The new Marvel solicitations have been released, detailing the new What Ifs. One is based on Deadly Genesis, which doesn’t interest me since I haven’t read that yet. The other, which looks to be awesome, is Age of Apocalypse. This time, Legion did kill Magneto… but he also killed Xavier. Judging from the cover, this could be very interesting.
35) WHAT IF THE AVENGERS FOUGHT THE KREE-SKRULL WAR WITHOUT RICK JONES?
Issue: Volume 1, #20
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artist: Alan Kupperberg
Spider-Man death: No
Background: I myself haven’t read the Kree-Skrull War arc, but I get the gist of it from Wikipedia and the Watcher’s introduction. It doesn’t sound very good, all in all. The important parts to note are that the Super-Skrull had captured Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver with Captain America, Goliath (Pym), Iron Man, Thor and Vision off to save them. Rick Jones somehow got captured by some Kree guys as the Kree’s fleet prepared to invade Earth. In the end, Rick met with the Supreme Intelligence, who betrayed the Kree. He stimulated Rick’s mind so that he mentally projected memories of his childhood heroes (ie. the Invaders and the like) to beat up the Kree fleet. Sounds retarded, but it was the 70’s. This version of the story is far better. There’s a part of the original story where Rick Jones was brought before Ronan the Accuser. Rick stole a guard’s staff and attacked Ronan, only to do no damage. Ronan noted Rick’s courage and figured he’d make a good slave. In the Tom DeFalco version, Ronan is more pissed than amused and kills the boy with his cosmic hammer dealy. He calls for the fleet to make way to Earth and decimate it.
The problem with this issue is that it goes back and forth between way too many subplots, so describing this is going to be difficult. Let’s start with the Avengers. Cap, Iron Man, Thor and Vision bust into a Skrull ship and take it over, while Goliath is in their own ship, waiting. They find out that since the Kree are going to invade Earth, the Skrulls are going to get rid of them by nuking the planet. An army of Skrulls show up to fight off the Avengers. They find a ship to escape in, but it can only fit two. Cap and Vision fly off on it to rescue Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver while Thor and Iron Man stay back to fight off the Skrull soldiers.
Outside, Goliath succeeds in stopping the Skrull ship carrying their warhead and destroying it. He then sees the Kree armada on its way and goes to warn Earth. We eventually see him on board the SHIELD Helicarrier. More on that later.
Thor and Iron Man kick some Skrull ass. They fly out of their unmanned Skrull ship to destroy some oncoming ones. Iron Man blows one of them up, but underestimates the explosion. Thor finishes one off with Mjolnir, before realizing his buddy’s state. He not only needs to get Iron Man to safety, but he needs some help with the fighting. Luckily, Thor knows some guys that can lend a hand…
Things haven’t even begun to get good, folks.
Captain America and Vision have a hard time landing their ship on the Skrull homeworld, what with being blasted at. This is good for Vision, as he and Cap are in the middle of a rather awkward conversation about his noticeable attraction to Scarlet Witch. Vision blasts Cap out of the escape pod and then crashes the ship while turning intangible. The two regroup, only to be attacked by a bunch of Skrulls.
Now to the Captain Marvel subplot. He, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver escape their imprisonment. Captain Marvel locks himself away from the others and makes an attempt to communicate with Rick while fiddling around with the Omni-Wave Projector. Wanda and Pietro fight some Skrull guards for a bit, but all of the sudden…
Captain Marvel beats any and all Skrulls in his sight into oblivion, until they send in the baddest green cat of the planet, the Super-Skrull. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver end up meeting Princess Anelle, the daughter of the Skrull Emperor who heads this war. She and her resistance want a revolution, since they find the war to be a huge waste on their money and resources. Readers of Young Avengers might recognize Anelle as Hulkling’s biological mother.
