Being a comic book superhero is a pretty sweet gig. Fighting villains who are evil and diabolical or simply ostentatious, being a member of heroic teams, traveling in galaxies and alternate worlds, even being retconned into past events, and saving real people from real tragedies. Among the great catalog of DC characters who lived such adventures is the Amazing-Man.
Four characters have taken on the mantle of DC’s superhero Amazing-Man. The first and primary version of the character is Will Everett, who debuted in All-Star Squadron #23 (July 1983), created by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway. Though Amazing-Man was created in the ’80s, his story actually began in the 1940s, retconned into stories with Golden Age superheroes. Thomas developed the character as a tribute to Bill Everett’s Amazing-Man, who was created for Centaur Publications in 1939.
Will was an African-American Olympian who competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Berlin. After the Olympics he found work as a janitor at a laboratory owned by Dr. Terry Curtis. When equipment at the lab exploded, Will was caught in the blast, and developed the ability to mimic the properties of things he touched, by changing himself into a living version of the material.
Amazing-Man started working for the Ultra-Humanite as a henchman, alongside Cyclotron and Deathbolt. But once he’d encountered the All-Star Squadron a few times, he changed his ways to be a hero instead. He and the Golden Age team defeated his former employer and Amazing-Man became a member of the team. One of their memorable missions occurred in February 1942, when Will and the Squadron defeated the bigoted villain the Real American, in his hometown of Detroit.
In the first Crisis event, Amazing-Man was part of a group of heroes that the Monitor chose to stop the Anti-Monitor. Later his powers were altered and he was able to magnetically attract or repel objects using his hands, though he could no longer mimic matter. In the 1950s J. Edgar Hoover revealed Will’s secret identity to the public, which put Will’s family in danger.
After his nephew and two other civil rights activists were murdered, Amazing-Man got involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Amazing-Man became one of DC’s most active advocates for civil rights. He led marches around the country to protest segregation, helped people during the Detroit riots, and captured Martin Luther King’s murderer, James Earl Ray.
Later in his life, as Will fought cancer, his grandson, Will Everett III, developed the mimicry abilities. The second version of Amazing-Man debuted in Justice League America #86 (March 1994), created by Dan Vado and Marc Campos. Will III could also duplicate the properties of inorganic material, taking on its strengths and weaknesses, as well as absorb and duplicate large amounts of energy.
Wonder Woman invited him to join the Justice League and he worked with them to defeat the Overmaster. Then Captain Atom formed the JLA-adjacent group Extreme Justice, which Amazing-Man joined, and stayed for the duration of the team’s tenure.
Later Will III joined the unofficial regrouping of Justice League Europe, organized by Crimson Fox. But during their single mission, Amazing-Man was apparently killed by the villainess, Mist, when she tricked him into mimicking glass and shattered him.
During the JLA/Avengers event he briefly returned, resurrected by the effects of Krona’s manipulating reality, and was seen fighting the Absorbing Man, one of Thor’s enemies. Later in 52 Martian Manhunter memorialized Amazing-Man with a statue in Happy Harbor, by other fallen Justice League members.
Markus Clay, the first Amazing-Man’s grandson, and cousin to the second Amazing-Man, became the third version of the hero. Created by Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham, he debuted in Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #12 (March 2008), displaying the same powers of his predecessors. He saves the day in New Orleans, including helping survivors during Hurricane Katrina. Markus was recruited to the Justice Society of America for a time, helping to defeat Gog, then he returned to New Orleans, though he was seen at Damage’s funeral during Blackest Night.
Rocker Boon became the fourth Amazing-Man, a creation of Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen, beginning in OMAC Vol. 3 #2 (December 2011). Rocker appeared after the events of Flashpoint when the JSA had been removed from the history of Prime Earth. He was a former agent of Checkmate who got metahuman abilities by Project Cadmus, then went into hiding in Texas, but was attacked by the new OMAC, Kevin Kho. Rocker was defeated and absorbed by Brother Eye, ending with the ominous declaration that Rocker could be useful at a later date.
Could the Amazing-Man make another amazing appearance? It’s comics, so we’re guessing we’ll get to see another hero sporting the giant A on his chest sometime in the future. Or the past.