The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 6

August 28th, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing intros for so many installments is hard. Gives me more respect for the Watcher, who thought up over a hundred variations of, “I’m going to show you stuff that didn’t happen, based on stuff that didn’t actually happen anyway.”


Issue: Volume 2, #55-56
Writer: Len Kaminksi
Artist: Craig Brasfield
Spider-Man death: Yes
Background: Galactic Storm was based on the war that was brewing between the Kree and the Shi’ar. Earth was going to be their battleground and the Avengers made an attempt to stop it. Their plea for peace got them in trouble and the team split up based on different ideas of how to handle the Kree. Captain America and others were taken prisoner by Kree rulers Ael-Dan and Dar-Ben. In regular continuity, the Shi’ar killer Deathbird appeared and assassinated the Kree men, but here, Captain America senses her and prevents their deaths. He finds that this one heroic gesture leads to unfortunate consequences.

Ael-Dan immediately has Deathbird killed. Dar-Ben deduces that the Kree Supreme Intelligence was the one who got Deathbird to sneak in there and uses a computer virus to kill him. Ael-Dan kills Dar-Ben, making himself the new Kree ruler. His first act of duty is to use the Kree Omni-Wave Annihilator device on the planet Earth. Think of it like the Death Star.

It’s kind of like the Marvel version of Alex Ross’ Justice… but only two pages. Heh. I didn’t even notice the Wolverine cameo until now.

That’s harsh. The other Avengers with Captain America (Black Knight, Hercules and others) are sent to a concentration camp to be tortured and experimented on while Cap is meant to be executed. Iron Man and Goliath (Clint “Hawkeye” Barton at the time, go figure) see this and decide that only Cap can successfully take down the Kree. Goliath sneaks into Cap’s prison cell and convinces him to switch costumes so Clint can be the one executed under the disguise of Captain America. Outside, Iron Man attacks Ronan the Accuser and his goons. As it looks like he’s going to win, Ronan starts boasting, but Iron Man bearhugs him and turns on his self-destruct sequence. He briefly and peacefully thinks back to how many times he’s cheated death before and then feels content for being about to die in a completely awesome way.

Stuff like this goes on for the rest of the two issues. The Avengers band together to fuck over the Kree and most of their victories involve characters sacrificing themselves. One of the more memorable ones is Vision downloading so much data about the Kree’s defensive systems that he willingly removes all other information in his mind, making him more or less dead. Wonder Man briefly mourns his “brother”.

There’s a big battle against the Kree’s forces that involves both Quasar and Thor getting as much help as they can. Quasar brings forth a team that includes Super-Skrull, Drax the Destroyer, Silver Surfer, Firelord and several other former heralds. Thor is joined by his Asgardian brethren. Captain America and the Shi’ar Imperial Guard take down some of the Kree bigwigs as Cap gets the Kree Supreme Intelligence back online. The Supreme Intelligence immediately freaks out about betrayal and takes it out on the Kree, crippling its armies with his internet powers.

The Kree empire falls hard and the rest of the galaxy wins. Well, as much as you can win with Earth missing. Wonder Man dies from the final battle, but his brain is put into Vision’s body, thereby making things far easier for Scarlet Witch. Cap explains that now that war is won, they must now win peace for the galaxy. A whole lot of Avengers died for their cause and they can’t let them down.

I didn’t know crap about the Kree or Galactic Storm when I read this, but even with Earth taken out of the picture immediately and the funkiness of seeing Hawkeye with Giant Man powers, I was still able to enjoy this. The whole “Go on, I’ll die so you’ll live!” thing did get a bit tired and telegraphed in parts, but it was a pretty action-packed two-parter.


Issue: Volume 2, #59
Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: Brian Hitch
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Once upon a time, Alpha Flight decided to capture Wolverine and bring him back into their ranks. This led to a big brawl with the X-Men that escalated until Wolverine gave himself up. He ended up escaping and right as the X-Men decide to go back for him, they find that he’s already back in the Blackbird. Here, Wolverine doesn’t do his part and things get a little hairy.

General Chasen finds out that the X-Men are coming back and explains that this is unfortunately counts as an invasion and means they have to take a hostile reaction. He sends a message to Alpha Flight in hopes that they can reason with the X-Men. Northstar is on monitor duty and decides to delete the General’s message because he’s a colossal dickhead. With no relayed message and no attempt to make the X-Men stop, Chasen has no choice but to have the X-Men taken down.

