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Wonder Man #14

Issue Date: October 1992

Story Title: Infinite Memory

Staff: Gerard Jones (writer), Jeff Johnson (penciler), Dan Panosian (inker), Joe Rosas (colorist), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Fabian Nicieza (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description:
In an alien landscape, Wonder Man and other heroes of Earth, including some of the X-Men, X-Factor and Alpha Flight, have engaged Warlock and the Infinity Watch in combat. But, before long, Galactus’s ship appears and transports everyone aboard. Galactus tells the heroes that is wanting the knowledge to defeat the Magus, and does so by looking into the minds of the heroes. Wonder Man is forced to relive various painful memories in the process, and continuing with his strange change in powers and personality, his form withers to almost nothing, as his identity crisis grows. He restores himself, and joins in the discussion with the heroes about their next plan in this cosmic drama, before pulling the Scarlet Witch away from everyone, he starts telling at her about her feelings towards him. Meanwhile, on Earth, Wonder Man’s friend Alex Flores receives a visit from Argus, who is having trouble coping since being dowsed with Wonder Man’s ionic energy. Alex and her daughter were also bombarded with the ionic energy, and they discuss how they should handle any possible changes or powers they might develop, before noticing another Earth and moon in the sky. Back on Galactus’s ship, Thanos informs the heroes that the Magus is planning to take over the Milky Way Galaxy, and that the doppelganger Earth is slowly merging with the real world.

Full Synopsis:
‘For Earth - for my sanity - I’ve got to stop Adam Warlock!’ exclaims Simon “Wonder Man” Williams on a relay point in the dimensional corridor between time and space, as an all out super-hero brawl is taking place. Energy bursts from Warlock’s gem on his forehead, striking Colossus and knocking him back, while Wonder Man moves towards Adam Warlock. While Wolverine tackles Gamora, her teammate in the Infinity Watch, Drax the Destroyer, approaches him, and Warlock exclaims ‘“Heroes” of Earth! Dozens of you sent to stop me and Thanos and the Infinity Watch! Have you asked why you fight the fight?’ Warlock enquires. ‘Or do you merely plunge into violence as the machinations of the Magus require it?’ he asks as he flips Wonder Man over.

‘No! You won’t confuse me!’ Wonder Man exclaims, kicking Warlock backwards. Warlock frowns and asks ‘“Confuse” you…with the truth?’ Oh, the mad arrogance of you supposed “super humans”…to think that anything that stops your violence must be a lie!’ He then raises his staff, while Wonder Man utters ‘Madness…arrogance…violence…no, Warlock! You won’t…you won’t…’, but Warlock slams his staff into Wonder Man’s face, knocking him back, while the Hulk throws a punch at Drax, nearby. ‘Have it your way, then, Wonder Man’ Warlock calls out, telling him that if power is the only language he understands, then his power will have the last word. Wonder Man squats down, ‘Powers…blasted powers…’ he utters, while Warlock looms over him, when, suddenly, ‘Now, Simon! While I’m distracting him!’ Polaris exclaims as she uses her magnetic powers on Adam Warlock.

Wonder Man uses this opportunity to get to his feet, ‘Now…shut your mind down, just…’ Wonder Man remarks, but Warlock spins around and attacks Polaris with his gem, shunting her backwards. Warlock then quickly turns his attention back to Wonder Man, ‘Yes, shut your mind down…to make yourself a better pawn for evil. An evil great enough to bring me together with Thanos’ Warlock declares, as he knocks Wonder Man with his staff once more. ‘He attacked Colossus and Polaris…I have to stop him…but I want to think - not just punch. I don’t want to just be a bundle of rage - I want to know!’ Simon tells himself. ‘I want to be human’ he decides, as Warlock punches him in the face. ‘I want to be human…’ Wonder Man remarks again, as Warlock slams the end of his staff against Wonder Man, and declares ‘Human…all too human, Wonder Man. And becoming all the more so as I watch your body deflate before my eyes. If I’ve done you damage, I am sorry. But it must be’. Warlock turns from Wonder Man’s fallen body and announces that if he is forced, he will do the same to any others who attack he and his unexpected ally.

