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


Post Reader
If I recall correctly Namor was the only member of the Illuminati willing to actually pull the trigger to sacrifice another universe to save his own


The Goggles Do Nothing
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.

WORTH NOTING: Annihilus has a tendency to be whatever a writer wants right now. What always comes to mind here is the Age of Apocalypse Blink miniseries, which was released after AoA (the event) ended. Since there wasn't much wiggle room in the timeline for exciting things to happen in Blink's AoA timeline (lie), most of her four issues were spent palling around the Negative Zone with Annihilus... who, in this incarnation, was a hunky redhead with a goatee and goggles to die for. We're told this was the result of an assassination attempt by Blastaar and/or a recent defeat at the hands of the "real" Fantastic Four... but if you ever thought "evil bug king" couldn't be "cute freedom fighter", go ahead and check it out.


Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
That mini ends with Blink and a de-transformed Annihilus totally making out and I have no idea how that works mechanically.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Peter Gillis
Sal Buscema
Dave Simons

So I’ve been reading David Wolks All the Marvels recently (which is an easy recommendation for anyone reading this thread, or who has even a passing interest in comic history on and off the page), and there’s a chapter in it where Dave makes a pretty convincing argument for the Dark Reign even being the comic that best predicted the trump presidency.

And reading what Pete, Sal and Dave here made, I would have to respectfully disagree.

Also, much like how the last issue is what made me a fan of Annihilus as a villain, this is the one that made me a fan of Cap as a hero.

Anyhow, we’re kicking things off with ol’ Uatu being a bit of an unreliable narrator, as he leaves some pretty important stuff out of the “Previously On, But Instead” part of the comic. Cap was frozen in a block of ice after thwarting Baron Zemo in the closing days of World War 2, where he was dug up by an Arctic Tribe that's… real big on praying to whatever they dredge out of the frozen sea (I’ll admit I don’t know much about Inuit culture, but I don’t think that’s an aspect of it), Namor finds Caps frozen corpse and throws him into the sea where he washes up in New York and thaws out and joins the Avengers.

But maybe Namor didn’t feel as strongly about an Inuit tribe that prays to frozen corpses and he leaves well enough alone?

Well, boy, does that prove to be a bad choice.

For one thing, the Avengers wind up disbanding completely pretty early on, instead of just having most of the team be replaced by Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch with Cap providing a sense of continuity. This is acknowledged, but isn’t really relevant to the story.

Also, the timeline gets a little hard to untangle because there’s a couple of time skips in this story, but I believe we now cut forward to the early 1980s, based on the fact that the unnamed President has Reagan’s haircut. And he’s on the way to China to be part of some diplomatic peace talks. Which is good news in general, but not to the unnamed, anonymous, red-hat-no-faced janitor who works at a secret government compound.

This isn’t because he’s a secret spy or a villain who has an ulterior motive to undermine peace talks, he’s just very, very racist and is inconsolable at the idea that any politician, no matter of whether or not they were Ronald Reagan would want to broker peace with communists.

Unfortunately for… human decency, as we learn, the reason this particular compound is so secret is because it has, in its basement, the frozen, but living, bodies of Captain America and Bucky. And apparently his janitorial duties involve knowing how to maintain and safely deactivate the cryostasis tubes. The Janitor wakes up Cap and Bucky, informs them that it’s been decades since they were last around and that America needs them more than ever as Americas has Enemies and they are everywhere.

This is all the evidence Cap needs, as he’s much more jingoistic than usual, and he and Bucky head out to let the enemies of America know that there’s a living legend who is living once again. And he does this by finding the first criminal he can, stomping on their car like he’s Super Mario, and announces “The names Captain America, to scum like you. And that’s a name that means punishment”

Then he throws a black man out of the car yelling “People like you never seem to learn”.

This should be all the evidence you need that this is not Captain America. And indeed it isn’t, because Uatu was keeping something from us in the intro, and it’s a weird bit of comic Book lore and history intersecting; while Steve was the first Star Spangled Avenger, he was not the last. The Cap comics were briefly revived in the 1950s, and the revival was very unpopular both in and out of continuity. IRL, this is because both those stories weren’t very good and superhero comics were on a downswing in terms of popularity. Also, he was largely concerned with fighting communist spies and ghosts than nazis and supervillains. In continuity, this is because there was some jagoff who was really drinking McCarthys kool aid and tried to be his own Captain America to fight Americas enemies (as in; anyone who isn’t a straight white Protestant man). He was eventually declared a national disgrace (and this was in the 1950s) and frozen in a tube to keep him from ruining any further reputations. He eventually came back as a Captain America villain and I think he was the basis for US Agent, but that’s conjecture on my part.

Anyway, that is the Cap who was revived. The Crap Cap.

Turns out the 1980s are just as jingoistic as the 1950s (and the 20-teens), and Crapcaps Anti Communist and Make America Great Again rhetoric goes over very well with… a lot of terrible people which, combined with the fact that he really looks like Captain America make him a media darling, and he is sought out by aspiring politico Senator Chadwick, whose campaign managers figured out that Crapcap is the racist 50s one and not Steve, and could use him to bolster his approval ratings.

Which works because Chadwick’s entire platform is “Kick immigrants out of the country and also throw people in jail if they aren’t white and rich enough” and that lines up with Crapcaps ethics very nicely.

I… really think trumps entire presidential campaign was just reading this comic and saying “Well, lets do that. Worked great for Chadwick”. It is… alarmingly prescient.

As should come as no surprise, literally everyone who isn’t a gigantic piece of trash hates Crapcap and Chadwick and this leads to protest marches from… basically everyone (including Jesse Jackson, who is not identified by name). Unfortunately, Chadwick is a senator so he has a military industrial complex, and militarized police on his side, so it doesn’t take long for peaceful protests to become riots, especially when an unseen sniper shoots Crapcap.

Its unclear if the sniper is one or Chadwick’s goons looking to fan the flames even further in order to make him look better, or if it was a lone gunman recognizing Crapcap for the societal threat he is, or if it was just a weird reference to John Hinkley. All are equally likely.

Anyway, things go real south now, and the riots spread far and wide enough that national martial law is declared as a second civil war is underway, and Crapcap is able to parlay the sympathy he got from being shot into more social clout, and started his own fan club dedicated to protecting America by attacking everything that isn’t ultra conservative, co-opting the real Caps name further, calling them the Sentinels of Liberty. And Chadwick is elected president by people eligible to vote (meaning people who would vote for him, because everyone else has been imprisoned, deported or executed)

Whuff… And we’re only halfway done, folks. Luckily, a three act structure means that things are about to take a turn for the positive.

We cut forward several more years (no indication of how many) to a military sub, salvaging wrecks in the arctic sea, when they find a frozen body, which they bring on board (which I assume is hard to do in a submarine; they're kind of obsessed with keeping the doors closed) and the entirely Black and/or Jewish crew see it's a strapping guy with blond hair wearing an American flag as a shirt; and immediately assume that it's one of the Sentinels of Liberty and decide to throw him right back into the arctic sea on general principle.

Fortunately, they don't really get the opportunity as the frozen guy, against all probability, wakes up from being frozen and manages to defend himself. And from the way he speaks, the way he moves, and the fact that he's very purposefully using non-lethal force to defend himself; the captain is quick to realize the truth; this isn't another garbage person dressed like Captain America, it IS Captain America!

The Sub Captain (skipper? Bosun?) is overjoyed to see that the guy he idolized in World War 2 isn't actually a racist piece of trash who completely eroded any semblance of idealism or hope in the world. He's then saddened by the fact that he has to tell Cap the bad-news about everything I just mentioned in this summary up until now. When the sub docks in New York, Cap (disguised as Roger Stevens) is given a tour by the sub captain and he gets a first hand view of how things are EVEN WORSE now; most of New York is a police state, except mid-town, which is kept looking great for photo opportunities, guarded by militants wearing modified Captain America costumes (Cap sees a guy dressed just like him making a comment about how being on a sub must be hard, because that's apparently where the government has been sending black and Jewish people. And he nearly punches the guys head off then and there), and also all of Harlem has been converted into an internment camp.

The Sub Captain also mentions that none of the existing superheroes are even aware that things are THIS bad; some of them like the FF and Thor are off-planet often enough they don't even realize there's anything wrong, and the other heroes are usually kept busy dealing with other lesser villains so they don't take the time to notice all the gestapo (it's implied that this is also Chadwicks doing; among his allies are HYDRA, the Secret Empire and the Sons of the Serpent, and they agree to spread their evil around a bit).

Fortunately, even in a fascist hell-state like this, there's one man you just can't ever shut-up;

J. Jonah friggin' Jameson

Between writing (state censored) complaints against the Chadwick administration, and Crapcap in particular (allowed under the guise of pretending they aren't censoring everything so there's no reason for people to start any kind of revolution), Jameson is also one of the leaders of a resistance faction alongside Nick Fury, Spider-Man and Sam Wilson (he doesn't have a bird theme in this time-line), and as it happens the Sub Captain is also a ranking member and is able to use this connection to get Cap in to be recruited.

This all culminates with a press conference where Crapcap and his allies, Bucky, Hangman (another racist 50s character), Golden Girl (pin-up model wearing a superhero outfit) and... err... Hawkeye (no idea what he's doing there) all show up to show their support for Chadwick and declare his nomination for King of America.

And then the real Cap and HIS allies show up.

And hoooooooo boy.

If the the last issue had one of the most unsettling one-sided superhero fights I'd ever seen, this one might be the most cathartic.

Crapcap is everything Steve Rogers hates, and while he has a lot of misplaced, righteous anger he has very little experience fighting.