“HURR!” indeed, Cyclops, because forget about the close-minded Holocaust survivors and the immortal Egyptian pharaohs. You retards get blown to pieces by the motherfucking Canadian air force! Good job, soldier!

James Hudson, the Guardian, is absolutely livid about this, especially when he finds out about how it’s Northstar’s fault. Hudson lies through his teeth and tells Wolverine that the X-Men just wouldn’t listen to their reasoning. He offers Wolverine to either help save lives by leading Alpha Flight or killing Hudson out of revenge right then and there. Wolverine hesitates, but then, hurt by grief, gives in. Without the X-Men, he has no place to call home. He joins Alpha Flight because he just doesn’t have anywhere to go.

As we see over time, he begins to take to leadership. He, a born scrapper, defeats Annihilus, not by fighting, but by negotiating. He also becomes a mentor to Wildchild, teaching him how to use his animal rage instead of being controlled by it. I liked that.

By the way, back to Annihilus, he really is a gigantic bitch in these What Ifs. We’re talking about a guy who currently has Galactus’ college roommates and Thanos on his payroll. He’s been taking his vitamins since then, I guess.

Hudson has a hard time keeping the truth to himself, but believes the ends justify the means. Since Xavier thought the X-Men were killed before the Alpha Flight incident, Hudson figures it’s best not to tell him that they survived and then died. But when Hudson finds out that Xavier and the current X-Men roster have been kidnapped by the Hellfire Club, he gets nervous. Things are about to get complicated.

Of course, Wolverine leads his team to take on the Hellfire Club. There’s a scene where Wolverine questions Northstar about why he always smells fear around him while Northstar is afraid because if Wolverine tears apart total strangers like they were nothing, what would he do if he found out Northstar was behind his friends’ deaths? The team ends up beating most of the boring Hellfire goons, but when Wolverine finds Jean Grey missing from the captives, it isn’t long before he’s attacked by the new Black Queen.

The Dark Phoenix with Mastermind laugh at Wolverine and she decides to play around with him. She shows him Northstar’s memories and how the X-Men really died. Wolverine goes into a trademark berserker rage, screaming at how he’s going to slice Northstar to pieces. He begins to tear into him and Dark Phoenix eggs him on.

Dying in Wolverine’s arms, Jean thanks him for doing the right thing and saving her from herself (as well as preventing the deaths of the billions Dark Phoenix would have killed). Afterwards, Wolverine discusses things with Xavier and to Hudson’s surprise, it’s decided that Wolverine will stay on the team.

“I’m stayin’. ‘Course I should go walk outta here and never look back. Few months ago I’da done so without hesitation. Well, maybe enough hesitation to gut Northstar on the way out! ‘Cept you were right, leadership has given me a fresh perspective. Soothed the savage beast. I’ve got a job to do and it’s only part done. I see Wildchild, a reflection of what I might’ve become. I see Northstar – arrogant, stupid, but full of potential. If I give in, I give in on them. I go back to the X-Men, I lose all I have gained. Ya wanted me, Hudson, ya got me! Whether ya like it or not!

I tell you, I don’t even care about Alpha Flight, but I still recommend this issue. Wolverine’s transition seemed a bit forced at times, but to me it isn’t too far fetched. I also can’t help but laugh about how in one world, Wolverine won’t kill Northstar despite the fact that he wronged him hard while in 616, Wolverine impaled Northstar without reason.


Issue: Volume 2, #70
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Joe Barney, Don Hudson
Spider-Man death: Yes
Background: When the Silver Surfer came to Earth, the kind-hearted Alicia Masters helped him uncover his long-forgotten humanity. As the Fantastic Four first met Galactus, Reed Richards won the day by stealing the Ultimate Nullifier – a weapon that could destroy the universe itself. The Silver Surfer put his own nobility over his loyalty to Galactus and sided with the Fantastic Four. Galactus left Earth, but cursed the Surfer to be bound to the planet. That’s all fine and dandy, but how about if Alicia wasn’t convincing enough? What then, smart guy?! Huh?!

