In 1991 Wonder Man got his first shot at a regular series with editor Fabian Nicieza, writer Gerard Jones and penciller Jeff Johnson. Although the series wasn't lacking in ideas and talented people behind it, it wouldn't last past its 29 issues and two annuals. One thing old Wonder Man fans blame for its cancellation was the many company wide crossovers during its first year, its re-invention of the character and its lack of continuity with previous Wonder Man history. Today recent Avengers writers have made most of this series tie nicely with Marvel continuity. The series had interesting stories, great character development and beautiful artwork and even though it didn't exactly set the comic book business on fire it is still remembered by many Wonder Man fans with fond memories. It was Wonder Man's first chance at an ongoing series and a venerable effort. I recently had the opportunity to correspond with the series writer Gerard Jones and talk about his work with Wonder Man.
1-Could you tell us how did the Wonder Man series came to be? Where you the first choice as a writer for the series? Was this the first time a Wonder Man ongoing series had been planned at Marvel? What is the history behind the series?

A: That was a boom time in comics, and lots of superheroes were being given their own titles. Fabian Nicieza was a pretty new editor there and Wonder Man was sort of his mainstream try-out series, I think.
2- What was your background as a writer at the time?

A: I was writing quite a bit for DC at the time, especially Green Lantern and Justice League titles, and Fabian felt I'd be right for WM for my sense of humor and character. I think he liked the humor in "The Trouble with Girls," too. He talked to some other writers too, but I think my proposal was most in line with the direction he wanted to go.
3- Where you familiar with Wonder Man or the Avengers before you started the series? If so do you have a writer's style or previous vision of the character of Wonder Man that you used as springboard for your series, lets say David

Michelinie, Jim Shooter, Steve Englehart, John Byrne or Roy Thomas? Do you have a favorite Avengers run?
A: I hadn't read Avengers regularly for many years, and had only a vague idea of Wonder Man. So he was kind of a blank slate to me. I approached him from the angle, "What would a superhero in Hollywood who wanted to be an actor be like?" rather than from any previous conception of him.

4- What character traits you liked about Simon Williams before your series started, what character traits you disliked? Was he one of your favorite Avengers? How would you define the character of Simon Williams?

A: I liked the self-absorption and superficiality suggested by some of the scenes around his acting aspirations--I thought that made an interesting contrast with his past experiences with death, the depth and darkness of the character, which would be fun to unfold in the series. I didn't like the fact that his continuity was so damned complicated, or that the
character was so much about his own past. That's why I wanted to take him quickly outside the whole Avengers/Scarlet Witch reality and jumpstart him with a new life that didn't refer back to anything.
5-How much communication was there between you and the Avengers West Coast creative team about the direction of Wondy's character, and his relationship with Wanda?
A: Very little, unfortunately. At the time we started very little was being done with him in AWC, so we felt like we had a wide open field. When Roy Thomas took over the series I think he felt frustrated that Wonder Man was so tied up by the continuity we'd been working out. We just kind of ran our separate shops thereafter.
6-Wonder Man participated in two major crossovers, each of which took up three issues of the series. Do you think this helped or hurt the book, both in terms of sales and stories?
A: It was a short term boost to sales--the crossover issues did better than the regular issues, which were only doing moderately
well--but I think it hurt us long term. That kind of giant, whole-company crossover usually hurts the more distinctive series long term. It breaks the rhythm, confuses the regular audience, makes the stories harder to tell.
7- One major storyline of the book was the Savage Wonder Man, which made Simon more of a Hulk-like character by making his powers tied to his rage. What was the reasoning behind that change, and do you think it was effective? Also the series started as a book filled with humor and suddenly after the Galactic Storm crossover it became a lot more serious with a darker tone. Why such a 360 degree turn?
A: I wanted to play more with his non-physical nature, so the emotion/power link was something I'd been planning to explore all along. But the "savage" angle happened because it wasn't selling well as a lighter, funnier series. Savage anger was doing pretty well for Marvel in those years, so it was suggested that we try that.
8- The controversial Hidden Depth storyline made a number of revelations that conflicted with established continuity (such as Simon's mother being dead, although she had appeared in a number of AWC issues). Were these changes intentional or accidental? If they were intentional, what was the reason for the changes?
A: The continuity errors were just due to my lack of knowledge. I hadn't been able to read all the old issues. Neither had Fabian. We asked around on some things, but may not have asked the right people. Someone told me the mom was dead, I don't remember who. Frankly, I don't think either of us made precise continuity a real priority. We wanted to get strong stories told. But I understand why such things annoy devoted fans.
9- In early issues Wondy's agent, Neal, was a slightly darker character; for example, he set Goliath loose on Wondy as a publicity
stunt. However, in later issues Neal was primarily used for comic relief. Do you wish Neal had been used more in a morally shady role?
A: Neal's darkness worked well against the funnier portrayal of Wonder Man. When the hero went darker, Neal seemed better as a lighter counterpoint.
10- In issue #2, you set the Enchantress up to be a major Wonder Man villain, but she never appeared again (aside from a hallucination in Hidden Depth). Why not? Was it because Lotus was already filling the role of the seductive villainess? What
inspired you to make Lotus a major nemesis for this series?
A: I was told that someone else wanted to use the Enchantress for something else. I'm afraid I don't remember who or what. But that's when I made Lotus the focus. Since the milieu was Hollywood, which is so much about sexual manipulation, both in the way movies are sold and the way the business runs, I had to have a seductive villainess who could play on WM's need for attention.
12- You introduced a very interesting and very large supporting cast with
WM. Who were your favorites? Which ones do you wish you had been able to spend more time with?
A: I liked Ginger and Spider. They had a lot of twists and depths I hadn't revealed yet that I was looking forward to exploring. Unfortunately they were so Hollywood, so earthbound, that the giant crossovers we had to do and the big, dark cosmic stuff that I was encouraged to bring in when sales were slumping really pushed them to the margins.
13- There were some unanswered questions about the parents of Ginger and Spider Beach. Was that a story you never got the chance to tell, or simply a mysterious piece of character background?

