Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "what-if"

What If? Classic, Vol. 2What If? Classic, Vol. 2 by Don Glut

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What If? was Marvel's 1970s magazine taking a look at how many of Marvel's most notable stories and characters could have gone another direction. At this point, each issue is hosted by the Watcher as a Rod Serlingesque guide to these alternate realities.

This second collection of What If Tales has some extra fun features. Chief among them is the inclusion of Why Not? the letters page which gives key insights as to what writers were thinking and how readers reacted. The only downside is that some of the letters have to do with Issues 5 and 6 which were in the last book, but still there's some great insight.

With that said, let's get to the stories:

Issue 7: What if Someone Else Besides Spider-man Had Been Bitten by the Radioactive Spider: Three different alternate timelines where Flash Thompson, Betty Brant, and Colonel John Jameson were bitten by the radioactive spider. It's a solid story, with the John Jameson story having the most startling deviation in the timelime. It also had a great message about what it takes to be a hero. Overall, I'll give this story a B+.

Issue 8: What if the World Knew Daredevil Was Blind? and What if the Spider Had Been Bitten by a Radioactive Human: The first story, which takes up the bulk of the issue, is just stupid. It's far fetched to imagine Electro guessing that Daredevil is blind. And the way he proves it (because DD can't tell the color of Electro's uniform) is stupid because that could mean that Daredevil's color blind which is something else entirely. Even if Electro did believe Daredevil was blind, the odds of him convincing other supervillains of that is slim. It's also stupid to suggest that this would destroy his effectiveness as a crimefighter. This was just a dumb story all around. The second story is an okay and slightly amusing funny animal superhero parody, but it can raise this issue above Grade: D+.

Issue 9: What if the Avengers Had Fought Evil During the 1950s?: This was a Don Glut script based on a Roy Thomas concept and it was a good idea that would later become Agents of A.T.L.A.S. as this 1950s Avengers team was made up of characters that were published in ATLAS comics such as Venus and Marvel Boy as they fought 1950s villain The Yellow Claw. This was a decent concept marred only by the end which suggested that the Avengers couldn't make it because the 1950s were so evil and paranoid and everyone was scared of everything having to do with superheroes which is why Adventures of Superman was a ratings hit during that decade. Lame. Grade: B

Issue 10: What if Jane Foster Had Found the Hammer of Thor: The story involves Jane Foster rather than Donald Blake finding the hammer of Thor and Foster becomes Thordis. This is a fun concept with a lot of great scenes. The story's weakness is an ending that really tries to have the story end with traditional continuity come back in one change that's a little bit creepy but not too much. Grade: A-

Issue 11: What if the Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become the Fantastic Four: This story imagines Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Saul Brodsky, and Marvel Secretary Flo Steinberg getting the powers of the FF and trying to find out who caused them to get the powers. The story is actually pretty good and played fairly straight. It was written and drawn by Jack Kirby and as the letters page this was the first FF story written by Kirby and it works fairly well. Grade: A

Issue 12: What if Rick Jones Had Become the Hulk?: This story asks the question of what would have happened if Rick Jones had saved Bruce Banner from turning into the Hulk. The result is actually a solid tale. The one weakspot is that Rick gets trained by Captain America who voluntarily gave him a new Bucky costume. That's a pretty radical departure from cannon and we'd need some explanation to make it work well. Still, it's an alternate universe, so they can probably get away with it. Grade: A-

Overall, another fun and solid collection.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on January 01, 2014 16:57 • 91 views • Tags: marvel-comics, what-if
What If? Classic, Vol. 1What If? Classic, Vol. 1 by Roy Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the Gold and Silver Ages, DC had imaginary stories. One off adventures that if ever seriously treated as real would fundamentally shake up the DC universe.

Instead imaginary stories had no impact. In his introduction, Author Roy Thomas wants to be clear that What If was no imaginary story.

The premise of What If is that the events DID happen, however they occurred in an alternate universe. The Watcher serves as our guide. As I read the comic, I imagined him as almost a TV host introducing the stories. The concept of the series was solid. And this no doubt played into DC's creation of similarly themed "elseworlds."

