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The Road Not Travelled: Let's Read Marvels WHAT IF...

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
The real lesson of Daredevil comics is to never allow Matt Murdock to enter your life in any capacity.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

We're into the final leg of What If now, which is mostly comics I HAVE read before, and marks a real up-swing in the overall quality of the stories.

And we're starting off that run with What if The Fantastic Four Didn't Have Super Powers, written and drawn by John Byrne, and say what you will about John Byrne as a person (and you can say a lot, little of it is complimentary), but the dude can make a comic book like nobodies business.

Contrast Frank Miller where you can say a lot about him as a person and also I don't like any of his comics.

Anyway, we're kicking things off with another recap of the FFs origins (say it with me now; Astronauts, Cosmic Rays, Super Powers, Science-Adventurers), and it's close enough to the layout of FF#1 that I'm genuinely unsure if they re-used the same panels or if John was that committed to making sure this comic looked as much like FF#1 as possible. Probably the latter, given everything else in this story. The only real departure, besides Uatus narration, is that Reeds experimental rocket is designed to travel to distant planets with a warp engine, as opposed to reaching the moon before the Russians can.

That's the retcon they eventually settled on, when the space race stopped being a major concern, but I have no idea when that actually happened. It feels like it could have been a Byrne addition.

Also, they specified that Central City, where the first couple of FF stories took place, was another fictional city outside the launch platform for Reeds rocket, which always did kind of bug me, so thanks, John.

Anyway, as every schoolchild knows (or at least the ones who are big fans of the Fantastic Four *as they should be*), the big reason the FF got their powers was because Reed skimped on the radiation shielding on his rocket so everyone got a big dose of Cosmic Energy. But maybe Reed didn't decide to cut some corners. Maybe he listened to Ben Grimms concerns about the potency and unknown effect of Cosmic Rays on humans.

Maybe He waited and Built the Marvel-1 to Proper Safety Standards!

Let's find out, shall we?

For one thing, because it wasn't a stealth mission to launch a rocket without anyone noticing; it had its full properly trained crew, instead of A Teen and Reeds Fiancé (to be fair, they were the alternates for the mission anyway), and the ship completes its mission to a distant planet and back without a hitch. And when they return, Reeds already pretty respectable level of fame and international respect skyrockets, which he transfers into funding for Richards Industries, a scientific concern dedicated to advancing and improving the Earth; usually through training, equipping and funding science-adventurers.

This goes great for a few years, and Reed (and his personal team of Ben, Sue and Johnny) become the foremost Science Adventurers in the world, and are eventually singled out by the military when they become concerned of a string of thefts of nuclear power plants; as in the plants themselves have been stolen; with the only clue being that a sudden massive sinkhole gobbled them up.

Reed doesn't have much time to be puzzled by this, because the words aren't out of the generals mouth when the building they're in is, itself, swallowed by a sinkhole, dug by a gargantuan green-scaled kaiju (coincidentally enough, the same one as on this comics cover, and which was doing the same thing back in FF#1). Reed wastes no time in confirming the source of the Kaiju and determined it came from Monster Island; a thought-mythological uninhabited island off the coast of Japan.

From here, the rest of the comic basically repeats FF#1, but nobody has any superpowers (they do have guns, however), as the team infiltrates Monster Island, get separated after a tremor, and Reed and Johnny encounter the mastermind behind the nuclear plant attacks in the form of The Moleman a subterranean misanthrope who wishes revenge on a world that mocked him, while Sue and Ben just beat the ever-cussing mustard out of the Molemans armies. Eventually Moleman is defeated, and elects to destroy the Island and himself rather than admit defeat.

Kind of regret not screen-capping Sue blowing away a dozen rock monsters while wearing a baseball hat and jump-suit.

Backwards and forwards, really. Prior to starting the FF with Stan Lee, Jack Kirby had a short-lived book over at DC called Challengers of the Unknown, which had largely the same premise as Fantastic Four, except without powers (And the later Amalgam line of books had the CotU and FF merged together into the Challengers of the Fantastic), and this story was a direct homage to those earlier stories. Overtly so; at one point Reed straight up says "What lies ahead of us is the Unknown... and we are going to Challenge it".

Beyond that, a recent FF arc involved Reed trying to rebuild his original rocket with better Cosmic Ray shields just to prove to himself that his original design wasn't a failure otherwise; and they do finally land on the planet they'd intended to originally (Johnny got engaged while he was there, and they collectively tore apart society, it was a big weekend).

The other story in this issue, What If Richard Rider remained Nova (written by Bill Mantlo, Art by Mike Vosburg) is not nearly as fun or thoughtful. Or of any consequence. And it's also another story where the big departure point form 616 continuity isn't actually something I was ever aware was a going concern at any point. But my knowledge of Nova begins and ends with recent Guardians of the Galaxy books, and Annihilation.

Luckily, this is what we pay Uatu for; as he recaps what I infer to be the intended finale to Novas original run; when he, the FF and ROM Spaceknight (in one of the few allowed instances of ROM showing up in another Marvel book; dude's licensing rights are more complicated than they should be) and a bunch of other random cosmic heroes I'd never heard of teamed up to defend the Nova homeworld of Xandar from an invasion from the Skrulls. The Skrulls are eventually beaten, but Richard Rider is informed that the Nova Force was created to protect Xandar, not Earth, so he must either relinquish the power, or forsake Earth entirely to become Xandars protector. And Rick elected to remain on Earth as a powerless bystander than become a champion of an alien world.

And Ricky immediately wound up regretting that choice, because the Nova Force is pretty good as far as superpower sets go, and Uatu is here to show up what would have changed if he decided to be Spacecop Superman instead!

Not a lot as it turns out.

In this timeline, Richard still winds up regretting his choice, but he's motivated more out of homesickness than sellers remorse, and after a solid year of not really being willing or able to acclimate to Xandar society, and the pervasive thought that he IS the strongest being on the planet so nobody can really *stop* him from doing what he wants, he decides to heck off back to Earth anyway.

And his family is... not pleased at all to see him;

For one thing, he didn't announce he was travelling to space in the first place, so as far as they know he just abandoned everyone for a solid year without a word, and for a second thing, Nova wields way more power than a small cherrystone in New York is equipped to handle and he winds up demolishing a good chunk of the house by knocking on the door.

Also, there's a robot Sherlock Holmes living in his basement named Factor X, and I guess this was a part of the Nova comics, and obviously I have to start reading them now;


"Factor X" is a very difficult character to do a Google Search for, incidentally.

