The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 12

September 18th, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This is a longer one than usual. I just had to rank two two-parters so closely together, didn’t I.


Issue: Volume 2, #20-21
Writer: Danny Fingeroth
Artist: Jim Valentino
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Peter Parker had proposed to Mary Jane. It was a battle with a Spider Slayer involving them both that convinced Mary Jane to say yes. That’s all well and good for her, but how would things have turned out if that adventure didn’t go so smoothly? In this reality, the Spider Slayer strangles Mary Jane a bit longer than normal and although she’s rescued, she is still injured. Peter keeps having flashbacks to Gwen’s death and can’t bear to see the same thing happen to someone like Mary Jane. For her own protection, he leaves her at the alter.

Look at that last panel. Man. I will never, ever forgive John Byrne for turning Sandman evil again. But enough of that.

Silver Sable has to step in to stop Spider-Man from being a little too anxious from time to time, but realizes that something’s eating him up from the inside. She decides it isn’t her business. Peter visits May to talk over his decision not to marry MJ. While she doesn’t understand why he did it, she trusts him to know he probably had his reasons. May’s just sad that once she’s gone, Peter will be all alone.

Peter decides to get back together with Black Cat. He sends her a message and two weeks later gets a knock on the door. He finds her standing in the doorway, giving him Mary Jane’s classic “jackpot” introduction. The two try out their relationship again by fighting crime together. There are a couple problems here and there, though. For one, Spider-Man notices that Felicia has a hard time letting go of harming her enemies more than she needs to. On the other side of the coin, when Black Cat beats up Kraven the Hunter and digs up Spider-Man’s body, he deliriously talks to her as if she’s Mary Jane.

Still, the two smack the taste out of the mouths of guys like Elektro and Venom with little trouble. Soon their relationship makes the papers and gets Mary Jane’s attention. She tries to call Peter, but Felicia picks up. Felicia tells her off and hangs up. Peter comes in and proposes to Felicia. She isn’t so sure if he really loves her or if it’s just a rebound thing, but she says yes anyway. After that, she pulls one of the biggest tard moves in comic history.

Black Cat goes up to Mary Jane in broad daylight, shows off her engagement ring and tells her, “See this? I’m going to be Spider-Man’s wife. Not you. He left you at the alter! Stay there! Understand?”

Only one guy overheard it. A guy who wouldn’t mind selling that info to the Vulture. Good going, Pete. Real winner you got on your hands. End of part one.

Under assumed names, Peter and Felicia get married in Niagra Falls. Felicia can’t get into it at the dirty motel, so they go back to NYC and swing around in costume until having some rough superhero sex on a rooftop. For their sakes, I hope it wasn’t the Baxter Building. Not that that wouldn’t be an interesting What If in itself. Anyway, Peter feels like crap since it’s apparent that Felicia is only in love with Spider-Man and not the guy under the mask. Also, Felicia’s angry that they have to see each other in secret, since she has a public identity and having her move in with him would make the Spider-Man/Parker connection obvious.

The Vulture, now knowing that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, blows up a big piece of Aunt May’s retirement community, then calls Peter to tell him about it. Fortunately, Aunt May survives. Spider-Man stops the Vulture from killing Felicia and goes into one of his usual “I’m going to kill you, even though I’m Spider-Man!” episodes. The Wild Pack show up to stop him and take the Vulture away, promising Spidey will get a piece of the reward money.

Black Cat admits her screw up and Spider-Man is beside himself. “It’s the one thing I begged you to be careful about, Cat – the one thing – and you blew it! I’m sorry I ever sent that letter that got us back together, Cat. It’s over between us. For good.” Since he can’t bring himself to talk to Mary Jane, Spider-Man pays a visit to Silver Sable.

Spider-Man briefly goes over how his Uncle died and Sable sympathizes with how she lost her mother. She tells him that he shouldn’t let it harden him like it did her, but Spider-Man knows she’s plenty human under her colder exterior. Before the conversation can go further, Paladin busts in to tell Sable that they’re needed to fight some terrorists. Spider-Man and Silver Sable run into action. Elsewhere, the Vulture escapes from prison, only to be immediately cornered and brutally attacked. He mutters Spider-Man’s name before dying.