Let’s get back to Goliath and SHIELD. The Helicarrier fires on the Kree fleet, but the return fire is too much. They just aren’t equipped enough for this kind of fight. They jump ship while down on Earth below, Mr. Fantastic takes notice of the upcoming invasion. Professor Xavier calls to him mentally and they come up with a plan. Since Reed has a Skrull starship, he can lift off and help fend off against the invading Kree. Xavier makes the call for help. And just who does he call?
Man, this issue rules.
Later on, a lot of these guys are seen running aboard Reed’s starship. Once in space, they’re shown storming Kree ships and beating the ever-loving shit out of anything that moves. Meanwhile, the Silver Surfer is shown blowing up some invading ships on his own. Even though humanity’s shunned him, he refuses to forsake them when they need him the most.
As for the Skrulls, they get paid a visit by Thor and his Asgardian brethren, who get there by a flying sailboat. A Skrull screams, “They come with swords and maces??? What matter of insanity…?”
Thor just takes it to them and yells, “Our strength be awesome – our numbers, legion! We shall not be denied!”
The Skrulls are overcome, not just because they’re outmatched by strength and skill, but because they are just too taken aback by their attackers. Because, really, what the fuck?
There’s one more subplot I have to mention. The Kree Supreme Intelligence mind-controls a grunt and has him hand over Rick Jones’ corpse. The Supreme Intelligence can preserve the body, but the mind is lost. His plan to stop the war looks to be a failure. He comes up with one final gambit, which he’s reluctant to do.
Later, the Supreme Intelligence confronts Ronan the Accuser in his new form. The Supreme Intelligence has merged with Rick Jones’ body, creating a being neither Kree nor human. He appears as a giant, glowing, green fetus with tentacle hair and yellow eyes. With a thought, he scatters Ronan’s soldiers.
“Traitor! You sacrificed your own galactic birthright – but why? Why?”
“To spare my former race from a madman’s dreams.”
Ronan blasts his hammer at the Supreme Intelligence, which the Supreme Intelligence meets with his own mental blasts. It’s a battle of wills that lasts long enough that they toss in an interlude scene before it ends. Finally, there’s a large explosion and only the Supreme Intelligence is left. He orders what’s left of the fleet to fall back and end this madness.
With a lengthy fight scene, Captain Marvel finally finishes off the Super-Skrull, feeling that he’s avenged Rick’s death. He saves Captain America and Vision, then leads them to the civil war breaking out. Captain Marvel saves Princess Anelle’s life while Vision and Wanda embrace each other in reunion. The Skrull Emperor appears with a weapon that vaporizes anyone he fires at. Scarlet Witch produces a hex spell that causes it to backfire and kill him. Now Anelle is the ruler of the Skrull Empire.
And finally, the Kree-Skrull War has ended. While all sorts of comradery has been created throughout the galaxy from all these different battles, the Avengers still feel pretty crappy about Rick dying. We end with the Supreme Intelligence giving Captain Marvel rule over the Kree, since he and Anelle can lead their races to a lasting relationship. He then flies off to learn about himself and the universe.
Good thing I got the long one out of the way first, eh? As for the issue itself, of course it has its problems. Is it convoluted? Yes. Is it a clusterfuck? Hell yes. Is it a fun clusterfuck? Damn straight. This was actually one of the last issues I read for this list, thinking that it would totally suck. How wrong I was. They should’ve called this baby What If Too Much Awesome Stuff was Going on at Once because even if there were too many subplots, they all had enough to keep me entertained. Even the Supreme Intelligence thing.
One little complaint is that during one of the scenes with the Marvel heroes teaming up, the colorist apparently though Daredevil was Black Panther and inked his costume as such.
34) WHAT IF CONAN THE BARBARIAN HAD WALKED THE EARTH TODAY?
Issue: Volume 1, #13
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Sal Buscema and Ernie Chan
Spider-Man death: No
Background: In one of his many adventures, Conan the Barbarian met a beautiful woman named Alhambra. She got him drunk and captured him for her master Shamash Shum-Ukin. He’s a guy from another era, who had a magic pit that allowed time-travel. He tried to sacrifice Conan and Alhambra to gain more powers, but the two escaped. In this story, the rope Conan uses to climb out snaps and he falls deep… into the streets of New York City.
