The What If Countdown: Some Issues That Won’t Make the Cut

August 1st, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I finally finished it. 176 issues of What If and I’ve finished reading them. My list of the 100 best is put together and the series of articles will commence.

But first… let’s just take another look at some of the issues that won’t be on the list. Some of the really bad ones.

Before I start, I’ve been asked about the clichés included with the series. In the last article, I mentioned the bit about Reed Richards being a borderline psychopath, but what else is there?

1) Spider-Man dies. A lot. Of course, this is to be expected. After all, he shows up in many, many issues. It’s the law of averages in effect here.

2) Kingpin dies. A super lot. What I said about Spider-Man doesn’t apply for Wilson Fisk. If he’s in the comic, there’s a 95% chance that he’s going to die. Then again, it’s a wonder why he’s still alive in regular continuity.

3) Loki is a puss. I can’t recall a single issue where Loki comes out a winner. Then again, there is a chance that he survived Marvel Zombies, so he has that going for him.

4) Hulk depressed! If the Incredible Hulk is the main character of a What If issue, the chances are very good that this isn’t going to end well. There are a couple exceptions.

Now to the crap.


Issue: Volume 1, #36
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Before flying into space and getting bombarded with cosmic rays, Benjamin Grimm pleaded with Reed Richards to wait until the rocket could have better shielding added. Sue called Ben a coward, Ben got angry and the three of them went into space. Here, Reed decides that Ben is right to play it safe. After gaining some more funds, they fly into space with enough shielding to keep them normal.

You’d think a story about the Fantastic Four without powers would be boring. As I found from reading this issue… that’s pretty much it exactly. This story went nowhere. There was some stuff about going underground to fight Mole Man, but even that was uneventful and anti-climactic.

With their blue uniforms and hardhats, it’s sometimes impossible to tell the characters apart unless they actually say each other’s names. The only interesting part is a panel where Ben Grimm may or may not be admiring Sue’s ass.

I really can’t tell if that was intentional or not.


Issue: Volume 2, #40
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Shortly after Storm’s mother died, Storm became a thief in order to get by. Eventually she moved on to Africa, where she became a goddess. Here, she ends up in America instead.

That above issue with the Fantastic Four was at least potentially interesting. It’s one of those stories What Ifs were created for. One of those major moments that really needs to be changed for the sake of seeing what happens. There are a good amount of issues where they go with a change that doesn’t seem so important, such as Wolverine ending up in the time of Conan. The concept is made worthwhile by a good story.

Here, it isn’t. It’s a crap concept that goes through the motions half-assed. Want to know the story? Storm grows up with a prostitute and some guy she tried to rob. That guy has some jewel of his stolen by the X-Men because they need it for some adventure. Storm gets mad and fights the X-Men. Xavier asks Storm to join, but she gets angry and leaves. Storm then leaves her friends and moves to Africa… just because. Fuck this issue.


Issue: Volume 2, #84
Spider-Man death: Probably
Background: Shard and Bishop are XSE (Xavier’s Security Officers) agents from the future. At some point Shard got killed and Bishop ended up having to go back in time to stop the criminal Fitzroy. Here, Shard’s hesitation gets Bishop killed and it’s her who has to go back to stop Fitzroy.

Shard, with the help of the X-Men, finds Fitzroy, but then kills him. The X-Men tell her to fuck off because killing is bad. Shard gets Graydon Creed to help get some XSE gear created so she can go kill Magneto. Eventually, she does. Since the X-Men tried to stop her, Storm also got killed. Shard got on her high horse about how Xavier’s way fucked up the future and some badguys need to be killed.

The in-story debate about killing villains has been around for years and will always be around, whether it’s argued between Spider-Man and the Punisher or Batman and Wonder Woman. Usually, one side of the argument leads to a believable example that supports or hurts their stance. This time… not so much.

HAHAHA! Look at that shit! Read the plaque on there! It might as well read, “We in the future admit wholeheartedly that we are retarded sheep with absolutely no sense of logic whatsoever.”


Issue: Volume 2, #24
Spider-Man death: Yes
Background: This one time, the X-Men fought Dracula and because of Storm, they won. Here, Dracula wins and turns them into vampires. Because Wolverine is totally the best character ever (according to what Marvel tells me), he is able to conquer the mind control and fights Dracula to the death. Wolverine wins and uses the Vampire X-Men to turn other heroes.

This issue is more or less the prototype of Marvel Zombies. There are differences, of course. Only New York City is taken over, since the government has completely quarantined the area so that not even the Avengers can get in there. Also, with the cast being vampires, they are far more vulnerable than their zombie counterparts.

Wolverine knows that Dr. Strange would be his biggest obstacle, so he sends Vampire Juggernaut to kill him. The truth about this issue is that I don’t hate it like the three above. It wasn’t horrible, but it just didn’t make the cut. The reason I’m going over it now is because in the last article, I promised you Vampire Juggernaut. So here he is. Enjoy the hell out of him.

Even with Strange dead and many of the New York City superheroes turned vampire, there is still one who fights on: Frank Castle. Armed with silver bullets, he hunts them down during the day and protects the remaining living. From beyond the grave, Dr. Strange joins with Frank, giving us this badass sight:

With Strange’s help, Frank kills an awful lot of super vampires, including a bit where he melts Colossus with holy water. He takes the fight to Wolverine and almost wins, until Kitty tries to stop him. Frank decapitates her and Wolverine impales him in retaliation.

Good God. The Punisher decapitates Kitty Pryde and I left this issue off the list? Why the hell did I do that, again?

Strange’s ghost shows Wolverine that there’s still a human side left in him and gets him to read a spell aloud that reduces the entire vampire population to dust. A year later, there was an issue based on this one called What If Wolverine was the Lord of Vampires During Inferno? It sucked hard.

One of the reasons it sucked was that it was part of Timequake, a five-issue attempt to give What If a storyline. Timequake all came to a head in the last issue I’ll talk about today…


Issue: Volume 2, #39
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Oh, who knows.

The whole story got more and more confusing as the issues went on. There are three guys watching over the multiverse and there’s some guy called the Whisperer trying to destroy them. I keep losing track over which side is good and which side is evil, mostly because it’s hard to care. The Whisperer gets his own Exiles-like team based on guys from various What If worlds (including Vampire Wolverine). He reveals he’s Immortus and… does stuff. Stuff that must be stopped.

Then we find out that the multiverse is run by a bunch of sleazy bureaucrats with ponytails and porn star mustaches. What Immortus is doing is hard to follow. The plans to stop him are also hard to follow. The reasons why they fail are again hard to follow. In the end, we get an issue that tries to be funny in parts, but is too damn confusing to find entertaining. Plus the day is somehow saved by the powerless versions of the Fantastic Four from that issue I mentioned earlier.

As it turns out, that was the last issue I read. Luckily, it was saved by the final page.

The countdown begins soon. Stay tuned.

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2 comments to “The What If Countdown: Some Issues That Won’t Make the Cut”

  1. “Sleazy bureaucrats with ponytails and pornstar mustaches”?


    Those are the Time Variance Authority. They’re all based on MARK FUCKING GRUENWALD.

    Show some respect.

  2. Byrne actually confirmed on his board that that FF panel was intentional. Unfortunately I can’t find the link.