Spider-Man tries to get back together with MJ, only to find that she’s already trying to move on with a new boyfriend. He leaves, but before he can get far, the Wild Pack attack him for murdering Vulture. He insists that he had nothing to do with it and Mary Jane comes out to back him up on it. One of Paladin’s bullets ricochets and almost hits Mary Jane. Black Cat swoops in and brings Mary Jane to safety, on top of a ledge. She admits that she killed the Vulture in hopes that Spider-Man would take her back. That doesn’t exactly make Spider-Man very happy.

Sable thinks that MJ is a hostage, but Cat tells her that it’s not her style. She tries to bring Mary Jane through the window, but MJ slips and falls. Spider-Man has Gwen flashbacks and makes the save. At the same time, Paladin jumps the gun and fires on Black Cat. She falls to the ground and dies, telling Peter that she knows he hates what she did to the Vulture, but it was necessary. Her last words are that she loves him. Spider-Man looks to Mary Jane and the two know that it’s too late to get back together. Mary Jane walks away.

Some reporters arrive, explaining that a prison guard woke up from a coma to verify that Black Cat killed the Vulture. They ask Spider-Man for a comment, but Silver Sable tells them to get lost. She walks Spider-Man away from the scene. The Watcher narrates that he eventually does get past his mourning and goes back to fighting crime. He meets with Silver Sable both on the battlefield and in private. Who knows whether it’ll work out or not? But for the time being, Peter Parker and Silver Sablinova have each other and that’s enough.

I don’t have much to add to that. It was a nice, solid story with an unexpected, yet upbeat ending. Plus it’s a nice way to show that the Spider-Man/Black Cat relationship is doomed on all sides once it goes past platonic.


Issue: recent
Writer: Rick Veitch
Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Another trip into Earth 717, as told by the nerd known as the Watcher. He downloaded an audio book from the alternate universe and listens to it on a long bus ride. It’s a book written by playboy industrialist Matt Murdock, about his ancestor who lived in Feudal Japan.

We begin with a ronin referred to as the Old Devil. He carries his infant son around him and is asked to work for the Shogun by one of the Shogun’s minions, Owl. Old Devil refuses to work for someone as dastardly as the Shogun and in return, the Owl holds up a radiant stone and uses its intense light to blind Old Devil’s young son Masahiro. Old Devil slays Owl and hears him say that the Shogun has the ability to undo the blinding. Old Devil feels that he has no choice but to do the Shogun’s bidding.

We find the Shogun training in the style of sumo against some lesser flunkies. Much like his 616 counterpart Wilson Fisk, the Shogun is a large and powerful man in the guise of someone with a weight problem. Stick tells the Emperor that there are some American ships on their way. The Emperor wants all outlanders killed, but the Shogun tells him not to. These “round-eyes” have discovered a way to turn powder into weapons that can kill men at great distances. He tells the Old Devil to meet up with a spy on their ship, steal their weapons, kill everyone on board and burn the ship.

We’re then introduced to Matthew Murdock, a cabin boy on the incoming ship. He and his friend Foggy are discussing the international ongoings, unaware that the Old Devil is sneaking onto the ship thanks to one of the Greek passengers. Once they realize something’s up, it’s too late.

Matthew sees the Old Devil, and before the ship explodes, Matthew escapes onto a lifeboat. Foggy, on the other hand, isn’t so lucky. Matthew’s will to live come strictly from that and his thoughts of revenge.

As it turns out, the Old Devil blew up the weapons as a way to stick it to the Shogun. The Shogun admits that he never did have a cure for Masahiro’s blindness and has his men attack. Though Old Devil kills many, it is his good friend Stick who puts an end to him. Stick is apologetic to what he has to do, but promises to keep an eye on Masahiro. The Shogun also kills the Greek ambassador and his wife. He keeps their daughter Elektra to be raised as a geisha, figuring that she might be interesting once she reaches maturity.