Conan’s coming to this age mixed with the oncoming storm leads to horrible strikes of lightning that soon take out several vital power lines and generators, thereby forcing a soon-to-be-spreading blackout. That can only add to the danger of a half-naked badass walking the streets in the night.
Conan can’t understand a word being said, but perceives things as threats. First he scares off some punks that get in his face. Then he tosses an angry old woman into a trash can, thinking that she’s a witch. A police officer fires a warning shot and Conan runs away, believing it to be magic. They also toss in a quick Peter Parker cameo here, but nothing neat comes of it. Finally, while running from the law, he stumbles upon a taxi cab… which he believes is some kind of monster.
Enter Danette, the beret-wearing cab driver. Or, to be more precise, exit Danette. She gets out of her car and yells at Conan for hacking at her ride with a broadsword. She talks up a storm, wondering if he’s some foreigner with diplomatic immunity or what. With the police coming by, she doesn’t want to be arrested for her expired license, so she has Conan get into the backseat, lies to the police about where Conan’s gone and drives off.
Danette continues to talk a lot while driving to her place. Conan feels that while she does sound friendly (despite being way too yappy), there’s a good chance that he’s going to be tricked. Danette brings Conan to her apartment, which is above a closed furniture store. She keeps talking and we soon get an idea of why she’s so friendly to him and why she’s talking his ear off. The fact that she can’t communicate with him causes her to come to tears and Conan finally understands.
“You’re alone here – in this mad, monstrous world – with no man to protect you. But, you’ve been kind to me… I think. I’ll protect you, if you’re truly what you—“
They lock lips for a moment, but the lights go out. The blackout’s reached their neck of the woods. Conan looks out the window and can only see “the glowing eyes of metal dragons” driving around. Danette sits on her couch, thinking back to the Blackout of ’65 and how she wasn’t as scared as she should’ve been back then. Conan can hear in her voice that she’s lonely and reaching out to him, so he takes it. The two proceed to have hot couch action after finally introducing themselves. Conan can’t pronounce “Danette” right, so he just calls her “Dan”. Must be a Street Fighter fan.
In the middle of the night, the two are woken up by the sounds of a riot outside. People are looting the furniture store underneath the apartment and Conan thinks that the store belongs to Danette. He jumps down there and we finally get to some serious butt-kicking.
He tosses the looters around like rag dolls, including a bit where some druggy teenager steals his sword, makes a Star Wars reference, then gets punched in the face so hard that his entire top row of teeth goes flying out his mouth. Conan flips a car over, which sends the final message for everyone to get the hell out of there.
Back in the apartment, Danette pulls out a couple books with hope that Conan could point at one of the pictures and give her some clue as to where he comes from. She turns to a page with the Guggenheim Art Museum and from Conan’s upside-down view of the picture, it looks exactly like Shamash Shum-Ukin’s citadel. Figuring that Conan probably has some idea of what he’s talking about, Danette drives him to the museum. This happens to be the same night where a gang of five criminals plan to rob that same museum.
Conan and Danette uncover a dead guard. They investigate, though Conan can’t understand why any thief would want this worthless art. They run into the burglars and after an awkward exchange, one of them shoots Conan in the arm. Danette tries to get out of there, telling Conan that he can’t win this fight, but she gets shot down.
This makes Conan the Barbarian very mad.
Despite being armed with only a sword, he still takes apart the gang for hurting his girl with their “fire magic”. Two of them are tossed over railings. Another gets the sword tossed through his midsection, pinning him to a painting. One gets his skull cracked open from Conan tossing a marble sculpture at him. The last goon is strangled to death after trying to shoot Conan again. Conan goes to Danette and finds that she’s still alive.
