I wrote last week about the new character who joins a more “extreme” version of a pre-existing hero team that generally gets forgotten when that team disappears. That was for the Force Works member Century. This week, we’ll look at a DC Comics version of that phenomena, who also happens to be sort of a legacy hero.
Yup, let’s look at Amazing-Man.
The original Amazing-Man was one Will Everett. During the Golden Age, he was an African American hero with the power to absorb the properties of anything he came into physical contact with, allowing him to fight alongside the notable heroes of the Justice Society and the All-Star Squadron.
If you think it’s pretty impressive that DC had a black man on one of its Golden Age superteams that wasn’t some kind of awful stereotype, a very unlikely event in the 40s, you’d should go back to being unimpressed because the All-Star Squadron’s book came out long after the Golden Age ended and featured a lot of newer characters that supposedly hung around with the JSA on Earth-2 before the original Crisis. As such, despite the time frame, Amazing-Man first appeared in 1983. As created by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway, he sometimes had magnetic powers, but mostly just adopted the qualities of various substances he came into physical contact with. Now, since Earth-2 is not the “main” universe, that meant creators could do stuff there that they couldn’t get away with on the main Earth. That meant their South Africa never had Apartheid, Quebec was an independent nation, and the black superhero they created that was somehow in the 40s could be a major factor in the Civil Rights Movement, being ranked behind Martin Luther King and Malcolm X as an important figure from that era in the DCU.
I am not sure how to feel about that, but it does mean Amazing-Man battled a supervillain white supremacist named the Real American.
But, the other thing was DC let their Golden Age heroes age (a little), and then pass their names off to legacies, and in Amazing-Man’s case, that was to his grandchildren. First up was Will Everett III. Sometimes called “Junior,” he inherited his grandfather’s powers. What happened to Will Everett II? They never really said but it was implied the powers did something to his mind while he was in Vietnam or something along those lines. Anyway, Junior, with some guidance from the Jay Garrick Flash, joined the Justice League and was instrumental in his first mission defeating the Overmaster, a world-destroying alien who wasn’t at all like Galactus. Nope. How’d he do it? He absorbed Overmaster’s powers and beat the big goon up with his own two hands.
Amazing-Man hung around the League for a while, eventually going with Captain Atom to the “Extreme Justice” team, where he had a romantic relationship for a time with teammate, and previous Misplaced Hero subject, Maxima.
But then that book got canceled and this Amazing-Man joined a brief reincarnation of Justice League Europe. That group lasted all of one issue in James Robinson’s Starman series, and it didn’t end well for them. One of the recruits was actually a budding supervillain calling herself the Mist, looking to improve her overall evil-ness by offing a few heroes. She slit the Crimson Fox‘s throat, melted Blue Devil with holy water in the sprinkler system (he got better), and tricked Amazing-Man into touching a glass surface and then shattering him.
Though really, I would think if someone really wanted to, they could have put him back together again.
But apparently no one did. Prior to the New 52, Will Everett’s other grandson, Markus Clay, also had the powers and served with the Justice Society. That’s him above, but his tenure was brief as he preferred to do some community outreach type stuff in and around his home town of New Orleans. And there was also briefly a fourth after the New 52, but he apparently had a bad run-in with the New 52 OMAC.
There hasn’t been much seen of any Amazing-Men in a while. But given the character often seems involved in real-world racial issues, I somehow doubt we’ve seen the last of him.