What If Conan Did The Stuff He Always Did But Also Smacked A Car With A Sword?

Know, O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities and the years of the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of… about which I know very little due to never having read any Marvel Conan comics.

So this week we, and the fattest Watcher I’ve seen in a What If comic travel back in time to the Hyperboria Age where we find Conan entering some city so he can get laid and maybe join an adventuring party in a nearby tavern. He gets about as far as the tavern when a local wench slips him a mickey and wraps him in a rug. If only he hadn’t dressed so provocatively in… nothing.

So the wench takes Conan to a nearby pyramid (the Hyperboria Age was lousy with them.) where he encounters a ridiculous sorceror with a funnel on his head. The sorcerer, whose name like everything else in this stupid fantasy setting is completely unpronouncable, shows Conan and the Wench his magic well. Apparently, this guy found a well that sends stuff through time. He puts something in and something cool comes out. We aren’t shown any actual examples but trust Funnel Head on this one.

So Funnel Head pops Conan in the well’s bucket, and also the wench while he’s at it because fuck it, why not? Who knows what cool time stuff I’ll get from a hairless naked guy and some lady? Probably… like… future money or something.

So down goes Conan and wench. Luckily, the mysterious well energies begin to rot the ropes that Conan is tied up with for some reason. Since nothing else is affected by this, we can assume the well was full of rope-rotting rays. Man, magic is stupid. Conan is able to save the wench but the rope rotting rays do their thing and Conan drops into the well and into time.

He arrives, Howard the Duck style, in 1970s New York in a world he never made. It is a strange and terrifying land of fired punk rock bands and abusive old ladies who are promptly stuffed in garbage cans. Eventually everyone gets fed up with the giant naked man with the big sword who keeps yelling at people and the police are called.

Conan makes his escape and is saved when he tries to attack a young lady’s taxi cab. Young Dannette takes pity on the big red idiot and stuffs him in the back of her cab and takes him home. This is also how I met my wife.

Meanwhile, all over New York, magic lightening from Conan’s time is striking things and causing a huge power outage all over the city. The people of New York decide to use this as an excuse to get to rioting.

Back at Danni’s appartment, she and Conan are getting their sex on. So far they have spoken maybe one word to each other that either of them understands, but hot couch sex knows no language. Conan is bathing in afterglow when there comes a crash from the furniture store under Danni’s appartment. It’s the Foot Clan, post-beating up Raphael and ready to burn down April’s antique store. Actually, it’s just those fucking rioters from before. Conan goes downstairs and beats the shit out of them. He also tips over a volkswagon beetle. Presumedly, in the traditon of George Mallory, because it was there.

The shop saved from having its rattan furniture stolen, Conan and Danni return upstairs to look at books. Luckily, Danni shows Conan a picture of the Guggenheim Art Museum, which just happens to look a lot like the pyramid that Conan was in before he went on his most excellent adventure through time. Danni drives Conan to the Guggenheim so they can investigate a little. Also the lobby probably has a couple of sex couches.

They arrive at the museum to find the door open. Turns out the place is being robbed because of course it fucking is. Conan tries to go easy on the art thieves until one of them shoots him. And then he brutally murders them all. Like… Jesus.

At this point, the cops show up and Conan beats cheeks to the roof where he waves his sword at the sky like one of the monkies from A Space Oddessy. The cops are about to shoot him down when he’s struck by lightening and transported back to his own time for some reason. This done, he handily defeats Funnel Head and whatever scheme he’s… Oh, excuse me. Actually he completely forgets about whatever Funnel Head was doing and just rides his horse out of town.  The End.

So what would happen if Conan walked the Earth today? Looks like he’d beat up a bunch of people, get laid and then leave. Basically what he was doing back home. I… actually, I can kind of respect that.

What If the Hulk Needed A Place To Hang Out?


What If Rick Jones had become the Hulk?

Okay, I was fully expecting to hate this one. First because, goddamnit, I was promised a tale of Conan walking the earth in the 1970s and that sounds fucking awesome. Secondly, because seriously fuck Rick Jones. My dislike of this character has been fully documented in a couple of these things so I basically went into What If 12 with a bug up my ass, ready to hate it. Luckily, this turned out to be one of the better issues I’ve read so far.


