The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 4

August 13th, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I think I’m out of intro fodder. Let’s just get to the meat, then.


Issue: Volume 2, #5
Writer: Jim Valentino
Artist: Jim Valentino
Spider-Man death: No
Background: When the Avengers first met Wonder Man, he was secretly dying of a rare radiation disease. Baron Zemo offered to cure him if he helped destroy the Avengers. Appearing as a friend, Wonder Man led the team into a trap. Soon he had a change of heart and sacrificed himself to save Thor. Giant Man recorded Wonder Man’s brain patterns in hopes that he could live on. He did, later on, in the form of the Vision. While an android, Vision’s personality was based on that of Wonder Man’s. Some time later, Wonder Man did return from the dead, but that’s beside the point. What if Wonder Man had his change of heart before luring the Avengers into a trap?

Wonder Man tells the Avengers that he’s supposed to trick them, but can’t due to how they’ve treated him with such dignity. Giant Man talks with Reed Richards about a possible cure for Wonder Man’s condition as Wonder Man fights alongside the Avengers. After the brawl with Zemo’s forces is over, Giant Man gives him the cure and saves his life. Wonder Man is granted membership into the Avengers.

Like regular continuity, Giant Man, Wasp, Thor and Iron Man leave the team, with Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver replacing them. Since Vision got with Scarlet Witch in regular continuity, it’s only natural that Wonder Man and Wanda share the same attraction. This pisses off Quicksilver bigtime.

The biggest strike against this issue is the Wonder Man masturbation we get from writer Jim Valentino. For instance:

Cripes. Why not make Galactus afraid to come to Earth?

With Wonder Man on the team, Hercules also decides that they already have enough raw power and he isn’t needed. Wonder Man’s membership also means that Hank Pym doesn’t have to become Giant Man again to save Wasp. Hank Pym remains the team scientist and marries Wasp. Without the stress of his powers, he never brutalizes her. After the wedding, Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch finally admit their feelings to each other. Quicksilver, who made Wanda promise she’d stop flirting with Wonder Man long ago, gets angry and runs off.

Quicksilver ends up teaming with Magneto. They trick the Avengers and the X-Men into fighting each other, eventually changing into the two teams working together. Magneto makes an attempt to crush Wanda with a big chunk of metal, but Quicksilver shoves her out of the way at the last second. In an incident that screams House of M, Wanda cries over her crushed brother and lashes out at Magneto. Nothing crazy and world-altering. She just kills him. Fortunately for Wanda, she didn’t know that she just hexed her own father to death.

Wonder Man helps Wanda cope and proposes to her. She agrees.

Hey, look behind Hawkeye! It’s Booster Gold! Nice of him to show support for his shitty Marvel counterpart. Meanwhile, Spider-Man is wondering what happened to Hercules’ shirt.

So anyway, Ultron is created like normal. He creates the Vision, but doesn’t have any mental patterns to give it. He decides to hell with it and uses his own programming. While the first half of this issue was mostly Simon and Wanda working out their love crap, the second half is just lots and lots of fighting. Captain America, Iron Man and Thor return to help fight the Ultron-minded Vision, who has already taken down everyone else.

Vision beats the total crap out of Wonder Man and uses his phasing hand to give Simon a heart attack. With Thor’s brute strength and Ant Man sneaking around in Vision’s head, the android finally goes down. Unfortunately, it’s too late for Wonder Man. Pym gets the idea of recording his mental waves and using them on Vision.

Wanda is furious at the idea at first, but according to the Watcher, she eventually warms up to her husband’s new form. And so, the cosmic balance is restored. Except, you know, without Wonder Man’s sorry ass around.

Storywise, this issue was pretty lacking, but I enjoyed it as a history lesson. The Avengers’ history is a bit of a headache to me. After all, this is a team where one of the founding members leaves at the end of the second issue and the rest of the originals are gone by the sixteenth issue. I guess I just dig this mix of good characterization with good continuity.

But really, Dr. Doom threatened by Wonder Man? Give me a break.


Issue: recent
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Pat Olliffe
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Bruce Banner raced onto the test site to protect Rick Jones from the impending gamma bomb. The radiation transformed him into the Hulk. In this reality, it’s General Thunderbolt Ross who decides to take care of this kid personally.