Conan hears thunder above and gets this feeling that he needs to get on the roof. The two have a better time understanding each other and trade mementos. Danette gives Conan her beret and Conan gives her his arm-band. Police barge in and Conan runs off to the roof. Up there, he holds his sword up and stuff I don’t really get happens. The short of it is that a bolt of lightning sends him back to his time.
When a cop asks Danette about who Conan was, all she can do is look down and say, “Just… a guy. He wasn’t from… around here…!”
Conan ends up back at the citadel in his time and rides off into the desert. Normally, Conan would have figured his whole adventure to be a hallucination or a dream, but the blue cap he holds in his hand lets him know the truth.
I know this wasn’t the flashiest of all What Ifs, especially to be this high on the list, but it’s a good one. Sure, there aren’t any major crossovers and earth-shattering changes, but it gives what was at the time a fan-demanded concept. It’s character-driven, which is good, since a lot of the plot is wacky. The whole lightning bit at the end makes little sense, as does the way Conan ends up in the museum in the first place. While they were only together for a few hours, I enjoyed the Conan/Danette relationship. Then again, I’m always a fan of the language barrier relationships in stories like this, such as Ghost Dog and Enemy Mine.
Now, my big problem is the ending. Sure, the issue was cool and all, but I would’ve loved it if we could’ve had more present-day action with our barbarian hero. You want to see what would have happened if he had stayed. I guess what I’m asking here is…
33) WHAT IF CONAN THE BARBARIAN WERE STRANDED IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY?
Issue: Volume 1, #43
Writer: Peter B. Gillis
Artist: Bob Hall
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Let’s go back to that scene where Conan’s on the roof and the bolt of lightning sends him back home. That’s boring. This story shows what happens when the police pull him away only seconds before the bolt hits. Now not only is Conan the Barbarian stuck in the present, but now he’s under arrest.
At his trial, he suspects that they’re going to have him executed or put to slavery. He snaps his cuffs, knocks out the guards, punches out the judge in case his gavel is a magic weapon of some sort and then gets through the window. He gets shot in the shoulder on the way out, but doesn’t notice it for a bit. He later steals a knife and uses it to cut out the bullet. Once he comes to realize that guns aren’t magic, he figures that maybe this world isn’t as hard to get as he originally believed.
On 42nd street, Conan almost feels at home with all the riffraff. He hides in the shadows and picks things up from watching others. When a bum asks a guy for change and gets a quarter, Conan copies it by dragging a guy into an alley, and angrily repeating the exact phrase as the bum. Not only is he given the change, but the man’s wallet too. Conan disregards the worthless green papers and finds victory in the $1.75 in his pocket. Meanwhile, the mugged man runs off screaming, “The Hulk! I’ve been robbed by the Hulk!”
As days pass, he gets more of the English language and the language of crime. He understands cash money and the concept of cocaine. His skills as a modern-day criminal get stronger by the day and he no longer fears the world’s technology. He joins a criminal organization for a bit, giving him some security. After months of getting a grip on things, he returns to his old friend Danette.
Anyone who knows anything about the issue knows where this is going.
This is Shakespeare in comic form. Anyway, Danette is happy to see Conan’s all right, but misses the old noble barbarian she used to know. She tells Conan to leave and he decides to move on with his life.
Eventually, he gets tired of taking orders and figures he’ll start his own gang. He goes to Nate’s Gym to meet a man named Ajujo. Ajujo is a tremendously jacked black man with a reputation Conan admires. He asks him to be his second-in-command, but Ajujo won’t team with a white man. He calls himself the personification of Black Power and the Strength of Africa, which leads me to believe that this guy would’ve been one awesome pro wrestler. While he proves to be physically stronger than Conan, Conan shows that he doesn’t need strength to break his neck. Instead, Conan just throws him down and gives him his hand.
“Let this be our last contest, Ajujo.”
“Conan – you may be white, but you have the spirit of a black warrior. We shall be brothers.”