Anyway, Nova doesn't have much time to apologize for abandoning everyone he ever knew, or demolishing his parents' house, or come to grips with the Sherlock Holmes robot in his basement, because the rest of the Nova Corps has just arrived over the neighborhood looking to take their fancy hat back from Richard, please and thank you.

And Rick says "No, it's my hat, a dying alien gave it to me by choosing me at random! That's Finders Keepers!"

And so the rest of the issue is a big fight. And it's an *okay* one, I've seen better and worse. Rick can outmuscle any other Nova easily, but he can't fight all of them at once.

Nicest part of the fight is that one of Novas has telepathic powers, and when he's using them it causes the coloring of the page to start going wonky; had a real neat look which, again, I regret not screen-capping.

Eventually, Richard is worn down by the sheer amount of superheroes he's trying to fight, and his dad points out to him that he did wreck a LOT of the neighborhood trying to avoid giving the superpowers he stole from a dying guy back to their proper owners, so maybe he's really not cut out for superhero work.

So Richard agrees and returns the Nova Force to Xandar, and presumably Uatu wasn't Watching very hard, because he makes it sound like this was a selfless sacrifice of a truly noble soul.

Like I said up top; I wasn't aware that Nova ever gave up his powers, and from what little of him I've read over the years, and like most of the Universe, he never really gave the impression that he *liked* Earth all that much. We tend to make a lot more trouble than not for outer space-types.

Make Mine... MONSTERS!

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

This is another 3-story issue, and while they aren’t bad, the one with the most interesting plot is the one with the fewest pages and least room to breathe. Ah well.

Kicking things off with What if The Thing Continued to Mutate (Tom DeFalco and Arvell Jones), which is spunoff from a completely different story than I thought it was.

It seems, as Uatu tells us, that a while back Ben Grimm was infected with a mutative (and based on the rest of this issue, excruciatingly painful) virus courtesy of being kidnapped and experimented on by AIM. And so the FF, Captain America and a Bill Foster (one of several Goliaths, you might remember him from being played by Laurence Fishbourne in the second Ant-Man movie, here he kind of looks like he’s joined ranks with Sergeant Pepper) in order to track down MODOK and beat up his flunkies until a cure was produced.

And while the recap sets up a really obvious place for reality to fork (Bill also has a degenerative disease he’s keeping secret, and the cure for the Thing would work on him too), it instead posits that Ben doesn’t want to join in the mission; for one thing the virus is agonizing to him and he can’t properly join a superhero spy busting mission right now, and secondly he’d rather hide and die in relative peace rather than letting his friends and loved ones see him suffer and dwindle.

So… about half this story is dedicated to Bill and Cap beating up AIM guys in apretty lacklustre fight

Without the rest of the FF there, Bill has to fight twice as hard, and half as effectively (he’s a sickly physicist, even if he’s 15 feet tall and jacked all to hell) which does impress Cap. And they eventually smack down enough nerds in beekeeper costumes that one eventually hands over the antivirus on the grounds that MODOK doesn’t pay them enough to get beat up this badly.

The rest of the story is, naturally, about the FF trying to track down a missing Ben because they don’t want their friend to die alone and in pain, and Ben trying to avoid everyone while his body decays and changes around him; and it’s honestly pretty moving.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of effort for Reed to work out a way to track Ben, his body is giving off some *weird* radiation and he took one of the FFs airships when he left and those are noticeable, and it doesn’t take long to track Ben down to the cave he was hiding in, and trying to frighten people away from so he could die in peace.

The first clue was that Bens anguished moans could be heard from within, and he was throwing boulders at people to try to drive them away.

When Ben realizes the FF aren’t going to leave him alone he comes out, and we finally get a full view of his transformation and it is horrifying; his orange hides turned a sickly green, and is sloughing off his lopsided body; he looks like a combination of a chia pet and Nightmare from Metroid Fusion.

Reed and Alicia are about to make a vow to stay with Ben until the end, and they wind up not needing to stick around as long as they thought, as the mutation Bens undergoing has an even stronger reaction to his Cosmic Powered cells and Ben explodes like a virulent nuclear reactor, with Alicia facing him so the last thing he sees would be the face of someone he loves.

Which, weirdly, turns out to be a happy ending.

Thanks to Sues forcefields, none of the viral radiation escapes when Ben explodes, and the cosmic rays bursting out of Bens dying body cured her blindness. And, even better, it turns out that it was just Bens rocky exterior that looked sick; the explosion was just his human body bursting out of his rocky carapace like a butterfly from its cocoon.

And since Ben is fully cured and human, Bill Foster has no reason to hold back with the anti virus anymore and he injects himself with it, so he gets a clean bill of health too, and he winds up joining the FF as they need a new Strong Guy!


Not only did it happen, it happened so soon after this that I really thought it was talking about that story; Bens mutation into The Thing started going kinda wonky after the events of Secret Wars (the action figure one, not the Hickman one) and he wound up being stuck in a much Morse monster ours pineapple-man form for a while. Later, Bens mutation would stabilize more and he’d be able to plan out when he would turn back into a human (he’d still go back to being a big rock guy, in a few days but he’d long since gotten used to it by that point).

The second story is much less compelling, What if The Beast Lives Up to His Name (Alan Weiss and Jim Sherman).

As is well trod territory for X-Men fans, founding member Hank McCoys code-name of Beast was originally ironic (or at least ironic-ish); his mutant power was that he was an acrobatic brick hit-house, but his main thing was that he was likely the smartest person in any room he was in. Up to the point where he guzzled down a super-mutation serum in order to bamboozle some corporate spies.

This was perhaps a foolish decision he alone made.

Anyway, the serum caused him to turn into a blue furry gorilla-man, but otherwise caused no real change in his personality.

But this is Uatus school bus, and he’s driving it, so now we see what would have happened if Hank did a better job of making a super mutation serum!

Well, not much at first, as he still turns into a blue gorilla, and he doesn’t trick the corporate spies so much as… err… kills and eats them.

This is because Hanks super concentrated mutation serum caused him to regress to a feral state and now he’s more of a wolf man than a gorilla man.

Also, because of the Color and inking, I am genuinely unsure if he’s still wearing his little blue underpants or is running around completely nakers.

Anyhow, the rest of the X-Men are quick to realize that a cannibal blue wolfman who was, until recently one of the premier mutant superheroes is really not going to help the Mutant races endemic PR issue, so they decide to bring him down; and most of the story is a chase scene as the X-Men try ineffectively to catch, rather than hurt, Hank while Hank growls a lot and talks like the Hulk, and eventually they stop him the same way they solved all their Silver Age problems; by waiting around for Professor X to show up and brain-blast him.