One of the guys working on the project is a spy named Igor. He’s the one who set the bomb off before they were supposed to. Ross tries to save Rick, but after taking the blast, he reacts differently than Bruce did in regular continuity: he transforms immediately. Ross-Hulk falls over, crushing Rick Jones.

The results at the blast site confuse Banner, as Jones’ remains look nothing like someone who has been blown away by a radioactive explosion. Ross-Hulk makes an attempt to see his daughter Betty, but he just doesn’t have control over his body. His attempt to communicate with her comes out as a garbled roar. Confused and frustrated, he jumps away from the scene.

Igor tries to get away with General Ross’ jeep, but Ross-Hulk finds him and tosses the car into a gas station, killing the spy in one big fireball. Ross-Hulk realizes the horrible destruction he’s just caused and wants to somehow make things right, but before he can even think about putting out the fire, he’s attacked by the army.

Ross-Hulk figures that the best thing to do would be to find Betty again and get her to explain to everyone who he really is. The army intercepts him on the way home and he lashes out. Tearing the tanks and copters apart is so simple for him in this form. Ross-Hulk begins to think about what this means for the United States. Him, a being more powerful than any army, fighting for democracy. He finishes off the last of the toys and goes to Betty’s house.

He’s horrified to find it totaled. One of the tanks he tossed landed onto the house. A bitter Bruce Banner appears and tells him that Betty is in fact dead. He saw her waving right before the tank hit. Ross reverts back to his human self and starts weeping. He asks of how he could possibly redeem himself after this.

“I’m sorry, General… but you’ve convinced me. The world’s too dangerous. The time for words is over.”

These words reflect a similar speech Ross makes earlier, before the bomb is to be tested. Banner pulls a gun and fires on Ross’ skull. He corrects the dead General on an earlier misquote before walking off as the Watcher looks on.

I always feel conflicted about this story. On one hand, it’s about as tragic as the regular Hulk’s story, though far shorter. On the other hand, the close-minded General Ross is getting his just desserts. The shoe is on the other foot and he’s paying for his reckless ego. I guess while Ross gets what he deserves in this reality, it’s unfortunate that Bruce and Betty are as cursed here as they are in 616.


Issue: Volume 2, #19
Writer: Roy Thomas and RJ M Lofficier
Artist: Ron Wilson
Spider-Man death: Yes
Background: There was a story that involved Vision merging his programming with some evil program called Isaac. Vision came up with an idea of entering all computers and running the world to make it a utopia. Think of him as a more well-meaning version of Skynet. The Avengers convinced him he was wrong and he returned to his regular form. So what if he told them to go screw? There are two versions of the story.

The first one has Vision take over virtually every computer screen on Earth, including a goofy scene where some kids are playing at an arcade, curious as to what the hell Vision’s doing in the game. He assures everyone of his peaceful intentions and calls all the heroes to the United Nations. He shows humility and it’s clear that he still needs the advice and help of others. The heroes talk it over and since it looks impossible to destroy Vision and he does seem to want to really help, they give him a shot.

As it turns out, Vision makes good. The problems of war, the homeless, world hunger and the rest are snuffed out by Vision’s fair regulation. Within years, Earth has its own united flag as world peace has been realized. Earth makes incredible progress in space exploration in the next few decades, including a point where we’ve discovered a way to travel across the cosmos.

Fast-forward to the year 2136…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Is that it? That’s how creative we are in the future? We can’t even come up with new superhero concepts? What is this, DC Comics?

The Cosmic Avengers have been trying to bring peace throughout the universe, but the Kree and the Skrulls have allied themselves to prevent that. Oh, irony. Their armies are led by the Supremor (the Kree Supreme Intelligence given physical form) and the Mega-Skrull. Lots of fighting ensues, where we get Irondroid’s death and a neat fight between Thor and Mega-Skrull.

Even with Irondroid gone, the team is victorious and the losses of the Kree and Skrull armies cause rebellions among their people. They turn to the Earth empire for leadership. Vision doesn’t seem to feel bad about Irondroid’s death, but he does seem to smirk as finally, the galaxy will know peace.

This story did get its own extra issue in that Timequake atrocity, but let’s ignore that.

In another reality, some people at Genoshia get a little too freaked out and decide to nuke New York City, during Vision’s meeting. The UN and all the major superheroes are killed like that.