Stick tries to help Masahiro get through life with blindness, but soon finds out that he has great abilities. He acts like he can see in every direction and has unbelievable agility. Stick trains Masahiro in combat and one day gives him the mask that his father used to wear. Now Masahiro is to be known as the Devil Who Dares. It’s up to him to help bring an end to the Shogun’s reign.

Stick uses his influence to get Masahiro a position inside the Shogun’s palace, so he can hear vital information from the inside. He gets a job tending to the geishas, since he’s blind. That doesn’t stop him from being able to sense the acoustic resonance of these fine women. As you can probably guess, it’s Elektra who truly gets his attention. Which begs the question: in Asia, do they call this “white fever”?

As the Devil Who Dares, Masahiro acts as a Robin Hood figure. In one of his adventures, he comes across Elektra, who has been secretly training with the Hand for years. The two decide to fight the Shogun’s forces side-by-side, but Elektra refuses to give into their romantic desires. She’s a bit too bitter over some of the stuff she’s had to do with the Shogun.

Time passes and soon the Shogun gets the idea that Stick is somehow behind the Devil Who Dares. He has him poisoned and hires an American mercenary named Bullseye to aid him in killing the Devil Who Dares. This all comes to a head when Masahiro and Elektra go on a suicide strike to kill the Shogun during one of his travels. Despite the overwhelming opposition, they still get close enough to him to make him fear. The Shogun gets on a horse and rides off towards a nearby volcano. The Devil Who Dares and Elektra follow after him.

The Shogun admits that he recognizes the mask, but knows that it belonged to the Old Devil, who he killed. Since then, he’s had many dealings with the Americans and introduces Bullseye. Bullseye is camped above, ready to fire a rifle at the Devil Who Dares. Elektra makes a run for him, but Bullseye shoots her down. The Devil Who Dares cries over her death and leaves himself open for the Shogun to strike him down and unmask him. Shogun is surprised, but gets over it quickly. He commands Bullseye to fire on Masahiro.

Yep. In this world, Matthew Murdock is Bullseye. Neat twist. As much as he wants revenge, he lets Masahiro kill off the Shogun. His earlier bullet only grazed Elektra, since he would never allow himself to actually shoot a woman dead. Masahiro and Elektra, brought closer together by this experience, soon marry. Matthew Murdock, the first ambassador to Japan, is their best man.

This issue was a completely pleasant surprise. The Elseworlds style of it made me wary, since DC’s similar Shogun of Steel comic left me with a really sour taste in my mouth. Not only was the art excellent, but the story moved on with great pacing and wasn’t as paint-by-numbers as it could have been. They easily could have just used some kind of super ninja with pin-point shuriken accuracy as Bullseye, but instead went with the Matthew Murdock twist. That added a ton of character to what could have been an elementary storyline.


Issue: Volume 2, #7
Writer: Jim Valentino
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Wolverine’s first Marvel appearance had him fight the Hulk and Wendigo. Though he didn’t succeed in bringing the Hulk in, it was still an impressive showing that led to him being sought out by Professor Xavier. Instead, Logan’s exploits get the attention of Nick Fury, who needs his help.

Hudson introduces Fury to Wolverine, telling the short mutant that the Canadian government’s agreed to loan him to SHIELD for a bit. Wolverine’s offended, but promises to at least hear Fury out. Shortly later, on the Helicarrier, Logan meets Dum Dum and Black Widow. Fury explains the situation: Hydra has somehow stolen their LMD (Life Model Decoy) technology and have been replacing SHIELD agents with androids. They need Wolverine to sniff them out and destroy them. With no need for any more provocation, he hops to it.