Galactus is about to admit defeat, but Silver Surfer shows up and blasts the Nullifier out of Reed’s hand. Galactus immediately destroys the Watcher for interfering. Thing and Torch are absolutely pissed off, but Sue tells them that they won’t stand a chance against Galactus and the Surfer. Besides, they have to get Reed to safety, since he’s barely alive from Surfer’s cosmic blast.

They find Alicia and accidentally get themselves locked into the safe room of the Baxter Building. Only Reed can get them out and he’s unconscious. Outside, the Avengers show up to challenge Galactus. It goes really badly with the heroes killed off like they were nothing. We do get to see the amusing image of Giant Man punching Galactus in the face and the badass image of a defeated Captain America tossing his shield at Galactus as a way to spit in his face (you may have seen that as one of the 4L banners). Thor battles with the Silver Surfer and dies, but not without causing some serious damage to the Surfer himself. With the Avengers gone, there’s nothing stopping Galactus from sucking the entire planet dry. He and his angsty herald fly off into space.

The Fantastic Four and Alicia later burrow out of the rubble, wearing suits that allow them to live in the husk that was once Earth. Before they can ponder their next course of action, Dr. Doom shows up in a snazzy spaceship, offering revenge on Galactus. The five survivors accept, though Thing doesn’t trust Doom at all.

At the first chance, Doom attacks Surfer in an attempt to steal his cosmic powers. Doom wants to become Galactus’ herald and then later hatch a scheme to usurp Galactus’ power. During the struggle with the Surfer, Doom’s attempt to absorb his energies causes both of them to burn out. Surfer, feeling guilty, fully accepts his death.

Inside Galactus’ ship, the Fantastic Four sneak around and deal with his defenses. Reed comes across Wasp, who had ended up on the ship during the big Avengers fight. She shows him that during the time laying low on the ship, she has found the Ultimate Nullifier. With a look of insanity, Reed takes it and confronts Galactus.

Reed then loses his nerve and drops the Nullifier. Galactus commends Reed, not just for his wisdom but for having him in checkmate twice. Galactus realizes that he has misjudged the worth of the inhabitants of the worlds he devours. The six surviving humans make a deal with Galactus: they will be his heralds and will lead him to only worlds that are unpopulated. The lives saved and the universal knowledge keeps Reed going, but he hopes that one day they can find a world just like Earth so he and his friends will be able to end their journey.

As far as I can tell, Galactus was Marvel Earth’s first big threat. Years before glowing gauntlets, fire birds from space and full-scale intergalactic wars, Galactus was the first major challenge where the only options were to overcome the tremendous odds or watch the entire world crumble. At first it seemed like there wasn’t much you could do with “Galactus kills us all,” but Dixon proved us wrong. Of course, if Sue had died in the story, Reed would’ve blown up the universe without a second thought. The crazy fuck.


Issue: Volume 2, #17
Writer: Richard Howell
Artist: Richard Howell
Spider-Man death: Obviously
Background: In the story Kraven’s Last Hunt, Kraven the Hunter finally captured Spider-Man and shot him with a tranquilizer dart. He buried him alive and assumed his identity with his own set of black and white tights. He regained his honor through out-doing Spider-Man and capturing the villain Vermin. Spider-Man eventually came to and escaped, but Kraven, now having nothing left in life, committed suicide. Here, he’s a bit more crazed.

Instead of a tranquilizer dart, he shoots Spider-Man with real bullets, thereby killing him. Kraven goes completely over the edge and, well, just look at this shit.

Kraven takes to the streets as Spider-Man, mercilessly beating on street scum with little rhyme or reason. He does nothing but scream gibberish about “becoming the Spider” and stuff. Meanwhile, Mary Jane gets nervous when Peter is hours late in getting home. Later, she sees Spider-Kraven and knows off the bat that it isn’t her husband. She gets the help of Flash Thompson to get to the bottom of this. Talking to Jameson is a dead-end, so they go to the Human Torch and ask him for help. Torch, one of Spider-Man’s best friends in the hero game, agrees to investigate and calls upon Spidey’s other two closest associates: Daredevil and Captain America.

The three scour the streets and each comes to find Spider-Kraven, spouting nonsense and brutalizing people. Each time, Kraven finds a way to escape. When they talk to Mary Jane about it, she finally breaks down and tells them the truth about her husband’s dual life. It’s actually pretty heartbreaking.

