Marvel’s What If series has been a regular and then semi-regular thing since debuting back in 1977. With over 200 issues, the alternate history take on Marvel’s heroes, villains, and stories have gone in all sorts of crazy directions. We’ve gotten such wacky concepts as Jane Foster as Thor, Spider-Man’s clone surviving his initial storyline, Bucky Barnes as Captain America, Deadpool wearing the Venom symbiote, Elektra not being dead, everyone knowing that Daredevil is blind, Hulk becoming a barbarian, Spider-Man not being married to Mary Jane, General Ross becoming the Hulk, and…
Well, they were far-fetched back then.
What If went from two lengthy on-goings to the occasional annual batch of releases. The last batch came at the end of 2015 with a handful of stories based on the events of Infinity. I’m happy to have two pieces of great news as not only are there new What If issues coming out this October, but they are character-based and not revolving around a specific event. Because Marvel’s recent events have been very not so good.
We start out on October 3 with Gerry Conway and Diego Olortegui giving us What If? Spider-Man #1. The idea is simple: What if the radioactive spider took a bite out of Flash Thompson instead of Peter Parker?
What If has actually tackled this topic on two separate occasions, albeit back before Flash was depicted as a heroic character on the reg. One issue showed him as a superhero who died due to his focus on physical prowess to the point that he never had any gadgets (ie. webbing) to back him up. The other issue had the power go to his head, leading to a situation where a powerless Peter Parker had to turn himself into a Doc Ock type to defeat him.
The same week gives us What If? X-Men #1, which is…um…a thing. Bryan Edward Hill, Neil Edwards, and Giannis Milonogiannis join together to give us a tale about a society living inside the internet where mutants can do it for free. I think? In this reality, Xavier leads the .EXE/Men and Domino looks all Ghost in a Shell.
Yeah, I don’t know. This will probably look really embarrassing in ten years.
On October 10, Carl Potts and Juanan Ramirez do What If? The Punisher #1. In this world, the death of Uncle Ben drives Peter Parker down a dark path that includes wearing a skull insignia on his shirt and killing bad guys.
The closest we got to something like this in the older What If comics were a comic about Spider-Man beating the burglar to death and feeling all guilty about it and a story about Spider-Man and Wolverine becoming heroic mercenaries. Though there was a comic about the Punisher wearing the Venom symbiote and rocking the similar wrist guns.
October 17 brings us a Sebastian Griner and Caspar Wijngaard collaboration with What If? Ghost Rider #1. I…have no idea what this is actually about. I think it’s some crossover with an actual yet-to-be-named Nordic metal band or something and it’s using the current version of the character. If anything, it’s supposed to play up how utterly metal the character is, so we’ll see how that pays off.
What If? Thor #1 will be brought to us on October 24, by Michele Bandini and Marco Checchetto. A rather novel idea that I’m surprised hasn’t been used yet: the Frost Giants defeated Odin and Asgard, only to adopt young Thor. Now Thor is the odd-god-out instead of Loki and we’ll see what all that entails.
Lastly, on October 31, we get What If? Magik #1 by Leah Williams and Filipe Andrade. The idea is that in regular continuity, Magik has had a rough and ridiculous life as a magical mutant superhero, so in this reality, after escaping Limbo, she decides to nope her way out of anything to do with the X-Men and find a different path.
Not only that, but Marvel will be rereleasing a whole bunch of classic What If issues under the “True Believers” banner. All of these babies for a dollar:
- What If the Avengers Had Fought Evil During the 1950s?
- What If Jane Foster Had Found the Hammer of Thor?
- What If the Alien Costume Had Possessed Spider-Man?
- What If Spider-Man Had Rescued Gwen Stacy?
- What If the Fantastic Four Had Not Gained Their Powers?
- What If Dr. Doom Had Become a Hero?
- What If Kraven the Hunter Had Killed Spider-Man?
- What If the Silver Surfer Possessed the Infinity Gauntlet?
- What If Legion Had Killed Magneto?
- What If the Fantastic Four Had Different Super-Powers?
Outside of that one about the Fantastic Four not getting their powers, those are all solid stories.
In the meantime, feel free to read this big-ass list I wrote about the top 100 What If moments.
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