The execution could be a little inconsistent. Lets break down the six stories contained herein:

1) What if Spider-man joined the Fantastic Four? In Amazing Spider-man #1, Peter Parker was desperate for money to help his Aunt May. He decided to put on an exhibition against the Fantastic Four to earn a position on the team and some money. Spidey proves his mettle by the FF isn't interested, so Spidey swings away. In What if #1, we see that and then we see what would have happened if he had joined and how it would have altered the lives of both teams. It was okay but spent too much time explaining how individual issues and criminals would have gone differently rather than telling a greater macro story. Rating: B-

2) What if Hulk always had Bruce Banner's brain?: Another solid concept answered fairly well. It did tell a very story of Bruce Banner,the Hulk, his enemies, and his allies. The nice thing is that they acknowledged that the lack of the Savage Hulk could have a negative impact on history. An interesting story, though perhaps a little fatalistic at the end. Grade: B

3) What if the Avengers had never been? In mainstream continuity, Earth's mightiest heroes went after a combination of the Hulk and Namor in Avengers #3 as they'd been chasing the Hulk after he'd quit as an avenger in the second issue. In this story, Thor as well as Giant Man and Wasp quit. Iron Man however carries on and tries to counter the great threat represented by the two superhumans. Rarely has Iron Man ever been so heroic than in an alternate universe that brought him to an ultimate test. A very powerful story Grade: A-

4) What if the Invaders Had Stayed Together After World War II?: Roy Thomas said this could be considered more a "Why not?" story as it's possible that the Invaders did stay together and that there was a replacement Captain America in Marvel's now hopelessly confused Captain America timeframe. Good solid story. Grade: B+

5) What if Captain America and Bucky had both survived World War II?: In mainstream continuity, Bucky died at the end of the War and Cap was frozen to be thawed out by the Avengers. In this story, we see both Captain America and Bucky live through the war like normal. The only thing that remains somewhat unclear in the story is why Nick Fury ends up dying in Korea in this story and never becomes director of S.H.I.E.L.D. which is a key plot point. However, that little problem aside, this is a great story about patriotism, love, and brotherhood between Captain American and Bucky. Grade: A

6) What if the Fantastic Four had different Superpowers?: A look at how the Comic rays might have reacted differently. An okay story and nice to see Ben Grimm getting some powers he would enjoy as Dragon Fly. Grade: B

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on January 10, 2014 16:17 • 98 views • Tags: avengers, fantastic-four, marvel, spider-man, what-if
What If? Classic, Vol. 3What If? Classic, Vol. 3 by Gary Friedrich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

with more obscure characters and far weaker premises. This book collects Issues 14 and 15 of the Series (Issue 16 was a Masters of Kung Fu comic Marvel has lost the license to) and Issues 17-20:

1) What if Sergeant Fury and His Howling Commandos had Fought World War II in Space?: As a letters issue in this volume pointed out, this whole scenario was a betrayal of the very idea of the, "What If?" comic which was predicated on asking What if events went differently in established Marvel continuity. This one was founded on Leonardo inventing airplanes. And the writers don't seem to get that World War II against generic space aliens is nowhere near as compelling as World War II. Story is dull and dumb. Grade: D

2) What if Someone Else had become Nova?: This book asks what would have happened if four different people ended up getting the powers of Nova. I get that write Marv Wolfman was coming for a study on the effects of power but the whole story seemed kind of obvious: If different people got these powers they'd do different things with them. It doesn't help that three of the alternate Novas were total unknowns to the Marvel Universe. Still, I'll give it a grade: C as a meditation of the corrupting effects of power.

3) What if Ghost Rider/Spider-Woman/Captain Marvel remain villains: Another three short story tale and my thoughts on each: The Ghost Rider tale is depressing but not that bad. The Spider-woman tale is a bit dumb. I have to admit I enjoyed the Captain Marvel story if for no other reason than the pleasure of seeing Yon-Rogg get get his comeuppance even it's in a What If? Tale. The title's a bit of misnomer as the last two don't stay villains for long. Still, I'll give this one a Grade: C-.

4)What if Doctor Strange were a disciple of Dormammu: A kind of confusing story where Doc Strange joins the forces of evil so easily and is shown to have no real redeeming qualities that to me it makes the choice between good and evil too simple for plot convenience reasons. Grade: D+

5) What if Spider-man had stopped the burglar that killed his Uncle: And finally a good one. In this stories, Spidey stops the burglar for good publicity and decides to make his career in showbiz, falling out with Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and going Hollywood, becoming an agent for the most of Marvel superheroes including the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. I loved the end of the story that suggested the lesson about great power coming with great responsibility was one he'd always have to learn and it's in the face of another tragedy because he continued his entertainment career with unbroken arrogance. A nice twist. Grade: B+

6) What if the Avengers Fought the Kree-Skrull War without Rick Jones: Writer Tom DeFalco gives an alternate end to the Kree-Skurll war story that is enjoyable as a space epic and filmed with all Marvel's big guns coming out to crush this invaders. Whether you know anything about the actual Kree-Skrull war or not, this story is very good on its own right. It's a wonderful epic that made a giant sized comic worth buying. Grade: A

Overall, the first 2/3 of the book is mostly forgettable, but the last two stories make this worth reading

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on February 17, 2015 06:52 • 145 views • Tags: marvel, what-if
What If? Classic, Vol. 4What If? Classic, Vol. 4 by Bill Mantlo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book issues 21-26 of What If?

