Here it is, the halfway point. If my taste is to be trusted, this should be getting better, so read on.
50) WHAT IF… STARRING QUICKSILVER: THE QUICK AND THE DEAD
Issue: Volume 2, #96
Writer: Chris Wozniak
Artist: Chris Wozniak
Spider-Man death: No
Background: We all know that Magneto is the father of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, but even before that he had another daughter named Anya. Since the village Magnus and his family stayed in resented them and believed witchery was afoot, they set fire to their house and ended up killing Anya. Magneto tore his neighbors apart and left. His pregnant wife couldn’t take being with him and ran off. This issue talks about what would have happened if Magneto could’ve saved his daughter. The clincher? Anya was human!
Magneto’s stance against humanity stays more or less the same, but he has this need to shelter his family from bloodshed, even if he’s the one doing the slaughtering. Magneto’s wife soon gives birth to twins and Magneto is happier. Not only are they mutants, but he has a son to pass on his legacy. The years pass and we see that Anya gets the short end of the stick. She’s normal. She isn’t special.
At age 14, Pietro hikes with his sisters Anya and Wanda. They’re forced to be cooped up in their family estate most of the time as Magneto conspires with others like him, planning something big. As they’re hiking, Pietro gets sick of being sheltered and makes a run for the nearest city. Wanda tells Anya that she’ll tell dad the truth of what just happened, but Anya cries about who he’ll really blame. Magneto gets wind of what Pietro’s plans and decides to stop it firsthand.
For a little bit, Magneto and Pietro test each other’s abilities against each other. Pietro tries to run off and Magneto tries to stop him. They then talk, with Pietro voicing his concerns. He’s sick of being held back from the rest of the world and he doesn’t want anything to do with his father’s plans. When Magneto blinks and briefly looks away, Pietro takes his chance and gets free. Magneto screams out his son’s name in vain.
Pietro survives easy enough in the real world. By exploiting his powers, he’s able to steal money without anyone realizing it. He starts living at a college, pretending to be a student. His attempt to impress a girl causes him to punch out her ox-sized older brother and gets the attention of a coach, who wants Pietro to take up boxing. Pietro insists that he’s better with track and when he shows his stuff, the coach faints.
At Magneto’s place, one of his secret cabal members tells him about how weak he’s looking. As if having a normal wife and daughter wasn’t bad enough, now Magneto can’t even tell his own son what to do. Magneto finds Anya looking on and yells at her for it. We don’t get his whole tirade, but some rather harsh excerpts, like how she’s a liability and that it’s impossible for her to be more like her sister so why bother asking.
Track star Pietro has been sending letters to Wanda back and forth for years. Wanda would talk about how their father is growing more distant and odd, but Pietro pays it no mind. He’s becoming what his father never believed in: a celebrated mutant who gets along with humans. He’s even planning on running in the Olympics and breaking every running record. Around then, he gets a message from Anya that Wanda’s missing. Pietro knows this is serious, since Wanda would only tell Anya about where to reach him in an emergency. He returns to his home.
Magneto is waiting for him, happy to see him, though looking like a wreck. Pietro’s mother is ill and seeing her son might help her. Pietro cuts to the chase and asks about Wanda. Magneto hesitates, but he looks to know far more than he admits. All he says is that he woke up and she was gone. He tries to rekindle his connection to his son, but Pietro wants none of it. He’s going to look for Wanda tomorrow, but he doesn’t even want to see Magneto again.
“Pietro, you can’t—you must not expose yourself so! Your family—“
“There is no family here. You have seen to that.”
The next day, Pietro is on his way to town on his motorcycle when he gets in a wreck and falls unconscious. When he wakes up, he asks Anya about the bike, but she tearfully tells him about his legs. It seems that the accident had messed up his legs to the extent that they needed to be amputated. Pietro grows cold, knowing that he will never run again and that his life is over. He still makes an effort to track down information on Wanda’s whereabouts, mainly because he feels he’ll never find her. If he never finds her, he can keep looking and will remain occupied. Then one day, he gets a phone call. This is especially strange, since he never gave his number out to anyone. The person on the other line has information on Wanda’s whereabouts and wants something in return. Pietro agrees immediately.
