He was one of three finalists lined up to inherit the strip, Gray Morrow and John Cullen Murphy being the other two contenders. Foster admired all three for their work and had them produce try-out pages.
As a teen-ager I was clipping Valiant pages, and even then when I saw the November 15, 1970 page for the first time, I thought, 'that looks like Wally Wood's style'. Well blow me over, it was. I had no idea then that Foster would have anybody but himself drawing the strip. (It really blew me away to learn later that Wayne (Superman) Boring had been assisting Foster for a long time.
It ended up that Foster felt Wood and Morrow were more apt for fantasy (which Foster had forsaken for straight adventure and social interaction stories). Murphy was chosen as heir (a factor was that Foster was concerned for Murphy since he had so many kids to provide for (!).
Sorry, but I feel we all lost when Wood wasn't chosen. It is tantalizing to imagine what might have been—for us to have Woody's work—but also for Woody to have a meaningful outlet for his creativity, to give purpose to his life.
I know. I know. It wouldn't have worked. Wood had his own road to follow, and it probably wasn't the high road.
He must have felt both disappointment AND relief to not be the chosen one. He wouldn't want to lose out on higher fame and fortune, but to win meant virtual slavery to another man's creation and vision. Wood was nothing if not his own man.
Well, it wasn't to be. But at least we have one page to moon over (were there more?) I've examined the pages from that time that I possess and I can see Murphy's try-out style, but I don't see a style that resembles Gray Morrow's. I thought I saw a couple more panels that looked like Wood's—but probably not.