What If? What Then? The Comic I’d Like to See

April 12th, 2008 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The next Comics from the 5th Dimention column should be up soon. The big drawback about writing for PopCultureShock rather than here is that you can’t have your stuff up instantly. Them’s the breaks.

I plan to one day write my own comic series. I’m currently trying to move my gears forward on that. That said, I still find myself thinking about what kind of DC or Marvel-owned series I would love to write if I had the chance. Stuff like an Eradicator on-going where he stations himself in Coast City as a way to make up for and investigate the human feeling of guilt he suffers from his failure to protect the city from Cyborg Superman and Mongul. Or a Juggernaut series where he’s on the run from SHIELD, all while showing the parallels of the Superhuman Registration Act and being the avatar slave of Cyttorak.

There’s one comic concept that came to me the other day. What If occasionally had sequels, most of them not very good. Having read so many issues and having some of them so nestled into my memory, the continuity nut in me always compares some issues to events that happened after the release date. Sometimes it’s just to laugh at the continuity screw-up, like how Alicia Masters in What If the X-Men Lost Inferno was really a Skrull and the writer didn’t know it yet. That revelation gums up her part in the story.

Sometimes I realize how much more interesting stories become when you toss in delayed retcons and new pieces of canon. For instance, there’s the issue What If the X-Men Had Died on Their First Mission, where the New X-Men team (Wolverine, Storm, etc.) go to Krakoa to save the original X-Men and they all die. Xavier beats himself up over it, Moira comforts him and eventually another X-Men team is created. It was a good story, but compare it to what we know now. Deadly Genesis showed the other X-Men team that died fighting Krakoa. When they failed, Moira was angry, so Xavier erased her memory of the events. Put the two stories together and it’s pretty fucked up. Xavier deserves to feel bad. His Krakoa mission would have cost him three X-Men teams, totaling at 17 mutants. Then you have Moira trying to keep him from being suicidal, not knowing what a bastard he really is because the son of a bitch removed it from her memory.

What would have happened when Vulcan came back to Earth, not only forgotten, but now without his brothers? Now that would be a sequel issue worth reading.

I think back to other What Ifs that lead to a new status quo and how vastly different things would have been if they continued the story and met up with the events that were destined to happen. I think a handful of them could make for a good limited series.

Another example. One issue showed Victor Von Doom as going down a different path and becoming both a hero and a friend to Reed Richards. In the end, his own vanity refused to let him sacrifice himself to Mephisto and he instead reluctantly damned Valeria to be Mephisto’s prisoner. That’s how the issue ended. At first glance, you could say that Doom would have freed her soul eventually because in regular continuity, he and Dr. Strange saved his mother from Hell. That’s not the story I’m thinking about here.

A heroic Dr. Doom would without a doubt have been a member of the Illuminati. Good guy or not, think about what kind of can of worms that is. Would the Skrull invasion go the same way? More importantly, what would have happened to that episode with the Infinity Gauntlet? This one writes itself.

What If the Punisher Became Captain America gave us a perfect ending because with Frank Castle realizing his potential as Captain America, we knew that he really has become the second coming of Steve Rogers. We didn’t need to read any more. That said, what happens when the Winter Soldier shows up? Steve Rogers is still alive as a cyborg in this alternate universe, but how would Frank Castle as Captain America deal with Bucky? For one, the guilt and personal aspects of the rivalry is gone. Also, in terms of this story, Bucky is the opposite of Frank. Frank is a gun-toting monster that became a hero. Winter Soldier is a hero that became a gun-toting monster. This could be seen as the last true test of Frank Castle’s psyche.

There was the story where Spider-Man was stuck with his four extra arms. He learned to accept his new appearance, stepped away from his life as Peter Parker and pushed himself to be a top tier superhero. It hurts me to say it, but here it goes: let’s bring the Clone Saga into this. Ben Reilly is going to pop in sometime, right? Instead of all the confusion, the easy answer would be to have Ben take over the life of Peter Parker full-time and have six-armed Spidey fight crime full time like he’s been doing already. That creates a new dynamic with Ben. Can he still moonlight as a crime fighter? Should he? Whether he does or not, he’s going to be stuck in Peter Parker’s shadow. Unlike regular continuity, they wouldn’t be equals. Spider-Man gets all the fame and adventure and Ben Reilly can never hope to match that. On the other side of the fence, Gwen Stacy is still alive in this world and Ben can follow up on that. Who’s really going to be the jealous one?

By the time What If Daredevil Killed the Kingpin ended, we said goodbye to Wilson Fisk, Karen Page, Hobgoblin and Matt Murdock. Richard Fisk took to the streets as the new Daredevil. At some point, Mysterio is going to contract cancer and make the decision to destroy Daredevil’s life as his big hurrah. He did this in Smith’s Daredevil run and he lost. Matt more or less told him, “Kingpin tried to ruin my life too and it didn’t work. Why should you do any better?” There’s two things to consider here. One, Richard Fisk is a very different man than Matt Murdock, even if he is trying to follow in his noble footsteps. Two, this is a reality where Kingpin fucking over Matt Murdock’s life from every direction DID work. That’s why he snapped and killed Kingpin. There’s actual drama as to whether or not Richard Fisk could get out of this situation with his soul intact.