There are some strong issues revisiting some well-worn Marvel Universe themes. What If? #21 is a sequel to What If? #1 which had Spidey join the Fantastic Four and ended with the Invisible Girl choosing to go off and marry Submariner. This turns Reed so sour that the Thing and Spidey quit leaving Reed and Johnny to plot to overthrow Submariner. It's an interesting turnabout story and a fun tale for the Submariner.

Issue 22 is, "What if Doctor Doom became a hero?" and it's an interesting premise. However, the pivot point for the change seems a little weak and implausibly has him locked in a struggle with Mephisto.

Issue 23 is a bit more obscure, "What if the Hulk's Girlfriend Jarella had Not Died?" It's a good story but nothing the cover feature which has the Hulk dressed like some Barbarian. The end is a bit too uncertain for my tastes. The back up feature in this one is a little dumb as it asked what would hav happened if Aunt May had been bitten by the radioactive spider.

Issue 24 is, "What if Gwen Stacy had lived?" A big question and the answer mostly focuses on how Spider-man deals with the Green Goblin. Given the status of Norman Osborn in so much of the Marvel Universe and spin-off media, I wasn't impressed. It's as if the story's point was that if Gwen Stacy had lived, Spider-man would still have various storylines.

Issue 25 is, "What if Thor fought Odin Over Jane Foster," a tale that allows lots of fighting around Asgard and Avengers getting Asgard-powered. It's harmless fun. It has Quicksilver skipping the trip to Asgard which I guess was meant to illustrate whatever universe he 's in, Quicksilver can be a bit of a jerk.

Issue 26 is, "What if Captain America were elected President?" In the comics, he passed on a run in 1980, but this book asks what would have happened and doesn't do a whole lot with the concept. Because there'd be questions, 'How would this guy get along with Congress?' Would he have added credibility with some people? Less? There's nothing interesting in the story."

The back up tale is actually a little more interesting as it asked, "What if Man-Thing had Regained Ted Sallis' brain?" The outcome is interesting given that Man-thing was usually benign in the 1970s.

The book also features, "Untold Tales of the Marvel Universe" which tell about obscure Marvel mythology about the Celestials and Eternals. It was stuff started by Jack Kirby but really isn't engaging as written in this book

One big positive is that this book reprints the letters page so you can see what fans thought of books at the time. However, because the letters were about two issues behind, you'd have to have read What If? Classic Volume 3 to understand what the early ones were talking about.

Overall, not the greatest of, the, "What if? Books" but a few interesting stories in here.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on January 13, 2016 23:53 • 139 views • Tags: marvel, what-if
What If? Classic, Vol. 7What If? Classic, Vol. 7 by Peter Gillis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects Issues 40-42 and 44-47 of What If? The final issues of the classic What If? Series:

#40: What if Doctor Strange Had Never Become Master of the Mystic Arts?: I’m not really a Doctor Strange fan but I found this to be an interesting story. I understood the basics because of another Doctor Strange What If? This one sees Baron Mordo getting the honor from the Ancient One. The only complaint is that the Ancient One has to be incredibly dense to Mordo’s obvious evil to make this story work. Still, Strange gets involved in an interesting way at the end and this is a well-thought out yarn. Grade: B+
#41: What if the Submariner Saved Atlantis From its Destiny?-Examines what had happened if the Submariner had stayed in Atlantis and saved it. A good action story with a bit of a downbeat (and not too believable ending. Grade: B
#42: What if the Invisible Girl had died? A look at what would have happened if Sue Richards had died in childbirth? The story was emotional, though occasionally overwrought. As is often the case in What If, they like to test concepts that might cause Reed Richards’ machine-like thinking to give way to emotion and do a fair job here. It shows how important Sue is the Fantastic Four. Grade: A-
#43-Since most of the book was Conan (for whom Marvel no longer owns rights and therefore can’t reprint), we only have a back-up feature which has three Marvel characters (Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, and Phoenix) flying around a blank page.. The story’s not horrible but it feels like a pointless filler piece. Grade: C
#44-What if Captain America were Not Revived until Today?- A similar theme has been explored a few times. What if Captain America remained frozen and an imposter had taken over for his own means. This isn’t the best take on that scenario but there are some interesting angles, but some odd choices as well. Grade: B
#45-What if the Incredible Hulk Went Berserk?: Short answer is that a lot of people die. The story is a little better than that pat answer but not by much. Grade: B-
#46-What if Spider-man’s Uncle Ben had lived?-A good premise that examines what would have happened had Aunt May and not Ben died at the hands of the burglar. The difference in character and approach leads to a different life for Peter Parker and Spider-man? Grade: QA
#47-What if Loki found the Hammer of Thor-The classic What If? Series comes to a conclusion with an Asgardian epic wherein Loki finds Thor’s hammer before Don Blake leading to disastrous consequences and a battle royale. Grade: B+

