Usually when I do these entries, I have at least a cursory knowledge of the character. I’ve read a few of his or her adventures, either back in my regular collecting days, or in various reprints I’ve picked up since then.
Then there’s today’s entry, the supremely screwy Wundarr the Aquarian.
Let me explain a bit about Wundarr and where I, personally, came across him. I was reading an issue of What if–? written and drawn by the underrated Jim Valentino, AKA the Image founder with the least name recognition at the time of the founding, which asked what would have happened if the Marvel heroes had lost the Atlantis Attacks storyline. It’s a real downer of a story. The seven-headed serpent god, Set, manages to come to Earth. His arrival kills off most of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. Lone survivor Thor barely escapes. Most of the rest of the people on Earth, including most of the heroes, are turned into serpent men, mindless snake people who basically do whatever Set wants. Thor gathers a small group of survivors who, for various reasons, are immune to the drugs that change people into serpent men to try and take out Set and his “seven brides,” AKA Marvel heroines brainwashed and pregnant with baby Sets.
Thor and his team ultimately fail. Set is defeated when Quasar returns armed with Dr. Strange’s Eye of Agamotto and the Captain Universe powers on top of his own to wrestle Set into another dimension for all eternity, and only two of Set’s seven heads had been destroyed, one by Thor retrieving a swallowed Mjolinir, the other by the Silver Surfer coming in a little late to help out. None of the brides were taken out and gave birth to baby Sets that ate their mothers, then the remaining serpent men, then slid into other alternate realities to start the process all over again. Thor barely survives and is put into suspended animation badly injured by his apparent mother, Gaia the Earth spirit, while the rest of his team are killed off. Set even managed to swallow the Phoenix Force. It was ugly.
Thor’s team of uninfected survivors? They were: Wolverine, Sabertooth, Hulk, Rachel Summers, Dr. Doom, Cloak…and Wundarr the Aquarian, a guy I had never heard of before and have only seen once since.
My next encounter with the guy was a single issue of Marvel Zombies 3, where he was part of the Florida hero team for The Initiative. Zombie Deadpool had gotten through and bitten a few folks in the Everglades and Wundarr shows up with the rest of his team, who don’t do very well. Wundarr gets bitten and after helping reduce undead Deadpool to pulp goes into some sort of hibernation to stave off the infection…apparently successfully. Who knew?
So, who is this guy?
What I’ve found out is he was a creation of Steve Gerber and is something of a Superman parody. Blasted to Earth as a baby, a planet that has a sun that grants his species superpowers, he landed in the Everglades and could have been adopted by an elderly couple driving by except it was the 50s and they figured the craft had aliens or communists in it, so they kept on going. Wundarr grew to physical maturity while in there until the Man-Thing wandered by to check out the emotional thing in there (Man-Thing being emotionless himself but attracted to things with feelings). Man-Thing then opened the space craft and let the adult Wundarr out.
Wundarr then decided the Man-Thing was his mother.
Man-Thing couldn’t be bothered, but Wundarr had superhuman strength and managed to wrestle the Man-Thing into submission until he finally figured out mothers should be nurturing.
A bit later, Wundarr was taken in by Project Pegasus to do some tests involving him, his energy nullifying field, and a Cosmic Cube. Brief contact with the Cube put Wundarr into a coma, which expanded his physical and mental abilities, gave him a purpose, and when he woke up, he called himself the Aquarian and took to wandering the roads helping people find peace and understanding, like a hippie Superman crossed with Caine from Kung Fu.
And that is basically all there is you need to know. He makes sporadic appearances here and there, but by and large, its almost like the whole “Misplaced Hero” column could use this guy as the epitome of the misplaced hero: someone the creators thought could make a real splash and has since been more or less forgotten.