And Cap? He can do this all day.


And then, for added measure, he gives a rousing speech about how sincerely screwed up Jingoism is as a concept


Then Cap points out that all he did was beat the ever loving hell out of a jackass who was wearing his clothes, and that doesn't really do anything to solve the problem, that's up to everyone else in the country.

Then the audience starts singing the National Anthem while a tear comes to Caps eye which is a kind of weird and lousy ending, honestly.

Between 2016 and 2021, yes.

But if you mean for comics, the 2017 Secret Empire storyline also involved a Shitty Racist Nazi Captain America taking over the country, but that one was made by a Cosmic Cube and the problem was solved by beating him up with super-powers. It was... spectacularly bad timing for that particular event comic.

NEXT TIME: Yes, you're really straining credibility with that premise.


Summon for hire
This all culminates with a press conference where Crapcap and his allies, Bucky, Hangman (another racist 50s character), Golden Girl (pin-up model wearing a superhero outfit) and... err... Hawkeye (no idea what he's doing there) all show up

I'm gonna guess it's not really a coincidence that this sounds a hell of a lot like the line-up of Watchmen.
(To be clear, not that Watchmen is necessarily drawing from this What If in particular, just they're both drawing from the same original sources.)

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Written by Peter Gillis
Pencils by Ron Wilson
Inks by Akine Garvey

Well, the last couple of What Ifs were sobering looks at the self-destructive cost of unexamined grief, and nationalism. This one... is... Hulk Smashing Puny Army.

This ain't a complaint, because if you're here for Hulk Smash Army stories, holy dang, this one is an exceptional example of that, and the fact that Ron Wilson wasn't the regular artist of Hulk is a damn tragedy because this is one of the best looking books in this whole line. His other work in What if has been pretty good, but this one is a step above. Normally, I highlight individual panels if they're exceptional (or goofy as hell), and here I'd have to repost the entire comic if I did that.

Also, it is perhaps the smallest narrative departure in terms of premise. It's like asking "What if Spider-Man could Shoot Webs"

Anyhow, as per usual, Uatu is here to get us up to speed, recapping the Hulks origin... basically twice in a row; since while the story winds up going in a different direction, it's more of a wild accident than a significant change. Rick Jones wanders into the blast site of a Gamma Ray Bomb in order to play the harmonica in peace; Dr. Banner tries to pull him to safety and winds up getting blasted full of Exotic Gamma, turning him into a big green guy.

That's basically unchanged except neither Rick nor Bruce can make it to the safety trench, and the scientist tries to save the teen from the explosion using his own body as a shield.

Even Uatu has no explanation for why that change caused what it did to happen (but to be fair, Exotic Gamma is half magic, so logic is kind of optional where it's concerned), but now there's been a few changes to the way the Hulk works as compared to the 616; for one thing, there's no catalyst for Banner to become the Hulk; it just happens and is seemingly permanent. Secondly, even by the standards of a nuclear rage monster, this particular incarnation of Hulk is especially angry and destructive and third, (and most significant) he and Rick Jones wind up sharing a mind; anything Hulk feels, Rick feels and vice-versa.

Also, Rick got a massive dose of intensely lethal magical radiation, so... he's not very healthy.

Point in fact, when Bruce nd Rick wake up in the bases hospital, a few hours after being blasted by the gamma bomb, Rick complains that they left an out of tune radio for them to listen to, and Bruce points out it's a Geiger counter that's buzzing, not radio static; they're both very definitely in bad shape.

Anyway, as expected, the stress of the fact that his own body is mutating pretty badly, and the guilt that he's going to watch a teenager die of radiation poisoning shortly is enough to trigger Bruces Transformation into the Hulk, and as you might expect, he then Smahes his way out of the hospital; only held back from complete mindless savagery because he can hear Ricks voice in his mind trying to help him, and knows Rick is lying to the soldiers so they'll use non-lethal force to try to bring him down.

This leads to a long (and again, excellently rendered) sequence of Hulk Fight Army. And, unlike every other instance of Hulk Fight Army over the years, before and since... Hulk is not really pulling his punches this time; and there is no ambiguity as to the level of destruction he's wreaking, and even that implausible justification that Hulk never leaves a human casualty because he goes on very careful rampages; every single soldier that General Ross sends after the Hulk is 100% killed by him.

As a side-bar, the other scientists who were working on the Gamma Bomb with Banner were escorted out of the base and had all their notes destroyed because Ross realizes the cost of making a weapon like the Gamma Bomb is making something like Hulk and that is worse for the world than any other more conventional weapons of mass destruction.

Ross also discovers, when he goes to interrogate Rick about what happened, that Rick has some degree of control over the Hulk and also that Rick is very close to death because of the radiation poisoning. This leads him to the Very Very Bad Conclusion that he can manipulate the Hulk somewhat by exploiting Rick and lure him into a trap. And when Rick won't comply willingly; he hooks him up an impromptu electric chair and decides to electrocute the boy in order to disorient the Hulk.

It is mentioned back and forth that this is the single worst thing Ross has ever done, in any timeline, and he does at least regret it, but he's still torturing an unarmed civilian who is on the brink of death from a nuclear weapon test he himself authorized. But... well... in for a penny and all that.

Yeah so... Rick dies.

And he's still connected to Hulks mind when he does.

And OH BOY... does it NOT take long for Thaddeus Ross to realize he just picked a big bouquet of oopsie-daisies.

Rick was able to keep something of a leash on Hulk before, and he was still a completely unstoppable killing machine, and feeling Rick die of pain from electrocution and gamma poisoning inside his own head caused him to completely lose his last shred of restraint; this isn't a Hulk who wants to be Left Alone, or who wants to prove he's The Strongest There Is. Or even just Smash.

This is a Hulk Who Wants to Kill Ross.

We get another, EVEN MORE extravagant montage of Hulk destroying the base, up to throwing entire building-sized ICBMs like lawn-darts trying to squish Ross underneath them, meanwhile Ross is going through some pretty severe PTSD because he's trying to come to grips with the fact that he just murdered a teenager for no reason, and now all the soldiers under his command have died as a result. He's having a bad day.

Not as bad as the day everyone else is having, mind.

The base is completely totaled by Hulk, and Ross is forced to concede that Conventional Tactics are useless against a monster like Hulk, so he's going to have to go right for The Weird Stuff, and puts out a call to the Fantastic Four and Tony Stark because he needs back-up immediately.

Tony is still using his clunky yellow armor so it takes him a long time to arrive (and along the way, he meets Thor who is similarly invested in protecting the world from monsters), but the FF get on the scene pretty quickly; finding a completely destroyed Gamma Base, and the few remaining soldiers (and Ross) hiding in a cave hoping Hulk doesn't notice them.

He does, and the FF rush out to fight him... and perform just as well as the army does; Hulk nearly snaps Reed in half despite his rubbery body, Johnny is thrown against a rock wall with enough force to kill him instantly, and he snaps Bens neck, after the two of them are caught in a nuclear blast from another ICBM which Hulk punches clean through (there's a hasty explanation that the warhead wasn't damaged, it was just the rocket itself exploding but... umm... kind of a moot point, really). Sue also tries to fight, but this is Early FF, so her only power was "turns invisible" so she's basically a liability in this case.

So with Ben and Johnny now extremely deceased, and the Nevada desert now MUCH more irradiated than it should be, Tony and Thor show up to try their hand at fighting Hulk. Tony performs the best of anyone so far; as his Repulser Powered armor is able to protect him from Hulks blows, and Thors lightning is able to recharge his batteries so he can go all out much longer than he could otherwise... but Tony is exhaustible, Hulk is not, and he winds up dead as well when Hulk lands a couple lucky blows and crushes the machinery keeping his heart pumping.

So finally it's Thors turn (might have been a good idea to have everyone fight him at once, instead of taking turns) and Thor actually IS strong enough to go toe-to-toe with Hulk, but Hulk eventually knocks Thors hammer out of his hands and, as per 1960s Marvel Continuity, that means he's scant moments away from losing all his powers and reverting to Doctor Blake; who won't even leave enough behind to count as a smear if he had to fight the Hulk, so, as in Man of Steel, and with no other alternatives left to him, Thor grabs Hulks head and snaps his neck just before his time limit runs out.

Thor grabs his hammer back, afterward, and decides to at least give everyone nearby a Viking Funeral, by incinerating their fallen bodies with Lightning and Ross and Glen Talbot are left behind saying "Well... let's go to our court martial and consequent execution, I guess. We're about done here."

Smaller deathtoll, but yes.As I've said a few times earlier in this thread, Rick got a psychic connection to another Gamma Mutate in Al Ewings Immortal Hulk series, eventually becoming a vestigial second head to an Oingo Boingo skeleton. One of the alternate personalities that takes over for Bruce sometimes is Savage Hulk, which is a Hulk with the aggression turned all the way up, and the World War Hulk storyline involved Hulk at the maddest he's ever been, declaring war on the entire superhero community.

Also, Thor super-charging Iron Mans armor came up in the first Avengers movie, and it was pretty cool there, too. And, again, the finale is basically the same as Man of Steels.

Did it really take until the penultimate issue to come up with this idea?


This one I've read. It mostly stuck to my memory because it's the closest to we'll ever likely come to an answer to the age-old question: who's stronger, Thor or Hulk?

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Peter Gillis
Ron Frenz
Sam De La Rosa

The whole POINT of this comic series is to show what would have happened had the outcomes of Marvel stories diverted in some ways, and Spider-Man is, was, and ever shall be, one of Marvels most popular characters *AND YET*, somehow “What if Uncle Ben Hadn’t Died” wasn’t there day-one. It’s also one of the weaker What ifs over-all, so maybe it was being held back for a reason.