Pietro brings a camera crew into the home and exposes Magneto, hoping to put a stop to him. He shows that he found Wanda’s hair among Magneto’s things and confronts him about it. Magneto insists that the mutant cabal has killed her to make an example out of him. They’re too powerful and far out of his control now. Pietro can tell Magneto is hiding the truth and accuses Magneto of killing Wanda because she refused to join his organization. Magneto backtracks, telling the reporters that his son is mistaken and that there is no organization. Pietro pulls out a gun and fires, thinking that Magneto will just stop it in mid-air, thereby proving what he is to the cameras.
Instead, Magneto allows the bullet to pass, seemingly as not to expose his powers and bring down the cabal’s wrath on what little family he has left. The camera crew rushes out scared. Anya runs in, screaming and confused. She goes to Magneto’s body and finds it not moving, but refuses to get him to a hospital. Pietro asks what her problem is and she responds with that her problem is being normal. But now she has it the best. Wanda’s dead and Pietro might as well be. Pietro realizes then that Anya was the one who killed Wanda. Anya admits it, since Wanda wouldn’t let her know where Pietro was all that time, thereby prolonging her beratings for being human.
“I thought I had all the answers. I wanted to rid myself of a family that never understood me. The warning my father gave me regarding how they feared and hated us were true. I now know he was responsible for the hate growing from within – which destroyed the family he longed to protect.”
Ah, Magneto just can’t win. Really, that’s what separates him from Dr. Doom. Doom can potentially kill the Fantastic Four, rule the world and come out smelling like roses. As long as Magneto’s so close-minded when it comes to human/mutant relations, he’s doomed. Even if he were to kill the X-Men and win his war, he’d still destroy everything he holds dear thanks to his simple beliefs. He overestimates himself and his control over others. This is a rather decent study on him, as it seems to be more about him than our protagonist, Quicksilver. Good thing the story was good, since the art wasn’t going to win it any awards.
49) WHAT IF INVISIBLE GIRL OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR MARRIED THE SUB-MARINER?
Issue: Volume 1, #21
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Gene Colan
Spider-Man death: No
Background: This is another sequel to What If #1, What If Spider-Man Joined the Fantastic Four, though in no way related to What If the Fantastic Five Fought Doctor Doom and Annihilus. The previous story ended with Sue leaving the team and joining Namor in Atlantis. With the use of a special device, Sue can now breathe water and can no longer walk to the surface. The Fantastic Four, made up of Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, the Thing and Spider-Man, continue to fight the good fight.
That doesn’t last very long. Spider-Man finishes off the Super-Skrull, but Reed and Johnny don’t really appreciate how he didn’t use teamwork. Thing thinks they should lay off the kid, but it’s made pretty apparent that Reed resents Spider-Man for being partially responsible for Sue leaving the team. Spider-Man gets fed up and quits the team.
Under the sea, in Atlantis, the land is joyous as Sue is many months pregnant with Namor’s child. The two are very happy together, but our attention changes to that of Lady Dorma and Warlord Krang. Dorma was Namor’s wife for a while in the main continuity, while Krang became Namor’s enemy because of it. Dorma has gotten over the fact that she cannot be with Namor and turns her attentions to Krang. This is great news for Krang, as this and his pride for his king prevent him from ever attempting rebellion.
Sue tells Namor that she has begun thinking of her old family and wants their child to signal rapprochement between both camps. Namor’s a bit reluctant at first, but becomes amused as how perfect Sue is as his queen: she’s just as stubborn as he is. He swims to the surface world to invite the Fantastic Three.
At the Baxter Building, things are a little tense.
Thing storms off and quits. The team is now defunct. Namor appears to invite them to Atlantis, but Reed and Torch are too angry to listen to what he has to say. Obligatory fight scene. Namor gets sick of dealing with these children and leaves with some parting words about how if Reed starts a war with him, Atlantis will be ready to retaliate.