Overall, What If? was still a fine magazine at the end even if they were running a bit low on ideas.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on July 25, 2016 22:33 • 120 views • Tags: what-if
What If? Classic, Vol. 5What If? Classic, Vol. 5 by Mary Jo Duffy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fifth volume of What If? Collects Issues #27-32 of the original Marvel What If? Series
It begin with, “What if Phoenix Had Not Died?” This story examines what would have happened had Jean Gray lived with the power of Phoenix but not being allowed to use them. It’s an epic tale that includes Galactus coming to call, and it’s interesting story about power and its nature, even though the ending is over the top. Grade: B

Issue #28 had two stories. “What if Ghost Rider were Separated from Johnny Blaze.” Even though I’m no fan of Ghost Rider, this is an imaginative tale that actually ends in an effort by Ghost Rider to go to the Vatican. “What if Daredevil became an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.?” is the big story on the Cover is far less interesting and a bit inaccurate as the story in the book isn’t about Daredevil becoming an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and how in this universe Tony Stark’s company owned the Truck that hit Murdoch and then Tony responds by calling in S.H.I.E.L.D. to examine them. The art is clear about Matt’s age. It’s a poorly thought out story where very little makes sense or even connects with the reader. Grade: D+

Issue #29 also has two stories: What if the Avengers Defeated Everybody?: The original Avengers are tricked by aliens into defeating every one of the Earth’s emerging supers leaving themselves the last heroes standing. It’s an interesting tale of hubris that would actually play out in some ways in the modern Marvel universe with Omega Hulk, but it’s a bit of a downbeat tale. The second tale, “What if Namor Never regained His Memory?” shows that even without his memory, Namor would still have a great sense of justice. It’s a bit downbeat, but the ending is quite ironic. Grade: B

Issue #30: What if Spider-man’s Clone Had Lived: A key tale from the original clone saga where Spider-man’s clone lived and actually was the one who escaped but only had much earlier memories of Spidey from his early days and didn’t know what hit him when it came to battling the Kingpin. This was actually pretty good, if a bit goofy, but goofy can be a good particularly with a series that can take itself too grim and serious. Grade: B+

Issue #31: What if Wolverine Had Killed the Hulk? –The story starts with a solid premise as Wolverine kills the Hulk becomes a wanted man and then ends up meeting with Magneto who helps him infiltrate the X-men to betray them and the story them becomes What if Wolverine were a Traitor to the X-men? Instead as the death of the Hulk has little to do with what follows. It’s not an entirely bad story but there are some leaps here. Grade: C+

Issue #32: What if the Avengers had become pawns of Korvac?: A nightmare scenario plays out in this one as Michael Korvac uses the Avengers to dispatch his enemies. Korvac gets so out of control, this Universe’s watcher tries to pursue his fellows and then a group of cosmic heroes and villains to take on Korvac and his Avengers. It’s a solid story with another over the top ending. Grade: B

Overall, this book isn’t the best in this series and there’s a sense that they are running out of stories at this point. Still, there are some solid ideas . In addition to that, the first four issues contain short background pieces on the Eternals and Inhumans which are a nice feature of this book.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on January 02, 2017 09:47 • 80 views • Tags: marvel, what-if
What If? Classic Vol. 6 (What If? (1977-1984))What If? Classic Vol. 6 (What If? by Danny Fingeroth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Issues 33-38 of What if? Are collected in this book.