We’ve seen this opening before, way back in Incredible Hulk 1 or possibly less way back in Forbidden to Interfere 2. This time around, Doc Bruce Banner drives out to save shitty teenage Archie stand-in Rick Jones only to have the little shit save him instead. Rick knocks Bruce into safety of the gamma radiation proof five foot deep concrete trench and is bathed with green radiation. He seems fine so Bruce drives him back to the military base to see how much of Rick’s body is now pure cancer.
Turns out to be none. None cancer. In fact, Rick seems fine until the sun goes down, at which point Rick turns into the Hulk. Specifically swinging sixties this-is-what-Stan-and-Jack-thought-teenagers-sound-like Hulk. It’s hilarious.


Seriously, I had to fight hard to not just have every picture in this thing be shots of Rick Hulk calling Banner a square.


Anyway, Rick Hulk escapes into the night and Bruce gives chase. The Rick is spotted by General Thunderbolt Ross but he sneaks away using all the stealth power of a giant green greaser and hides in the desert. Banner eventually finds him but Ross never does. He’s eventually shipped back to Washington to fill out paperwork, dreams of wasting taxpayer money throwing tanks at the Hulk washed away.


Meanwhile, the Rick is about to smash the holy hell out of puny square Banner when the sun comes up. Bruce takes Rick to a secret underwater base out in the desert(?) where he can keep Rick stashed during the night while Bruce works on a cure during the day. It would actually be a pretty good plan if not for the fact that Loki decides that the best way to get revenge on Thor is to free the Hulk and then get him to blow up a bridge. Apparently Loki tricking the Hulk into blowing up a bridge is pretty standard across the multiverse.


Anyway, long story short. Hulk joins Avengers, beats up Loki, beats up Space Phantom, quits Avengers. At exactly that moment of Avengers quitting, Banner shows up and zaps Rick Hulk with his new cure laser. It turns Hulk back into Rick permanently. That done, Bruce ditches Rick to return to the exciting field of comic book science.

We jump forward a couple of months to Rick randomly wandering around New York when he happens to come across Captain America getting his ass whipped by Hydra* Agents. But while these mighty foes may be a threat to the Living Legend of World War II, they’re no match for a whiny harmonica player. Rick helps Cap defeat them and in return Cap agrees to train Rick to be the new Bucky. This seems like it’d be an important twist in the story but don’t be fooled. On a mission to fight more random Hydra guys, Rick Hulks out again and runs away. The fact that this issue of What If does not feature the Hulk dressed as Bucky is a huge missed opportunity.


So Rick runs away again and we jump forward another couple of months (Does Captain America come looking for his new sidekick? No, he does not.) to more random wandering. Say what you will about this issue, it certainly keeps alive the tradition of sad Hulk wandering. Suddenly, an image of Captain America appears guiding Rick to some strange bracelets. He puts them on because this is a superhero comic and is instantly contacted by Kree hero Captain Marvel. Marvel tells Rick that he must bang the bracelets together and when he does, Rick is transported to the Negative Zone. Which is basically space but you can breathe there. Which is lucky because Rick needs to breathe.** Marvel goes on to explain that Rick will only have to stay in the Negative Zone for three hours before he is swapped back and that he will be safe in the Negative Zone. Which is an outright lie because then Rick is attacked by giant metal bug monster Annihilus.

Huh. Really? Annihilus is in my googledocs spell checker? Alright then.


So Rick is getting his ass whipped by Annihilus when he suddenly blasts the ugly sonnuvabitch with new mind powers and is then rescued by a hideous giant green head. It’s the Supreme Intelligence! Ruler of the Kree Empire and gross thing! The Supreme Intelligence needs Rick’s special brain to stop a war with the Skrulls! Which happens off panel and ends with Rick bushed out on the ground. Rick finally returns to Earth and hooks up with a foxy lady named Lou Anne. He also tells Captain Marvel where to stick it because he’s frankly tired of always having to go to space. And frankly I don’t blame him. Kid’s been having a weird year.


Eventually Captain Marvel is forced to return when Rick is attacked at the lab of Professor Savannah (No, not the one you’re thinking of. Different Captain Marvel.) by a large gold man. He too is defeated off panel and Rick returns to the Negative Zone. This time, Lou Anne visits with Dr Banner and the two of them go to get help from Reed Richards, the only guy who knows anything about the Negative Zone. Bruce brings his giant Hulk shooting laser again.


Back in the Negative Zone, Rick has ended up in another fight with Annihilus, who is clearly stalking the little bastard. Rick turns into the Hulk again and he and Annihilus beat on each other for a while. Eventually, Bruce and Reed are able to zap Rick with the Hulk Laser, this time seperating Rick and Hulk into two people. While Rick is rescued by Reed and his gross stretchy arm, Hulk uses the martial arts he learned from Captain America to kick Annihilus into an asteroid where he explodes to death.


