Archive for the 'Top 100 What If Countdown' Category


The New What If Batch

September 13th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

The December solicitations are on the horizon and what better Christmas present for me than a heaping helping of new What Ifs? I had heard a couple brief mentions of this year’s batch, but just today I finally got to reading what they’re all about. Let’s give it a look.

What If? Spider-Man: Back in Black, written by Steven Grant: Rather than Aunt May, Mary Jane is the victim of the Kingpin’s hit. Apparently, this deals more with Spider-Man vs. Kingpin than anything involving Mephisto, which I’m glad to see.

What If? Captain America: Fallen Son, written by Marc Sumerak: During the aftermath of Civil War, Captain America isn’t the one who gets assassinated. This time it’s Iron Man. If anything, I’m interested in this comic for the can of worms that it brings. They’ve pushed the idea that Iron Man’s been putting too much responsibility on himself to the point that once he’s dead, the world is fucked. Now we’ll see where that avenue would lead us. Plus it would be cool to see what kind of impact Cap could have on World War Hulk.

By the way, here’s the cover.

What If? World War Hulk, written by Greg Pak: Hulk wins. Now what? I’m wondering if the tangent point will be the Sentry deciding not to interfere or just Hulk beating the crap out of him with no problem. It also is set to have several pages of a WWH Mini Marvels comic, which is always a plus. Despite that, Pak’s on board so it has to be good.

If they go for the depressing “everyone dies” ending, I’d love it if Sorcerer Supreme Doom just happened to show up out of nowhere at the end.

Speaking of Doom…

What If? Secret Wars, by Karl Bollers: Remember when Doom stole the Beyonder’s powers? This is what happens when he holds onto it and moves upwards by going for the Infinity Gauntlet. The concept and the cover lead me to Boner Town.

What If? Runaways, by CB Cebulski. Iron Lad comes back from the future in hopes of fighting Kang the Conqueror. He never does discover Vision’s Avengers fail-safe program and never goes after Patriot and the others. Instead, he puts together a team based on the children of the Pride. It does fit well, considering Iron Lad himself is a runaway of a different flavor. This won’t be a single issue, but will be told as a backup across the other five issues.

That leads us to one more…

What If? House of M, by Brian Reed and Jim McCann. Replace “No More Mutants” with “No More Powers”. Considering the writers, I have faith in it, but at the same time, I feel a bit cautious due to the DC take. A few years ago there was an Elseworlds called Act of God where a black shroud covered Earth and took away everyone’s powers. Even guys like Superman and Martian Manhunter, who aren’t even human, lost whatever made them special outside of appearance.

While a good idea, the miniseries was worth reading because of how ridiculously dumb a lot of the characters reacted towards losing their powers. Superman and Kyle Rayner became the whiniest bitches known to man, leading to Lois and Jade leaving them. Wonder Woman immediately hit the Superman rebound (Elseworlds rule #6). Booster Gold and Blue Beetle had to fill in for the Justice League to the point that they were constantly exhausted. Steel was mankind’s most powerful hero. Aquaman had a buzzsaw hand and, my favorite part, Martian Manhunter changed his name to The Green Man and started using exploding skulls as weapons.

Not to mention, this panel.

I need to review this one one of these days.

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What If Musings: A Team Like No Other

August 9th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

I just got back from vacation and it’s been one shitty day. I had to get up early for my first flight, which was at 7 am. That flight was spent listening to a whining cat that its owner brought aboard. Being that I went from Phoenix to Atlanta, I lost 3 hours. My connecting flight got delayed to hell and I spent about six hours in the airport, waiting. I finished reading every trade I brought with me for the trip (god, why didn’t I read Kaminski’s Iron Man: War Machine sooner?). My iPod batteries were running low. I had lots of time on my hands and I was insanely bored.

This is just my explanation and warning for the following concept.

Right now, Marvel has several superhero teams fighting underground, trying to do right while evading authority. The more apparent of the two are Luke Cage’s Secret Avengers and Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos. So that got me thinking of what it would be like if these two underground hero leader types were to have joined together earlier on.

The following two pages are from The Pulse #9, by Bendis. It takes place as a conclusion to Secret War. Luke Cage was one of several heroes recruited to take part in what became a terrorist act in Latveria, only to be mind-wiped of his experience and attacked a year later for his actions. Here, his pregnant girlfriend Jessica Jones and his partner Iron Fist have him in held up in Night Nurse’s secret hospital as a hologram of Nick Fury sends his final message.

We know how things go from here. But I’m thinking of a tangent reality from this scene. I’m wondering…

What If Nick Fury Founded the Secret Avengers?

Bear with me for a second because this is either really great or really, really stupid.

Before Jessica can go on her tirade, Luke speaks up. This is how Fury responds to Cage being attacked? By running away and saving his own skin? Cage can handle himself, but he’ll be damned if his unborn child is going to be a supervillain target for reasons he can’t even remember. If Fury’s going underground, Cage and Jessica are going with him.