The X-Men briefly debate what to do with the feral Hank, and after ruling out "euthanasia" and "zoo" decide to foist him off to the Savage Land, and let him be Ka-Zars problem.

Not like that guys's got a lot else going on.

Yup! Part of Grant Morrisons run on New X-Men decades later introduced the idea of Secondary Mutations, which gave mutant characters additional powers besides the ones they'd been using all along, and among them was that Beast would occasionally transform from Gorilla-man to Kitty-Man and back again (genuinely unsure if there's a narrative reason for this, or if it's that some artists prefer one design to the other); and that's not counting the many alternate realities where Hanks secondary transformation went differently. I'm personally a fan of the Fish/Goat thing he turned into in a Quicksilver mini in the late 90s.

Also, speaking of the 90s, Wolverine also had a similar problem for a while that was eventually resolved to little explanation where he was adapting a more animalistic form after getting his adamantium sucked out, which also caused him to lose his nose.

Just ask any doctor, you need a certain amount of metal in your skeleton to have a nose. It's science-fact.

And wrapping up this extra-rich issue we have What if The Silver Surfer Lost the Power Cosmic (David Kraft, Mike Vosburg and Steve Mitchell), which is another real good'un, that manages to salvage some of the right ol' junkus that is the 60s Silver Surfer comic.

As previously established way back in FF#50, the planet devouring Space God, Galactus showed up one day to eat the Earth and was eventually beaten, less by the efforts of the Fantastic Four, and mainly because his most loyal servant, The Silver Surfer turned against him (the Surfer hurt his feelings more than his body, fwiw), and in return Galactus spared the Earth, but punished the Surfer by confining him to our planet, which he wound up hating real bad.

Anyhow, that was Galactus' first big idea for a way to punish his unruly kid, but maybe he could have had a second, crueler one?

This time, Galactus doesn't erect a barrier around the Earth to confine the Surfer to our planet; he's free to go all he wants; but he can't, because he also revokes the Power Cosmic from his body; turning him back into the entirely mortal Norrin Rad. And even if he had the means to escape the Earth, it wouldn't matter as without the enhanced cosmic senses he wielded as a Herald of Galactus, he had no means to find his homeworld of Zenn-La.

And also, Galactus is HANGRY, and wound up burning too much energy attempting to devour the Earth, so he's forced to consume the one planet he already knows the location of and which is rich in the energy he needs; the Surfers own home-world of Zenn-la, which no longer has Galactus' protection as the Surfer is no longer his servant.

Mr. Radd is having a bad day all up and down today.

Luckily, while a good deed like saving the Earth is its own reward, Reed and this universes Uatu decide to pay back Norrin with another, much more fungible gift; Uatu won't Interfere by helping Norrin return to his home world, but if he and Reed were to, say, steal form his garage on the moon, he wouldn't interfere with that either. And wouldn't you know it; Reed is able to quickly pick out a Cosmic Navigation Harness from Uatus toolshed and works out how to use it to help the Surfer locate Zenn-La.

Should also be noted that it looks really similar to Orions Astro-Harness from the New Gods; can't help but feel that's an intentional homage.

Anyway, while Norrin is zipping along the spaceways trying to get back home, Galactus has returned to Zenn-La and has commenced devouring it; which leads Norrins old flame, Shalla-Bal to realize that her boyfriend must be dead or out of commission if Galactus has returned to devour the world, and she takes it upon herself to make the same sacrifice he once did; she'll make herself Galactus' slave and herald in return for sparing her world from his all consuming Hunger.

And Galactus is no fool; he never fed as well as he did with a Herald to find worlds for him, but also he didn't want to be in a situation where his Herald would betray him in service of lesser beings again; so he agrees to Shalla-Bals terms, but also makes it a point to completely erase her memory and emotions; creating a new Herald, Starglow (who looks like Silver Surfer except Yellow and A Lady).

Norrin returns to the planet just in time to see his beloved turn into an alien super-being, and realizes he's returned home just in time to see the only reason he wanted to return at all leaving forever, and not recognizing him as she streaks past. Norrin confronts Galactus saying to make him Cosmically powered again so he'd be able to spend the rest of eternity with Shalla-Bal, even if she's a completely emotionless genocide-machine, and Galactus replies by saying that Norrin *really* has no leverage in this exchange and also doesn't seem to quite understand the idea of being punished for transgressions; so he DOES re-instate Norrins powers and also confines him to Zenn-La, the one planet Shalla-Bal is incapable of ever returning to, and the one planet Norrin hated enough to be willing to sacrifice his entire life to escape.

Well, at least it's nicer than Earth.

Not so much the "Surfer Loses His Powers" thing, (I'm sure that must have happened, though), but a lot of the components of this story did wind up getting recycled later. Dan Slotts and Mike/Laura Allreds (just absolutely excellent) Silver Surferhad a whole arc in the middle about Shalla Bal escaping Zenn La and dispassionately erasing civilizations, albeit in a more metaphorical colonial way than by feeding them to a big space man.

Additionally, a fair few of the finer points in this story wound up getting re-used in the 90s Silver Surfer cartoon; such as Shalla Bal and Norrins human (well, Zenn La-an) designs, the fact that immediately after being transformed by the Power Cosmic, Galactus' new herald immediately tried to feed Zenn La to their master because all their memories and emotions were bulldozed over, Part of Galactus' revenge on the Surfer was preventing him from reaching Zenn-La by hiding it from his senses And Starglows design was reused by that shows design for Frankie Raye.


Well, the NEXT issue is another one that isn't on Marvel Unlimited (I believe it's another Conan story), so instead;
"I didn't go to Medical School to be called MISTER Strange"

Johnny Unusual

There were very few artists who were able to draw lion-Beast outside of the New X-Men run. It was a cool look with the right artist, awkward with others.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Okay, first off, I'm calling shenanigans here, since only one of the three stories in this issue is even tangentially a proper What if, they're all Possible Futures about What Superheroes Do When They're Elderly; and that spooky cloaked guy isn't in any of them. Unless that's supposed to be the grim specter of death in which case, I'll allow it.

Anyway, we kick things off with the least action packed, but best written of the three stories, The Leaving (written by David Micheline, Pencils by Paty (no last name given) and inks by Andy Mushynsky) which is about how a very old Wanda Maximoff spends her last days with Vision before dying of old age. That's... about it, really. Not a complaint, unless you're just hungry for a superhero dust-up, it's a well written sober story of a robot man coming to grips with the impending death of his very elderly wife.