Rick returns to Earth, freed of the Hulk, Captain Marvel, Captain America, the Fantastic Four and various other Marvel super heroes and is able to freely date his attractive lady-friend, while playing the harmonica in places a harmonica ought not be played. In the Negative Zone, Hulk is worshipped as a hero and gets to jump around on flying rocks. A solid win for everybody!


*Hydra does not stand for anything.

**Rick’s needed to breathe oxygen since his first apparence in Irritating Baby Comics #1, True Believers! -Marvelous Matt


What If the Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become the Fantastic Four?

Okay, this is a weird one. Firstly, because it features the Fantastic Four as played by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Flo Steinberg and Sol Brodsky (the latter I am only vaguely aware of from reading Sean Howe’s excellent Marvel: The Untold Story). Secondly, this one is written, inked and drawn by Jack Kirby. According to the backmatter, this was the first time Jack had worked on the FF in eight years. Pretty cool.

So we open on the new FF on some island somewhere doing battle with an evil troll monster. They are searching the island for Dr Murrow (You get it? Do you get it?), a scientist who may be able to help them in their search for the mysterious “S” People. Unfortunately, after Flo uses her invisible forcefield to get the evil troll monster to kill himself, they discover the creature actually was Murrow. How ironic. Tragic. Whatever.

The FF decide to explore Murrow’s INCREDIBLY AWESOME KIRBY LAB to see if there’s any clue to why he turned into a troll, how he got a ray gun and why he was trying to kill Jack Kirby. Trying to kill Stan Lee is less shocking.

After some digging, Flo manages to find a mysterious pinging box which she pulls out to show Stan. It instantly begins bombarding them with more fucking cosmic rays so they break it. Fuck you, Box. That’s what happens when you mess with the new Fantastic Four!

At this point, Kirby Watcher yells at we, the readers at home to tell us how these strange new heroes came to be. Namely someone dropped off a present for them at the Marvel Bullpen. Flo and Jack open it and everyone is bombarded by cosmic rays. Luckily, Jack shows us what a kid learns growing up on the mean streets of New York and beats it to death with a shoe.

They’re about to write it off as a prank from some damn college kids when Jack starts changing into the Thing. At this point, I should point out that the actual Fantastic Four comic is currently coming out. Nobody, including the Watcher, mentions that this is kind of bizarre.

Soon the other three begin to transform. Flo becomes invisible, Sol bursts into flames, ruining some original Kirby art, nice one, Sol and Stan becomes all creepy and stretchy. If you were wondering what would make Mr. Fantastic’s powers more unsettling, I can happily tell you that having them be wielded by a guy with a mustache does the trick quite nicely.

They examine the remains of the box and find a note on it reading “Greetings! Open this box and experience the ultimate fantasy! – The “S” People. Before you ask, it’s not Superman. I thought it was gonna be Superman and this would turn out to be a loving poke at the distinguished competition but it’s not that clever. It’s not Superman. Damnit.

So this new Fantastic Four sets out to have some adventures and beat up a bunch of weird half human monsters that have also been changed by the “S” People. Many of them are murdered. Do not cross Seventies Era Stan Lee. It’s at this point that we cut back to the present as the FF return from the island of Dr Murrow. Kirby is angry and changes back to his human form. So if you were hoping this issue of What If featured some hot half naked Kirby action, you are in luck, my friend!

After discovering that the “S” People are from space (Still not Superman.), they head in the exact opposite direction, taking Stan Lee’s submarine under the sea. Their plan: to visit the Sub Mariner! Who, a caption box helpfully informs us, exists in this insane universe along with some other unnamed super villains.

The FF arrives at Namor’s underwater palace where they are promptly captured. Namor shows up wearing a HUGE KIRBY CROWN and yells a little, as is his wont. He shows them his own box that was apparently delivered. Hopefully also in colourful wrapping with a friendly note. Stan tells Namor to destroy it. “Good idea!” shouts Namor, crushing it like a shoe wielding comic artist.

Kirby gets pissed off and breaks free and then we get to watch Stan Lee blow himself up like a balloon to take a punch from the Sub Mariner. This comic is fucking weird, guys.

Everyone calms down when Flo yells at them and they explain themselves to Namor. Namor goes over to his handy alien detector field thing to find out if there are any present delivering aliens around. Turns out there is! One of Namor’s guards is actually a fiendish Skrull! Get it? Skrull? They were the “S” People. Clearly the S was not for subtlety. The Skrull escapes by turning into a giant hideous pink whale and the FF and Namor give chase.

They follow the hideous whale back to the Skrull’s undersea base and Namor and Jack wreck up the place. Then Stan shoots it with a giant laser rifle, destroying the building and brutally murdering all who dwell within. Excelcior!