Fun fact: that exchange is almost exactly what hermanos and I said to each other before starting 4th Letter. Anything hermanos says to dispute it is a lie.
The Barbarians proceed to rock New York City. Their reputation grows by the day and it isn’t long until that they have their own turf with a giant black broadsword spray-painted against the side of a building. Conan keeps his morality, making sure that they only rob from those who can afford it. Ajujo thinks this is the life, but soon Conan grows to hate it. They need to stop being rats scurrying for food and become the legends he knows they can be.
Much like the guys in the last story, the crew break into a museum, where the artifacts are old enough that even Conan recognizes a few. One of the gang members accidentally sounds the alarm, which is extra shitty for them, since Tony Stark’s mansion is only three blocks away. Captain America is alone on monitor duty, drinking from a generic mug with “CAP” written on the side in generic text. Come on, Stark. You can afford better personal mugs than that.
Conan and his gang try to escape, but they find Captain America standing in their way. It only makes sense to see the perfect male specimen of the past take on the perfect male specimen of the present. Seeing Cap’s shield break his own sword in half makes Conan notice that for the first time since he’s shown up in this time, he’s going to have a real challenge. This fight lasts for five pages and it’s rather well done. Conan steals another sword and puts it against Cap’s shield.
Cap still wants to fight, but both he and Conan know that isn’t a good idea. Conan has too much respect for Captain America and tells him to tend to the wound as he and the Barbarians escape. Later, Conan has one of his men give the Avengers an invitation for Captain America to fight Conan of the Barbarians, one on one. He tells his men – Ajujo especially – that he does not want to be followed into this fight.
Cap and Conan get ready for their rematch in the South Bronx, but then the police show up. They found out about it and without Cap’s knowledge, followed him. Ajujo shows up to help out Conan and although he saves his friend’s life, he gets killed by a shotgun. Another blast meant for Conan is prevented by Captain America’s sure-shot shield-tossing. The gunman asks why Cap saved this criminal scum.
“I did it – for the sake of honor! Conan – there are places where duty and honor are not exclusive. If there weren’t – if the world was the way you think it is – I’d be out there with you.”
“Captain America, you are a valiant man. I salute you. But I will not come with you.”
“No, not today – but remember the Avengers, Conan. Call them.”
Cap tells the officers to let Conan go. He then talks to himself about whether or not he can see someone like Conan being considered a hero. We end the story with Conan in a cheap hotel, wondering about himself and his methods. Could Captain America be right? He stares at the telephone, pondering whether or not to make a certain phone call.
Now that’s more like it. Once we got all the “stranger in a strange land” stuff out of the way, the story graduated into something a bit more interesting. It almost came off as an excuse to have Conan fight Captain America, but I don’t mind. The lead up was fun, whether it’s Conan mugging a pizza delivery boy or the almost blatant Warriors reference. I would’ve liked it if they had done something a bit more with Danette, considering how important she was in the first story, but that doesn’t hurt it too much. Through What If, Conan the Barbarian’s butted heads with Captain America, Wolverine and Thor (not on the list). Now that Dark Horse does his comics, who the hell is he going to fight? Feedback from Who Wants to be a Superhero?
“Let me just say that it’s an honor to fight you, Mr. Barbarian. It means so much to me and the way you just chopped my arm off makes me think of my dead father. THANK YOU!”
“Croms bones, what the hell are you talking about, boy?!”
On second thought, I think I’d actually read that.
32) WHAT IF PROFESSOR X OF THE X-MEN HAD BECOME THE JUGGERNAUT?