Warlock sees Thanos engaged in combat with the new Thor, and flies up to where Storm is hovering nearby, and declares that a universe is at stake. Wonder Man struggles to get to his feet. His body has indeed withered somewhat, and he realizes that his powers have deserted him once more. He has too many questions about who he is and what his past has done to him. ‘Supposed to be a hero? But what kind of hero can only be strong when he’s enraged?’ Simon asks. ‘Who can’t think about what’s right…and then fight for it?’ He decides that he has failed the others, just when they need their strongest at peak. He wonders how he will live with himself if Warlock kills Polaris, or Storm - or Wanda. ‘If anything happens to Wanda, I’ll -’ Simon begins, but he turns and sees the Scarlet Witch, behind a barrier of mystic energy with Shaman, Dr Druid and Agatha Harkness, keeping open the dimensional portal that brought everyone here.

But, just thinking about the Scarlet Witch makes Simon want to kill somebody. That anger increases his ionic arms back to their muscular form, and he decided that at least he knows what matters - maybe not heroism, or “right” or even himself - but Wanda. One of his eyes flash with energy, as Simon decides that decisions about heroism will have to wait, as he is in this now, and even if it is just for Wanda, he will see it through. He flies over the motionless bodies of Wolverine and Gamora, and joins up with a group of heroes - Guardian, Thor, the Thing, Invisible Woman, Hercules, She-Hulk, Strong Guy, Cyclops and the Hulk - who have surrounded Warlock, Drax and Thanos. ‘What does it take to put these three down?’ Guardian asks as she hovers beside Wonder Man. ‘More than any of you cretins possess!’ Thanos boasts. ‘We shall see, titan’ Hercules replies.

Suddenly, a massive ship appears overhead, ‘What?’ someone gasps. ‘The craft of Galactus!’ another exclaims. A beam of energy pours down from the space craft, and the heroes are all pulled from the lunar surface, towards it. Wonder Man finds himself flung up near Jean Grey, Sasquatch, Moondragon and Nova, while shielding his eyes, he asks ‘That beam! What’s it - what’s it -…’.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Wonder Man’s friend, writer Alex Flores sits at her desk in her home, tapping away at the keyboard, she hears the doorbell ring. ‘Coming’ Alex mumbles. The doorbell rings again. ‘Just lemme get to the fade out’ she mutters, but the bell rings again, so she gets up and goes to the front door, ‘Okay, okay! Give it a rest will ya? I’m - oh! Angus, is it? No…Argus, right?’ Alex exclaims as she opens the door and sees the man with the Mohawk hairstyle standing before her. Argus tells Ms Flores that he is sorry to bother her, but points out she said she knew some things about Wonder Man. ‘And I just had to ask…you see, I invited him to a film with me, a montage film, like the classic Kropotkin Experiments’ Argus remarks. ‘You must be thinking of Lev Kuleshov, honey. Kropotkin was a philosopher’ Alex corrects him. ‘You mean…I got it wrong?’ Argus asks.

‘All this time - I’ve been going around telling everybody - and I got it wrong?’ he exclaims. ‘“Kropotkin montage”. That’s priceless!’ Alex grins. But, Argus frowns, ‘Priceless?’ he shouts, ‘I’m sick of getting everything wrong. I’m sick of being a fool!’ Alex puts a hand on his shoulder and tells him to take it easy, adding that she knows where he is coming from. Alex reveals that she was always a screw up when she was young, so when she started to assert herself as a writer, she turned into a classic know-it-all. ‘Seemed like I’d always rather say something pretentious and stupid than just keep my mouth shut’ Alex explains.

Alex continues, telling Argus that this world makes it hard to be intelligent, that it makes you feel like a geek if you want to think, if you want to learn. She remarks that sometimes the hardest thing is learning to be comfortable with what you know, and what you don’t. ‘Yes, yes, yes…but I know I’ll be a great filmmaker!’ Argus declares, adding that he doesn’t know how to convince people. ‘I have a vision! Can’t they see that? I have a vision!’ he shouts, his eyes suddenly glowing red. ‘Oh, your eyes!’ Alex gasps. ‘My…my eyes? What’s wrong with my eyes?’ Argus asks. ‘Nothing much. Just shooting fire’ Alex tells him. ‘Fire. Ever since I was blasted by Wonder Man’s energy, I…I’ve been feeling strange tinglings…’ Argus reveals.