Riots and chaos erupt all over the world and Vision finds himself powerless to do anything about it, especially since people are destroying monitors just because Vision’s face is on it. He becomes colder and more bitter and decides to move through logic. He creates an alliance with Dr. Doom, Hydra, the Mad Thinker and the Kingpin. I think I can sum up their success with this: 100,000 Awesome Android duplicates. OH SHIT.

We’re going to need a lot of chalkboards.

So, yeah, the world sucks after they take over. Fast-forward to the future, where Vision rules the world with a clone of Dr. Doom (engineered to have none of his honor), a female Supreme Hydra and Metazoid (an android with Mad Thinker’s mind). A shame that Kingpin didn’t make the transition, though his future-redesigned self did get fame and fortune through a highly-rated game show.


Upon getting a handle of space travel, Earth’s forces had gone out to conquer the rest of the galaxy, rather than to liberate. The Supremor and Mega-Skrull each join their union, but it’s a ruse. They show false loyalty by helping destroy the Bagoon and the Shi’arr, but in actuality, they are working with the Bagoon. The two explain their actions and show a fleet on its way to conquer Earth. Vision’s posse has already seen through their plot and has made the proper contingencies to take over the Kree, the Skrulls and the Bagoon.

The story ends with this image of the Vision after having taken over the Kree Supreme Commander’s monitor:

And so, we find ourselves thinking back to the Avengers telling Vision to stop. The gamble was just too great. Despite his heroism and inherent goodness, Vision’s lordship over the world brings his mechanic nature into question. On one hand, he could be asking Captain America for help in making things right while on the other hand, he could have Dr. Doom in his own pocket while bringing Hitler and Stalin up as positive role models. The coin flip just isn’t worth it.


Issue: Volume 2, #48
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Kevin Kobasic
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Nuke was a mentally screwed up soldier who downed pills that filled him with adrenaline. Kingpin hired him to kill Daredevil, using the American flag to blind the patriotic madman. Nuke’s second attempt to kill Daredevil was met with a military chopper shooting him in the chest. Daredevil took Nuke’s dead body and tossed it on the desk of reporter Ben Urich. Due to his money and power, the Kingpin still got out of the situation untouched. So Ben Urich sits at his typewriter as the Watcher subtly gives him the ideas of what would have happened if Daredevil tried a different approach.

Daredevil drives Nuke to a hospital and puts him on a gurney. To the doctors’ surprise, Nuke will survive despite his massive wound. Some of Kingpin’s men, disguised as cops, try to take him out, but Daredevil escapes with Nuke’s body. Kingpin realizes how dangerous it is to have Nuke alive, so he goes with his usual failsafe.

Daredevil and Karen Page have Nuke taken care of in a secret hiding place, but Karen gets sick of Daredevil’s obsession with the Kingpin and leaves to go get food. Bullseye catches her and it doesn’t take too long for Daredevil to figure that out. Leaving Nuke’s body, he finds Bullseye waiting for him. The two brawl a bit and Daredevil finds himself in a position where he can kill Bullseye (especially after Bullseye referenced killing Elektra). Daredevil has to let him live, only so he can find out where Karen is. The Kingpin has her and is willing to trade for Nuke.

Daredevil returns to his hideout to find Nuke coming to. Daredevil tries to talk to Nuke, but the guy is completely insane.

“We took heavy artillery, soldier. Who pulled me out?”

“I did.”

“Good. Good soldier. What about the boys?”

“The boys are… fine. But they’ve got one of our girls.”

“ONE OF OUR GIRLS! We’ll get her back! Get me some clothes, soldier! Get me a Red!”

“We don’t have—“

“Who?! Who has one of our girls?”

“A traitor. A man who took the American Dream and perverted it.”

“Where is he?”

“I can’t. I can’t send you back to the frontlines, soldier. Your fight is over… and this is my mission.”

Daredevil goes to Kingpin in hopes to barter his own life, but Kingpin won’t have it. He’ll have Bullseye kill Karen to teach him a lesson. All of the sudden, Nuke crashes through the window and screams at Kingpin for being a traitor. Daredevil goes for Bullseye, but Bullseye quickly turns the tables. He’s going to knife him, but Daredevil’s saved when Nuke grabs Bullseye and effortlessly snaps his neck.

Nuke takes another bullet and falls out the window. This time, he doesn’t survive. Daredevil and Karen get out of there, leaving just Kingpin with a gun and a dead Bullseye. Urich is one the scene almost immediately and this time, the evidence is so crazy that there’s nothing Kingpin can do to get out of it. Back in the real world, Urich writes about how Kingpin’s empire would have crumbled for good, but then he takes his finished article and burns it, because it just isn’t the truth.