The story does do a good job of establishing that this is set about 50 years hence; most of the original Avengers have either died, been replaced by their descendants, or else don't age; the future team consists of Thor, Sunturian (no idea if this is a new character or not, but he's Living Laser, except with a mustache, and implies he used to work at ROXXON Industries), Iron Man (James Rhodes' son in Iron Man armor, which has elf-ears for some reason) and Jocasta (a sexy robot lady Ultron built to look like a sexy metal version of The Wasp, who he considers his mom. Ultron has... familial issues).

Also, the second Ant-Mans daughter Cassie is on the team, but as a live-in nurse who helps Wanda, and not as another shrinky bug-themed superhero as the main continuity would have it. But this story is also only about 12 pages long, so maybe it just didn't come up.

Anyway, Vision and Wanda do their best to enjoy their last day together, while the moving finger of mortality points towards them, and the only other mortal member of the Avengers complains that it sure sucks to have a finite life-span sometimes. A truism that resonates to Jocasta, who always wanted to be fully human and not just a well programmed robot built to be a daughter-wife to another robot in love with his mom.

Comic books present relatable issues that resonate with all readers.

Anyway, when Wandas doctor (Thors alter ego Donald Blake, annoyed with how casually Wanda keeps messing up the secret part of his identity) shows up and declares her dance-card is scant hours away from being punched, and the rest of the Avengers assemble to comfort a grieving Vision, Jocasta sneaks into Wandas room and steals her body, using some of the spare machinery that created her in the first place and she does a mind-swapsies with Wanda; giving Wanda a sexy immortal robot body that can be with Vision forever (in the body of what is effectively his sister), and Jocasta gets to die, like she always wanted!

That's a pretty happy ending, all things considered!

Wanda did die recently, but it was murder, and part of the set up for the current arc of X-Men comics (still reading it, no spoilers, please) and she and Vision haven't been a couple in years. Not sure what Jocasta is up to lately, but I'm sure she's out there, living her best life.

Second is the only What If that posits an actual What If situation, as we learn What If Sharon Carter Had Lived (written by Rick Margopoulos, with Pencils and Inks by Dan Reed and Mike Esposito respectively). And Uatu kind of just... skims the set-up here a bit; as in the 616 Sharon Carter died, and Cap was sad, as is the only reason to kill of a female character in 1980s comics. But this time Cap saved her.

Then an unspecified number of years pass. "Decades" is the only indicator given.

Anyway, in this nebulously defined future; Nick Fury became Secretary General of the US, Captain America became a part time fitness instructor for the New Avengers and Sharon Carter was forced to retire from being an international super-spy in exchange for being a stay-at-home mom who does not otherwise appear in this story. Also in the future, New York has descended into some kind of Mad Max/Judge Dredd mash-up, as guys in furry loincloths named Mohawk are hijacking police cars in PUNK ROW, the crime-iest section of the city.

This is explained as being a result of political corruption and acid rain.

This is... not the best written Captain America story of the 80s. One's coming up soon that compensates, don't worry.

Anyhow, while Captain America is helping the po-po beat the hell out of some inner city youths, we cut to a secret bunker, where a dying Red Skull is being injected with a rejuvenating serum, and elective surgery that will finally enable him to fulfill his master stroke and long-delayed plan to get revenge on Cap.

And we don't have much time to let that suspense simmer because, again, each of these stories is real short; the Red Skull has Caps family kidnapped and imprisoned in a boobytrapped cage; then he lures Cap to his secret base to confront him in a final battle.

It seems that after the last time Cap fought the Skull, he left him nearly dead (which he still technically is), and with plenty of time to manipulate American society into a it's current crime-riddled fascist state AND ALSO, he had a special pace-maker installed so that if his heart stops, it will trigger an explosive in Caps familys cage and explode them all to death. Cap must stand there and allow the Red Skull to kill him with his Recliner of Death or else watch his family die.

Outside of the fact that "Recliner of Death" is the least intimidating name for a supervillains weapon I've ever heard, pretty solid plan. Very Red Skull-y.

Oh, also the Red Skull had a son since he and Cap last met; his name is Also The Red Skull and the main difference between them is that the younger one is far less enervated and also his head is an actual red skull, instead of a Red Meatball.

Furthermore, it's explained that Red Skull Junior "is an established member of the American Radical Right" as part of a plan to bring Naziism to America. This is not elaborated on, but it is repeated a bunch.

Anyhow, the one flaw in the plan is that the kill-switch in the Skulls chest only activates if he dies, so all Captain America doesn't really have to be killed himself, and he has a pretty easy time either shrugging off the Skull Boys' attacks (the young one can't land a hit because of Caps superior speed and reflexes, and Caps uniform is resilient to anything the Recliner can throw at him, because... it's not a good weapon), so Red Skull Jr. decides to take a page from his dads playbook and shoots his father square in the chest with his gun.

"That's my boy!" thinks the Red Skull, without me exaggerating.

Anyway, there's a slight delay between Skull Sr. being shot to hell and his heart ceasing to beat, so Cap takes the opportunity to chuck his shield at the cage his familys in and let them escape before the impending explosion, and Cap explains to his wife that it's a GOOD thing he spends so much time away from the home teaching a new generation of superheroes; because sometimes Nazis have kids.

I think Sharons still alive, and also Cap stopped pressuring her into quitting her international spy job in exchange for being a stay at home wife, so I'm going to go with no.

"No" on that part at least.

Finally, we have the creatively titled Daredevil 2013 (Alan Kupperberg did it all, here), set in the far off and wild future of 9 years ago; where Natasha Romanoff is now the President of Russia, Foggy Nelson is the Vice President and Matt Murdock has a bald-spot.

Anyway, President Black Widow is on her way to New York to present her countries stance on international terrorism (not a fan), and her revelation that All International Terrorism can be traced back to one single Kingpin of Terrorism, and she knows who it is.

The identity is supposed to be a secret, despite the term "kingpin" being used repeatedly. Try to act surprised when the reveal comes.

Anyway, Foggy and Matt are also in attendance, the former because it's good diplomacy for the Vice Present to meet up with the current President of a foreign power, and Matt because it gives the two of them a good excuse to reminisce about their super-heroing days.

Also in attendance; a half dozen terrorist sleeper agents. Who, based on the kind of confusing art layout, appear to have been terrorists who were literally asleep for years until this presentation started and who were seemingly buried in among the foundation of the UN building?