Alex is surprised, and tells Argus that her daughter has been saying then same thing. Suddenly, Alex wonders where her daughter is, deciding that she has been working so hard, ‘She’s right there’ Argus remarks, pointing. ‘Where?’ Alex asks him. ‘Can’t you see? She’s right…there!’ Argus declares, but Alex tells him that he is just pointing at the wall. ‘A…wall? But…but…’ his voice trails off, and he looks perplexed, when suddenly, ‘Man! You guys sure talk loud!’ Jamie Flores calls out as she enters the living room. ‘I could hear you right through the wall!’ she declares, surprising Argus and Alex.

Back at the Dimensional Crossroads, ‘Now may we return to the task at hand?’ Galactus booms, as he stands at his controls, the heroes at his feet, amongst them the Thing, the Human Torch, the Vision, Guardian, sasquatch, Havok, Storm, Cyclops, the Hulk, Thor, Colossus, Drax, Hercules, Jean Grey, Captain America, Strong Guy, Wolverine, Nova, Adam Warlock and Thanos, and of course Wonder Man. Galactus states that he has entranced the earthlings in hope that they may have knowledge he needs to thwart the Magus’s bid for cosmic power. He decides that the quickest way to gain that knowledge is though a cerebral scan of all recent memories. ‘Steady yourselves, mortals, this unit is not adequately insulated for the sensitivities of your frail systems. I cannot guess what memories it will stir’ Galactus explains.

Wonder Man suddenly hears a voice: ‘Now I can die -’ the voice calls out. ‘No!’ Wonder Man exclaims. ‘ - knowing that I didn’t live -’ the voice continues. ‘No. not dead’ Wonder Man whispers to himself. ‘I have created a new breed of man - a living engine of destruction’ the voice calls out. ‘It’s not true!’ Wonder Man booms, as memories flood through his mind - of his brother, Eric, telling Simon that he can save him, or make him into a criminal. Of the police, telling Simon that he is under arrest for embezzlement. Of Baron Zemo, transforming Simon into Wonder Man, offering him wealth and power as he transformed him into a new breed, a living engine. Then, of being “dead” at Captain America’s side, with Cap remarking that Wonder Man was a strange mixture of good and evil. Then, of his naked body floating through the ether, and being told that he was dead. But no man dies and comes back mortal - no human. Then, one final memory, of his brother, transformed into the Grim Reaper. ‘Your brother...your ghost…your death’.

Anguished, Simon frowns, and shouts ‘It’s a lie!’ His body starts to shrink and wither, his costume becomes much to big for him as he exclaims ‘I’m not dead! I’m not inhuman! I’m Simon Williams! You want me to think I’m just a memory - a pattern of energy that thinks it’s Williams! But…oh dear Lord. My body…I’m losing…my body…’ he utters. Cyclops and Drax turn and look at him, before red energy flares in Simon’s eyes, ‘I’m ALIVE!’ he shouts, before keeling over, ‘I’m not an illusion…am I? Am I only…a self-deception? Do I live…just because I repress the truth? Because I won’t admit…that Simon Williams died…years ago?’ he wonders, his body shrivelled even further. ‘And if I…if I stop pretending…?’ he asks.

‘No. No. NO!’ Simon booms, his body starts reshaping to his muscular form as he starts to get up, ‘Maybe I’m not Simon Williams…maybe Williams is dead’ he decides. ‘Huh? What?’ Thor utters. ‘Did we -?’ Rogue begins, as everyone else comes out of Galactus’s hold. ‘Hey! What’re we doing here? How long we been conked out? Whadja do to our brains?’ he asks Galactus. ‘Interesting’ the planet devourer remarks. Very interesting’ Thanos comments, while Wonder Man declares ‘Yeah, maybe Williams is dead…but I’m alive!’ Thor leans down and helps Wonder Man up, asking him what happened to his muscles. Wonder Man explains that it was an ionic fluctuation, something a human wouldn’t understand. ‘Yet, Simon, thou art -’ Hercules begins, but Wonder Man interrupts: ‘“Art” what?’ he snaps, before asking if he is even Simon anymore. ‘Or from now…am I just Wonder Man?’ he declares.