A: I was going to tell the story, but time ran out. Unfortunately, I have no idea anymore what the story was going to be!

14- Splice was one of my favorite new characters in this series. How did he come about? Did you plan to explore his background in more detail?
A: I just wanted one sort of ultimate Hollywood villain, someone who was from and about the movie industry and represented everything creepy about that business that Simon was trying to succeed in. I was definitely going to bring him back and reveal a lot more about him. Glad you liked him!
15- Your version of Wonder Man seems a lot younger looking than the way he had been portrayed previously. He seemed to be in his mid to late thirties before but in your series he looks mid twenties. Was this intentional or just the way Jeff Johnson drew him?
A: That was just Jeff's style. I was writing him in his mid-30s.
16- Previously to your series John Byrne had done a visual redesign of the character were he sported a look very reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Raw Deal with slick short hair. Why the change to a wedge haircut in your series, this haircut made him look younger too. Also other artists had
portrayed Wonder Man looking huge even standing next to other Marvel superheroes. Jeff Johnson's version is of a fit muscular guy but not to those extremes. Later on Darick Robertson's version in the annual and Tim Hamilton made him look huge like that. Was this done intentional or that was just Johnson's style?
A: You'd have to ask the artists about that, but I think it was personal style.
17- Of the artists you worked with was there a style you thought fit the character better? If you couldn't pick any of the artists you worked with for this series and you had to pick another one, who do you think would be an excellent match for a Wonder Man series?
A: I loved working with Jeff. Darick was great too, so was Tim Hamilton, and Ron and Gordon and everyone, but Jeff and I launched the thing together and his breeziness and character energy was always part of the conception for me.
18- You created a sort of a romantic triangle between Wonder Man, Alex Flores and Ginger Beach, a rectangle if we add the Scarlet Witch, we could even add Amora, the Enchantress into the mix too. Looks like from all of these ladies your favorite candidate for a long term relationship with Wonder Man was Alex Flores. Was she your favorite?
Did you have plans for all the rest of them in the book? Would you have had him eventually marry Alex Flores had you stayed with the title? What are your feelings about him and the Scarlet Witch ending up together and Alex married to another man in the present stories?
A: I wouldn't have had anyone get married, because I feel it's very, very rarely that a superhero, or a sitcom character, or any pop-culture icon survives a fictional marriage without losing much of his strength and appeal. I liked putting Alex in Wondy's life, though. When I was working in Hollywood I was always struck how, among all these neurotic goons and career-obsessed morons,
sometimes you'd meet someone was just together, who just had a perspective on real life, and they were so incredibly refreshing to spend even a few minutes with. There were very grounding when I found them. And I was thinking, here's this character who isn't just a Hollywood actor, he's also a superhero, his
whole private life is the Avengers, and he isn't even fully human. He's a dead
guy who came back as a bundle of ionic energy--the guy's a metaphor for unreality three or four times over! So he needed someone who was able to be part of his world, able to help him negotiate through it as a screenwriter might, but would be reality for him. A kid, a professional attitude toward her work and the industry, just a piece of real American life that this guy could step into out of his looney world. But, of course, his world started making her world loony, which I thought could be very interesting.