Also, their stealthy disguises consist of brightly coloured jumpsuits and tiger-striped bandanas; so how nobody noticed them until it was too late is beyond me. Even Matt would have seen them coming without his Radar Senses.

Anyway, there's bad guys about, doing the evil that they do do, trying to stop Natasha from speaking the part of her speech that specifically mentions who among these Pins, could the King possibly be, and luckily, she's wearing her Black Widow costume under her International Diplomat costume, and also Matt is wearing his Daredevil costume under his Sad Lawyer outfit (even though he outright says he hasn't worn it in decades) so the two of them team up and punch of bunch of guys, and make their way up to the roof of the UN.

Where they find the pinnly king of all Terrorists; The Kingpin!

Were you as surprised at that reveal as I was? I bet you were.

Anyway, there is an expected scuffle; Kingpin reveals that after his last defeat at Daredevils hands, he decided to change lanes from Mobster-related crime to Exploding Important Stuff crimes, because that would likely make his late wife proud of him, Natasha gets knocked out because she forgot "deceptively strong" is Kingpins whole thing as a villain, and Matt goads him into running off the roof of the building and letting him die on the pavement below.

Alls well that ends well?

Well, Matt is always sad and guilty, so that part is true. And while Natasha is not likely to get elected president of Russia any time soon (setting aside how I suspect the Russian government isn't situated in a way to be very progressively minded in that way, she's also probably renounced her citizenship when she became a spy for the US government), her counterpart is the leader of the Winter Guard (the Russian equivalent of the Avengers) which gives her a nebulous, but very high, placement in the Government.

Dr. Strange, again, For Real

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Peter Gillis Writer
Butch Guice Pencils
Sam Grainger Inks
Ralph Maccio was the editor (I don’t know if that’s Danny LaRouso or not)

Okay, back to just the one story per issue, and this, in fact, was the first What if I ever read. And it’s… really good. This is a really fun Dr. Strange one-shot. I will say, however, that the title is misleading as it’s less about Dr. Strange Not Being the Sorcerer Supreme and more about What if Baron Mordo was an effective villain.

But I guess that would have been straining credibility a bit.

Anyway, a Jacked and Shirtless Uatu lays out Dr. Strange s backstories for those who ain’t familiar with it (arrogant doctor, broke hand, learned magic, was good at it), but putting a bit more of a focus on Mordo part of it; the event that made Steven Strange decide that there might be something to this whole Wizard Buisness was seeing Baron Mordo pledge his soul to the demon lord Dormammu.

But there’s plenty of demon lords in Marvel, and while few are as powerful, most of them are much more subtle than Dormammu.

So Uatu wants to know What If Baron Mordo pledged himself to a Demon who had an indoors-voice.

At first, and for quite a while, nothing bad. Mordo appears to have done a complete emotional 180 in terms of being secretly evil, and his master, The Ancient One, is impressed enough by his pupils change of heart that he winds up appointing him his successor as the Sorcerer Supreme.

Dr. Strange still does show up at his monastery, but he never winds up witnessing anything supernatural, so he just assumes the Ancient One and Mordo are self-help gurus. But he also gets snowed in for the winter, in Tibet, so it’s not like he has any choice but to listen to them, and his mental state improves enough that he gets over his intolerable arrogance and he takes a job as a surgical consultant and teacher.

Meanwhile, Mordo goes through most of the same adventures Strange himself had in his early, Ditko days (The House That Screamed is a much better title than it is a story, incidentally), and the first instance that there’s something *hinky* going on is when Mordo goes off to battle Dormammu. Most of it winds up resolving in the same way (Dormammu easily overpowers him, but is forced to call a truce and agrees to never attack Earth directly when Mordo helps him hold back a revolt from his Mindless Army.

But when Strange did it, it was purely a coincidence that the Mindless Army attacked; this time it was deliberate sabotage from Mordo. And when the renegade sorceress Clea helped Steven in the main universe, here she needed to be hypnotized because she could tell more easily than anyone else that Mordo is a bad guy.

Anyway, long and short is that Dormammu is *real steamed* that he can’t invade Earth, and spends QUITE a while raving about the petty mortals working their will against him before realizing that while HE can’t invade Earth, he’s got plenty of disciples on Earth already and they’re just starved for any attention whatsoever from their God, the giant raving fireball wizard, so he gives them all the assignment to wreak havoc on the world to kill Mordo and the Ancient One. They don’t succeed, naturally, since we’re only about a quarter of the way through the story, but it does give Mordo lots of chances to taunt Dormammu even farther

Meanwhile again, Dr. Strange isn’t enjoying his new life as a medical consultant as much as he would like, as he’s been suffering horrifying nightmares ever since he got the job, wrecking his sleep so much that all his colleagues assume he’s become an alcoholic, and he’s forced to visit Baron Mordo (who has set up his shop in the Sanctum Santorum in Greenwich Village, looking for some kind of supernatural cure for his bad dreams.

Also Also, Clea wakes up from her hypnosis, realizes she’s been hypnotized and tries to figure out the source of the dark magic that affected her; ruling out some of the other prominent Dr. Strange villains as she does so.

And Even more Meanwhile, Mordo does agree To help Strange with his Nightmares, by taking him into the Dream World in order to find the root cause of them. Which, as it turns out, is the demon Nightmare (basically Freddy Krueger, except with better complexion and 20 years older) has been trying to steadily drive Stephen mad. And then he lays out a whoooole lot of exposition; Even without any training, he has more mystical gas in his tank than any dozen wizards and didn’t want any wizards around strong enough to oppose him, and also he’s been Mordos secret true master all along (and honestly, there’s been enough fake-outs about that that even with the fairly limited pool of Dr. Strange villains, that came as a surprise), and he’s also had Mordo goading Dormammu into making more and more reckless and destructive (but fruitless) attacks on the Earth in order to generate more of the terror and chaos that he feeds on; making him the sole magical power in the universe.

Nightmare can’t actually *kill* anyone (doesn’t work on Nightmare on Elm Street rules in that regard; if you die in your dream you wake up), so instead he chucks Strange into the farthest depths of the dream world, and figures that a whole lot of absolutely wild looking fractal landscapes and monsters would keep Strange from waking up and spoiling his plans.