Now, remember what I said about Reed Richards? About his sanity when it comes to losing Sue? Mr. Fantastic takes the footage of Namor’s final words and doctors it into a speech about Atlantis declaring war. It’s shown at the UN and almost works, except Thing shows up with the real footage. Reed leaves, disgraced, but Johnny talks him into taking on Atlantis themselves. With Reed’s genius and Johnny’s power, the two can take down Namor and bring Sue back!
Days later, fire burns through the sea and crashes down on Atlantis. Namor feared this would happen, but never realized it would be this insane. He attacks the Human Torch and brings him underwater, where it should be plenty one-sided. Torch reveals that Reed’s figured out a way to keep his fire powers on underwater, which makes things harder on Namor. Still, like an underwater Batman, he reveals a seaweed net made to absorb heat, which he tosses onto Johnny before delivering a bearhug and a head-butt. Namor hugged fire in order to knock someone out with his forehead. That is badass!
Mr. Fantastic sets up a device under the water and goes to get Sue. By this time, Sue’s already gone into labor and is screaming for her husband. Reed comes in, holds all the midwives at bay and tries to talk to Sue. He’s at first confused about how large she is, only soon to realize that she’s having Namor’s kid. Namor and his guards bust in as Sue screams out of both contractions and confusion.
Which helps proves my point that Reed Richard’s sanity is being held together by a thread.
Sue tells Namor that she’ll still stand with him. Reed is both shocked at her words and her repelling him with her force field. Dorma tells Reed about how he’s pretty much murdering Sue for not loving him, which gets through to him. Namor wants to go stop the device, even if it means he’ll lose the ability to breathe water. Reed stops him, wanting to go himself. The two fight over this misunderstanding while the brave general Krang sneaks off. “On land or under the sea, Atlantis must not be left without the Sub-Mariner! Warlord Krang, however, is far more expendable!”
Reed gets away from Namor and goes to shut off the device. He finds Krang dead before it, having failed to turn it off. Reed makes his own attempt to shut it off, though getting close to it undoes the plot device that keeps him breathing underwater. Namor thinks Reed killed Krang and is about to up the device’s power, only to find Reed limp and the machine off. Namor is puzzled.
When oxygen is returned to Atlantis, everyone rejoices except Human Torch. He thinks Namor murdered Mr. Fantastic and with his rage, frees himself from the net. Reed and Namor walk in with Krang’s corpse draped across Namor’s arms. Reed tries to explain to Johnny that they were wrong and that Sue’s place is in Atlantis, but Johnny won’t listen. He flies off, swearing he’ll get his revenge on Atlantis.
Lady Dorman walks off, horrified that Krang is dead. Reed wants to comfort her, but knows he can’t since he’s responsible for the death. Namor shows respect for Reed’s triumph over his own inner-demons, and then celebrates as his son is born. Reed sulks away from Namor and Sue and pledges that he’ll make up for his folly by working towards peace between Atlantis and the surface world.
A nice, dramatic issue here. I think I would have liked it more if they could’ve done it in a way that didn’t follow the Fantastic Five storyline. Seeing Spider-Man tossed aside so quickly left a bad taste in my mouth. I bought the idea that after a year of torture, Reed and Johnny could potentially pull something off like this. After all, Johnny is a hothead and Reed is… well, you know. I think they should’ve kept going with the sequels here. Not just to see how Namor’s son would’ve turned out, but to see the obvious Human Torch/Dr. Doom team-up.
48) WHAT IF THE PUNISHER KILLED SPIDER-MAN?
Issue: Volume 2, #58
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Gordon Purcell
Spider-Man death: Well, yeah
Background: When the Jackal first appeared, Marvel also introduced crazed vigilante Frank Castle, known as the Punisher. Jackal hired Castle to kill Spider-Man, making him believe the wall-crawler was a criminal. Castle tried sniping Spider-Man, but the hero’s spider-sense alerted him in enough time to dodge. He caught up to the Punisher, one thing led to another, and soon they found out that the Jackal was merely lying to Frank in order to use him. In this story, Frank decides to cool it for a bit. He wants to study his enemy and make sure he’s not running blindly into this.