Issue: Volume 2, #13
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Vince Mielcarek
Spider-Man death: No, but he does prove himself to be a gigantic pussy
Background: During the Korean War, Charles Xavier and his bully half-brother Cain Marko were serving together in the army. Cain Marko snuck away from the combat and found himself in a cave, hoping to hang back until the war ended. Xavier followed and watched as Cain came across the Ruby Gem of Cyttorak and its magic words. Inadvertently, Cain empowered himself with invincibility, strength and other bells and whistles as he became the Juggernaut. The cave collapsed on him just as Xavier made it out, knowing that his half-brother was probably still alive underneath all the rubble. Many, many years later, Juggernaut crawled out of the rubble and dedicated much of his life to making Xavier pay and using his powers for criminal purposes. If Xavier was only a little bit quicker during the war, maybe he could have grabbed the gem out of Cain’s hand before accidentally reciting the magic words himself.
The cave collapses, though Cain escapes with a promise of revenge on his mind. It takes Xavier years to burrow out. During this time, Xavier is able to mentally keep tabs on what’s going on in the outside world. It isn’t pretty. Without him, there is no X-Men and without the X-Men, there’s no good publicity for mutants. When Magneto makes his first appearance, it’s the Fantastic Four who stop him. There are no positive mutant role models, so it doesn’t take long for humanity to totally come down against their kind.
Magneto and his Brotherhood take over the country of Santo Marco, which he announces as a safe haven for all mutants. Even the good guys, who don’t agree with his methods, choose to turn to his guidance, else get hunted down for what they are. Months later, Magneto leads his legion of mutants to storm the United Nations and kidnap its leaders. While this sounds great on paper, what Magneto fails to realize is that these mutants aren’t well-trained in battle and that humans are desperate enough to give them a harsh thrashing. We see Iceman getting fried.
But when things start to look bleak, Juggernaut storms in with human soldiers hanging off of him as if they were nothing more than dirt.
“It has taken Xavier months to reach New York. It took him years to free himself from the mountain. And his long confinement cost him. It cost him years of research. It cost him his dream of a peaceful world. And, it seems, it cost him his sanity. He will no longer be frustrated. He will no longer be thwarted. He is the Juggernaut now – and nothing can stop the Juggernaut!”
He barges into the UN building and exclaims that all mutants are under his care. Magneto takes offense to this, but Juggernaut reads his mind and tells him how Magneto doesn’t just want mutants to be superior, but he wants the power that comes with leadership. Magneto tries to crush Xavier within his own armor, but it’s a worthless gesture. Juggernaut removes Magneto’s helmet and crushes it with little effort. Humiliated, Magneto leaves.
Sentinels – built perfectly, unlike the first set from 616 continuity – are sent to destroy Xavier’s new base in Westchester, but the unstoppable mutant tears them to bits. He goes to the source of the Sentinels and destroys them, realizing that this will probably label him a supervillain. Not that he really cares. When the Fantastic Four invade the mansion and fight his followers, Juggernaut sneaks away to a lab. Using his mind abilities, he searches the minds of the world’s smartest men to find out how to undo the Fantastic Four. He comes out with a gas gun that cures the team of their cosmic powers. With all of them reduced to humans, Xavier tells them to get the hell out of his house.
Kurt Busiek knew Xavier was an asshole years before anyone else.
The Russians try to bomb America, starting World War III. The fallout should kill us all, but Xavier uses his mind-leeching of scientists to come up with a way to turn it around and keep the world livable. He takes over the world and announces that he won’t be a dictator, but he doesn’t want mutants messed with. Two major things change in the years that pass. One, the radiation from the war causes more mutants to be born. They make up almost half the planet now. Two, the lack of opposition doesn’t make Charles Xavier any saner.
Juggernaut stations himself near the top of the Chrysler Building, where this world’s version of Cerebro is kept. Even the worst stuff we saw in House of M’s mutant-run world is paradise compared to here. Mutant punks terrorize elderly humans and it’s the humans who pay for it. Cyclops (looking like wrestler Psicosis circa-WCW) feels horrible about it all. This was supposed to be about equality and now they’re nothing more than Nazis.