Plans which have reached their final stage, in fact. Mordo dispels the magic that keeps Dormammu from directly attacking Earth, and so the demon does precisely that, finally getting a chance to battle and kill the Ancient One. And Nightmare offers a deal; in exchange for the Eye of Agamotto he took from Mordo, Dormammu will be free to bring as much chaos and destruction as he wants to the universe and in return Nightmare will feed on the resultant terror As twin Chaos Gods; which Dormammu agrees to. He may not like working with other people as a general rule, but the Eye of Agamotto is a hell of a good incentive.

Strange, meanwhile, manages to escape Nightmares Realm by exploiting the fact that Nightmare mentioned that he was easily the strongest wizard the world had ever seen, and is a quick learned and just brute-forces his way into learning how to be a wizard; albeit an undisciplined one. Clea reappears to held guide his way through the Dream World, and with her help the two of them manage to kill Mordo when he appears to make sure Strange isn’t planning on escaping the dream world.

Stranges killing of Mordo is strong enough to break a hole through the dream world and he winds up on the same snowy mountain where Nightmare and Dormammu are hashing out the details of their joint ruler ship of the universe;


And Strange, still cooking with just a ludicrous amount of untouched Magical Gas releases everything he has into one titanic blast powerful enough to annihilate both Chaos Gods.

Aaaaaand burning out his body and leaving him a desiccated corpse.

Clea then shows up, recovering from her fight against Mordo and appoints herself Sorcerer Supreme of Earth on the grounds that everyone else who could potentially hold the title is now dead.

Also she noted that she never asked Steven his name, which was an amusing inversion of the 616 where it took, like, two or three years before Steven thought to ask Clea what her name was.

Mordo’s never wielded that much success being a disciple of Dormammu, and while I’m not deeply familiar with him as a character, I’d be surprised if he didn’t wind up backing a different horse at some point. Also, Strange has lost his magic a number of times and keeps getting it back. I’ll consider this a “Mostly Yes”.

NEXT TIME: Squishin’ Fishes


(Fem or Gender Neutral)
Clea then shows up, recovering from her fight against Mordo and appoints herself Sorcerer Supreme of Earth on the grounds that everyone else who could potentially hold the title is now dead
Not going to say anything about current events, but it's very "Mostly Yes"

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Outside of the surprising number of times he’s shown up in Black Cat, the only recent Dr. Strange stories I’ve read has been Defenders and The Death of Stephen Strange, and I’m inclined to accept your coy implications


(Fem or Gender Neutral)
To be more precise, the solicits Marvel puts out for comic shops to order upcoming books very plainly showed Clea is the new Sorcerer Supreme.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Good for her.

Kind of thought being from this universe was a prerequisite, but apparently just Not Being Dormammu is enough


The Goggles Do Nothing
Also worth mentioning that Nightmare was involved in some pretty planet-threatening plots over the course of the last few decades, most memorably in my mind during Gillen's Loki: Journey into Mystery run. But I guess there was that time he captured Eternity and destroyed the Earth, too, which was published before this What If. Anyway, guess my point is that Nightmare being on a flaming god's level is pretty consistent with 616.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
In recent times I’m more familiar with him from Squirrel Girl, where she just was not able to buy into his deal, and a tie-in with… I think War of the Realms where Strange reveals that he sometimes uses fighting Nightmare as an alternative to therapy; the guy can’t help but make you confront what’s bothering you.


Summon for hire
Wait, I'm catching up on the previous one, but I'm to understand that there's a story entitled "What If Sharon Carter Had Lived" which... basically has nothing to do with Sharon Carter? Great, thanks Marvel. Well done.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
between that, and the Electra and Gwen Stacy stories, it’s clear that being dead or alive had nothing to do with how willing Marvel was to write any stories about female characters.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Written by Alan Zelenetz
Pencils by Marc Silvestri
Inks by Mel Candid

Okay, first off, the actual title of the story is different from the one on the cover, which I can forgive since it's based on knowing there's an obscure Namor villain named Destiny (no relation to the less-obscure X-Men villain also named Destiny), but which makes the title on the cover kind of non-sensical in that context. Also, even knowing there's an obscure Namor villain named Destiny, it's... really hard to work out where this What if is supposed to have happened in the timeline. It gets... real confusing.

Also, in a life-time of reading comics, and, you know, reading other books too, this might be the most flowery and florid language I have ever encountered. The prose isn't just purple, it's ultraviolet.

This comic confuses bees

Anyway, as Uatu lays things out, to the best of his ability, and kind of skipping over the stuff that would be helpful to know in the broader context of better known Marvel history; in Namors first proper appearance in the Silver Age, he was an amnesiac vagrant until Johnny Storm set his hair on fire and threw him in the river on the grounds that he looked kind of familiar. A task which fortunately lead to the creation of a supervillain and not the creation of a second-degree murder charge. Later that same day, Namor returned to his kingdom of Atlantis, found it abandoned and in ruins and declared revenge on the human race, blaming them for it.

As it turns out, which we learn a few years later after Namor mellowed out a little and got his own comic, the amnesia and destruction of Atlantis were all the fault of an Atlantean anarchist named Destiny; who got a mystical crown that increased his strength a thousand fold; Destiny and Namor fought, Destiny won and Namor got a thump on the bonce hard enough to give him amnesia, and Atlantis was wrecked in the course of their fight.

Which kind of undercuts a lot of what made Namor interesting and symapthetic as a villain, but it doesn't change the fact that he screams IMPERIOUS REX a lot and punches dudes while in his underpants so, y'know... they kept the important parts.

ANYWAY, nothing Uatu likes more than to watch superhero rasslin' rematches, so WHAT IF DESTINY HAD NOT DESTROYED ATLANTIS.

For one thing, this timeline diverges because Namor acted more like himself and just punched the hell out of Destiny while he was mid-gloat, so in many regards, I think this is supposed to be the canon-timeline.

But while Namor is busying himself punching a very strong old man, and then burying his hat in a volcano, his treacherous cousin Byrrah has been sowing discord among the Atlantean rabble; exploiting their natural distrust of Namor for being half-human, and the fact that Atlantis suddenly stopped being beset by earthquakes just as soon as Namor and just a lot of general rabble-rousing; like a blue, soggy J. Jonah Jameson, if Jameson talked like a hundred Shakespeares.

Anyway, Namor returns to Atlantis and is surprised that he gets jeers instead of cheers for saving everyone from an old man with a hat and, instead of screaming Imperious Rex and punching the hell out of everyone he sees, he instead decides to go to the Imperial Palace and take a nap, and confront the fact that everyone is weirdly mad at him for saving their lives when he's rested and refreshed.