This issue begins as a flashback, with Frank holding someone at gunpoint. He thinks back to how it came to this.
After the above-mentioned change in destiny, Frank first looks into the claims that Spider-Man is a bad guy. The only stuff he has to go by are the Jackal and the Bugle. The fact that Spidey’s always involved with gang wars and villains points to the idea that he’s a criminal, so Frank’s cool with it. Frank is a bit distrustful of the Jackal, who seemed to want Spider-Man dead a bit too much, plus he wears that goofy costume. Jackal claims it’s to hide his identity, as a high profile member of society. Frank doesn’t care, though. If he plugs Spider-Man, then Jackal will fully fund his war on crime.
Frank stakes out the Daily Bugle, since Spider-Man always seems to swing around there. One day he gets a nice sniper target and fires. Spider-Man dodges it and goes after him. Unlike in the regular world, Frank eludes Spidey and sneaks off into the crowd. Jackal is starting to get testy, but Frank’s deep in thought. He talks to his employer about how Spider-Man is somehow able to sense danger. If there was only some way to use that against him…
The Jackal beams and gives Frank some inspiration.
Later, we see Spider-Man swinging across the city. As he nears a building, his spider-sense begins to go crazy. It’s no surprise, since Doctor Octopus is standing on the rooftop. Spider-Man sneaks up on him and find out that he’s been punk’d.
The explosion does indeed kill Spider-Man and we see the horrible image of his open-eyed corpse lying maskless in the rubble with his limbs bent in wrong directions. As Frank narrates, Spider-Man was just a kid. No evil intentions. No ties to the mob. Just a kid. And Frank murdered him.
He goes after the Jackal, only to find that the Jackal used him as a fall guy. Not only is Frank running from cops all over the city, but Spider-Man’s friends are seriously fucking pissed off.
YOU SEE THAT, ENNIS?!
I like how his outfit keeps getting more and more messed up and he can’t even put on a new uniform. That’s a nice touch.
It’s not all bad, though. At a seedy bar, Frank is greeted by the Vulture who wants to introduce him to his buddies. Frank is brought to a large grouping of Spider-Man’s villains, all toasting him on a job well done. Frank pulls out his guns and finishes all of them off in a quick spray of bullets. Everyone but the spooked Vulture, who’s too horrified to notice the handgun pointed at the back of his head.
The media, including Jameson, continues to kiss Parker’s ass despite all their unkind words in the past. In a run-down hotel, Frank watches the news, where friends, family and acquaintances are interviewed about Peter’s life. One voice and style of speech causes Frank’s ears to perk up, which brings us back to how the issue begins: in the office of Professor Miles Warren, the Jackal.
Warren admits he’s the Jackal, but goes into a rant about Parker and Gwen Stacy. Frank doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about and disregards it as the old man being crazy. Warren asks why he just doesn’t kill him right there, but Frank is waiting for the cops… who bust in on schedule. One of them blatantly looks like Sipowicz from NYPD Blue. They warn Frank that if he shoots Warren, he’ll be the next to die.
Frank smiles and tells Warren, “See you on the other side, Jackal.” Two criminals are about to be punished.
That was a classy issue. Good art, good script, nice characterization and it made the Punisher badass enough without making him drown in it. I liked how even if it was about Spider-Man dying, all the effects of it were channeled through Frank. We didn’t need to see the Avengers giving him a funeral or Aunt May crying. They had little to do with anything here. It was all about Frank, the Jackal and the media.
You might have noticed a strong lack of Punisher issues in the first half of the countdown. Don’t worry, we haven’t heard the last of him.
47) WHAT IF WOLVERINE BATTLED CONAN THE BARBARIAN?
Issue: Volume 2, #16
Writer: Glenn Herdling
Artist: Gary Kwapisz
Spider-Man death: Yes
Background: Towards the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga, the X-Men battled the Shi’arr Elite on the moon. At one point, Wolverine stumbled into the Watcher’s home. The Watcher told him to leave and emphasized his point by sending Wolverine through various points in time and space until tossing him back to the present and letting him continue. The Watcher often wonders what it would’ve been like if he was more strict with his Watcher code and didn’t allow Wolverine to continue on the moon. That’s where our story begins.