Fury’s shocked that Hydra got so close to him. He sends Wolverine and Widow to go take out any and all other LMDs on the Helicarrier while he tries to figure out where Hydra’s currently held up, so he can go rescue Dum Dum. Wolverine has heard of Black Widow and is quite impressed with her skills. A relationship between the two isn’t explicitly stated in the story, but considering Black Widow’s a redhead, I’d say it’s pretty likely. The two dismantle several dozen of the spies together, and almost tear apart an innocent soldier until Wolverine notices he’s human. Fury finds out where Hydra’s base is and asks Wolverine if he wants to follow. He shrugs and decides he wouldn’t mind some more action for the day.

A lot of the issue is a sequence of SHIELD storming the Hydra stronghold to save Dum Dum Dugan. By the end, Wolverine goes after Baron Strucker and chops off his right hand, rendering Strucker’s Satan Claw weapon useless. Fury tells Wolverine to step aside, as he wants Strucker all to himself. Wolverine sits back and prevents all the other soldiers from interfering while this personal fight to the death goes on. It ends with Fury electrocuting his sworn enemy to death. Fury shakes Logan’s hand and invites him to stay with SHIELD. Despite Wolverine’s misgivings, he’s assured that he’d get his own authority and the bureaucratic red tape with the Canadian government can easily be dealt with. Wolverine decides he was tired of that old gig anyway, so he gives Fury the go-ahead.

We get a montage that shows how valuable an agent Wolverine is, fighting the likes of Modok and AIM with guys like Fury, Black Widow and Captain America. One day, Professor Xavier visits him, asking if he’d join his X-Men on a rescue mission. Wolverine turns him down, since he’s so busy with SHIELD, but promises to watch over his team and lend a hand here and there.

Meanwhile, as Nick Fury drives around in his flying car, he’s attacked by an LMD based on Baron Strucker. Fury succeeds in destroying the robot, but the damage to his car has already been done. The best he can do is steer it out of the way of innocent bystanders. Fury’s car falls into a river before exploding and killing the heroic driver.

At the funeral, Logan and Dum Dum discuss the future of SHIELD.

“They offered me the directorship,” Dum Dum says. “I turned ‘em down. I’m gonna retire. It just ain’t the same… without Nick. I recommended you for the duty, Logan.”

“I ‘preciate it, Dugan… but I don’t think the U.S. government is gonna turn over the reins of its top spy agency to its latest recruit.”

“Yeah. Nick figured the same. He already cut through the red tape. They’re ready whenever you are, runt.”

As it turns out, a sneaky mutant with that kind of government authority is exactly what his kind’s needed for all these years. He brings an end to the project to rebuild the Sentinels, thereby preventing the coming of Dark Phoenix. He has Senator Kelly discredited and helps undo mountains of mutant persecution as well as the foretold Days of Future Past. Logan will be revered for being the one mutant who brought peace and the ability to co-exist between humans and mutants.

Wolverine not being a member of SHIELD is one of those big cosmic errors that we see in comics. Superman shouldn’t be with Lois, but with Wonder Woman, his ideal partner. Guys like Lex Luthor and Dr. Doom should be positive figures who use their minds for a better tomorrow instead of being assholes with petty issues with revered heroes. And Wolverine is a far better fit as a member of SHIELD than as the black sheep of the X-Men. Not that I’m complaining, of course. Those ideas are screwed with for the sake of interest and for the ability to shape better stories. Still, it’s good to see how fate would’ve acted if things played out the way they were always meant to.

Let’s shift gears and talk about the art. Funny story. I read this issue and it wasn’t until years later that I found out Rob Liefeld was the artist. I was honestly shocked because this is surprisingly competent compared to all the glossy, eye-burning crap we get from him these days. I’m not saying the issue is an artistic gem or anything, but only after the fact did I notice all the obvious Liefeld trademarks in toned-down form. Sure, there are a couple awful panels (Black Widow cross-eyed in one spot and a bit where Wolverine’s face is on the bottom quarter of his head), but back then it looked like he was genuinely capable of telling a decent enough story without distracting you with 28 abs.