Hercules asks Wonder Man what aggrieves him, and points out that it was just yesterday that he was driven to a rage even more dire by meeting with his doppelganger. ‘My doppelganger! That alien thing - taking my shape - taunting me with me inhumanity!’ Wonder Man exclaims. Thor, the Human Torch and the Thing gather around as Wonder Man remarks that he hold himself he was different, real, and wonders if that is the punch line of the joke. Thor tells Wonder Man to take it easy, when the Human Torch apologizes for interrupting, as the Thing tells Thor that the “living appetite” wants him. ‘Galactus? What for?’ the relatively new hero asks. The Thing points out that, for now, it appears Galactus, Warlock and Thanos are on the same side - the good side.

The Thing announces that they are up against that Warlock spin-off, called the Magus, but that they don’t know his power source. ‘Shall we aid such miscreants?’ Hercules enquires. ‘Either that or we watch the Magus obliterate our reality!’ the Human Torch suggests. ‘So get over there’ the Thing tells Thor. Thor does so, and Galactus instructs him to journey back to their reality. Wonder Man ponders as to his own reality, what reality his is - and wonders if Wanda knows. He pushes past the Vision and Colossus to get to the Scarlet Witch, who is standing with the other mystics. He tells Wanda that he has to talk to her, to which Wanda replies ‘Simon? But…but what…?’, to which Wonder Man exclaims ‘Now, Wanda’.

‘Young man, we must -’ Agatha Harkness begins, but Simon ignores her, and declares ‘You know me, Wanda! You can tell me - am I human?’ The other heroes all turn and look at him, while Wonder Man grabs Wanda by her arm and pulls her along. ‘Simon? Is this a joke?’ Wanda asks. ‘Williams! Let her go! If this is more of your mutant-hating -’ Shaman begins, but Wanda tells Shaman that she will talk to him. ‘Come here - where you can talk - where you can level with me’ Simon tells Wanda, pulling her away from the others. He reminds the Scarlet Witch that she was in love with the Vision, a plastic man who wanted to think he was human, and then she started to get interested in him. ‘Why, Wanda?’ he enquires.

But, Wanda replies that she doesn’t understand, to which Simon asks if it is because he is fake, too, because he is a bundle of ionic energy, pretending to be human? ‘Are you turned on by artificial men?’ Wonder Man demands. ‘Simon, you know that’s not -’ Wanda begins, but Simon snaps back at her: ‘What do I know? Nothing! That’s why you’re going to tell me -’ he begins, but Wanda finally pulls away from him, ‘Let go of me!’ she shouts, and tells Simon that he is acting insane. ‘INSANE?’ Simon booms, before covering his face and realizing that he is indeed, acting insane. Dr Strange and Nova stand near the Scarlet Witch, while Simon remarks that he has tried not to think too much about what happened to him, that he has tried to smart-alec his way around the memories, been glib about his uncertainties, without staring them in the face.

Wonder Man hangs his head, and decides ‘I’ve never been me. Never had a consistent personality. Only been what I made myself. I can barely remember the old me…before I was arrested. I even blocked out most of what I knew about technology and munitions’ he realizes. Wanda goes over to him, and asks Simon if he is all right. Simon turns to her and replies that he doesn’t know. ‘I never wanted to be what I am…the ionic man. The super hero. And now I know that I can never be the one thing I did want to be - just human’. He adds that when he tries to be normal, he fails, and when he tries to force himself into other people’s normality, he destroys it.

Back on Earth, Alex suggests to her daughter and Argus that they try to figure out what effect Simon’s energy had on each of them. Argus declares that he thinks they should all see a doctor, but Alex points out that a doctor probably won’t even know what they are talking about. She suggests that they all compare notes, and wishes she knew how to get in contact with Ginger and her repulsive brother. ‘I can take care of that!’ Jamie exclaims, revealing that she has Spider’s phone number in her room. ‘And how did that happen, pray tell?’ Alex asks her daughter. Jamie explains that last night, when they were all together, Spider slipped his number into her shirt. ‘Your shirt?’ Alex frowns. ‘Into the pocket, Mom! Remember? I was wearing that shirt with the big pockets? Jeez!’ Jamie exclaims. Alex folds her arms, and tells her daughter to just get the number, before Argus asks Alex if she has been affected by the blast yet.