Wolverine, pretending he’s Bruce Campbell, ends up in an ancient desert, where he immediately saves the people there from a hideous demon. One of the guys he just saved, a good-hearted wizard Karanthes, tells him to seek a king in order to be rewarded. Wolverine can’t understand a single thing the guy said, but he saw him nod in the general direction of a nearby town, so off he goes.
Conan the Barbarian is off drowning his sorrows over some pirate girlfriend that died. A wizard Zukala shows himself. He’s currently angry with Karanthes, who stole his spot as the king’s oracle, and wants Conan to help deal with him. In return, he’ll bring his girlfriend back to life. Conan doesn’t care what the two wizards do to each other, so he agrees to the terms.
A thirsty Wolverine comes across a drunk soldier coming out of a bar. He pulls the poor guy into an alley, knocks him out (“Adamantium head-butts cause nasty hangovers, bub. I don’t envy you in the morning.”) and steals his clothes and money. Red Sonja pops into the alley, accusing Wolverine of being a spy, while Wolverine takes a second to get over how much she resembles Jean. They fight it out, but Sonja is a bit unprepared for what Wolverine has up his sleeve.
Wolverine disarms all of her blades and holds his claws to her neck. As part of Sonja’s universal proposition, any man who defeats her can bang her into oblivion, so she offers herself. Wolverine’s a bit disgusted and just leaves her lying in the alley. She’s a bit confused and a tad bit insulted, so she follows him into the bar. There, the two try and get to know each other a little better. The language barrier is still there, so the best they can do is figure out their names. Sonja cuts their date short when she sees Conan outside. She’s a bit suspicious of what he’s doing around there, so she and Wolverine follow.
They find Conan in the king’s palace, trying to kidnap the wizard Karanthes. Sonja claims that wizard to be under her protection. Karanthes throws a bag of some kind of sleeping powder at Conan, but the barbarian ducks and lets it hit Sonja. Wolverine gets angry and gets to fighting. Like with the earlier fight, Wolverine’s claws tear through Conan’s sword, though Conan is soon to find one of the wizard’s swords, which can deflect even Wolverine’s adamantium. The fight is pretty fierce and it gets pretty even, except that Conan begins to pick up on Wolverine’s fighting style and patterns. Conan tricks Wolverine into missing a killing blow, then nails him down the back of the neck with his sword.
Conan’s a bit puzzled. The scream he heard suggests that Wolverine’s dead, but his own sword is broken and Wolverine isn’t even decapitated. Oh well. He takes Sonja’s unconscious body and Karanthes and goes to Zukala’s lair. Luckily, it seems all the backdrops in the story are about two blocks away from each other.
Wolverine, as you can guess, heals from the loss. The thing is, he’s gone several minutes without any oxygen going to the brain. His body pulls itself together quick enough, but his mind is, for the moment, very screwy. With a berserk scream, he rushes off to find Conan. It’s on now.
When Conan gets to Zukala’s place, he’s told that he’s going to need to sacrifice Red Sonja’s body to get his dead girlfriend back. Conan shrugs off the morality and places her on an alter. Wolverine can figure out enough of what they’re planning and knows to lash out and attack, surprising the crap out of Conan.
Now that he’s completely savage, Wolverine has this really creepy smile constantly on his face, as if tearing shit apart makes him feel like he’s at Disney World. The rematch begins and it doesn’t last quite as long. Sure, Conan got Wolverine’s number the first time around, but now that Wolverine’s not in a civil state of mind, his fighting behavior is different. He no longer has a calculated style that can be scouted. He’s just a crazed animal.
Zukala tries hard to calm Wolverine down. He uses a translation spell so that Wolverine is able to understand and communicate with the people of this time. Then he shows what the X-Men are up to around the time Wolverine left, telling him that he could toss him back to his time if he were to jump into the well, but the portal will only be open for a few moments. Wolverine, not in the right state of mind, tries to comprehend this.