Issue: Volume 1, #23
Writer: Peter Gillis
Artist: Herb Trimpe
Spider-Man death: No
Background: The army figured out a way to defeat the Hulk by shrinking him. Hulk ended up shrinking beyond our own universe and found himself in the world known as K’ai. There, not only did he begin to maintain his Bruce Banner intelligence thanks to the help of sorcerers, but he fell in love with that world’s green-skinned queen Jarella. They were going to get married, but the army brought the Hulk – and inadvertently Jarella – to normal size and back on Earth. Hulk lost his intelligence and soon after, lost Jarella. During a brawl between the Hulk and a robot called Crypto-Man, Jarella pushed a little boy out of the way of some falling wreckage and got crushed herself. Easily one of the saddest moments in the Hulk’s depressing life. Here, she sees the little boy flicker, which causes her to hesitate. The rubble then lands on the boy, though Jarella isn’t sure what she’s just seen.

Hulk destroys Crypto-Man and all is good. He tries to uncover the crushed boy, but finds nothing. Odd.

For a short while, the two would be together on Earth, though Jarella misses Hulk’s human intelligence. The army arrives, explaining that for once they come in peace. Henry Pym has figured out a way to get the Hulk and Jarella back to K’ai. I don’t feel like typing the whole thing up, but the gist of it is that they have to shrink them a lot and they’ll eventually fall through different worlds until finding K’ai. General Ross thanks Jarella for getting the Hulk out of his hair. Pym, to himself, thinks his goodbyes to his old teammate. The two are sent off.

The two keep ending up in the wrong world, thanks to some force working against them. Through sheer concentration, the Hulk pushes past the force and the two continue to shrink until appearing in K’ai. Hulk is sure they’re in the right place, as he’s regained the mind of Banner. Though they feel something evil in the air, Hulk carries his girl and hops to her kingdom. It’s a joyous reunion and Hulk wants to get hitched with Jarella as soon as possible.

Soon after the wedding, Hulk saves Jarella from being sacrificed by a cult worshipping the world’s Dark Gods. Over the next few days, there are reports of undead rising from graves, strange fungi consuming buildings and machines going haywire. A frustrated Hulk destroys a table and yells, “Why do we have an enemy we can’t smash?!”

Jarella is thankful to find out that her call for help was successful. In enters six of K’ai’s great heroes from various cultures: Cnerla of the Knives, Great Hrond, Ythaer the Swift, Fierce Vidas and Glunno the Winged One. In all honesty, while these guys don’t do too much, they really are one of the reasons I totally dig this story. I love how well they were designed. They’re described as being that world’s superheroes and it looks like they actually put thought into them instead of cutting corners. While being grounded in a Herculoids-like world of green-skin men, they’re still unique to each other, much like Captain America is compared to Iron Man on Earth. Cnerla appears as a knife-tossing magician while Hrond is a tall man in Egyptian clothing and Vidas has an eye patch and a variation of a high-ranking military outfit. Just the fact that we didn’t get a generic bunch of grunts who look the same boosts the big battle that’s to come.

They call themselves the Defenders of the Realm… which gives me some bad flashbacks to that Mortal Kombat cartoon where Luke Perry voiced Sub-Zero. An elder brings up where the Dark Gods may be found. Hulk, the Defenders and Jarella travel to Wol Ulra, home of their enemies. Once they get there, a legion of demons come out of caves to attack. We get a big fight scene where we see the various heroes show their abilities and boast a line or two. It’s pointed out that the loyalty and respect the Hulk gets from these guys drives him to fight harder. Soon, the demons have scattered, leaving one lone figure to walk from the cave.

It’s Visis, a traitor to Jarella’s court from the original storyline. Or at least, his reanimated corpse. He explains in boring detail how the Dark Gods are behind the Crypto-Man, the little boy that Jarella was meant to save, the force trying to keep them from returning to K’ai, and the rest. Even though it’s not their style, it’s felt that they have to take on the Hulk directly. Visis introduces a Hulk doppelganger that is the living embodiment of Hulk’s rage. In other words, he’s like an evil version of Savage Hulk. It’s worth noting that in an earlier issue, this Hulk clone defeated the real thing. Clone Hulk lunges at Jarella and threatens to smash her. Our Hulk hesitates.