Also, I suppose there’s been a Few Spider-Man focused stories that also included a living Uncle Ben, but it wasn’t really the focus.

Also, I hope you’re in the market for a whole bunch of a teenager learning he should listen to old men, when they talk to him, because we’ve got that in spades!

Anyway, we’re kicking things off, before Uatu can even pop in to explain which sliding door slid this time, with a pretty solid little fake-out; opening with Peter doing what he does best when not on the clock; moping at a cemetery apologizing because he blamed himself for letting someone die. And then the camera pulls back and you see waiting for him is Uncle Ben?!?! And it was Aunt Mays grave he was brooding over!?!

And then Uatu leans in to say “Gotcha!”

Albeit with more cosmic portent.

Anyway, we all know this story by now (Spider-bite, Great power, Dead Uncle, Great Responsibility), only now it’s just a pronoun change. May was the one who snuck up on the prowler and got plugged fulla lead instead of Ben.

This, for one thing, does cause a pretty stark change up in Peters home-life, as 1960s Aunt May was a charmingly oblivious old lady who was constantly on the brink of death due to an endless parade of dire health problems. Ben, despite his canonical vulnerability to muggers, has much more robust health, and is full of good old fashioned Old Man Knowledge and Wisdom. Which, unexpectedly for an Old Man from the 1960s, involves a lot of emotional openness and being eager to talk about his feelings.

Ben first realizes that his nephew has a secret side-hobby of costumed vigilantism when he catches Spider-Man swinging up into his upstairs window and into Peters bed-room, and he tries to talk to Pete about it via veiled implications about how unfairly the Daily Bugle treats that wall crawling threat/menace, and that, perhaps, Peter shouldn’t be selling scandalizing photos of Spider-Man to Mr. Jameson because maybe, JUST MAYBE, that’s some kind of metaphor for how he feels about himself.

And when Pete does not react the way Ben hoped to that subtle implication, he also tricks Peter into revealing his Spider-Man costume in the most circumspect way possible (hiding it under the table and then asking Pete to change the table cloth), at which point Pete realizes he just can’t compete with Uncle Wisdom and then they have a whole whack of emotional breakthroughs, and Ben points out that Pete is basically blameless in Mays death, but him napping through his wife being shot and killed in a home invasion really paints him in a bad light.

And Pete realizes that, yeah, beating himself up for not stopping an armed robber isn’t really productive of healthy and now he has a much healthier emotional state and comforting support system at home.

Anyway, more Spider-Man stories happen via montage and, as expected, the Daily Bugle never stops printing stories about how Spider-Man is culpable for all of them, and while May was willing to accept that because she never clued in that Spider-Man was actually her nephew, Ben is fully aware and the slander has raised his dander, so he storms into the Daily Bugle office, confronts Jameson and demands he stop insulting his nephew in the Daily Bugle.

Also, he reveals to Jameson that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.

But, as noted repeatedly throughout this story, Ben is a Wise Uncle, so he does all this in a way that is mutually beneficial for everyone involved; Jameson knows that if he reveals Peters identity, he’ll either be made a laughing stock for not realizing His own employee is Spider-Man, or else he’ll look like he himself was abetting Spider-Man. However, if he agrees to STOP publishing libel about Spider-Man’s acts and deeds, and instead Spidey agreed to give him a heads up on where and when he was going to be crime-fighting, Jameson could milk it for all he’s worth and make millions, and he could work together with a superhero to make New York a less supervillain-y place to live, which really just makes Jameson look good.

And there’s no faster way to Jamesons heart than a road that will also make him immensely wealthy and famous.

He still writes editorials about how much he hates Spider-Man, because Jonahs gonna Jonah.

So this arrangement goes on for a while, and Peter gets to enjoy a nice little pay raise and doesn’t have the severe public image problem he has in the 616 and that’s great, up until the point where Jameson asks Peter to follow his secretary Betty Brant, as she asked for a pay raise, and he automatically assumed she wanoted it to give to the mob. To which Peters says “What? No. What?” and hen storms out.

Then Uncle Ben confronts him about it and tells him that Peter should listen to old men because they are wise, and Betty probably IS going to give the money to mobsters because her brother is a criminal after all.

And Pete agrees to go ahead and follow Betty, thinking that Wise Old Men must be wrong, and its Hotheaded Teenage Exuberances time to be right in this story.

And, as it turns out, he was wrong both about Betty and Teenage Exuberance, because yep, she was paying money to monsters on behalf of her ne’er do well brother. Also Doctor Octopus is involved for some reason.

So Pete does what he always does in situations like this, and abandons his double identity all together because he’s tired of society kicking him around (which literally did not happen at all; the girl he had a crush on was coerced into paying money to gangsters, and if anything, he saved her from being robbed and/or killed by aforesaid gangsters). But in this case, the identity he decides to abandon is Peter Parker, he’s just going to Spider-Man it up 24/7.

Which apparently went on for a while, as the school guidance councillar made a house call to the Parker house in order to personally tell Ben his nephew has missed enough school to keep from graduating, and also cutting back to Peter shows he’s been living in a hammock somewhere in the innercity and the narration boxes assure us that, yes, he smells terrible now.

Eventually, word reaches him that Jameson is annoyed that Petes reneged on his deal to provide the Bugle with exclusive crime fighting details, and Jameson is going to expose his identity to the world. And Pete doesn’t want Uncle Ben to be the target of any of the many, many people he’s beaten up and tied to lampposts outside police stations over the years, so he agrees.

So he goes back to the Bugle and Jameson reveals he… umm… just wants someone to stand around and look sullen while he meets his son in the hospital (I… guess?), while John is recovering from getting a face full of Strange Cosmic Spores.

The spores thing feels like a weird non-sequitur in this story, but there was a short arc about those spores just after Romita Sr. Took over the book back in the 60s; it was kind of an antecedent to the Symbiote Costume storyline

As it happens, the Green Goblin was staking out John Jamesons hospital room, hoping to kidnap Jonah in order to extract Spider-Man’s identity from him (turns out putting the fact the fact that he knew it on the front page of his paper was a bad tactical move on Jonahs part). And Pete just… lets him go since, well… this kind of jibes with what he wanted to do anyway; if the Goblin kills Jameson then nobody can reveal his identity and he can resume living in a smelly hammock.

But John Jameson is less inclined to let a guy in a Halloween costume who commits explosion-crimes kidnap his dad and, as it turns out, the Space Spores he was full of also made him a cheap knock-off Hulk; causing him to get a Bit Larger and Stronger and Angrier and Dumber when he’s riled up (not MUCH larger or Stronger, the dialogue is the only indication he’s any bigger, in fact but he’s much angrier and dumber)

So Big Jameson charges out of the hospital; presumably with his butt flapping in the breeze, trying to track down the Goblin to save his dad, and Peter has a change of heart and pursues him, since letting Jonah die while he did nothing is basically the exact situation that caused him to be Spider-Man in the first place (just with an exploding Halloween Man and a Big Astronaut involved this time).

So Spidey and Big Jameson converge on the Goblins lair (Big Jameson can smell the exhaust from the Goblin Glider, and Peter can track a giant astronaut in a hospital gown), where he’s prepared to torture Jonah to learn Spider-Man’s identity, and they all get into a big fight. Big Jameson and the Goblin have a fight, and Jameson wins (Jameson man), then Jameson and Spider-Man get into a fight, and Spider-Man wins (Spider-Man), and Pete realizes that he… umm… should… stop being homeless?

Then Uncle Ben comes to congratulate him for saving Jonah and informs us that we all learned a lesson.

Did we?

While Uncle Ben is perhaps the most enduringly deceased characters in comic books, there’s a fair amount of this story that DID reappear; it was eventually revealed that Aunt May herself always knew that Peter was Spider-Man on the basis that she’s not actually an idiot (this has been retconned back and forth quite a lot, however. Right now I believe it’s only implied she knows), and when Jonah eventually learned that Peter was Spider-Man he did an immediate and complete 180 on him and became a completely over-bearing Spider-Man SupeFan, making his life precisely as difficult as it ever was when they hated each other.

Also while he only became Big because of space spores that one time, John Jameson did eventually become the Werewolf God of the Moon, which is way more impressive, really.

Well, how does a hammer determine worth, really.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Peter Gillis
Kelly Jones
Sam Delarossa
Squid (Colors)

okay, kind of feel like I was sold a bill of goods with this, the final What If (until the book was given a relaunch a few years later); the cover tells me that it’s about Loki taking the power of Mjolnir for himself, a story I would very much like to read. And a more accurate title for the story would have been “What If Thor Died”, which also would have been something that would have caught my attention. also, it’s a story where all the cool stuff is happening juuuuust off camera.

Cool cover though, Bill Sienkiewicz can bring the heat.

Anyway, Uatus getting a bit granular with the recap this time, as the events of Loki and Thors origins (Thorigins) are unchanged, just the order of operations has changed. Dr. Donald Blake witnesses the landing of a alien invaders from Saturn, finds a stick in a cave and then whacks it on a wall and turns into a beefy viking. Loki, meanwhile, was turned into a tree until he poked someone in the eye, because being poked in the eye was a cure for being turned into a tree.

Ask any doctor.

Anyway, same story happens here except Loki pokes Heimdall in the eyeball before Dr. Blake can find a stick in a cave.

And, true to his character, seconds after being untreed, Loki immediately concocts a plan to murder his brother. He’s briefly confused when all his efforts to locate Thor merely reveals a doctor with a bad leg, but decides that Odin must have created a second humbler mortal disguise for his brother in order to teach him humility and that Blake must have no idea he’s actually the God of Thunder with false memories.