And Byrrah takes his "make everyone mad at Namor so I'll be crowned King instead" plan to the next level by murdering the current king and framing Namor for it, so the crown will go to him instead. You'd think it might go to Namors mother, since she's the current kings actual first born child, but I never made a study of the political system of feudalism as it applies to Atlantis.

Also, we've hit Peak Shakespearey Fancy Talk here;


Whuff. Take it down a notch, Bernie.

Anyway, Namor wakes up the next morning, discovers he's been accused of super-treason (and/or... sleep-massacring everyone in the building), and his reaction is "Screw you guys; I'm going to bounce" and he punches a hole through the Atlantean palace, knocks out a dozen guards coming to arrest him and leaves the city.

Along the way he encounters the God, Neptune who tells him that Namor has been done a grave injustice and will grant him a boon in the form of his Holy Trident to dethrone the usurping Byrrah and save Atlantis (he also notes that this usually involves a long, long multi-issue Legend of Zelda-y storyline, which is how Marie Severin handled this story originally, but is going to just skip right to the end). And Namor replies by saying "You listen to me, God, everyone in Atlantis sucks, they can just lick my fish-butt!"

But he says in it iambic pentameter and making sweeping gestures, and doesn't mention his fish-butt even once.

Anyway, as it happens, Neptune was right to be concerned because Byrrah was a terrible monarch in all the ways you might reasonable expect; overtaxing everyone and throwing people in dungeons for the crime of being too poor to pay him tribute, and he immediately inspires a coup d'état from his highest civil leaders and a revolution from the general population.

Some of the scouts from Atlantis track down Namor, who is enjoying himself swimming very far away from Atlantis and nearly getting vored by plant monsters and ask him for help in leading the revolution to overthrow Byrrah and restore him to the throne because it's clear he's the actual leader they want. And Namor tells them to scram, because ain't NOBODY making interrupting Namors Me-Time.

Meanwhile, hearing about the... double-civil war in Atlantis and also that the one single competent fighter in the city having abandoned it is all the inspiration Attuma needs to rouse his sea-barbarian hordes and also join the fray. Attuma, incidentally, got a slight redesign here and a new Crab-Hat and he looks more like a He-Man villain than ever before.

Namor, meanwhile, is living his best life; having befriended and joined a research team from the surface after saving them from their exploding boat and helping on their expedition to... umm... investigate the Galapagos Islands to see if the animals have evolved any more since Charles Darwin was there (I feel like there's been a fundamental misunderstanding here), and Namor is genuinely enjoying himself and there's an implied romance between him and the lead researcher, but she never gets a name or any personality points beyond "doesn't quite understand evolution" so I wasn't very invested in it.

Anyway, that brief vacation gets sidetracked because an Atlantean scoutship finds him AGAIN and informs him that the situation in Atlantis has progressed even farther; the double-revolution left Atlantis basically defenseless and Attuma's hordes had no trouble whatsoever sweeping in and taking over and, among the many many, MANY civilian casualties, Namors mom was also killed.

And Namors Mom was, like, the ONE person in Atlantis he still liked, so he dives back into the ocean, and yells to Neptune "Hey, God, Get Your Lazy ass Over Here and Give Me Your Poking Stick", which works better than you'd think (hubris only applies when you're wrong about being more important than the Gods), and he hightails it back to Atlantis, where he finds the people kind of regretting dethroning Byrrah.

Turns out that being overtaxed and imprisoned for perceived slights is better than life under Attumas rule; his is more of a "toil in mines until you die of exhaustion, or else I kill you immediately" kind of government.

Anyway, the Atlanteans are so beaten down and exhausted from the events of the last... err... week or so that even seeing their crown prince show up with a Weapon of the Gods to overthrow the tyrant who has enslaved them doesn't inspire any kind of morale boost, so Namor goes to confront Attuma alone. And they have a fight, and Namor wins (Namor-man), leveling most of the imperial palace in the process.

Namor tries to inspire the masses because NOW he's definitely saved Atlantis for the second time this week, and the population... does not care. They pointed out that Namor COULD have stopped all these problems at the start by pointing out that Byrrah efforts to frame him were really stupid and obvious, or he could have turned around and overthrown Brynnah before he could have done any lasting damage by taking Neptunes trident when it was first offered or even when the double-revolution was on-going and before Attuma showed up and he could have inspired people.

But nope.

He waited so long and let so many tragedies pile up that the people of Atlantis are officially done with Monarchy; if Namor wants to rule anything, he can rule the ruins of the city he just let be destroyed, and they all collectively leave him alone and Neptune shows up again to call Namor a fool and leaves him as well; giving us another Old Conan on His Throne ending shot.

Even prior to this story being written, "Everyone in Atlantis Hates Namor and Leaves Him Alone to Rule in Isolation" was... basically every other Namor story, so even if these specific events didn't occur, this is a common Namor story. Most recently (and on-going in Marvel Unlimited at the moment), an arc of Jason Aarons Avengers run revolved around a double-revolution in Atlantis being exploited by a hostile outside power just concerned with destroying the city.

But THAT story has Gorilla-Man in it, so, you know. It's good stuff.

NEXT TIME: We Cleared Out Enough room in the Fridge, Time to Fill It Again

Johnny Unusual

Not going to say you have to buy it, especially since his personal politics have made his work off-putting, but I think you would have enjoyed Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. He gets out of his tough guy mode and into something truly joyfully over the top with kaiju and giant robots.

Also, the animated series (bold to make an animated series out of a two-issue comic) has a wonderful theme song.


Johnny Unusual

BTW, I love that the red, white and blue flag he's defending clearly isn't the American flag.

Also, am I looking through rose colored glasses or were the late 90s/early 2000s Columbia produced cartoons pretty good? Extreme Ghostbusters, Godzilla (based on the bad Godzilla movie), Men in Black, Big Guy and Rusty, Jackie Chan Adventures? I only have positive memories.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
It’s like how thenPresident and Vice President can’t fly in the same plane; if anything happens to the Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village, then the most powerful sorcerer of Pennsylvania takes over.

Probably Black Talon; that guy needs a win.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Writer: Peter Gillis
Layouts: Ron Frenz
Finishes: Joe Sinnot

Well, after a few stories where the answer to the question of “what if the dead character was still alive” turned out to be “a completely unrelated story would happen and she would barely get mentioned again”, it’s only fair where we get a story where the exact opposite happens. Also, just going to go ahead and put in a pre-emptive CW here for suicide, because that is a pretty major component of this story.

On a different note; It’s also the first story I ever read with Annihilus, and even though his personality is *markedly* different here than in his every other appearance, it’s also the reason he’s on my shortlist of favorite Marvel villains.