Like in regular continuity, Kraven tries to prove himself by defeating Vermin. Only here, because he’s such a raving loony, he seems to beat Vermin to death in front of Jameson. Torch, Daredevil and Cap show up and smack him down. Spider-Kraven runs off with Cap and Torch chasing him as Daredevil gets Jameson some medical attention. Spider-Kraven goes to a graveyard, where he keeps Spider-Man’s corpse. Though it isn’t explicitly shown, Kraven eats Spider-Man’s face for more power. A disgusted and horrified Torch lashes out against him and Cap holds Kraven down.

Kraven is deemed irreparably insane and is locked away in a padded room. As Watcher puts it, “The dark trail the hunter followed finally came to an end. His search for symbolic triumph, for restoration of honor, gained him only a life of madness and confinement.”

As for Mary Jane, the heroes tell her of Peter’s fate. She tries to stay stoic during this and appear strong, but over the series of several panels, she loses it.

Things get worse for her. First, she tries to tell Aunt May the truth about Peter. May freaks out and screams at Mary Jane for being a no-good liar. Jameson uses Spider-Kraven’s rampage to fuel his agenda and convinces the public that superheroes are a bunch of menaces. Superheroes aren’t allowed to be active anymore and all the major teams disband. This is my biggest gripe with the story, because we can’t possibly be that stupid… can we?

Mary Jane visits Peter’s grave and swears to clean up his legacy and clear his name. She becomes the spokesperson for the hero community and becomes an important international figure. Her husband may be gone from her life, but she has her own purpose and responsibility.

With the exception of the Jameson thing at the end, this was a pretty solid issue based on a pretty solid storyline. I find it pretty funny, compared to the Galactic Storm What If I talked about earlier. In that one, the entire planet dies and yet things end up feeling optimistic and hopeful. Here, only one guy dies (not counting some of Spider-Kraven’s victims), but the emotion is there. There’s so much tragic sadness in Mary Jane’s scenes. We want to believe that Peter could somehow be alive, but we know that there really is no hope for her.


Issue: Volume 1, #22
Writer: Don Glut
Artist: Fred Kida
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Reed Richards had the honor of going to college with the egotistical Victor Von Doom. Doom was obsessed with finding means to communicate with his mother in Hell and delved into the black arts to make it so. One day Reed had stumbled upon Doom’s notes for the machine and was in awe over its contents. Doom screamed at Reed for intruding upon his privacy and wouldn’t listen when Reed insisted Doom’s calculations were off. The experiment was a failure and it scarred Doom’s face. Doom was most furious with Richards, who he believed sabotaged his experiment out of jealousy. Dr. Doom went on to become one of Marvel’s most important figures and its most notorious villain. But did it truly have to be?

Doom screams at Reed for barging in, but the curious and rational parts of his mind trump his pride. He calms down and asks Reed about his miscalculations. Reed shows genuine concern about what could happen if an experiment of this nature were to go wrong, and even though he disagrees with the methods, he volunteers to be Doom’s assistant. Doom, touched, takes him up on the offer.

The experiment is a success and Doom makes contact with his mother’s soul. He finds out that she is being tortured and that he is the rightful leader of Latveria. Doom feels that acting on this news is more important than finishing at college. He and Reed say their goodbyes, feeling that one day their paths will cross again.

First, Doom goes around the world, combing the shadows for the mystical answers to setting his mother free. Upon finding a loophole, he travels to Tibet and is taken in by monks. They teach him all they can about magic until the point when he is deemed their master. These monks forge Victor’s armor, but in this world, there is no need for grim, metallic masks.

Er… yeah. Maybe it’s for the best that he’s a villain in 616. Sort of looks like one of the monks painted eyebrows over the helmet.

Anyway, our hero uses a strategic spell to release his mother’s soul from Hell. Excited at his triumph, he moves on to liberate Latveria and make it his. Meanwhile, Mephisto gets pretty peeved that one of his souls has escaped. He puts Doom on his shitlist.