All in all, pretty good guess.

Loki instead casts a spell to detect the source of Thors power, the hammer of Mjolnir, which is presently disguised as a stick in a cave. So he pops on down to Midgard* (*Earth) and tracks it down; and while none but one Worthy of Thors Power can wield Mjolnir, any shmuck with a working grabber can pick up a stick, so Loki steals it and hucks it into a forest, where A Stick is considerably harder to pick out of a lineup.

The consequence of this, of course, is that Dr. Blake can’t find an enchanted staff when he’s fleeing from aliens; so the Stone Men of Saturn catch up to him and completely smoosh him to death.

Good news is that Thor then wakes up in Valhalla where he can be unliving his best unlife by spending all his time wrasslin’ dudes and smacking monsters around. Bad News is that Odin, who has been kind of hands off, but attentive in watching his son enjoy the fake life he was leading, sees his kid getting completely murdered by rock guys and reacts as you might expect any omnipotent, inattentive father to; by first completely revenge-murdering the Stone Men of Saturn with lightning bolts, then wrangling up every willing warrior of Asgard and marching them into Nifleheim to declare war on Hela, Goddess of Death until she agrees to restore Thor to life under the rationale that she really shouldn't have any immortals in the nether world at all.

And most of Asgard agrees to this because they LIKE Thor and are unhappy he's been killed. The only hold outs are Balder and the Warriors Three, all of whom think that, well, Valhalla isn't the worst place in the universe for a guy like Thor, and declaring a war to un-kill someone sets a dangerous precedent.

Or else it's because they just doesn't feel like it; their reasoning is kind of vague.

Anyway, in Nifleheim, Odin tries to diplomatically ask Hela to resurrect his son, and when diplomacy fails, he instead uses the power of incredible violence and has his army attack her army; which works precisely as well seeing as how Hela commands literally everyone who has ever died. And even when you're going up against the Aesir, that still puts you at a pretty commanding advantage. It's not a completely one-sided war, but it does keep everyone nicely distracted.

And because everyones busy fighting the undead armies of Hell (largely off panel), that leaves Balder and the Warriors 3 in Asgard feeling vaguely uneasy about the whole thing, and Balder realizes he could probably just convince Thor to not be dead anymore, if he could just talk to him (is that how the afterlife works?). And, luckily, one of the guards of the Asgardian Palace can help him accomplish that, which Balder agrees to without stopping to consider what that guard is implying with that offer.

The guard, of course, is Loki in disguise, and he sends Balder to Thor by stabbing him in the heart with a spear covered in mistletoe.

Loki really needs a firmer definition on what "mischief" entails, because he really has some pretty severe mission creep when it comes to embodying that concept.

Now, Balder dying is, as it turns out, a MUCH bigger deal than Thor dying, even if he is a much less interesting character overall (he's had his moments over the years, but if I were to rank every Thor-adjacent character, he'd rank somewhere below Thors pet goat); as the death of Balder the Brave is the event that heralds the coming of Ragnarok; and every single monster in the entirety of Norse mythology is going to now wake up, march on Asgard to destroy it, and because all of Asgards warriors are busy fighting a pointless war to resurrect Thor, that leaves the kingdom completely undefended.

And that's even worse news than usual, as if the forces of evil get a clean win in destroying Asgard when Ragnarok begins; the normal rule of "Everyone dies but gets resurrected and the whole thing starts over again" is superseded; and the entire universe dies with Asgard. Which is not ideal for everyone.

Odin realizes that, yep, Ragnarok has begun but is too commited to battle against Hela to call the whole thing off and save the universe (I... guess?) and decides to just sit around being sad about the death of his son and his... step-son? Never really been clear if Baldur is literally Thors brother or if that was just a metaphor, and, luckily, Helas cooler head is around and makes Odin a deal;

Hela doesn't really want Ragnarok either (she's a big fan of people dying at a measured pace, but if everyone dies simultaniously, that will put an immediate stop to her power growing any farther), and will agree to resurrect Thor in interest of defending Asgard, but she'll need another equivalent soul to take his place. Plus without his hammer, he isn't going to be much good.

Luckily, that's not really an issue; Heimdall takes the Warriors Three to Earth in order to track down the stick that Mjolnir was transformed into, and find it pretty easily; despite it being one stick in the middle of a forest. This is partly because Heimdalls can see damn near everything across the universe if he wants to, and also because the forest the staff landed in was the one part of the planet that's still warm and sunny despite the Fimbulwinter freezing the planet. Also because Loki left a whole damn dragon there to defend it. It's... not subtle.

Anyway, they kill the dragon, get the stick, and Lady Sif shows up for the first time in this story in order to offer up her own life in exchange for Thors, and she hands over Mjolnir to Thor with her dying death, and Thors back, baby!

Also Baldurs back because Hela was offering a two-for-one sale.

Thor returns to Asgard and single-handedly wipes out the entire invading monster army (which mainly consists of him posing dramatically and offering a 4/10 heroic speech, and not actually fighting anything), and then goes off to give his dad the good news that he single handedly saved the universe, and Odin says "Hey, good job" and reveals that part of the deal to resurrect Thor and Baldur, besides Sifs life, was that he had to give up his eye.

Which was supposed to be a shocking last panel revelation, and it took me a few minutes to remember that, oh yeah, this story took place before Odin lost an eye.

And That's the answer to the question... What If?

Kind of like with the "What if Jane was Thor" story from a while back, a lot of this story did get writ large for a later entire Thor run. Difference being that it was a much shorter wait, as there's a good chunk of it that was reused for Walter Simonsons run not long afterward, and also there was a much bigger gap in quality between this and that run. Both stories involved hopeless wars against Helas undead army, a small group of Asgardians desperately trying to find the means to undo the Fimbulwinter during Ragnarok, and Hela being vaguely sympathetic but mainly excited at the prospect of having an Asgardians soul in her possession even at the cost of the apocalypse.

Anyway... comics over now.


Summon for hire
Loki really needs a firmer definition on what "mischief" entails, because he really has some pretty severe mission creep when it comes to embodying that concept.
I dunno, given how most mythology with dramatic pantheons tends to go, I feel like killing off a god or two actually fits in with the mischief purview well enough.


Arm Candy
Feels like it would have carried more narrative weight if Odin was the one who volunteered to take Thor's place.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Danny Fingeroth
Mark Bagley
Keith Williams

Well, as it happens, there's a solid dozen or so scattered issues of the second volume of What If on Marvel Unlimited! Which really isn't a whole heck of a lot considering how the series lasted for about a decade. But heck, I like What If in general, so why not KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON!

And I'm only partly doing that because Marvel Team-Up really isn't as fun as I thought it was going to be.

This isn’t really one of the better What Ifs overall, but it is pretty fast paced and full of great action scenes, and it plays to Mark Bagleys greatest strength; shape shifting monsters that don’t have to stay on model for very long.

Anyhow; ol' Uatu never lost a step, as he begins as he always does; recapping an extant Marvel story. Or rather several stories. AS IT HAPPENS, back in the mid 80s, Kenner realized that kids responded favorably to the words "Secret" and "Wars" when it comes to advertising toylines, and asked Marvel to do something about that. And, naturally, Marvels response was "Sure, okay!" and slapped a bunch of superheroes into an old Star Trek episode (the one where Kirk and Spock team up with Abraham Lincoln to fight Genghis Kahn and Klingon Jesus). The relevant part of that story for our purposes in this issue, is that Spider-Mans costume got demolished, and he used some alien technology to give himself a new one; which turned out to be a Klyntar symbiote that wound up parasitizing him. Pete found that out, said "Oh... nah" and had the symbiote removed, where it eventually stuck itself on to another guy who became Venom and that was a whole other thing.

But who likes to visit a doctor just because they're feeling a little worn out and ragged? Nobody that's who! And Peter Parker is no exception!

Pete kind of overlooks the fact that he's uncommonly exhausted lately, unaware that the Symbiote was hijacking his body and parading it around town, feeding on his adrenaline, until his (then) girlfriend The Black Cat points out that he was on an alien planet recently and she'd rather be *real sure* he didn't get a space-germ before they do any more smoochin'. Which Pete accepts is a pretty solid idea, all told, and he heads of to get some medical advice from the second best mad scientist he knows; Curt Connors; who gives him an MRI and a clean bill of health.

Now, Curt is a guy who keeps turning into a giant crocodile man because of a deep misunderstanding of what a proper medical test should entail so, naturally, his go-ahead to not worry doesn't actually mean squat, and it's a few more days worth of being just absolutely wiped before Spidey thinks to go to the actual best scientist he knows for a second opinion; Reed Richards. And Reed gives him some good news and bad news; the good news is that Spider-Man doesn't have any germs making him uncommonly exhausted. The bad news is that he has an alien parasite that's completely bonded to his body and is sucking him dry of all nutrients.

This issue never refers to the Symbiote as Venom (except in Uatus recap), but I will for simplicity sake. Also, Uatus narration boxes leave it ambiguous whether it was an unexpected reaction to Dr. Connors' MRI that sped up Venoms bonding process, or the fact that Pete waited a few more days before going to Reed, but either way, the outcome is the same; Venom is too deeply integrated into Peters body to be separated without killing him, and now that the secret is out, Venom doesn't have to lay low any more; and it hijacks Peters body entirely, exploiting the fact that Reed really would rather not kill the guy who came to him for help, and also transforming Spidey into a slightly more monstrous form; kind of a mid point between his usual Black Costume and Venom itself, before disappearing.