“My pulse is racing – mustn’t lose control – have to think – NO! If I keep repressing the Hulk side of me, Jarella will die! And the Hulk will not let her!” He grabs his savage self by the forearm. “You’re the enemy! All my life I’ve been afraid of my rage – my destructive urges! No longer! At last I’ve found something worth raging for! Jarella – K’ai – my friends!”

The explosive blow causes the nearby cave to crumble, killing Visis and some demons. We end with Lord Hulk shaking his fist at the rubble.

“Hear me, Dark Gods! I know you’ll be back! I know you’ll try again! But I will protect this world, and I will destroy you – because nothing can stop – The Hulk!”

In addition to the whole thing with the K’ai superheroes, I liked the issue for how it ended. For one, Hulk issues of What If are usually pretty depressing. The guy can never catch a break no matter what he does. Two, this is the kind of ending I’ve always wanted to see. I’ve wanted to see a story where the Hulk and Banner – these two sides to one mind – come back together as one being out of mutual respect and a shared goal. Sure, we had Smart Hulk a while back, but that was Doc Samson’s doing. This, though, was about Bruce Banner coming to terms with who he is and becoming stronger for it, literally.


Issue: Volume 2, #46-47
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Tod Smith
Spider-Man death: Yes
Background: Once upon a time, Xavier spent some time away from Earth. The Skrulls kidnapped him and planned to use him against Lilandra. Here, he escapes quicker than normal and makes it back to Earth. The X-Men are having a number of problems around this time and it angers Xavier. He yells at all the teams, while some mutter under their breath how full of shit he is. Cable is the one who stands up for himself and tells Xavier that he’s partially to blame. Xavier considers Cable to be as bad as Magneto and that he’s constantly pushing the mutant cause back through his extreme actions. Xavier tells Cable that he is removing him as leader of the New Mutants.

The New Mutants make a stand for their leader. Xavier demands that they not leave, which leads to a huge melee. Despite the superior numbers, the X-Men end up letting the New Mutants slip from their fingers. Cable and his friends escape.

Oh, Charles. Why did you have to go and do that?

Later on, Xavier, Cyclops and Jean are at a restaurant together, discussing what their next step should be. Xavier suggests having Beast join the Avengers again to help out mutant relations. Suddenly, a screeching noise causes them to all cover their ears. It’s scrambling Xavier and Jean’s mental abilities enough so that they don’t see the next step. A metal bomb lands underneath their table and explodes, killing all three of them. Outside, Cable runs off with a sense of victory.

After the funeral, the teams argue over what they should do. Storm and Beast lead a group who want Cable to be taken in alive, so they can bring him to justice. Wolverine and Psylocke lead another team that wants to murder him for what he’s done. The latter team walks off, saying that after they kill Cable, they’ll come back.

With Xavier, Cyclops and Jean gone, plus the remaining team split, the shit hits the fan. X-Men villains come out of the woodwork to cause trouble. While the X-Men have their hands full, the Avengers have to put up with Apocalypse and the Fantastic Four deal with Stryfe. Mutant hate goes into overkill as mutant lynchings get more popular. Sebastian Shaw sees money in this and gets in contact with the President about bringing back Project Wideawake.

The X-Men barge into where the New Mutants are hiding out and another mass brawl erupts. Seeing guys like Iceman and Warlock fight each other is secondary here. What’s important is Wolverine vs. Cable. They have sparred many times over the years, but this is a fight to the death. And in a comic called What If Cable Had Destroyed the X-Men, who do you expect to win the fight?

That’s right, you expect Cabl—Wolverine! Yes, you expect Wolverine to win. That’s what I mean to say.

Things are craptastic at the mansion. It seems just about every villain team with an axe to grind is out to kill the X-Men in their moment of weakness. The team is exhausted. Ever since the funeral, they’ve been fighting non-stop. All they can do is run off, and even then, Nightcrawler and Polaris are killed. Storm looks back to see the mansion blown to smithereens. Tears in her eyes, she apologizes to the Professor.

