While working as an accountant for Detective Comics in 1939, Victor Fox noticed that their newfangled Superman character was pulling in some sweet, sweet bread (the kind you buy hookers with, not the kind you eat). Inspired, Fox left DC and decided to start his own lucrative comic franchise, hiring an artist named Will Eisner to create a character that could compete with the Man of Steel. And by "compete," we mean "plagiarize Superman so hard, they might as well have traced him onto a napkin and published that." Eisner reluctantly obliged, and the world was given Wonder Man.
Wonder Man, who is essentially just Superman with a bafflingly large collar, is the alter ego of Fred Carson, a man who stumbles upon a yogi while working in Tibet. For reasons that are never explained, the yogi is so impressed with Carson and his stunning Caucasian-ness that he gives him a ring with all of Superman's powers. Also, Carson was inexplicably already wearing his Wonder Man costume during the exchange.
"Oh, these? These are my Tibetan clothes. For Tibet."
Afterward, Wonder Man's life is essentially the same as Superman's -- endowed with godlike powers and abilities, he becomes a champion of the helpless and oppressed, and earns the love of a woman who falls for his superheroic alter ego. They're basically mirror images of each other, except for one important factor: Wonder Man's utter inability to give one blazing shit about anything.
Just doing your job as a guard when Wonder Man strolls in? Too bad. Wonder Man will laugh and throw you out of the goddamn window:
Mercy is his kryptonite.
Passed out unconscious in Wonderman's arms? That won't stop his romantic advances. "Still breathing" is good enough for kisses in Wonder Man's book:
"Unwanted sexual contact ain't nothin' but words."
Wonder Man's capacity for pity is displayed in full when, after rescuing an innocent Red Cross volunteer, he jumps from rooftop to rooftop, dragging the man along by his wrist while he screams in terror:
"Maybe you should've thought of that before you weren't gifted superpowers by a Tibetan yogi."
When Wonder Man finally puts his hostage down, he immediately demands that the man put his life in danger to keep a crowd from rioting. When the guy objects, Wonder Man simply threatens to throw him off of a building:
Pictured: The courage to do what's right.
After coming face to face with a villainous but unarmed general and fear-interrogating him for the whereabouts of his munitions factory, Wonder Man must restrain him until he can return. He could use his super speed to tie the general up in a microsecond, which is what Superman would've likely done. But Wonder Man doesn't have time for that bullshit, so he incapacitates the general with a swing of his deified meathook.
And later, instead of handing the villain over to the authorities, Wonder Man burns his magical ring into the man's face and superpunches him into a wall, then leaps out the window and jogs off into the woods.
"My work here is done! Or not! Either way, I must find someone else to punch."
It didn't take long for DC to become aware of Victor Fox's Wonder Man (it turns out Fox was actually printing his comic in the same damn building as Detective Comics), and they sued the Kryptonian furyshits out of him. The case was taken to court, Eisner confessed to having been given explicit instructions by Fox to imitate Superman as closely as possible, and the amazing tales of Wonder Man were brought to a halt after just a single issue. He will be forever missed.
James has a Tumblr, and if it's good enough for Adam Tod Brown to follow, it's good enough for you.