Iron Fist, being loyal to Luke, demands to join too. Fury caves and the four of them go on the run together until this blows over. Since they’re already going off the radar, Luke visits Matt Murdock, whose troubles as Daredevil are getting worse and worse every day. Luke convinces Matt to leave his life behind and join them, as they help people out while staying away from the authorities.

So who are our heroes, again?

Nick Fury. Cigar-chomping (well, not exactly anymore) leader and master strategist.

Luke Cage. Imposing and unnaturally strong black man.

Matt Murdock. Handsome. Persuasive. Sneaky. Always scoring hot women wherever he goes.

Danny Rand. The space cadet, filling in as comic relief. Acts to play off of and regularly annoy Cage.

Jessica Jones. Spirited token female. Former reporter. Doesn’t really do anything.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this:

“In 2004, a crack superhero team was attacked for a crime they didn’t remember committing. These men promptly escaped to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the Howling Commandos.”

Come on. Like you wouldn’t read the shit out of that comic.

“I ain’t flyin’ on Danny’s plane! Fool’s crazier than Murdock!”

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A quick sample of fun

July 11th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

What If THIS Was the Fantastic Four is a comic that nearly passed me by. For whatever reason, my comic shop didn’t even get it in until I got wind of it and had it ordered for myself. It’s a good thing it got on my radar, because it’s a classy issue and well worth the read.

It’s about the New Fantastic Four sticking together as a team, which has been done before. While that wasn’t a bad issue, this one goes in different directions. Not just the optimism and the opposite use of Dr. Doom, but the 90’s story barely included Ghost Rider at all, while here he takes center stage.

The true story of the issue is this: it was meant to come out with the other What If issues around December. Mike Wieringo, the artist, was seven pages into drawing Jeff Parker’s script when he passed away. Rather than leave the comic alone, many of Wieringo’s artist friends got together and finished the comic themselves. Art Adams, Stuart Immonen, Humberto Ramos, Mike Allred and many others help tell the story of four loners joining together in snazzy black and blue tights. Plus it has a Mini Marvels page about them at the end!

If anything, the comic gives me one of my favorite sequences in recent history.

Though there are a couple snags. Parker forgot that Daniel Ketch was Ghost Rider during the New F4 storyline and had Wieringo draw Johnny Blaze. They kept it that way so as not to mess with Wieringo’s art. Then we have a scene later in the book where Skottie Young depicts Dr. Doom’s face with his mask off. Last I recall, that’s supposed to be one of the big no-no’s in comics.

I really need to redo that Top 100 list. Probably after the next batch come out. They’ve really been on the ball with these lately.

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

April 12th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

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.

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It’s Gavok Week at PopCultureShock!

March 21st, 2008 Posted by Gavok

With hermanos becoming the senior editor at PopCultureShock, it was only natural that I’d tag along. Now, as it turns out, the last three days have featured me in some fashion.

For Wednesday, it’s me doing an article for Alternate Current, the weekly thing where a guest blogger writes about whatever. Here, I discuss the five What If comics that came out over the past months, which will be available next month in trade form. Really strong year for those. If you’re by any chance interested in doing an Alternate Current article, contact hermanos.

For Thursday, it’s the very first installment of Comics From the 5th Dimension! That’s right, I now have my own weekly column, where I discuss the stranger corners of the comic universe. Read on as this week I discuss The Adventures of JELL-O Man and Wobbly, a really wacky comic written in part by Peter David and Kurt Busiek. Plus it has a Sonic the Hedgehog preview insert as a bonus mini-review.

Keep in mind that hermanos wrote that front-page headline for it. I saw that and was like, “JELL-O Man was before Bill Cosby? What? No!”

And for Friday, I sit in for another installment of Picks and Pans. Along with four other reviewers, I take a look at a handful of stuff that came out this week. For me, I went with Immortal Iron Fist, Invincible, Wolverine: Origins and Incredible Hercules.

So go and read if you’re up for it and join me every Thursday for another go at Comics From the 5th Dimension. Believe me, I have like a year’s worth of material already.

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What If Musings: Warbound Hulk and the Juggernaut

September 22nd, 2007 Posted by Gavok

So far I think World War Hulk has been pretty great. A good deal of thought has gone into the event, but they didn’t over-think it, like they did with Civil War. I admittedly haven’t read the badly reviewed Frontline (fool me once…) and Gamma Corps, but most of the other tie-ins were pretty fun. I even enjoyed the Ghost Rider arc, so suck on that.

The X-Men tie-in was cool for what it was. It was just a slugfest where Hulk was meant to dominate the entire X-roster. They used this space to develop Juggernaut’s story. Maybe “develop” is the wrong word here. “Rubber banding” is more accurate, unless this is all misdirection and they’re going to keep him good in the long run, as they really should.