Doom barges into the throne room of the tyrannical Prince Rudolfo. Using his tech and magic, Doom makes mincemeat out of the guards. Rudolfo makes a run for it while one of the guards’ bullets ricochets off of Doom’s force field. Rudolfo is mortally wounded. Doom points out that he is the rightful ruler of Latveria and Rudolfo lets it slip that he’s right. He dies and the country is better for it.

Doom liberates his gypsy brethren, including Valeria and Boris. He uses his technology to help out his peasants, making Latveria a joyous place to live for the first time in who knows when. Walking the streets, Doom announces that he will wed Valeria and that the townsfolk are all invited. Shortly after the wedding, as Doom and Valeria leave the scene, things take a turn for the worst.

Mephisto teleports Doom to a dark realm, where he makes his aim simple: Doom stole one of his souls, so Doom has to pay him back. The two battle for a little while, but Mephisto admits that he’s just playing with Doom before striking him down and stealing his life forces. Mephisto gets under Doom’s skin and gives him two options: either Doom goes to Hell or Valeria takes his place. He confuses Doom with both sides of the argument, torturing Victor with the imminent decision.

But this is Victor Von Doom. He may not have become a monster like in 616, but he is who he is. Maybe he is more noble and heroic in this world, but he is not completely pure-hearted. He is a vain man of logic. In the end, he gives advantage to his pride rather than his heart. His love for Valeria is one thing, but the world needs Victor Von Doom! He makes his decision and is placed back in Latveria. Without his bride, he storms away from his villagers to be alone.

He remains a hero to his people and to the world in general, but this life is bittersweet for Doom. Every year, Doom is allowed entry to Hell in order to retrieve Valeria’s soul. Every year, he recoils in failure. But perhaps one day… Perhaps.

This issue wasn’t exactly high on action, even with the stretched-out Doom vs. Mephisto scene. It’s a bit boring and, well, you saw his outfit. The thing is, I’m a fan of Dr. Doom and find his characteristics intriguing. What we have here isn’t a colorful, explosive romp, but a pleasing character piece. I really wish they did a follow-up story with this, since there’s just so much more you can do. We never did get to see Reed again after college. Could the heroic Doom have co-existed with the Fantastic Four? What about the other heroes? What about Magneto and Namor? And even though this issue was written years before Triumph and Torment, it cries for a new take on Doom’s epic teaming with Dr. Strange.

Next on the countdown: a boy is in the past, a girl is in the future and a time-traveling robot is no longer history.

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9 comments to “The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 6”

  1. One of the best things about What If… The Avengers Lost Operation Galactic Storm was the bit with Hercules and Sersi towards the middle. All of the Avengers are escaping, but they need cover. Hercules is blinded and Sersi has been tortured, as well.

    “Come, Sersi! Let us show these dogs how gods die!”

    That was good stuff as a kid, and it’s still great nowadays.

  2. I love when writers find a new twist on the apocalypse – especially in the Marvel Universe (or for that matter, the DCU), where the stakes can be so high.

  3. It seems like the What If series was mainly created in order to blow up the world without messing up continuity.

  4. I remember reading What If…Kraven the Hunter killed Spider-Man at my uncle’s house when I was around nine. It gave me chills back then, and just glancing at the cover today still had a similar effect.
    Thankfully, back then, I was blissfully ignorant to the fact that Kraven [i]ate Peter’s face[/i]. That is just…wow.

  5. Hello
    I was a friend of Joe Barney’s when he lived in Bozeman MT.
    in 1990 and 1991.I think he was escaping from New York City at the time.Does any one know how to contact him? He is a comic book artist who loves the rock band “YES”.Thanks,MS

  6. Hawkeye Became Goliath a long time ago,and from time to time would use the name and power. He was actually G2, G1 was Hank Pym he had been giant man and yellow jacket then became Goliath, then dropped out of the Hero scene for a while, and I guess Hawk, wanted a real power?and cut a deal with Pym for his “Pym Particles”.

  7. I liked the What IF’s, everything always went right or right enough for the Heroes, in Marvel, the What IF’S were fun because everything went to hell in a handbasket…well, sometimes.

  8. Loved the Operation Storm 2 parter, especially the 2 page spread of Earth dying.

    ANd I knew Kraven ate part of f Spidey’s body, but I never thought of the face Ew either way.

  9. My guess is that Triumph and Torment would invovle getting his fiance instead with pretty much the same results (the loss of her love.)