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Waldo the Wonder Man. Waldo the Wonder Man was created by Edwy Searles Brooks (William Beeke, Sexton Blake, Norman Conquest, Ironsides Cromwell, Clive Derring, Carson Grey, Jimmy Harding, Dixon Hawke, Invisible Speedman, Frank Kingston, Marko the Miracle Man, Falcon Swift, Umlosi) and appeared in fifty-four stories in Union Jack, Detective Weekly, and Sexton Blake Library from 1918 to 1941, beginning with "Waldo the Wonder Man" (Union Jack #794, Dec. 28, 1918).
Waldo the Wonder Man is a Superhuman. Waldo is a Sexton Blake villain, but unlike most of those Waldo goes through a number of changes of personality during his fictional lifespan. Waldo ends his career as an honorable, well-heeled gentleman crook, a more amiable and beloved version of A.J. Raffles, but his beginning is quite different. In his debut he is not “Waldo the Wonder Man,” the lovable rogue, attractive despite his willing disobedience of those pesky laws. He is Rupert Waldo the murderer, who has killed a blackmailer who was trying to get rich by threatening to reveal an awful deed in Waldo's past. Waldo is also cunning enough to frame an innocent man for the murder by planting evidence in the man's caravan. For the next three years he is “Waldo the Wonder Man and Crook,” one of Sexton Blake’s arch-enemies and a villain who also clashes with Nelson Lee (Lee and Blake were responsible for Waldo’s first apprehension).
But as the years pass he becomes better natured and his deeds less vile, so that during his five-year “Waldo the Robin Hood of Crime” phase he is a do-gooding, chivalrous rogue, someone who Blake and Lee have a sneaking admiration for and never regret his escape from justice at a story’s end. During the four-year “Waldo the Peril Expert” phase Waldo is a Peril Expert, someone who hires out for outrageously dangerous jobs, just for the adrenaline rush of it; his advertisement runs, "If it's dangerous get it done by Waldo." Waldo reverts back to crime for a few years, although only to thievery rather than murder.
During Waldo’s final appearances he becomes a detective, actually replacing Sexton Blake in Detective Weekly. Waldo is made a Deputy Commissioner of Scotland Yard and is assisted by Chief Inspector Lennard, who has an amiable dislike for Waldo when he was a crook but is friendly to Waldo when he is on the right side of the law.
Waldo is known as the “Wonder Man” because of his superhuman abilities. He has the strength of six men--he is quite capable of turning over trolley buses with his bare hands–and is impervious to pain due to his suffering from Morvan's disease (Syringomelia). He is capable of amazing recuperative feats and is able to shrug off and ignore being shot, burned, trampled, and other normally-crippling injuries.
Waldo has a son, Stanley, who has all of his father’s abilities but never turns bad. He attends school at Nelson Lee's St. Frank's College.
* I'm including the Waldo the Wonder Man stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they're fun to read. Waldo himself is an enjoyable rogue, even with all the changes that the writers put him through. But what really makes the Waldo stories fun is the fact that Waldo is physically more than a match for Sexton Blake, so that Blake, in the Waldo stories, has to out-think and out-maneuver Waldo. Waldo is, in other words, Blake's superior in certain ways--a rarity among Blake villains--and Waldo, because of his superhuman abilities, forces the Blake writers to work a lot harder in the stories to engineer Blake's triumph over Waldo. Many Blake stories felt elongated; the capture of the villain was always assured, and filling up the space in the story was a matter of merely typing words. In the Waldo stories every word, every scene counted for Blake, and he needed every last paragraph and bit of space to capture Waldo. Which was all to the better for the stories' readers, who got unusually (for the Blake stories) intricate plots and unusually exciting denouements for the stories.
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