Cyclops holds a meeting among the X-Men to voice his concerns. He’s leaving the team to find a way to help unfortunate humans. The only ones who agree to leave with him are Jean, Colossus, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, while most of the others feel threatened. Before a fight can break out, Juggernaut appears. He stops any fighting, but tells Cyclops and his backers to get out and not come back.
Leaving the building, Cyclops’ crew hear someone calling to them. They walk to an alleyway to find Cain Marko wearing a metal headband. Above, Xavier feels confused. He knows his former X-Men are talking to someone, but as far as he can tell, nobody’s there. Cain brings them to where he has a spaceship secretly stationed and flies them to Asteroid M, where his partner Magneto has been plotting for years. Magneto has created the metal headband, which obviously blocks out Xavier’s power. Without that, Juggernaut is potentially beatable.
Cyclops brings up that Xavier did save the world and that Magneto is merely trying to take over, but Magneto explains the difference: Xavier is possibly immortal. Even if he does deserve to rule the world, does he deserve to control freedom until the end of time? Cyclops gives in and allies himself with his former leader.
The next day, they storm Xavier’s base and take down the remaining X-Men. Since the X-Men are holding back as to not hurt their friends, that makes it a bit easier. Cyclops gets to the top and destroys Cerebro with an optic blast. Juggernaut, after years and years of pent up frustration, finally loses it. He storms at the mutants, swearing he’ll kill them. Most escape, but Colossus gets caught and pounded into a coma. Xavier removes the metal band and reads his mind. He finds out about Magneto, Cain and Asteroid M. What he doesn’t realize is that Colossus wasn’t told the full plan.
Juggernaut finds a way onto Asteroid M and first confronts Cyclops. While Juggernaut shakes in intense anger, Cyclops stands confident and argues with him about how it all went wrong. Cyclops didn’t betray the dream; Xavier did. He makes his points clearly, to which Xavier hesitates while screaming about how he’s going to snap Scott’s neck like a twig. All of the sudden, Quicksilver presses the detonator and an explosion blasts Juggernaut out of Asteroid M and into space. Cyclops feels horrible, feeling that he was getting through to him.
Cyclops and Magneto do the usual hero/villain post-team-up speech. You know, when the villain promises to wait until later to try and kill the hero. Cain Marko feels afraid, knowing that now he’s nothing but a minion that Magneto could kill whenever he feels like it. Meanwhile, Cyclops, Jean, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch know that it’s up to them to help get the world back on its feet, no matter how hard it’ll be.
It’s kind of like Onslaught, only it’s one issue and it doesn’t suck! I’ve always been a true-blue Juggernaut fan, so it’s no surprise that I took to this issue. That, and it’s always nice to see a story where an overly powerful hero – one who normally holds back – goes nuts with his power and completely dominates like this. There are a couple problems, though. For one, Thor is a lazy ass. You’d think that at some point during all those years, he’d take notice that something huge is going on in Midgard. Second, I totally forgot what I was going to say here. I think it was a joke about the Sentry or something. Either way, just chalk this up as a good issue and we’ll move on.
31) WHAT IF? FEATURING THOR
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Yet another trip into the 717 universe. Since Thor hasn’t been showing up recently in regular Marvel continuity, the nerd calling himself Watcher reads up on what became of him in this alternate reality. What he finds is a video interview of someone who knows the whole story. It begins with the image of Galactus standing over the rainbow bridge of Asgard…
As Galactus and his unnamed female herald prepare to destroy Asgard for Galactus’ own sustenance, the usual suspects of Asgardian sword-swinging race at them for battle. Thor and Loki, meanwhile, are given the job of dismantling Galactus’ energy-converting device. When Thor sees the silver herald blast Sif in half, he breaks away from plan and delivers a berserk beatdown that ends up killing the herald.
Galactus halts the Agardians and says that he has already absorbed enough energy from this realm to get by. If Thor agrees to be his new herald, he’ll spare Asgard. Considering how messed up the place already is, Thor feels he has no choice but to give in. Feeling horrible for his own cowardice and the villainy of what he’ll have to do, Thor discards Mjolnir.