‘Nope’ Alex replies, adding that neither has Jamie, except for a strange dream, only that is normal for her. She then asks Argus if he thinks they should call those neighbors of his, but Argus replies that he should do it in person, as Gloria is such an excitable woman, so if he told her this over the phone… his voice trails off. Argus starts towards the front door, and Alex asks him if he is sure he should drive. ‘What if your eyes start acting up on the road?’ she points out. ‘I don’t know. I don’t know…what’s happening to me? Where will it end?’ Argus asks, but as he and Alex step outside, they look up in horror: ‘Please tell me my eyes are doing this to me. Please’ Argus exclaims. ‘I’m sorry Argus…but I’m afraid I see it, too!’ Alex exclaims, as they stare in shock at another planet Earth, and another moon in the sky above!

At the Dimensional Corridor, the heroes all look around at each other, as the Scarlet Witch asks ‘Now what?’ while Professor X points out that Magus having just kidnapped Adam Warlock, Galactus’ mission is suddenly moot. ‘I think we just saw the universe’s last hope fade away’ Cyclops announces. ‘And talking so calmly. Analysing it like a basketball game. Like deep in their hearts - they don’t believe it can happen’ Wonder Man remarks, before turning to Captain America, and telling him that he knows, doesn’t he. ‘Know?’ Cap asks, watching Thanos stride past. ‘Know how reality can desert you. How your universe can vanish on you’ Wonder Man explains. Cap points out that they may all know soon, what with Galactus gone and Warlock abducted. ‘Maybe. Or maybe the bad guys will just get beat, as usual’ Wonder Man suggests.

Wonder Man turns to the Scarlet Witch and exclaims that his universe, his reality, will never be the same. Wanda informs Simon that Thanos is about to tell them all something, and asks him if he is with them. ‘Yeah, Simon’s with you. But which Simon? Man? Corpse? Ion-blip? “Engine of destruction?” I’ll find out’ Simon declares, as Wolverine, Gambit, Psylocke, Hercules, Rogue, Dr Druid, Quasar and several others gather around Thanos, who tells the heroes that they may be interested in learning that the Magus is in the process of taking over the entire Milky Way galaxy. Thanos explains that he has used his vast unknown power to create a duplicate reality, which is now merging with the original. A large panel shows a display of Earth and the moon, slowly merging with the alternate reality.

Thanos states that when that merger is complete, the galaxy will be totally in his thrall, as are the doppelgangers that defeated their lost friends. Simon looks horrified and thinks to himself ‘Dear Lord, yes! Whatever I have to fight next - Magus, “unknown power”, or doppelganger, it’s going to tell me what I am - once and for all!’ Wonder Man decides, while Thanos tells the heroes to consider their home world lost, and that it is better by far to concern themselves with saving the rest of the universe….

Characters:
Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch (both Avengers West Coast)
Captain America, Hercules, Thor II, Vision (all Avengers)
Dr Druid, Quasar, She-Hulk (all inactive Avengers)

Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Jean Grey, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine, Professor X (all X-Men)
Havok, Polaris, Strong Guy (all X-Factor)
Guardian III, Sasquatch, Shaman (all Alpha Flight)

Human Torch II, Invisible Woman, Thing (all Fantastic Four)
Nova (member of the New Warriors)

Hulk
Agatha Harkness
Dr Strange

Drax, Gamora, Moondragon, Thanos, Adam Warlock (all Infinity Watch)

Galactus

Alex Flores
Jamie Flores
Argus

In Wonder Man’s memories:
Simon Williams / Wonder Man at various stages
Eric Williams / Grim Reaper
Captain America
Baron Zemo

Notes:
This issue ties into the “Infinity War” crossover.

Wonder Man, Hercules and Thor II encountered Wonder Man’s doppelganger last issue.

Parts of Infinity War #4 take place during this issue, including the Magus’s abduction of Adam Warlock.

Issue Summary written by: Daytripper (Steven Bishop)


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