Meanwhile, Conan cauterizes his wound with fire, not even screaming due to how tough he is. He comes to the conclusion that Wolverine overcame death because he was protecting Red Sonja’s life, which was far more pure and noble than Conan’s own selfish scheme. Conan decides to do the right thing and tries to sneak out with Sonja over his shoulder. Zakula summons a demon minion named Jaggta-Nota, who appears as a 15-foot-tall, green minotaur. Points for originality. Conan fights him one-handed and doesn’t fair very well.
Wolverine is torn. The animal side of him sees Jean within the well, while the human side sees Conan heroically protecting Sonja and in need of help. He makes his decision and steals the wizard Karanthes’ staff. Somehow knowing how to wield it, he sends away the beast. Conan ends up getting flung into the air and lands into the well. He vanishes from this time and the path to the present closes. Zukala begs Wolverine that he can try to get him back another way, but before he can so much as finish his thoughts, he’s decapitated by the savage Wolverine.
The place crumbles and Wolverine, Sonja and Karanthes escape. Wolverine finally settles down. He’s now capable of verbally communicating with Sonja, but chooses to communicate mouth-to-mouth instead. Can’t argue with that. The two ride off and their relationship grows legendary, to the point that they one day rule the land as king and queen.
What a happy endin… wait. If they’re there, then where is…
Conan the Barbarian finds himself in the present, amongst the Dark Phoenix clusterfuck. He kills off a Skrull and a Kree warrior before coming across the X-Men’s attempt to keep the Phoenix under control. To Conan, it looks like a bunch of demons are torturing what could be Red Sonja. He hits the blue, cyclopean leader with a stone and cuts off the only thing keeping Phoenix from going to town. She uncontrollably explodes in flame and the entire universe is consumed. Conan pretty much sums it up with his final thought:
You have to hand it to Conan. Frank Castle only killed every superhero on Earth. Conan, on the other hand, really did kill the Marvel Universe! The ending was needless, but nonetheless a funny way to end a pretty solid issue. Conan vs. Wolverine is a real rarity in crossover fights. Not only do the fights actually go the distance, rather than be interrupted or have the guys realize they aren’t enemies after all, but we got a decisive winner out of it. A problem with the issue is that the artist can’t seem to see the visual difference between screaming and laughing hysterically. When Conan tries to decapitate Wolverine, they both look like they’re at a Dean Martin Roast.
The issue, sadly, loses points for never having Wolverine utter the phrase, “I’m the best at what I do, bub. And what I do is crushin’ my enemies, seein’ them driven before me and hearin’ the lamentation of their women!”
46) WHAT IF CAPTAIN MARVEL HAD NOT DIED?
Issue: Volume 2, #14
Writer: S.C. Ringgenberg
Artist: M.J. Jorgensen
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Mar-vell was a Kree soldier sent to Earth in hopes of conquering it. He learned compassion for Earth’s people and turned against his own. He was one of Earth’s heroes for a while, but after a battle with Nitro, he was exposed to a toxic nerve gas that unbeknownst to Mar-vell, gave him a strange form of cancer. A long while after, it became too evolved to do anything about and Captain Marvel died from his illness. Here, Captain Marvel suspects something amiss far earlier and intends to do something about it.
Mar-vell tells Rick Jones about his condition and says that they have to go to Reed Richards for a check-up. Since Rick used to be linked to Mar-vell through their old switching process (one on Earth, the other in the Negative Zone), he might be in danger. As it turns out, Rick is completely healthy. Mar-vell, on the other hand, needs help. Reed Richards, Dr. Donald Blake and Dr. Strange work together to figure out how to treat him. On one hand, Mar-vell’s quantum bands prevent his cancer from spreading, but on the other hand, it also prevents treatment. Strange comes up with a risky answer. He brings them and their equipment to the Plane of Rashnu, where time stops. There, they remove the bands and don’t have to worry about the disease spreading. Through a process too boring for me to describe, they cure his cancer and all is good.