Not all of these alternate universe follow-ups have to be from What If. Robert Kirkman’s Marvel Team-Up featured a story about the League of Losers. A villain named Chronok came from the future with an army of followers to massacre the entire superhero population in just a few hours. The only survivors were a team of C and D-listers that time traveled to the future where Chronok came from in order to prevent him from going back and killing everyone. They succeeded and killed Chronok, but due to Marvel’s time travel rules, there’s still a reality out there where Chronok rules the world.

For a while I thought Marvel needed to do something with this and continue the story of Chronok’s Earth. At first I figured there might be an uprising by the supervillain population and the Sentinels. Makes sense, but isn’t compelling enough. Toss in Annihilation and Secret Invasion and things become very interesting. Chronok defending his planet against the Skrull invaders goes from being a series of secret infiltrations to being a full-scale planetary war. Then you consider Nova, who would have been off-Earth during Chronok’s mass killings. He could be the Man with No Name in this, playing both sides against each other until achieving his own relative victory.

I’m fighting back the urge to look up the list of What If issues on Wikipedia because I know if I did, this article would become about three times longer. I think I’d rather sleep for once.

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15 comments to “What If? What Then? The Comic I’d Like to See”

  1. I hear you, man. I always wanted to do a crossover story between the 616 FF and the FF who “What If’d” a bunch of different powers – Reed Richards as a living Brain in Doctor Doom’s body, Sue Storm with stretchiness, Ben Grimm with dragonfly wings and Johnny Storm as a robot. Imagine the conflict!

  2. This is why I prefer “What If?” to “Elseworlds”, they just seem to be more fun when you know the entire continuity.

    You got me thinking with the “extra arms spidey” sequel, because think of how many times he’s died. What would the clone saga be like in a world without Peter Parker?

  3. on the 6-armed spidey clone saga, there is a real snag there. wasn’t gwen’s death the impetus to Jackal’s cloning shenanigans?

  4. Huh. That’s a good point. Though Norman Osborn was the mastermind behind that, so I suppose with some storytelling hurdling you could explain why Osborn made Warren clone Parker anyway.

  5. I’ve thought they should redo older What If’s with new plots for a while. For example in What If Spiderman joined the Fantastic Four, he could unmask, work as Reed’s lab assistant and get May to move into the Baxter Building. May could visit Anna Watson one day and have Johnny pick her up and he meets MJ before Peter. You could have Frightful Five that’s have Frightful Four and half Sinister Six.

  6. I can’t help but think that comparing the SHRA to being the avatar slave of Cyttorak is just fanboy spite. Or that, having re-embraced the wanton destruction that’s the prevailing characteristic of being Cyttorak’s avatar, with the commensurate power of that office, SHIELD wouldn’t have anything that would make Juggernaut need to run.

  7. There’s no spite. I’m pro-SHRA. But it still isn’t perfect.

  8. I want an Ultimate What If Clone Saga, just to see the Ultimate Man-Spider some more. He could go to Xavier’s and be the big man on campus.

  9. What if Death’s Head II never happened and we just went along with that in our main continuity?

  10. Hey, SHIELD has a giant Hulk-sized golden gun that can one-shot Abomination. It might hurt Juggernaut. Assuming they can find someone big enough to shoot it. Sounds like a job for Jeph Loeb!

  11. Ooh, also What If Legion had Succeeded in Killing Magneto? With or without the AoA stuff, that’d be interesting to see.

  12. They did do an issue of that, co-written by Warren Ellis. People didn’t fear you for being a mutant, but they did treat you as a novelty. It’s somewhere on my Top 100 list.

  13. Any series with Juggernaut has my money. I did buy New Excalibur, after all. And I like Endless Mike’s idea of S.H.I.E.L.D. pulling out the “big guns.” Maybe put one in the hands of a “pacified” Red Hulk. I think Red Hulk would work as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in an Ares sort of way, and having a big red psycho as the face of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the series will make the metaphor Gavok is going for a wee bit more obvious.

    As for a mini-series follow up to a What If issue, there is one I would like to see: The further adventures of Hulk, Jarella, and the Defenders of K’ai from What if Hulk had become a barbarian (Series 1, #23, with one of the least impressive titles ever). Sure, it runs the risk of going where Planet Hulk has gone before, but with a unified Hulk/Banner, a mystic, deific villain, and the possibility of a happy ending, I think it would be worth doing.

  14. Interesting concepts and though I hated the Clone Saga, I’d still read that issue. A “What if…” I wouldn’t mind seeing are…

    -What if Eric Never Became Magneto?: A young Eric Magnus is rescued by Captain America from the concentration camps just as his powers manifest. Being the nice guy he is, Cap. takes the boy under his wing and Eric becomes his sidekick, Bucky. With his magnetism and being interviewed on the horrors he faced in the camps helps fuel America’s disgust toward the Nazis (thus granting more support for the allied cause), WW2 ends much sooner. Maybe even mutants will not be as hated since that originally would’ve been a terrorist is now a war hero. Now the fun comes if this Captain America gets frozen.

  15. I love your idea about the Eradicator, Gav! I regret that you’re not working at DC or Marvel as the Editor In Chief because these ideas you have are so much better than several of the ones they dropped on us readers such as Sins Past, Brand New Day, the Spider Totem or Battle For The Cowl( Which was a lame version of Knightfall and Reign Of The Supermen). Maybe someday you will get your shot, bro!