Honestly, I have never read much of Nuke outside of this. I’ve seen only a bit of his initial Daredevil arc and I can’t look at Wolverine: Origins for too long without the art stinging my eyes. From this issue, he seems like an interesting character who could’ve had some more mileage before they originally killed him off. Ever since he’s been brought back, he’s just a wacky cyborg or some shit. Nuts to that.


Issue: Volume 1, #19
Writer: Peter Gillis
Artist: Pat Broderick
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Few moments are as critical in Spider-Man’s life as the time he refused to stop a criminal from running away from the police. Inadvertently causing the death of Uncle Ben haunts him to this day, so it’s only natural that an issue would come along that asks about how different things could have been. When the egotistical Spider-Man sees this criminal running by, he figures that he could get some good publicity off of stopping him. One tripped burglar later and reality takes a turn.

Jameson is immediately angry over the incident, since the Globe got an exclusive. Spider-Man’s career continues to soar and he even gets a movie deal out of it. He makes public appearances in a sweet-ass webbed cape. Incidents keep causing the media-based hatred between Spider-Man and Jameson to escalate. A lot of the bitterness on Jameson’s side comes from his son’s death. A superheroic Spider-Man wasn’t there to save him and now Jameson is irritated by the fact that costumed idiots get all the popularity while real heroes such as his son die tragically.

Spider-Man decides to expand his career by becoming an agent to real superheroes. He convinces the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and the X-Men to let him represent them. I consider it a shame Spider-Man representing the X-Men sadly isn’t explored, since he did claim he could help make them more accepted and celebrated to the public. He also expands his business with this.

As Daredevil catches his first criminal, Spider-Man is there to make him his client. Daredevil is very reluctant, but warily decides to give it a shot. Spider-Man completely redesigns Daredevil’s ugly yellow costume (with the obligatory “what are you, blind?” joke) and makes him wear a red costume with a cape and trident. Daredevil immediately gets rid of the stupid bells and whistles, leaving him in his regular 616 outfit.

Jameson thinks that Spider-Man just created this so-called hero to gain publicity and gets on his case, hard. Spider-Man responds by doing some detective work and finding out that Jonah’s secretary Betty Brant is involved with organized crime. It gets even better once he finds out that the criminal leader Big Man is Bugle employee Frederick Foswell. The publicity is so bad for the Bugle, that Jameson is forced into resignation. With no son or newspaper, Jonah has nothing. He talks to Foswell in prison and is asked to keep an eye on his criminal properties. At first, Jameson says no, but after seeing a billboard for Daredevil, he immediately reconsiders.

Months later, there are several attempts on Spider-Man’s life. Daredevil insists that he stands as Peter’s bodyguard. During a meeting with some writers, Daredevil notices the scent of latex and spirit gum. Before he can get Spider-Man to safety, the writers drop them down a trap door and then unmask. They are the Sinister Six: Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, Vulture, Sandman, Electro and a hooded figure.

Daredevil fights to protect Peter, but is out-numbered. Peter is at first freaked out about actually fighting for real, but upon seeing his only actual friend get beaten within an inch of his life, he puts on his mask and takes to the Six. He takes them all down, one-by-one, then corners the hooded one.

Peter is taken aback by this, realizing what a horrible person he really is. He destroyed Jameson’s life and may have gotten Daredevil killed just because he was an irresponsible ass. The Watcher notes that even in this world, Peter Parker learns that with great power comes great responsibility. Is it too late for him now? That remains to be seen.

If you ask me, this issue was head and shoulders better than that less-than-stellar House of M Spider-Man side-story (even if Rhino attacking Green Goblin was one of House of M’s finest moments). Spider-Man’s always the sweetheart that gets shit on daily, so to see him act like a king-of-the-hill jerk makes you like him and hate his guts at the same time. There’s good stuff in there with Spider-Man’s egotistical path, Jameson’s downward spiral and Daredevil being a hero because somebody has to act like one.

I also recall Wanderer telling me to read this issue because, “Peter Parker has Patrick Duffy hair in it.” How can somebody say no to that?

Daredevil has to be blind. Nobody can stare at that so closely without going into a laughing fit.

Next time on the countdown: The Road to Civil War.

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