imprint or however they do it. It can't be that easy, and in Quicksilver's case, it has to cross two pieces -- the upper torso and the mid torso -- both front and back, and look good doing so -- which it does. I'm just glad I'm not the one who had to figure out how to make it work.

Quicksilver has black trunks -- something of an affectation since this isn't something that has always been part of the figure's costume design, but it looks good enough here. And he has white gloves and boots. No lightning bolts or unusual details about these, but they compliment the rest of the uniform colors nicely.

All of Quicksilver's paint details are well done. As always, I am especially impressed with the eyes. The whites of the eyes are outlined on top in black, representing eyelashes, and the eyes have blue irises and black pupils. I'm amazed at the precision given how small they are. Now, yes, I've seen this sort of thing botched at times, but it amazes me that at this size, they can get it right when they try properly.

The figure feels sturdy enough for his rather slender build, and he stands well enough on his own. Of course, Quicksilver is superbly articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. Some of the early Marvel Universe figures had hip joints that were, to put it mildly, a bit over-engineered and really didn't work all that well. In more recent times, this has been traded out for something more closely resembling G.I. Joe leg articulation design. It works well with them, and it certainly works well here.

Now, let's consider Quicksilver's colleague in comics --

WONDER MAN - real name Simon Williams, was created by writer Stan Lee and artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby, and debuted in the superhero-team title The Avengers #9 (cover-dated Oct. 1964), and after ostensibly dying in that issue was not seen again until The Avengers #102 (Aug. 1972), where he made a cameo appearance in a comatose state. Wonder Man's body was revived by the villain Kang in The Avengers #131-132 (Jan.–Feb. 1975), and then again by the Black Talon in The Avengers #152 (Oct. 1976), and finally by the Living Laser in The Avengers Annual #6 (1976). After this last encounter, Wonder Man finally recovered his faculties and joined the Avengers in a full-time capacity in Avengers #160 (June 1977).

Wonder Man later appeared as a team member in the spin-off West Coast Avengers, and after that team disbanded joined the team Force Works in a series that debuted with a July 1994 cover-date. After that team splintered, Wonder Man rejoined the Avengers in The Avengers vol. 3, #4 (May 1998).

After the collapse of the team in The Avengers #503 (Dec. 2004), Wonder Man joined a new splinter group called the Mighty Avengers, co-starred in that team's series, which premiered with March 2007 cover-date.

Wonder Man starred in a self-titled graphic novel in 1986. He then starred in a 29-issue series, Wonder Man (Sept. 1991 - Feb. 1994). which was followed in by the three-issue miniseries Avengers Two: Wonder Man and the Beast (2000). In 2007, he starred in the five-issue miniseries Wonder Man: My Fair Super Hero.

Simon Williams is the son of rich industrialist Sanford Williams, owner of Williams Innovations. Simon inherits the munitions factory after his father's death, but the company's profits fall due to its biggest competitor, Tony Stark. On the advice of his brother Eric, Simon tries to embezzle funds from his company but is caught and incarcerated.

Simon blames Stark for this and accepts the proposition of master villain Baron Heinrich Zemo after the Enchantress pays his bail, as a pawn is required to infiltrate the Avengers. The desperate Simon Williams agrees and is transformed into an ion-powered being with superhuman powers. His powers are tested, and he is shown to have great superhuman strength and durability, even defeating the Executioner.

Called Wonder Man by Zemo, he is then sent to meet and join the Avengers, with instructions to betray them at a critical moment so that Zemo's Masters of Evil can destroy the Avengers. Zemo ensures Wonder Man's loyalty by advising him that as a result of the treatment his body now requires periodic doses of a serum to survive—a serum that only Zemo can provide.

The Avengers were lured into a trap and captured. The plan fails when Wonder Man decides to save the Avengers and aid them against Zemo, apparently at the cost of his own life. Iron Man records Wonder Man's brain patterns in the hope that one day he can be revived.

Unknown to the Avengers, Wonder Man's body has simply entered a catatonic state as it adjusts to the effects of the treatment. Eric Williams becomes distraught over the apparent death of his sibling and, blaming the Avengers, assumes the identity of the Grim Reaper in an effort to destroy them. The Grim Reaper steals Simon's body at one point, and attacks the Avengers three times before Wonder Man finally returns.