So a few days pass, and a few Spider-Man stories happen off panel with predictably worse results, (which doesn't affect this story any) and also a few Avengers stories happen off panel; (which does). Seems that around this time there was a whole brouhaha with the Hulk getting up to some typical Hulk mischief, and the Avengers finally deciding to give him a proper send-off by having Dr. Strange blast him into the Crossroad Dimension, where he'd... not be their problem any more, I guess. A plan which worked... well-ish in the 616.


Venom appears, after everyone spent several fruitless days searching for him, Reed believing he had a way to separate him from Peter, and Venom not really being willing to let him try; and he tags in just before the Avengers and Dr. Strange can get rid of the hulk; ejecting Peters desiccated husk and instead bonding to Hulk. Venoms spent so long sucking so much out of Peter that his body is a complete wreck (physically he's well into his 80s) which empowered the Symbiote enough to allow it to take over Hulks body easily.

The situation has now escalated from Bad to Worse, as, thanks to Venoms influence, Hulk can now do whatever a Spider-can as well as whatever a Hulk can, and since Venom empowers itself with whatever it's presently absorbing, that means it has Hulks natural durability on top of everything else it can do; effectively eliminated its previous weaknesses to fire and loud noises. The combined Avengers and Fantastic Four attempt to subdue Venom/Hulk, but can't even slow it down, and it flees the city to finish devouring Hulks body.

The good news is that while he's in extremely rough shape, Peter isn't actually dead. I mean, he will be shortly, but he has enough gas left in his tank to at least help Reed Richards in developing a weapon capable of destroying Venom, even with Hulks power bolstering it and give a a weird final farewell to Aunt May (explaining that he is a reporter at the Bugle who worked with Peter and kind of side-stepping around the idea that he died, but implying it strongly.)

And then the narration text says he dies of old age, but the panel layout looks more like he was the victim of a violent home invasion. But the iportant bit is that he finished the blueprints on a laser-gun capable of destroying a gamma-powered Klyntar parasite. The timing of which worked out great, as Hulks been spotted outside Mt. Rushmore, as envenomated as ever, and the Avengers and FF head off to avenge Spider-Man’s death and stop Venom from getting any worse of a threat.

And it’s a task they kind of suck at; they couldn’t stop either Venom or Hulk separately before and now that they’re merged together, they’re more than the sum of the parts. Venom Hulk blows through the combined teams like they weren’t even there on his way to his real target; the only Avenger that could rival Hulk in terms of raw power; Thor.

Venom also ejects Banners body, now completely devoid of any Gamma radiation (he wasn’t turned into a very very old man, so that’s a win for him) and the combination of rage powered gamma strength and doing whatever spiders can is enough to let Venom hijack Thors body as well, albeit not as quickly or readily as it could Spider-Man and Hulk; meaning it’s still technically possible to separate the two of them before Venom fully absorbs Thor; all they have to do is beat a Spider-Man/Hulk/Thor hybrid in a fist fight.

So they have a fight, and Venom Wins (Venom Man), when Reed remembers that the Symbiote reacted badly to loud noises when it was attached to Peter, and while it got much stronger since then, that just means that a proportionately louder noise should still work, and as it so happens he’s got the Loudest Guy in Town on his speed-dial; and he asks for help form Blackbolt, King of the Inhumans to come on over and yell at Venom.

A full throated yell from Blackbolt can rupture dimensions and be heard through the vacuum of space, so he’s easily able to give Venom some pretty severe tinnitus (and also completely disintegrating Mt. Rushmore, so two benefits), and the weakened Symbiote is blown clear off Thors body before he could be fully absorbed.

Reed is prepared to let Venom go, offering to have Dr. Strange send it off to the Crossroads Dimension, as he was prepared to do to the Hulk; figuring that Venom wasn’t actually evil, it was just trying to survive…

And then Black Cat appears out of nowhere wielding the anti-Venom cannon Peter designed earlier, and blows Venom straight to Hell, saying that whether or not it was just trying to survive Venom is a goo monster that eats people and showed no intentions of ever stopping and also murdered her boyfriend, so screw that guy.

And Uatu also explains that Black Cat also stole the anti-Venom gun blueprints from Peters deathbed, and went to the Kingpin to use his resources to build one of his own, in exchange for offering her services to his criminal empire for the rest of her life. Just because, you know, the death of Spider-Man and Hulk weren’t enough to establish this as one of the Bad Timelines.

Provisionally, yes. Setting aside a recent What If story that took this same premise and spread it out over five issues (Spiders Shadow, it’s a good ‘un), there have been plenty of stories over the years where a Symbiote (usually Carnage) attempts to absorb another superhero to gain their abilities. Generally doesn’t work great for them, all told but a good idea is worth trying twice. Also, the recent King in Black crossover had Symbiote possessing a number of heroes as part of the central threat, and Thors corrupted form in this had a similar design to that stories main villain, Knull.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Roy Thomas
Rich Buckler
Sam De Larosa

Got a story that is kinda weird with 30 years of hindsight this issue.

Anyhow, as Uatu tells us (and gets repeated later), back when the X-Men was relaunched, following a good few years of almost-not-quite-cancellation it was to introduce an all new, all different X-Men team hastily assembled to rescue the previous X-Men team after they'd been captured (and partially eaten) by the gigantic monster known as KRAKOA: THE ISLAND THAT WALKS LIKE A MAN!

This was decades before anyone thought to talk to Krakoa and realize it was a pretty cool dude.

Anyway, most of that story still happens, but with one pretty significant change; in the original story, the combined X-Men teams managed to barely escape Krakoa, after using their combined powers to shoot the whole stinkin' island into outer-space, in this one... they do not, and are blown into outer space with them; where they die because it's very difficult to survive in outer space when you're bare-back riding a big guy made of plants. And because Professor X was in psychic connection with the team, directing them, during that fight, he got to experience all 13 X-Men die, first hand.

So... yeah... that's a bad day for him, psychologically.

AND SO, we naturally flip immediately to Scotland, some time later, where Moira Mactaggart, having picked up a fleeing orphan waif Rahne Sinclair, and she returns home to find a message from her old college professor/lover (it’s vague on the timeframe here, so it may not be as sketchy as that sounds), Charles Xavier, looking to reconnect with her.

She takes Rahne with her, after bribing the priest in charge of the orphanage, implying that the priest is very greedy and that’s why he’s a terrible person; as opposed to because the priest is a complete monster, and Rahne would eventually wind up killing and eating him after enduring a lifetime of physical and emotional trauma at his hands.

Anyway, they head to Westchester, and the Xavier Mansion in Westchester County, where they find a suicidally depressed Professor X, moping around the mansion, and a less depressed, but still very sad Hank McCoy, who explains to Moira that it was he who called Moira over from Scotland hoping to get Xavier the help he needs to not be a danger to himself. He also explains that Mutants are a Real Thing That Actually Exist, Professor X is one, and he was the leader of a whole team of mutant heroes called The X-Men.

All of which comes as a real surprise to Moira, which would be a plot-hole if this weren’t a What If (Moira and Charles were co-workers on Mutant Research back in college, decades before the whole Powers of X thing).

Hank also explains the thing that Uatu said right from the jump of the issue about the whole “two teams of X-Men died and Charles was maintaining a psychic rapport with them all” thing, and the two of them start brainstorming ways to get him to accept some psychiatric help…

…for about ten seconds, before every TV in the Mansion is hijacked by the face of this issues special guest villain; the Mobster-Dracula Count Nefaria!

Nefaria has, as he did in the 616 shortly after the formation of the All New All Different team, hijacked the NORAD central command in the Cheyenne mountains, and taken control of the DOOMSMITH system, giving him full control of the US nuclear arsenal, and letting him hold the entire world hostage. Also, he’s got a bunch of animal-men on his payroll now. That’s… honestly less impressive than the fact that he’s a Dracula who is also the head of the mafia. Kind of feels like a hat on a hat at that point.

Anyway, Chuck is way too sad to care if the Earth dies in nuclear fire, but Hank and Moira are less eager to die, so Hank takes advantage of Charles’ extreme apathy and takes control of the Cerebro Computer that let the professor search for mutants, and uses it to assemble a third X-Men team, seeing as how the Avengers and Fantastic Four are all off-planet so they aren’t likely to hop over to beat up on Count Nefaria and his ani-men.

Incidentally, can Hank use Cerebro? I thought telepathy was a pre-requisite for even turning it on. Regardless, the new X-Men team is, in fact, a pretty solid one. Way better gender balance than I’d come to expect from Roy Thomas, too;

Scarlet Witch reality warping super-sorceress
Quicksilver very fast jackass
Siren the daughter (niece?) of the dead-in-this-continuity Banshee; she can scream so loud that it makes her fly
Namorita the Sub-mariners cousin, same powers as him but she talks like an old mans idea of what a teen girl talks like.
Warpath the brother of the dead-in-every-continuity Thunderbird, he’s strong and also hates Professor X

And also Rahne, who Hank didn’t realize was a mutant, but she was standing right beside Cerebro, so it was hard for the computer to not notice her, regardless of whether her powers manifested yet.

Anyway, Hank gets the new X-Men team up to speed real quickly, and teleports the team to the Cheyenne Mountain base because… umm… Cerebro was able to study Nightcrawlers teleportation powers before he died and can therefor replicate it (Cerebro definitely can’t do that).

So the team sneaks into the base, and then gets into a fight with the counts Ani-Men and… it lasts a long while; about a third of this comic is a C+ superhero fight. Eventually, the X-Men wind up losing as one of the Ani-Men is a dragonfly lady and, as we all know, dragonflies can hypnotize people, and she does just that and keeps the team sedated.