Issue 33 features two stories:

What if Dazzler had become the Herald of Galactus?...A plot turn that makes more sense than what happened in the mainstream continuity. Surprisingly good and a bit poignant. Grade: B+

What if Iron Man had been trapped in King Arthur's Time?...Essentially, what would have happened if Tony Stark had been doublecrossed by Doctor Doom when they teamed up to escape the time of King Arthur. A compelling story with some great twists. Grade A-

Issue 34 is the humor Issue. It reads a bit more like Marvel's parody comic What The? However, it's filled with pages of rapid fire jokes with multiple joke what ifs on some pages and no concept take up more than a couple pages. Some are now politically incorrect, and some are stupid, but there are enough funny ones to keep you laughing through the stupid ones. Overall, not bad. Grade: B-

Issue 35 features three stories:

What if Bullseye had not killed Elektra?...Drawn and written by Frank Miller himself. This is a decent story. May have inspired the end of Dark Knight Rises. He even gives the watcher a Noirish feel. Overall, a decent if not spectacular story. Grade: B

And Thus are Born the Cat People: An untold tale of the Marvel Universe, like was done with the Eternals in another collection. This was in fun, kind of B Movie sci fi with a Marvel twist. Grade: B+

What if Yellowjacket Had Died?: Yellowjacket (the then latest superhero identity of Hank Pym) continued attacking after a villain surrendered, leading to his eventual court martial. What if he had died? Then my friends, there would have been Avengers drama. It's a somewhat believable take on what might have happened with a strain on the team and his wife Jan ( who would divorce him) becoming desirous of vengeance. Overall, okay, but not spectacular. Grade: B-

Issue 36 featured two stories:

What if the Fantastic Four had not gained their powers?: This one lays out the very reasonable scenario of Reed Richards deciding to be reasonable and wait for an appropriate ship to go into space, which means no one gets powers. However, what happens when the threat of the Mole Man emerges? It's a story that shows what makes the Fantastic Four heroes and it's not their powers, it's their hearts, minds, and family feel. Grade: B+

What if Nova had not given up his powers?: This book asks what would have happened if the original Nova (Richard Ryder) had chosen to remain on Xandar to hold on to his powers and then tried to escape back to Earth with him rather than surrendering him as the Xandarians required if he went home. This story illustrates the problem with What If? stories. There's only a range of stories which are believable. Twists of fate and choices that are within their personality you can do, but if you stray too far from who these people, they're no longer recognizable, and this is the case here as Ryder's behavior is totally inconsistent with the heroic persona. The story is a boring battle scene with a stupid attempt at a moral. Grade: D

Issue 37:

What if the Thing continued to mutate? The first of a doubleheader on continuing mutation finds a mutation continuing far beyond what happened in the main continuity. It's a well thought out story with a very nice ending. Grade: A-

What if the Beast continued to mutate? This story takes a different direction, as the mutation that turned the beast Blue goes even further turning him into a real beast. The way the X-men handle it is consistent and the ending is intriguing. Grade: B

What if Galactus had turned the Silver Surfer into Norrin Radd? And Reed Richards had actually made it possible for him to return to Zenn-la. File this one in the, "The Silver Surfer can't win," file along with the, "Ain't Galactus fickle" file. Grade: B-

Issue 37 focused on possible future:

First are the Avengers, as the Scarlet Witch is in her last days and the Vision is trying to cope with it. Never a big fan of the Vision-Scarlet Witch relationship but this story becomes a beautiful tale of love and sacrifice. Though, the imagination put into future Avengers was bit lazy. Grade: A-

What if Sharon Carter had not died?: A look at what if Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter had a family. It features the Red Skull to boot. It's another enjoyable tale. Grade: A-

Daredevil 2013!: An over the hill Daredevil is working at the U.N., where his old love Natasha comes for an official visit, but they both are drawn in when an old enemy attacks. The art's not great, but the story is well-done and has a very solid conclusion to the volume. Grade: B+

Overall, I think (with the exception of the Nova story), this is one of the strongest What If? Classic volumes with many enjoyable favorites for fans of classic Marvel comics.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on November 06, 2017 17:22 • 61 views • Tags: marvel-comics, what-if
Silver Surfer: RequiemSilver Surfer: Requiem by J. Michael Straczynski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this What If Story, the Silver Surfer learns he's dying and sets about to say goodbye to his friends, the world he adopted, and then journey home across the stars.

This story is a great graphic novel, showing the heights the genre can hit when JMS' poetic text and Esad Ribic's astoundingly beautiful art. The book follows the Silver Surfer as he meets the Fantastic Four and then Spider-man before a surprise appearance by an old friend prior to the long journey through space.

It's a thought provoking book that is sad , but is also as a celebration of an often under-appreciated character and all he represents. Grab a box of tissues and prepare to experience one of the best graphic novels I've ever read.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on August 06, 2018 23:03 • 48 views • Tags: silver-surfer, what-if

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
Follow Adam Graham's blog with rss.