Wonder Man remains in suspended animation for years, and it is during this vulnerable time that Wonder Man is used as a pawn on three occasions. Wonder Man is briefly revived by Kang the Conqueror to battle the Avengers as part of his Legion of the Unliving, and later "resurrected" as a zombie by Black Talon and the Grim Reaper to attack the Avengers once more. On the final occasion, the Living Laser hypnotizes a now-awake but still very weak Wonder Man, in an unsuccessful attack on the Avengers. After this encounter, Wonder Man was restored to true life and chooses to remain with the Avengers, aiding them against Attuma and Doctor Doom.

He also helped the Avengers battle Graviton. He soon after defeats the Grim Reaper, who was intent on destroying the Vision as he was "artificial" and a "mockery" of his brother; Wonder Man at this point is revealed to have become a being of ionic energy.

Wonder Man eventually joins the Avengers in a full-time capacity and becomes close friends with his teammate, the Beast. For several months after his resurrection, Wonder Man suffers from slight claustrophobia and a fear of dying in battle, as he did once before. Wonder Man finally overcomes his fear of death during the final battle with Korvac. Wonder Man invaded his former plant which had been taken over by the Maggia, and fought Madame Masque and the Dreadnought. Developing an interest in acting, Wonder Man stars in minor roles before moving to Hollywood, where fellow Avenger Hercules uses his contacts to establish Wonder Man's career. Wonder Man also works for a time as a stuntman, an ideal vocation since he is invulnerable to virtually all conventional weapons.

Wonder Man helps form the West Coast Avengers. He also foils Doctor Doom's plot to control the world. Wonder Man eventually accepts the Vision as his "brother," but there is a setback when the Vision is dismantled and rebuilt as an emotionless machine by a global conglomerate. The Scarlet Witch—the Vision's wife—asks Wonder Man to provide his brainwaves once again in order to rebuild the foundational personality matrix of the original Vision, but Wonder Man refuses, having feelings for her himself. The Wasp further deduces that the Vision's original relationship to the Scarlet Witch may even have been predicated by Wonder Man's initial donation for the original personality matrix; at this, Wonder Man confirms that several of his hesitations about making the attempt arise from these doubts and the subconscious desire he's felt toward the Scarlet Witch since her separation from her husband. He is then ensorcelled by the Enchantress, and battles the Avengers.

Wonder Man takes part in the Kree/Shi'ar War, and had his powers altered when he and the Vision failed to prevent the Shi'ar Nega-Bomb from detonating. When Avengers West Coast (renamed) disbands after a dispute, Wonder Man becomes a founding member of its successor group—Force Works. Soon after this, an accident in space changes Wonder Man into a being of pure ionic energy, and during a related mission against the alien Kree, Wonder Man is disintegrated in an explosion. Many months later, the Scarlet Witch accidentally resurrects Wonder Man in ionic form; while in this form he appears when she is in need. Several months later, the Scarlet Witch is able to fully revive Wonder Man and he now exists in an independent, more human form. It is also discovered later that the Grim Reaper - dead at the time - is also revived.

Wonder Man becomes romantically involved with the Scarlet Witch, but ends their affair during the Kang Dynasty saga, due to her residual feelings for the Vision.

Wonder Man is blackmailed into working for S.H.I.E.L.D. during the Civil War storyline. Due to charges of misappropriation of funds in his non-profit organization, Wonder Man is pressured to work for the pro-registration side in the ensuing Civil War drama.

Lately, he's been opposing the Avengers in the comics, trying to stir up public doubt with claims that they do more harm than good. Never thought of him as that much of a jerk, and I'd just as soon not get into the details.

Simon Williams gained his superhuman powers due to chemical and radiation treatments with "ionic" energy by Baron Zemo, giving him superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility, and reflexes. While Zemo's initial aim is to use ionic energy treatments to make Wonder Man at least as strong as "the equal of any Avenger", his treatments surpass his expectations and endowed Wonder Man with strength comparable to that of Thor. In Avengers: Children's Crusade #3, Captain America describes Wonder Man as having "Sentry-level" strength.

Zemo's treatments also grant Wonder Man virtual invulnerability, immortality, and instantaneous reflexes. Zemo also outfits Wonder Man with a rocket pack in his belt to achieve flight. During the beginning years, Wonder Man sometimes wore an ionic jet flight-pack which allowed him to fly.

Following his resurrection and metamorphosis, Wonder Man's physiology evolves to the point he acquires the power of true flight, independent of technology. Due to Wonder Man's self-regenerating ionic energy, he has the ability to exist indefinitely without air, food, or water, and he no longer ages. Wonder Man's eyes also glow a bright red courtesy of the ionic energy stored in his body. While with concentration, Wonder Man can make his eyes appear normal, he usually wears sunglasses to conceal the effect.