Luckily, this is around the time when Professor X realizes that Hank assembled a new X-Men team without his permission, and also blew up Cerebro using it like a teleporter, and the thrill of getting back into Superhero Work Has relit the fire in him, and he’s right back to taking psychic control of the battlefield. He takes over Rahnes mind and uses his telepathy to fast-track her mutant gene, activating it; which, as it turns out, is that she’s a werewolf.

Rahne jumps into the battle, distracting the dragonfly ladies hypnotic hold, and also wrecking the missile control system for the base; completely removing Nefarias threat. The X-Men and Ani-men fight again, and the X-Men win (X-Men man), and Count Nefaria tries to flee in a jet plane he stole… but he fails because Siren can fly and has sonic screams, and can shoot down his plane real easily with Warpaths help.

Anyway, the day is saved, Warpath realizes that his brother volunteered to go rescue the other X-Men team so he shouldn’t blame the Professor for his death, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are already on other teams, so they can’t stay on the X-Men, but… you know… they’ll help if they need to, and everyone else agrees to stick with the team because, as Uatu notes; there must always be an X-Men. or X-Factor. Or Excalibur, or X-Force… or…

Well, you get it.

BUT DID IT HAPPEN; well, setting aside the fact that I’m pretty sure member of both the original and All New X-Men teams died at least once after the fact, it was eventually revealed that that particular team was just the only X-Men team that succeeded in defeating Krakoa and rescuing the OG team, and the Professor was just consigning dozens of X-Men to their deaths trying to succeed in a corpse-run. Otherwise, most of this story DID happen in continuity immediately after that teams as assembled, with the only real difference being that in the main continuity it was Banshee and Thunderbird who attempted to bring down Nefarias plane, and Thunderbird died in the effort.


(Fem or Gender Neutral)
BUT DID IT HAPPEN; well, setting aside the fact that I’m pretty sure member of both the original and All New X-Men teams died at least once after the fact
I think only Iceman and Storm are the only ones who haven't, and maybe Polaris. Iceman is kind immortal in his ice form and has been shattered but reformed himself by having Havok pee on him (Chuck Austen, man. Not even once.)

Storm has been de-powered, de-aged, and divorced, but not deceased, even in the new era yet.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Didn’t Storm very briefly due, and then reincarnate as a space whale, then back to her regular body in the Brood arc?
Incidentally, can Hank use Cerebro? I thought telepathy was a pre-requisite for even turning it on.

whether or not non-telepaths can use cerebro is inconsistent

i'd have to double check, but i think that requiring telepathy is the (inconsistently applied) retcon here, and it became more dominant relatively recently (because the first set of movies and the cartoon did it that way)

there are definitely scenes in the original five run where cyclops is using it as the team leader, etc.

Didn’t Storm very briefly due, and then reincarnate as a space whale, then back to her regular body in the Brood arc

yes lol

it was one of those dead and back again in one issue things though, so some might consider it a grey area

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Also on that memorial on the cover, there’s only twelve faces, but 13 dead X-Men. And I can’t place the guy in the center between Havoc, Iceman and Sunfire. Unless it’s supposed to be Angel, but he had a costume that left his head uncovered at the time…

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Richard Howell
Marie Severin

Y'know, there have been some What ifs that take some pretty mild swerves from canon, and there have been some which took some big swerves.

This one needs to be arrested for a DUI.

Okay, so... okay... if you ask anyone *today* what long-time Spider-Man villain Kraven the Hunters greatest claim to fame was, it would be for being Squirrel Girls buddy, and driving around in a custom Kra-van. But prior to that, the only Kraven-related story anyone ever gave a toot about was Kravens Last Hunt; a story in which Sergei Kravinoff finally succeeded in defeating Spider-Man, then he put on Spider-Mans clothes and tried to one-up him by apprehending a D-list villain Spidey himself was having a hard time with at the time (I want to say... Sin-Eater? Maybe Vermin?). Then he did and said "Well now I've done everything" and promptly killed himself.

He... umm... he got better. Then he did all of that again in a Nick Spencer story that went on way too long, and got replaced by his clone-son who I think most writers forget isn't actually the same person.

ANYWAY, that whole malarkey is definitely the thing Uatu remembers most about Kraven, but sometimes he just wants to know... What if Kraven Just Shot Spider-Man instead?

So that's this story; opening up with Kraven just up and putting two bullets right in Spider-Mans brain-box. A tactic which proves itself to be incredible effective, and it's a wonder why more villains don't just shoot their heroes instead of leaving them imprisoned. Then he jumps in the air and clicks his heels together in glee as he wanders away from the shallow grave he leaves Spideys corpse in.

He also celebrates his final victory over his only rival the way anyone would;


Stripping naked and sitting in a big bathtub full of spiders, which he starts eating like skittles, then puts on a dead guys clothes and starts mis-quoting William Blake, and then vows to be a superior Spider-Man by... beating the friggin' hell out of every criminal he sees.

Personally, I just buy myself a little toy when I'm proud of myself for accomplishing something, but you do you, Sergei Kravinoff.

Anyway, right around this time, and noticing that Spider-Man hasn't been around in a few days, is his recent wife (and new widow), Mary Jane Watson. But she, of course, isn't the stay-at home kind of romantic interest for a superhero, and she decides to head into town to see if she can't figure out what happened to her husband; being reasonably sure he's been badly hurt fighting a member of his rogues gallery and needs help.

She isn't completely wrong, to be fair.

Luckily, it doens't take her long to find Spider-Man, or at least Kraven wearing Spider-Mans clothes, but she realizes he isn't Peter Parker; partly because this Spider-Man is absolutely *destroying* some people with an excess of force, and doesn't recognize her when he sees her.

Furthermore, he's presumably speaking in a thick Russian accent and is constantly screaming things like "I HAVE DEVOURED THE SPIDER!" and "ALL ARE BENEATH ME AS I RISE FROM HELL TO PROVE MY SUPERIORITY TO THE SPIDER I HAVE DEVOURED!", and he’s also constantly threatening to eat the criminals he’s apprehended alive.

Weirdly, *nobody* thinks those last few points are worthy of comment in this story.

Anyway, seeing a guy in her husbands costume who is killing and eating people is enough to make MJ think that maybe, just maybe Peter is in trouble, so she immediately heads to the highest profile name in Petes address book; Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four; who agrees that, yes, Spider-Man doesn’t generally beat people so severely they die of their injuries (or speak with a Russian accent or scream death metal lyrics about eating people, but, again, nobody thinks that’s unusual), and he decides to get on the horn with the highest profile superheroHE knows and who knows Spider-Man; Captain America.

And also Daredevil gets involved somehow, and I think he just overheard a phone conversation from several builds over and… guys, I don’t think his hearing is *that* good.

Anyway, the three agree to search the city for Spider-Man, after MJ reveals that he and Peter Parker are one and the same (she doesn’t really want to tell Daredevil or Johnny on general principle, but Cap vouches for them, and if you can’t trust Steve Rogers, you really have to reevaluate your life). And meanwhile, J. Jonah Jameson catches wind that Spider-Man has apparently lost his entire god damned mind and is running around the city beating people to death and screaming misquoted William Blake poems at people and gets on TV to say “See? Told ya so!!”

Anyway, the three heroes do ultimately find Kraven, individually, and also come to the realization that MJ is right; he isn’t the real Spider-Man because Kraven doesn’t know what Johnny is talking about when he suggests meeting at “their usual spot”, Daredevil because Kraven heartbeat is much stronger and a different tempo than usual, and Cap because Spider-Man threw some pedestrians at him with the intent to kill like he was in a friggin’ Mortal Kombat stage.

Also, and I can not stress this enough, *nobody notices that he’s a gigantic Russian man now, who is screaming about murdering and eating people, and claims to have killed and eaten Spider-Man*

There is a clue in his behaviour, guys!

Anyway, Kraven escapes all three of these encounters and resumes just beating the holy hell out of people until they consequently die form it, up until the point where a wholly unrelated Spider-Man comic interrupts this one, as New York is also being terrorized by the least recognized animal-themed Spider-Man villain, Vermin!

Vermin is a rat-guy.

There, you now know everything there is to know about Vermin. Do with this knowledge that which you may.

Anyway, vermin attacks Jameson when he’s out waiting for a cab one night, then Kraven finds Vermin and attacks *him* (injuring Jameson In the process, but out of neglect rather than intent) and this whole fracas catches Cap, Johnny and Daredevils attention, and they join in the fight too; to protect Jameson, apprehend Kraven and… well, they only show up after Kraven has successfully beaten Vermin all the way to death, so… not much to do there.

Daredevil leaves to get Jameson to the hospital so he doesn’t also die from his injuries (which aren’t severe, or even moderate, but Jameson isn’t someone known for understating things) and the other heroes chase Kraven to the graveyard where he buried Peters body. Kraven assumes that if eating a bathtub full of spiders made him enough like Spider-Man to serve as an avatar of Spider-power upon the streets of New York, then digging up and eating Peters actual corpse would get him over the last hurdle needed to defeat two A-list superheroes at the same time.

For the record, it does not.

Cap and Torch reach Kraven just as he’s shoving handfuls of Peter Parkers corpse into his mouth and react… as well as you might expect from someone seeing that (knocking Kraven the hell out and sending him off to an asylum for the criminally insane, where the warden said “Oh, yeah… no trial, definitely put this guy in here” and decide to have a less… umm… cannibal-obliging burial service for their friend.

And we’re still only two thirds of the way through the issue, which *really* caught me off guard.