Somebody’s watching this and isn’t happy. All these mutant groups warring with each other. Soon, even the alliances brought together by their hatred of the X-Men will fall apart. They need a leader to keep them together. A leader to fix all the madness going on in the country. That man, the one monologuing, is Magneto.


End intermission.

After murdering Stryfe to make a point, Magneto pulls together an army of mutants from all walks of their kind. Brotherhood, Freedom Force, Morlocks and even some X-Men. They storm the Capital, taking on all of the major non-mutant heroes. We see a couple neat pieces of interaction, like Dazzler showing how Invisible Woman’s force fields are worthless against her powers and Strong Guy telling his opponent Thor that he’s actually his role model. Magneto puts an end to the fight by showing up with a bunch of politicians in his force field. One of them screams at the heroes to keep fighting, but Captain America won’t put their lives in jeopardy. Magneto’s won… for now.

Storm is left with only Colossus. The rest have either deserted her or have died helping her. The other half of the team is shown killing Mr. Sinister and his Nasty Boys. Once they’re finished off, Psylocke warns that she doesn’t want this anymore. They were only supposed to go after Cable. Wolverine, whose mask is torn up with half his hair hanging out, won’t hear it. We find out that at some point, Jubilee also died. Wolverine won’t stop hunting down their enemies and gutting them until he himself is six-feet-under. He’s completely out of his head at this point. Psylocke marches off to find Storm.

Magneto has negotiated unconditional surrender from the US government and now he rules the country. The President feels his hand is forced as he activates all the Sentinels hidden throughout the country. They go to work fast. First they take out the Savage Land Mutates. Then they go after all mutants, such as Franklin Richards. Then they try to terminate the New Warriors for having a mutant in their midst. We even see Wolverine’s team being taken apart effortlessly by the Sentinels, calmly announcing their deaths like it was nothing. The frustrated Wolverine emotionally screams, “Stop it! Stop tickin’ off names like we’re nothin’ but cuts a’ meat! We’re people!” After Iceman is neutralized, Wolverine feels no other choice but to escape and rethink things.

Magneto, on the other hand, has no problem destroying the attacking Sentinels. Even those that aren’t metal. It isn’t nearly enough to stop the overwhelming numbers storming the nation. Over time, all the non-mutant heroes and even Dr. Doom are terminated. Sentinels take martial law, as human freedom prevents their ability to keep mutants under control. Captured mutants, as well as humans capable of spawning mutants, are kept in a concentration camp of sorts.

Wolverine is seen on a street, angrily screaming and flailing his claws as he scares off a group of angry humans. As it is, they have just delivered a severe beating to Sebastian Shaw and he’s dying from his injuries. Shaw at first believes it ironic that one of his greatest enemies has just saved him, but Wolverine makes it known that he only did it because Shaw has something he wants. Shaw figured it was only a matter of time before someone got smart enough to find him. Wolverine pleads with him to, for once in his miserable life, do something because it’s the right thing to do. The dying Shaw agrees.

Storm and Psylocke (Colossus sacrificed himself for them) realize how the world is moving closer and closer to the Days of Future Past reality. They go to the White House to warn Magneto that he needs to make peace with humanity and allow them to deactivate the Sentinels. Magneto refuses, since he’s too high on his own godly power. To prove his point, he directs them to an upcoming Sentinel onslaught. Magneto effortless tears them apart. There’s one left, but Psylocke has mentally scanned it. She warns Magneto not to kill it, but he refuses to listen to such childish idiocy. What she was trying to tell him is that that particular Sentinel has a nuclear warhead inside it. Magneto, Storm, Psylocke, countless mutants and humans are vaporized. Sentinels just wiped out Washington DC just to get rid of one obstacle.

Over the next year or so, the Sentinels take over the entire planet. Casualties are immeasurable. Soon all the mutants in the world are slaves and/or prisoners.