Later, on Titan, Captain Marvel hangs out with his lady friend Elysius. Having a new lease on life makes him think that he should really do something with it. He wants to put an end to the Kree-Skrull War. He wants Elysius to pilot the Omni-Wave Transmitter, which for those of you who forgot from the Galactic Storm What If, is like the Death Star. They succeed in giving both sides pause, since they know they’re both doomed if they try anything. Elysius notices that things are going well, though she’s been feeling weak lately.
Meanwhile, let’s shift gears and see what the Silver Surfer’s up to. Still stuck on Earth thanks to Galactus, he needs to break free as he feels something huge is going on in the cosmos. He goes to New York City and notices a spreading disease among the populace. Surfer also finds that almost everyone in the Baxter Building is sick. Dr. Strange is there and mentions that the symptoms are similar to what Captain Marvel had. Rick Jones barges in to announce that Thing just collapsed.
In space, Captain Marvel isn’t having any luck. Neither race will stop bickering about how much the other side sucks. Both the Kree and the Skrulls send their own task forces to assassinate Captain Marvel and take over the Omni-Wave. Mar-Vell escapes with Elysius, fed up with this childish war. He claims he’s going to stop it at the source.
On Earth, Reed comes up with a creative idea of how to get Silver Surfer off Earth. Thor can bring him and Dr. Strange to Asgard’s Rainbow Bridge and then Strange can magically teleport him elsewhere. It’s just a bit risky, since it may piss off Galactus. They go through with it and it’s a success. Strange and Surfer end up on Titan, where Mentor is shown sick from the disease. It’s now apparent that the cure for Captain Marvel’s cancer has also made it contagious to most walks of life. The Surfer flies off to put an end to it.
We find that the Skrulls are also dying from the plague and blame it on the Kree. As the Silver Surfer discovers, the feeling is mutual.
On Earth, Ben Grimm flatlines. Reed finds it ironic that the strongest of the team is the one who dies first. Yet Rick Jones is completely healthy. The realization sets in and Reed starts to see a way out of this.
In space, the Surfer finds Captain Marvel and tries to stop him. He only wants to talk, but it comes to blows pretty quickly. Really, a nice fight. Captain Marvel won’t listen to reason and continues to duke it out with the Surfer until a two-handed cosmic blast takes him out of the fight. Surfer boards Elysius’ ship with Captain Marvel and forces him to listen to what he has to say.
Captain Marvel’s perceptions reach out and he comes to experience the scale of what he’s done. So many people suffering and dying because of him. He has a mental breakdown that ends when Elysius forgives him. His intentions were honorable and it’s not his fault. Mar-vell wants to kill himself to end it all, but Surfer won’t let him. Suicide is wrong. Still, he does need to be separated from everyone.
Dr. Strange pops in to announce that they have indeed found a cure by mass-producing whatever caused Rick to be immune to the disease. It only works on humans, so Earth is saved. Elysius is close to dying, but with the cure, Dr. Strange’s magic and Silver Surfer’s cosmic powers, she’s brought back to full health. Mar-vell tells Strange to put him in the Plane of Rashnu, where he can’t infect anyone. Elysius insists on joining him, since she would rather spend eternity with him than without him. The two are cast off into the void of a universe, slightly afraid of how big and empty it is.
And so, Captain Marvel is as gone here as he is in regular continuity. But even with that part the same, destiny has reshaped the rest of the universe. The Surfer is free and upon confronting Galactus, is allowed to move on in peace for reasons known only to Galactus. Even though the Thing is dead, his spot on the Fantastic Four is replaced by Luke Cage. And Captain Marvel, despite all his problems, did actually finish what he set out to do. Through the spread of his disease, both the Kree and Skrull races have become too crippled to even consider galactic conquest. A new peace is known through the galaxy and Rick Jones writes some sissy folk music about it all.
That was pretty impressive. They took a character who I only know as “That dead guy that used to hang out with the Hulk’s sidekick” and made me actually care about him. The issue was good drama and the 5-page fight between the Silver Surfer and Captain Marvel was extremely well-done. The art was on point, not for the style, but for the expression. Take the two above images for instance. Like I said, pretty impressive.
Speaking of impressive…
Next on the countdown: What If Rob Liefeld was a Competent Artist?