It seems that Kraven spending the last few months dressed in Spider-Man’s costume, beating people to death and yelling death metal poetry at people has *really* done a number on Spideys street cred, and now nobody wants to acknowledge, let alone eulogize him (Aunt May, in fact, demands to never see Mary Jane again when she insists that her nephew was Spider-Man at the funeral), so they hold a press conference to explain to the world that Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker, Kraven the Hunter put on Spider-Man’s costume after murdering him, and lost his entire god damn mind, and also Spider-Man spent years protecting the people of New York (and sometimes the entire planet) from the forces of evil so MAYBE give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t suddenly turn Russian and also incredibly violent.

Then Jameson crashes the press conference and says “No, he’s a MENACE, I wrote many editorials about that! I was not vague in my suppositions!“

And, as it turns out, Johnny Storm I MUCH less patient than Peter ever was and immediately decks JJJ for that.

Which… was caught on film as a celebrity superhero punching an old man with a broken leg on live TV, which turned the entire country against Superheroes as a concept; the government forces the Avengers and Fantastic Four to disband because of the threat they obviously present to the public and a still grieving Mary Jane stands over Peters grave and vows to dedicate her life to bridging the gap of peace between regular person and superhero.

Which Uatu closes out the issue by saying this makes her a MUCH bigger celebrity than if she stuck with the acting career, and also says he won’t judge whether or not that’s a trade-up FOR HE CAN DO NAUGHT BUT WATCH!

Weirdly enough, yes. Just not with Kraven. The Superior Spider-Man arc from the middle of Dan Slotts run on the character (and which cast a long enough shadow that it’s still felt today) involved Dr. Octopus mind-swapping and then killing Spider-Man, and then vowing to be a Superior Spider-Man by adding his own particular brand to Spideys traditional one (in that case it was a lot of high tech bases, commandeering TV signals and henchmen instead of screaming about hunting and punching people until their heads were turned into goo). Furthermore, the more recent (and pretty lousy) Hunted arc had Kraven, once again knock Spidey out and put on his clothes, but then he got into a fight with his clone-son and was correspondingly killed AS Spider-Man so… y’know… kinda fits.

If Kraven has a bathtub full of spiders he grazes on like a bowl of M&Ms, it never came up in any of the comics I’ve read.


(Fem or Gender Neutral)
Wow, that's like 90% of Kraven's Last Hunt, just with more cannibalism.

Read KLH if you can by the way, it's a really good story that should be read.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Kurt Busiek
Rodney Ramos

Okay, unsurprisingly for a book written by Kurt Busiek (and indeed, one of the earliest stories of his I’ve read), this is a real fun issue. And also the art is incredible. This is honestly one of my favorite What ifs I’ve read so far.

As Uatu helpfully reminds us in the intro, a few years earlier X-Men was saved from cancellation when a new, WAY more popular relaunch swapped out the existing team with a brand new, completely inexperienced, and much more diverse, international team When the original X-Men were captured and seemingly killed by the sentient island monster Krakoa (who later turned out to be a nice guy).

WELL… what if the Original X-Men weren’t having an off day when they travelled to Krakoa, and they successfully beat the crap out of that big ol’ vegetable man?

That’s what Uatu wanted to know, so that’s what he showed us!

Well, first and foremost, the actual All new All Different team basically doesn’t show up in this time-line (most of them get mentioned, at least), and flush with their victory over Krakoa and the fact that this team is pretty much old-hat at saving the day compared to their replacements, they manage to have a WAY better success rate against the forces of evil than they do in the 616.

The first real alteration is the lead-up to the original (nice) Phoenix Saga; in the original timeline an agent of the alien Shi’ar Empire known as Eric the Red hypnotized the former X-Men Havok and Polaris showed up and attacked the X-Men in order to keep them from helping the exiled empress Lilandra who had been trying to contact Professor Xavier.

Which was pretty weird, since “Eric the Red” was a false identity that Cyclops made in order to spy on… some evil group or another (I want to say Factor 3, but I don’t recall) and why there’s a Shi’ar agent with the same name and costume is never explained.

Anyway, in this timeline, Havok and Polaris are on the team, so instead Eric recruits Nightcrawler and Thunderbird to try to stop the X-Men from getting involved with this storyline. And, once again, the main X-Men team beats them real easy, though Nightcrawler escapes and vows revenge. He’ll be popping up throughout this issue, continuously swearing revenge.

Also Beast rejoins the team, good for him.

Shortly thereafter, and at the actual start of the Phoenix saga, the X-Men get attacked by Sentinels, and beat them (the narration is kind of dismissive of the danger these Sentinels pose to the OG X-Men team. Where this original story ended with Jean choosing to sacrifice herself by being exposed to a massive solar flare while trying to guide an escape shuttle back to earth from the Sentinels orbital base; in this timeline it’s not really an issue since they have a lady who has total control over Magnetism on the team, so she can easily guide the ship to safety.

Lorna trying to point out that everyone being dedicated to sacrificing themselves is priceless;


Anyway, no Phoenix in this timeline. All in all; no big loss.

A few more story arcs proceed basically the same as we‘re used to (Wolverine is mentioned as being the leader of Alpha Flight, and kind of freaks out Cyclops with his intensity), up to the point where Lilandra arrives on Earth, finally, and recruits the X-Men to help her overthrow her brother D’Ken, who has lost his mind and is trying to annihilate the universe using a force known as “The End of All That Is”.

Not a lot of long-term benefits to this plan, but that’s being a Mad Emperor for ya.

In the main timeline, the X-Men manage to pull this off by tracking the cracked M’Kraan Crystal, which seals away the aforesaid End of All That Is, and then Phoenix leeched some of the life energy from each of the X-Men in order to repair it again. Here, no Phoenix, so instead the X-Men get a bit creative; and combine their powers to turn Cyclops’ optic beams into a cosmic-powered welding torch to reveal the M’Kraan crystal and save the universe from the power contained within.

Good job team!

Anyway, more X-Men stories happen with generally better endings up to the point where the *Dark* Phoenix Saga kicks off; as in the 616, this begins with the affluent, and completely amoral gentleman’s club The Hellfire Club trying to psychically convince Jean Grey to turn evil/horny/kinky. Unlike in the 616, she tells her friends and loved ones that she’s pretty sure someone is trying to hypnotize her into being evil and kinky, rather than just letting it come as a surprise, and thanks to Professor X offering some blunt-force therapy, reinforces her mind enough that the plan didn’t work. The X-Men go off to confront the Hellfire club afterward, realizing they were behind a number of other storylines that get glossed over as well as the whole Turn Jean into an Evil BDSM Enthusiast; but the fight ends before it can begin because the X-Men get transported on to Lilandras flagship before one punch can be thrown.

Turns out the Shi’ar had been busy since the team saved them from D’Kens universe-threatening temper tantrum, and discovered the habitat of their destroyer-god, a giant flaming bird they call The Chaos Bringer. And, also discovered that it’s about to wake up and commence destroying planets. And furthermore, it turns out that it’s spent the last few millenia sleeping in the middle of the sun. So; good news bad news; they’re going to have to destroy the Earths sun, but GOOD news; because of the X-Mens help in overthrowing her brother, Lilandra approved a plan to have the Earth fully evacuated before they do it.

Cyclops still doesn’t think this is a *great* plan, and asks for enough time to find a less solar-system destruction reliant plan for dealing with the Chaos Bringer (especially since, at best, blowing up the sun would just put it back to sleep rather than killing it; Gods are notoriously hard to murder). And they ultimately learn that in its true form the Chaos Bringer is unstoppable, but it can be convinced to possess people and, when so possessed, they could convince it to just leave without blowing up any planets. Or kill the host body in order to force it back into dormancy, you know, whichever is easier.

Cyclops is fully prepared to sacrifice himself to the Chaos Bringer in order to give it a mortal body, but at the last minute gets knocked out by Nightcrawler. Turns out that in lurking in the shadows for several years watching the X-Men when they least suspect it, looking for a moments weakness for an opportunity for revenge really just showed him… all the times they risked their lives to save the planet; and he realizes that the world needs the X-Men in it FAR more than it needs a revenge obsessed German acrobat, especially one who doesn’t want to pursue revenge anymore.

So Nightcrawler dies, but in so doing, saves the galaxy from the threat of the Chaos Bringer, and the X-Men salute Nightcrawler as a hero for never actually doing anything to antagonize them, then dying.

And Uatu pops up to say “Yeah, this timeline is WAY better than the 616. Too bad for the entire Mutant Race that this isn’t the canon one, eh? Oh well!”

A few bits of this story did crop up in more recent days; much of the Krakoan era of the X-Book is built around the idea that Mutants can combine their powers in ways to pull off new, and vastly more impressive feats, like Cyclops repairing the M’Kraan crystal by combining the entire X-teams powers, and the back half of the Avengers vs. X-Men story arc involved Cyclops getting possessed by the Dark Phoenix, all though in that case he was looking to wield the Phoenixes power himself rather than sacrifice himself to destroy it.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Hey! Marvel Unlimited started adding issues of volume 2 of What If! At the moment, over a third of the series is up and that means…


Where we learn that bald is beautiful, and that Roy Thomas isn’t *just* obsessed with Gold and Silver age comics; he likes old timey transhumanist sci-fi as well!

And, you know, given the whole remit of What If Is to show alternate endings to Marvel stories, you’d think they’d have chosen a better known one to bring the series back with. Roy is even weirdly cagey with detailing the events of the way Evolutionary War was *supposed* to go, and it really wasn’t the best known Avengers storyline. Though I guess it was more timely when this was originally published. Doesn’t excuse how *weird* this one gets, however.