But I’m getting ahead of myself; first Uatu has to get behind ourselves!

And full credit to Peter Gillis for not just condensing a very incident heavy annual to just a couple of pages, but expanding on it too; back during her first pregnancy with Franklin Richards, Sues life was in danger thanks to the cosmic rays that empowered her combining with the hormone imbalance caused by being preggers. Reed found the only means to save her; a rare element found in the Subspace Negative Zone, possessed by its ruler, Annihilus. The FF broke into the Negative Zone, stole the element from Annihilus, made a life long enemy of a screaming outer space bug-man, and made it back to the hospital with moments to spare, saving Sue and the baby. This version also added some extra pathos by having a dying Sue recount how she first met Reed when he was a teachers aide at ESU, and how emotionally distant he was with everyone before opening up with her.

Anyway... Annihilus ain’t the easiest supervillain to put down; and so What if That Fight Took A Bit Longer?

Well it all goes south for the Storm/Richards family, that’s for sure.

Even in the original timeline, the race to get the element back to Sue was down to the literal last minute, and Annihilus puts up more of a fight here, and the delay is enough that when Reed gets the element back to the hospital, the doctors are able to save Franklin, but not Sue; who dies on the operating table.

As you might expect, Ben and Johnny do not react calmly to this news; but are united in their grief with pretty much everyone in the superhero community; even Dr. Doom is shocked (at least partly because he now knows that he can't ever properly get revenge on Reed for scarring his face, because there's nothing Doom could do that could hurt Reed more than this).

Reed however... does not react. He is... distressingly calm and collected about it.

Even at the funeral, we get eulogies form each of the remaining members of the team; Johnny can't even make it through his without breaking down and sobbing, Ben puts on a brave face but is otherwise pretty emotional and Reed... just gives a pretty clinical summary of his wifes accomplishments and then politely walks away.

All the eulogies are also intercut with reaction shots from Namor, who is in the front row of the funeral parlor, and it's only with Reeds complete lack of reaction that he gets concerned; and afterward, he insists on spending some time with the FF in the Baxter Building because he knows the kind of fixed expression Reeds using is not one used by someone in any kind of healthy headspace; and while, yes he DID try to kill Reed and marry Sue a whole bunch, that really doesn't mean they were enemies, and without Sue he's genuinely concerned about Reeds mental state.

There's a montage of how the rest of the team reacts to and processes their grief; Ben takes the lessons about her approach to life to heart, Johnny regrets that she didn't die fighting a supervillain or something he could properly lash out against (even acknowledging that while Annihilus was indirectly responsible, he was only defending himself) and ultimately come to accept things as they are.

And Reed?


Reed is not in a healthy space right at the moment.

Reed comes to the exact opposite emotional revelation that Ben and Johnny did, and rationalized that without Sue around there's nothing from keeping him from becoming an emotionless monster, and also blames Annihilus for not laying down and dying in order to save his wife; and spends the rest of the night erasing all the home movies he made with Sue, before suiting up and heading to the Negative Zone, looking to exact a bit of revenge on the person who wronged him.

Namor was expecting Reed to do something self destructive, but was not expecting him to jump into deep space and commit suicide by bug-man.

For the record; Reed is actually planning on committing homicide to bug-man, and is just heedless of any consequences to that effect.

When the rest of the team (and Namor) realizes what Reeds done, and see that the Negative Zone Portal is active, they jump in after him to keep him from performing at least one, and probably two irreparable mistakes. And Reed, still being Reed, apparently spent the rest of the evening building a weapon capable of single-handedly bringing down Annihilus (which, for the second time in this run of comics, looks almost exactly like Orions harness from New Gods.

There's nothing quite as dangerous as a man as smart and resourceful as Reed, given a single goal, and taking away any source of ethical limits he might have had;


Annihilus reacts with about the level of grace you might come to expect from this; (he screams "eeeek" and runs away in absolute terror), and the remaining Fantastic Two (and Fishy Friend) are able to track Reed through the Negative Zone by seeing the trail of destruction Reed wrought, and noticing that Annihilus' throne-planet is apparently in its death throes.

Reed pursues Annihilus like the bug-man dog he is and hurls enough torture and abuse on the guy whose only real crime (give or take pre-emptive murder attempts on anything he perceived as a potential threat) was defending himself when aliens shows up to steal the source of his lifes energy.

And I've seen lots of comic book fights that are fun and exciting, I've seen plenty that are overblown for increased dramatic stakes.

This is one that's just... upsettingly one-sided where you wind up sympathizing with the guy who calls himself The Living Death Who Walks.

Annihilus's only fear is that someone will eventually figure out how to kill him; and everything he's ever done has been out of a misguided sense of self-preservation; and Reed is everything that's ever terrified him incarnate and he is desperate;


Joe and Ron manage to get a LOT of expressions out of a guy whose face can't move.

Ben Johnny and Namor find Reed on the brink of fully murdering Annihilus, but Reed is, even in this state of mind, a few steps ahead of them. He knows they're going to try to keep him from murdering Annihilus at any cost, and so he grabs the bug-man and flings them both into the explosive anti-matter barrier that separates the Negative Zone from the rest of the universe; using the weapons built into his harness to keep the rest of the team away so they can't interfere.

So Reed and Annihilus die in each others arms, Johnny and Ben now have a second death to grieve (they're less broken up about He Who Annihilates shuffling off this mortal coil) and... I guess Namor is going to join the team now, because he didn't really have any beef with Ben or Johnny.

Sue is one of the more enduringly alive characters on the comic book page (not sure if she's ever died, in fact), but it's otherwise pretty well established that her being around is the only thing that keeps Reeds on track ethically. In the rare times when they separate as a couple, Reed immediately goes all in on some pretty ill-advised projects, and the one consistent element of the Council of Reeds; the collective of every version of Reed Richards across the multiverse is that only 616 has a family, and he's also correspondingly the only one who is not a complete monster.

Well, this one feels kind of prescient.


Summon for hire
I've been catching up on a lot of old Venture Brothers lately, and it's another example showing that if you have a character who's basically a clone of Reed, there's no way they're *not* going to end up being a villain more often than not.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
It took decades for 616 Reed, Canonically The Nicest Reed Richards in the Multiverse to not be the absolute biggest jerk.


And he still ends up making some Very Questionable Decisions, especially as a part of the Illuminati.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
“Nicest” does not mean “good”.

Shortly after his role in annhilating several universes he mellowed out and became Fun Science Dad