Fast-forward untold time later. A bearded Thor, wearing armor, flies among a race of fiery alien reptiles. He holds his arms out and announces, “You have come to prevent the inevitable. Your world has been chosen to satisfy the hunger of Galactus! His will cannot be denied! Your world cannot be spared! To those who wish to defy him – I say thee nay! SAVAGE BEASTS!! THY FATE IS SEALED!! YIELD!! I COMMAND YOU!! YIELD!!”
Galactus looms over his herald and talks to him about his practices. Thor spends his effort finding worlds either without intelligent life or those filled with bloodthirsty, violent beings. Galactus isn’t angry, since Thor is loyal and he does get the job done, but he feels that Thor is making his job harder than it has to be. Why not just stop at one of the friendlier worlds, which would be ill-equipped to oppose them? Thor ignores his pep talk.
As they fly through space on their ship, a crow strangely flies through the void of space and into the craft. Thor recognizes it as a messenger from Asgard. Before dying, the crow tells him that Odin’s dead, Asgard is in ruins and Loki is running the show. Thor tells his boss that he’s taking a personal day. Galactus tells him no. They argue over their deal. Thor says that Galactus promised that no harm would fall upon Asgard if he conceded, but Galactus responds that no harm would come via Galactus. Thor wants to fight for it, but Galactus doesn’t have time for such things. He lets Thor go, but tells him that their deal is broken.
Thor returns to Asgard to find the place just as bad as he thought. All his friends are imprisoned and Loki sits on the throne, surrounded by his usual beasts and giants. As it turns out, Galactus showing up in Asgard was Loki’s doing. He only wanted Galactus to devour enough of the realm’s power to weaken Odin, not actually destroy the place. But hey, Thor and Sif are out of the way, so who’s complaining? He has his creatures smack Thor around until he comes across his father’s tomb. In Odin’s dead hands is Mjolnir. Thor picks it up and returns to his classic appearance.
The Power Cosmic and Mjolnir in one being? Oh boy.
Loki screams about how he won’t let Thor take Asgard away from him so easily. Thor grimly says that he’ll have a little help.
Loki wants Thor to protect Asgard, but Thor is already off saving his friends. He gives Balder orders to go gather everyone they can and cross the rainbow bridge to Earth. He then flies off, covered in cosmic glow, towards Galactus. Loki is happy about this… until Thor stops and floats before his master. He lands on Galactus’ hand, kneels and offers him Asgard. Its current condition is just a mockery of what it used to be. Galactus is pleased, but he wants Thor to rid his sight of Loki’s creatures.
Using his unbelievable power, Thor massacres all of the beasts. Loki makes on last ditch attempt to save himself, but Thor vaporizes him to a skeleton. The world is crumbling and the bridge is burning away. Balder the Brave asks Thor to follow him.
“No. My place is here, with him, and wherever he may go next. If I can be bold enough to decide which world is devoured, and which world is not, I may yet remain worthy to wield Mjolnir. Now go. There is nothing for you here, for anyone.”
Back to the present. We find out that the interview that the Watcher is looking at is Balder the Brave explaining how he became Chicago’s premiere superhero. Watcher sits in his room and talks about how Thor went through such sacrifice over and over again and that even though it’s from a different universe, Thor’s just as heroic there as he is here.
This is the last of the 2004-2005 What If issues that you’ll see on the list. It’s a lot like that Dazzler/herald issue from earlier on the list, only I don’t feel like less of a man for enjoying it. It did move a bit too fast for the most part and could’ve used some padding, but it’s rad enough that I’ll let it pass. The art is noticeable and while many aren’t into it, I find it rather fitting. Neither foot is standing on Earth in this story. There’s no need for gritty or realistic art. It’s nothing but pure science fiction tangling itself with pure fantasy.
Next on the countdown: Marvel’s current top villain… screaming like a little girl.