Either way, it was an effective subplot. Juggernaut was one of the few major threats to face the Hulk. Only something about it bothered me and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Like with many Marvel comics, my mind likes to come up with possible What If stories based on canon events. It’s a side-effect from that damn list, so cut me slack.

This fall/winter, we’re going to be getting more What Ifs. The ones announced are all based on the big events. What If: Planet Hulk is a trilogy of stories that sound downright orgasmic. What If: Annihilation pushes the events of Annihilation, Civil War and Silent War into one big, unpredictable melee. There’s a two-story Civil War issue based on Captain America either beating Iron Man, or even getting everyone to join his side. Plus What If Vulcan Had the Power of the Phoenix.

What could the eventual World War Hulk story be? It got me thinking.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: The Finale

March 28th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

I feel kind of silly making this article since it was supposed to be done months ago. There are several things that kept me from finishing it, but I’m going to take the easy way out. All the time I usually use to write these What If articles was really used to pretend I was writing for Lost. I love writing Sam the Butcher’s dialogue the most.

Starting it off, here’s a series of sig images I made for the Batman’s Shameful Secret sub-forum at Something Awful. I guess they worked.

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His Name was the Captain! Also, What If Crap

March 9th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

I was going to use Wednesday to finish up the latest installment of Deadshot’s Tophat — filled with nothing but B and C-listers this time — but the big Marvel newsworthy thing kind of distracted me. I myself couldn’t go more than two minutes online without being bombarded with the big spoiler. Another five minutes later, the Reign of Supermen reference jokes were beaten into the ground.

(Yes, yes. We get it. Visor Captain America and a black guy in Cap armor.)

Whatever. It was still a great issue and had more surprises than CNN and Yahoo let us know. I trust Brubaker as far as I can urinate, so I’m sure this arc will be just as fantastic as the past 24 issues.

Poor Jeph Loeb. He writes a silly reveal that Hawkeye from the Heroes Reborn world is really Logan, only to have it smacked down by Captain America #25.

Now that Civil War is over and Captain America did that thing that he did in that issue that got spoiled, I look back and notice the familiarity. Back when I did the What If Countdown, there was one issue that didn’t make the list, but I didn’t so much hate it. Looking through the story, I see several parallels with what Marvel’s been giving us lately. Let’s take a look.

The issue is What If Steve Rogers Had Refused to Give Up Being Captain America (What If vol. 2, #3), written by Jim Valentino. And no, Spider-Man doesn’t die in it.

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The What If Countdown: Honorable Mention Awards

November 20th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

As I said in the last article, most What Ifs are interesting in their own way. Whether it’s because they tell a really good story, an abomination of a story or if the changes in reality are completely off the wall, almost every issue has something worth talking about.

I just talked about 100 of these stories and a couple extra ones I thought were crappy. So rather than have me write a bunch of exhaustive issue profiles, how’s about we just look at the bits and pieces that got my attention? It’s time to hand out the What If Honorable Mention Awards!

If I wasn’t so lazy, I would probably Photoshop a bunch of golden Uatu statues.

Edit: It looks like I didn’t have to. Thanks to Kyle Hayes for the award trophy.

Strangest What If Couple: Quicksilver and Gwen Stacy

This comes from What If the Age of Apocalypse Hadn’t Ended (volume 2, #81). Tony Stark, head of the human resistance, joins up with Magneto to figure out a way to save Earth from the coming of Galactus. Among Tony’s fellow human freedom fighters are the Hulk, Sue Storm and, strangely enough, Donald Blake’s bodyguard Gwen Stacy. Er… yeah. I guess with her dad being a cop and all… No, it still sounds goofy.

Pietro is without a sister and Gwen needs a boyfriend who can kill her with whiplash. It’s only natural that these two would find each other.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 20

November 12th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Well, it’s been four months of lead-up. When the first part of the countdown came out, Lynxara asked about why I’d do a top 100 list for a series of books that only have 175 issues. Especially when I count two-parters as one entry. Truth be told, this isn’t like ranking the best issues of Nightwing or Mighty Thor. Most comic series have cohesion and you usually have an idea of what to expect in each issue. Writers, artists and story remain the same for months and sometimes years at a time.

What If, on the other hand, is different. What If is the ultimate comic book box of chocolates. Writers, artists, stories, ideas and tones change from issue to issue. Many stories are good. Many are bad. But almost every one of them is interesting in its own way. I could have easily have done a top 20 or top 50 list and be done long ago, but there’s too much fun we’d be missing out on. No jive-talking Incredible Hulk, or Matt Murdock crying over Wilson Fisk’s death bed, or Kraven the Hunter eating Peter Parker’s face.

Now let’s get in our Quinjet and take us down to #1.

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