Before his "death" at the hands of the Kree, Wonder Man discovered new abilities of his ionic body, such as changing his size (enabling him to grow taller than his adversary Goliath) and emitting energy from his eyes. Since his resurrection, Wonder Man has not used these powers.

However, when the Scarlet Witch resurrected him during Kurt Busiek's tenure as head writer, Wonder Man was often seen as being able to transform into a state of pure living ionic energy at will and back again.

Wonder Man is an exceptional hand-to-hand combatant, having received Avengers training in unarmed combat by Captain America. He is also a trained electrical engineer with an advanced degree in electrical engineering, and is a capable industrialist, experienced stuntman, and a talented actor.

In the alternate future timeline of the Guardians of the Galaxy (and I don't mean the one with the raccoon), Simon Williams was still alive in the 31st century, and eventually joined a spinoff group of the Guardians, calling himself "Hollywood". .

So, how's the figure? Extremely cool and very impressive. Wonder Man, fittingly, uses a larger and more muscular set of body molds than Quicksilver. This particular set of body molds tends to be used for characters that are more inclined to be physical powerhouses. Other examples of its use would include Doc Samson and the Imperial Guardsman known as Gladiator. So for Wonder Man, it fits.

The body is a good bit taller, as well. Quicksilver stands about 4-1/4" in height. Wonder Man is very slightly over 4-1/2". At that scale, that's a fairly considerable margin.

Wonder Man has had a number of costumes over the years. His original costume was mostly green, with a red "W" emblem and red boots. Not too long after his resurrection in the 70's, he gained a new uniform that was green and red, with some yellow trim. I especially liked this costume for the character, as it was distinctive, and still looked very super-heroish. Unfortunately, it was rather short lived.

Subsequent to this, Wonder Man started wearing a red jacket with black tights. It was less of a super-hero type costume, but it worked well enough for him.

Arguably his longest-lasting costume, and the one represented by the figure, features a sleeveless black spandex costume, with a bold red "W" emblazoned across the front and back, a red belt, red boots, and red wristbands. It's fairly simple, straightforward, not terribly dramatic, but for the character, it works, and is arguably the most iconic modern version of Wonder Man.

The headsculpt is excellent, especially the rather trendy-styled hair. Since Wonder Man is effectively an energy being, even in human form this is evidenced by the fact that his eyes glow red. There is no apparent iris or pupil, they're just entirely red. (While one might think this would be detrimental to his acting career, it was once revealed that he can force a normal appearance to his eyes for brief periods of time, but he pays for it with a doozy of a headache later.)

As such, while Wonder Man's eyes are not as intricate as Quicksilver's, they are nevertheless very well painted, with the red covering the entire expanse of the eyes, and a black outline above them. Wonder Man also has black eyebrows which have been very neatly painted. Really, I think this is one of the more impressive headsculpts I've seen in the line.

Although most of the body uses standard parts, the wristbands are additional attachments, secured during assembly, as is the belt. All of these have been nicely designed and work well with the figure.

Any criticisms? Just one. I really don't think it was necessary to enhance the look of the musculature on the arms, or the details on the face, by smearing a slightly darker shade of flesh-tone into the crevasses. It wasn't necessary, and if anything, it makes Wonder Man look like he needs to wash his face and maybe take a shower. They did not do this with Quicksilver, and while there is some dark detailing on his costume, it appears to have been airbrushed on, and as such looks a good bit better than this.

Of course, Wonder Man is as well articulated as Quicksilver. He is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivels, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. There haven't been a lot of action figures of Wonder Man over the years, and this is really the best that I've ever encountered. I'm extremely pleased with it.

As for the comic book included, it's a reprint of Avengers West Coast #60. The story involves a somehow corrupted Scarlet Witch teaming with her father, Magneto, for yet another scheme to overthrow humanity. Quicksilver does his level best to put an end to the plot, and of course the rest of the West Coast Avengers, including Wonder Man, are involved. I don't want to spoil the rest of the story for you.

So, what's my final word? This is a cool set. I've always liked both characters, and while I am hardly a completist when it comes to the Marvel Universe line, I am pleased to add both Quicksilver and Wonder Man to my collection. The figures have been very well done, and are excellent likenesses of the characters. I am certain that any fan of these particular Marvel heroes will be pleased with these figures.

The MARVEL UNIVERSE COMIC TWO-PACK featuring QUICKSILVER and WONDER MAN definitely has my highest recommendation!