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By Thomas Wheeler

Simon Williams has had more than his fair share of grief in life. For that matter, he's died a few times along the way. Doesn't get much worse than that.

Simon Williams first appeared in the earliest days of the Avengers. Given super-powers by a band of villains to infiltrate the team, and named Wonder Man, he decided he liked being a hero better, and died as a result. He wouldn't return until the late 70's, and then apparently as a zombie, although he did gain his senses fairly quickly. He kept the name Wonder Man, and remained an active member of the Avengers for many years, and tried to build a new career in his personal life as an actor, with mixed results.

But once again it appeared he had been killed. The poor guy just couldn't catch a break. Although not long after the Avengers returned from the "Heroes Reborn" event (talk about a tragedy...), the Scarlet Witch, whom Wonder Man had strong feelings towards, thought she was starting to see visions of him.

No puns, please, about how Simon Williams' brain engrams were used to program the mind of the synthezoid Avenger known as the Vision. It's not that funny.

As it turned out, Wonder Man had been transformed into some sort of "ionic energy". For a time, only the Scarlet Witch could bring him together enough to be an effective fighter. But eventually, Wonder Man was able to regain his physical form, although sometimes he still transforms into his energy form when some extra power is needed. These occasions are rare indeed, given that we're talking about a guy who's strong enough to go toe-to-toe with Thor and get away with it.

The character has proven to be rather fascinating over the years. He's never been terribly successful at anything he's tried. He was an industrialist for a long time, but more or less inherited the company, if I recall correctly, and wasn't very good at running it. He made a lousy crook, since he wasn't really evil. His acting skills were barely enough to get him a part on a children's show as a victimized sidekick, and into a series of Grade-D barbarian movies. Even as a super-hero, for a time, he was terribly insecure, terrified of being killed in battle. Add to that the fact that his brother, Eric, was the villain known as the Grim Reaper, and that he basically shared his mind with an android, and that'd be enough to mess anybody up, never mind having to drag yourself back from being killed twice.

He's had a few lighter moments. During his stint with the Avengers after his return from being a zombie, he befriended the Beast. And even though the blue-furred mutant has since returned to the X-Men, and isn't nearly as happy-go-lucky as he was during his time with the Avengers, an attitude the morose Wonder Man certainly needed, the two remain friends.

So maybe Wonder Man is getting a little justice in the fact that there's not just one, but TWO versions of him in his Marvel Legends assortment, known as the "Legendary Rider" series, although Wonder Man's qualifications for being part of that assortment are open to some debate. The figure comes with a strange contraption that I am assuming is a one- man hovercraft with handlebars. Honestly the thing is so small I'd be scared to set foot on it.

As for the figures, there's the "standard" Wonder Man, a relatively human-looking character, except for the red eyes. But the figure has standard-colored skin, greyish-black hair, black tights with red boots and wristbands, and the red "W" across the tights.

Then there's the chase version, which I found at a Target. This is the "Ionic Energy" Wonder Man figure.

This figure has been appropriately molded in transparent purple. Whenever Wonder Man changes to his energy form, he appears to be purple energy. About all the additional detail that shows up other than this cascading humanoid form of energy are the red eyes and, just for a bit of flair, the red "W" of his costume. And that's all that is painted on this chase figure -- the red eyes and the "W" on the costume.

You'd think it would be hard to get away with transforming an energy being into a solid action figure, but it works quite well. I have no problem seeing this as Wonder Man's energy form.

As for the figure design itself, it's not bad. But there's one major design flaw as far as I'm concerned. The figure's shoulders are preposterously bulky. It makes it look like his arms are coming out of the middle of his torso. This really should have been trimmed down. We know Wonder Man is a muscular powerhouse, but this is a little ridiculous.

Apart from this, the figure isn't bad at all. Either version is quite decent, and to the best of my knowledge, this is the first-ever Wonder Man figure. Took long enough, really, especially for a guy that did have his own comic book for a while.

As with any Marvel Legends figure, Wonder Man has plenty of articulation. The package advertises 36 points of articulation. And as a nice little bonus, there's a tiny figure of fellow Avenger Yellowjacket in the package.

Do I recommend this figure? Well, yes, I do. The shoulders are absurd, but the rest of the figure is a decent design. You'll have to be very lucky to find the "ionic energy" version that I've reviewed here, but the standard Wonder Man shouldn't be too hard to find, and if you're a fan of the Avengers, then you'll definitely want to add WONDER MAN to your Marvel Legends collection!