Anyway, as I infer form the original story; The High Evolutionary (Herbert Wyndham, a scientist who figured out how to fast-track evolution and decided that letting that process happen naturally was for *SUCKERS*) built a bomb that would super-evolve all life on Earth, and this inspired the Avengers to go beat him up a bit since ol’ Herb doesn’t have the steadiest needle on his moral compass. And they eventually succeeded and also blew up his Scuba Base too, for good measure.

Well, we all have our off days, and in this timeline, they still blew up the Scuba Base, but kind of borked it up and it released the Genetic Bombs payload instead of destroying it harmlessly. Also, The Evolutionary killed Hercules, which they mention happened, but nobody seems to be too upset by.

The Gene Bombs fallout spreads across the entire planet within moments dousing every single human being with transformative radiation, and you’d think this would give everyone random super powers, as it’s the same set-up as the Wild Cards novels (which were published around the same time) or turn everyone into animal people, since that’s the Evolutionaries whole deal anyway, but NOPE. Everyone just gets gigantic Elmer Fudd heads. Except for the people who already had super powers, they just get stronger versions of their super powers. Plus also telepathy. But some of them get a Lot More Telepathy.

This is first shown with Wolverine who just gets larger claws, and that I took for an artist error at first since it’s not exactly a super obvious change.

This leads to a split between the newly augmented, Elmer Fuddy humans, and the super powered beings, who now also all glow gold and are being referred to as The Godlike Ones, who all elect to make Wolverine their leader and spokesperson.

Because nothing embodies the idea of a “Godlike power” like having impractically large claws sticking out of your arms.

Again, you might think this would imply some kind of conflict as the newly evolved humans, possessing vast mental powers and a hive-mind competing against the smaller number of differently powered heroes and villains, but, again, NOPE. Everyone is fine with this situation and the Godlike ones turn into a giant comet and fly into space and leave the Fudded up humanity behind to evolve on their own.

The Godly ones travel across the universe and are either joined by, or blow up, all the other cosmic beings like the Kree and Skrull empires, Galactus, and eventually, Death and Eternity themselves, merging all the raw forces of the universes into a single entity called… umm… The Entity. Who, to be fair, looks kind of kickass, Eternity except with a skull instead of a human face mask.

While on Earth, the Evolutionary says “Oh, sick, this is… like… the best case scenario for what I was trying to do here! I’m really happy with this outcome!” And Thor, who, not being a human, was unaffected by the Gene Bomb says “You sounds like that nazi, Hitler!” And then heck’s off to Asgard and out of this story.

I don’t really know why he Godwinned the Evolutionary except to perhaps remind the reader that this is normally a bad guy.

Meanwhile, the post-humans all become even Fuddier eventually evolving to the point that they look like, and wield similar cosmic powers, to the Watchers themselves. Which, *AGAIN* You would think would would be where the plot was going, or at least be acknowledged. But again, NOPE, they just merge their consciousnesses with the planet Earth itself so now the planet is sentient; a plot point that does not affect anything.

At the far end of space, The Entity says “Okay… kind of… nothing left to do in this Universe anymore, I guess?” And strolls out of reality to try to make a new universe, and the High Evolutionary, the only being left in the universe, says “Hey… I’m KIND OF your dad… so... Some acknowledgement would be nice?” And the Entity says “Nah man… you’re so far beneath me it’s ridiculous”, which kind of doubly sucks for him since without Eternity or Death in the universe anymore, he really can’t do anything but stand around in complete stasis until time starts again.

And we end on Uatu saying “Well… I… don’t know if this is better or worse than the usual universe? Whatever…”

Broadly, yes. Al Ewings more recent X-books (and a fair few of John Hickmans storylines) have been predicated on most of the greater powers of the universe getting a bit over concerned over humanity getting into their face and overthrowing a few too many galactic power-bases and uniting to put us back in our place. The First Firmament, the big bad of Al Ewings Ultimates, was Eternity with a sick-ass skull head, like The Entity was here, and also both the Inhumanity storyline and the Earth X miniseries were kicked off by a explosion of a mutative compound across the entire planet (though in the former case, it only affected people with a dormant Inhuman gene).

Feels like he should have done that before now, honestly.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

We’ve got some unexpected characterization, some friggin’ gorgeous Greg Capello art, and Daredevil doing what he does best (regretting every decision he makes) in… What If Daredevil Killed The Kingpin

This is spun out from Frank Millers Born Again storyline, which the book is real excited to point out since that was arguably the high point of both DD as a character, and Frank Millers career as a writer. In that story, Wilson Fisk learns DDs secret identity and makes the most of that by using his vast criminal resources to systematically ruin his life, culminating with a badly psychologically frayed Matt Murdock getting beaten practically to death by Fisk and left for dead. He gets better.

But the Watcher just can’t help but run hypotheticals so what if Daredevil brought a gun to a fistfight instead, and just up and shoots Kingpin in the face instead?

Let’s find out, eh?

Firstly, as noted, Matt just on the brink of a complete mental breakdown by this point and the thing holding his sanity together doesn’t have enough material to be called a thread; and the act of murder is the last straw and he has completely lost his grip on reality and is now entirely consumed by Matt’s primary love in life; being really really guilty and demanding to be punished for all his terrible decisions. This is problem number 1. Problem number 2, and certainly the one that more people are concerned with, is that for all the evil his vast criminal empire has done, he managed to keep a pretty tight leash on General Criminality in the city, and with Fisk dead it takes twenty minutes for the city to erupt into a full scale gang war.

The police are so overtaxed trying to keep innocent people away from retaliatory hit squads and territory disputes they straight up don’t notice Matt Murdock coming in and begging to be punished for the murder he commuted. But, to be fair to the NYPD, he didn’t actually do that; Matt’s completely lost his grip on reality and is confessing all his sins to a wino in the drunk tank that Matt’s hallucinated is a judge.


For what it’s worth, Matt’s hallucinatory judge does let him go free because there’s no punishment in the legal system that can match up to Matt’s heightened sense of Catholic Guilt. Matt disagrees and insists he be executed.

Meanwhile, across town, the only other person who cares that Wilson Fisk the man died, as opposed to the Kingpin of Crimes empire has fallen, Wilson’s son, Richard Fisk; The Rose finds out that his dad was murdered by Matt Murdock and has no idea what to do with this information.

Rose was a rival crime lord who was obsessed with ruining his fathers reputation but it was still his dad, and he doesn’t appreciate that someone killed him. But also someone should have killed him and it should have been Richard to do it, even if he wouldn’t because, you know, familial bonds and all.


I’ve only read more recent comics with The Rose in it, where he’s depicted as being much worse than Kingpin owing to his completely psychopathic approach to extreme violence, especially where his father is concerned, so this threw me for a loop. Maybe the real difference in this What If is that Richard and Wilson had a much healthier relationship?

Anyway, The Rose just wants to do just one little tiny revenge killing on Matt and then get out of the crime game all together since it’s not as much fun if he isn’t doing it to hassle his dad, and he cuts ties with his top lieutenant, the Hobgoblin.

Matt, meanwhile, is losing more and more of his mind, viewing patrolling cops first as the Kingpins henchmen out for revenge and also as demons who have come to celebrate him for his great acts of evil, and as he desperately flees from… two guys who are just standing around ignoring him he runs into The Punisher!

Really hard to tell at this point what of what Matt is seeing is real and what’s a hallucination, but this appears to be the real guy, although much friendlier and more easy going than usual; and he congratulated Matt for killing Fisk (something he’s been wanting to do for a while, wasn’t ever able to make it work though) and also for bringing basically every criminal in New York out of hiding since that makes his job way easier.

Matt begs the Punisher to put a bullet in his head because executing criminals is his entire deal, and Frank realizes that Daredevil has completely lost his mind and he needs the kind of help Frank can’t provide to process his trauma and guilt (ya think, Frank?!?).

Matt rationalizes this as being that his sins are so great that even the Publnisher can’t punish him, so he heads off to the one person who has the proper authority to; Richard Fisk.

This is pretty surprising to Richard who was just heading out to track down and kill Matt, but hey… why not doordash your murder victims?

Richard, again, is weirdly reluctant to kill anyone, even if he has justification and the guy is, quite literally, asking for it and it’s a pretty tense stand-off… until a Supervillainy crashes through the window and a big fight breaks out.

In this case it’s Hobgoblin, who has reacted badly to being fired and joined a rival gang and has to prove his loyalty by killing his former employer. And Matt can’t have that; Richard has to kill him!

In the struggle Matt inadvertently triggers one of Hobgoblins bombs while it was still on him and it explodes killing them both. And Richard decides to honor the good man who killed his horrible father, and an assassin who tried to kill him, and also himself (albeit by accident) by becoming a new Daredevil instead of a new Kingpin.

The Watcher kind of shrugs and says “I’unno, lateral move?”

Kingpin is one of those weirdly hard to kill characters; the only instance that comes to mind being the prelude to Secret Wars where The Punisher decides to just go nuts and gun down as many criminals as he can because the universe was about to die anyway. The Rose, however, did die and took over as the Mob King of Hell for a while before being resurrected (ain’t done much since then however). A few other people have also replaced Matt as Daredevil, but that hasn’t happened a lot either.


Power is fleeting, love is eternal
Meanwhile, the post-humans all become even Fuddier eventually evolving to the point that they look like, and wield similar cosmic powers, to the Watchers themselves. Which, *AGAIN* You would think would would be where the plot was going, or at least be acknowledged. But again, NOPE, they just merge their consciousnesses with the planet Earth itself so now the planet is sentient; a plot point that does not affect anything.
I'd be curious to know how Ego the Living Planet would react to that.