All except one.

Wolverine sneaks into one of the Mutant Internment Centers, completely undetected. He frees Iceman, Siryn and the more obscure mutants Amphibius, Sunder, and La Bandera (last two are dead in 616 and the first doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page). They sneak away, unnoticed by the Sentinel guards and find shelter. There, Wolverine explains how they got away. Sebastian Shaw had a hand in the Sentinels, yet he was a mutant himself. Obviously, he and his buddies would have to have cloaking devices that keep the Sentinels from sensing them. He gives the escapees some new clothes and tells them to get dressed. It’s time for a rebirth.

“It took way too much death an’ misery, but it finally got through even my thick skull. Xavier was right. I was always the lone wolf – playin’ out my own hand an’ leavin’ it to others, like Xavier an’ Cyclops, to hold things together. Trouble is, he’s gone now, an’ things have never looked worse – for mutants or humans. But there’s still hope – as long as someone’s willin’ to fight for that dream. I’m not sayin’ I can turn over a new leaf – be the leader Xavier was – just by wantin’ to. But I’m willin’ to try. There’s a big job to do. The job Xavier left unfinished when he died. You want to tackle it with me?”

Huh. Wolverine put on those pouches and got over there pretty fast.

I’m not a Wolverine fanboy or anything, but I do like the character. I like him when he’s done right. As hermanos mentioned before, my problem with Wolverine during the 90’s was that they tried to make him too important. Normally, he shouldn’t be leader of the X-Men. Here, though, it’s done just right. It takes two issues to tell it, but we get a good story that shows the X-Men, all their Earth-bound supporting characters and even the rest of the hero community getting taken down in less than one fellow swoop. Even though Cable and Magneto get top billing here, what we have is what I consider to be one of my all-time favorite Wolverine stories.

Next on the countdown: Iron Man has balls the size of Ego the Living Planet. Plus a lot of people die. But what else is new?

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8 comments to “The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 12”

  1. The samurai Daredevil one was one of the few good ones from the recent What If? fifth-week events.

    Dude, Wonder Woman belongs with Batman. >>vvv But yeah, Liefeld’s done some surprisingly good stuff early on — have you seen his Hawk & Dove work?

    Hulk is one of the few characters who would go well with a swords-and-sorcery revamp, IMHO.

    I had the second part of the Cable-blows-shit-up one, and for some reason I thought it was the third part of three. I don’t think there’s ever actually been a What If? three-parter. Also, was it just the art, or was Storm a child in this one?

  2. I think it was just the art.

    There were always two things that bugged me about the Cable Destroyed the X-Men issues. One is Psylocke “mentally scanning” the Sentinel–buh? The other is Zaladane somehow killing Polaris by “draining Polaris’s life energy.” Also buh?

  3. When Storm warns Magneto, he tells her, “Has your reversion to a child’s form affected your mind, Ororo? I’ll do no such thing.”

    So I guess it wasn’t just the art.

  4. I love the Spidey issues, always been a fan of him and the Cat. And that ending, not only does he get to live through the issue but a happy ending?!

    This has been a great series of posts, the issues are getting better and better and I can’t wait to see what you rated at the top of the heap. I’ve been reading older posts as I wait, great site guys 8)

  5. Yeah, I just reread the issue in question, Gav.

    I have no idea why she’s in a child’s form in the issue. In continuity, Storm was briefly regressed to childhood by Nanny and the Orphan Maker in a few issues of UXM. I think it got cleared up by events in the X-tinction Agenda crossover.

  6. The one thing I really like about What-Ifs, is seeing how other teams/characters handle the villians from other books. For a time, Stryfe was Marvel’s ‘Bad-ass of the Week’, it’s refreshing to see how easily Magneto could have done him in. (If he wanted to)

  7. I think Amphibius was one of Magneto’s mutates when he was hanging out in the Savage Land waaaaaaaaaay back during the original run of X-Men.

  8. I can’t help but think of MvC2 when I see the cover to the Cable one.