The Skrulls all dead, the FF return home, sad that they will never be normal again but glad that they can continue to help the world with their powers. Hopefully in this universe, being a giant orange rock monster means that everyone will be too scared to cheat Kirby out of millions of dollars.


What If Jane Foster Found the Hammer of Thor?

We open on Jane Foster vacationing in Norway with her lame boss, Dr. Donald Blake. I say lame, because Don has a fucked up leg which he mentions constantly. Roughly the first half of this book consists of Don thinking “If only I wasn’t lame, I could be with Jane. But she could never love a man as lame as me.” Over in Jane’s brain, “If only Don knew I didn’t care how lame he is. His lameness is what made me fall in love with him.”

Alas the two young idiots would never realize their love for each other, for at that moment, the hills of Norway are attacked by invading rock men from Saturn. Fucking typical. Jane and Don try to escape but Don is lame and drops his walking stick down a chasm. Jane goes after it and escapes into a cave. She tries to go through the cave so she can get behind the stone men and maybe save Don but she’s blocked by a giant boulder.

Lucky for her, a found stick and the laws of physics may allow her to escape. Unfortunately, it’s a very, very big boulder so she tries beating it to death instead. For once, trying to beat up a giant rock doesn’t solve anyone’s problems but it does release the magic that was hidden in the stick, restoring its original form. With a crash of lightning or possibly thunder, the stupid stick is transformed into Mjolnier, the difficult to spell hammer of Thor! And Jane is transformed into the less difficult to spell person of Thor. Or… Lady Thor, I guess. A big amazon chick in leather and a steel bra. This may be What If’s best selling issue yet.

Jane realizes that she suddenly has all of the powers of Thor and decides that it would be a good idea to call herself Thordis. It isn’t and this is a terrible name but that’s not important right now, there are boulders to be thrown at aliens.

Thordis meets up with Don back on the surface where he a) attempting to not be murdered, b) worrying about the would-be girlfriend he lost down a hole and c) continuing to complain about how lame he is. A true hero. Thordis beats the shit out of the stone men, sending them running back to their ship to leave Earth and Marvel Comics forever.* 

Thordis turns back into Jane and then hooks up with Don and they leave Norway just as the military shows up to battle the Saturn Men. “Something defeated those Rock Guys before we got here.” They say in perfect synchronization. “But what? Surely not that lame doctor or the attractive skirt on his shoulder.”

At this point, we leave scenic Midgard** behind and travel across the rainbow bridge of Asgard where Thor’s gross brother Loki is stuffed in a tree. So, first things first, this is late 70s Marvel so we are not talking about pants-creamingly beautiful  Tom Hiddleston Loki. This is classic Loki, the one who looks like the sad end of a sick Llama. And yes, Odin shoved him into a tree for a billion years because of… well, he probably did something. He’s fucking Loki. Anyway, Loki is stuck in his maple scented jail until someone will cry for him. He frees himself by using all of his godly powers to poke some dude in the eye with a leaf. Boom. Instant tears, he is out of there. Back to the important business of plotting against Thor. Hope he’s not a girl now.

Back on Earth, Don and Jane are out for a stroll when they come across some unfortunate people who have been rendered negative. I’m not sure why this is a bad thing… like, I guess it’s too bad that they’re black and white now but I really don’t understand what the problem is. Jane ducks into an alley to bang her enchanted hairbrush (Oh, yeah. She had the ancient magical stick whittled into an hairbrush because she’s a girl, I guess?) against a wall and turns into Thordis. Thordis uses her amazing power of spinning a hammer to shoot particles at the negative people until the day is saved. Great job!

At this point, Loki reveals himself to Thordis as an ugly dope in a bad suit who has been hiding in the crowd. He turned those people negative as a way to lure Thor out and is now surprised to see that she is a pretty lady. “Okay,” says Loki. “You’re not Thor. But you’re like Thor. And Thor-like people are enemies to Lokis!” Then he uses the sun reflecting off her hammer to hypnotise Thordis. This works for about a minute before Thordis gets bored and angry, beats Loki up, ties him to her hammer and throws him off the Empire State Building. He lands in Asgard for some reason, instead of like… the ground.

Loki goes running to Odin the All-Father because he’s a shitty tattletale to tell everyone that Thor has returned to Earth.Odin summons Jane to Asgard but gets pissed off when she arrives. Odin explains that Thor was a real arrogant, proud shithead so Odin had him banished to Earth in the body of Don Blake. He hid Thor’s hammer as a stick, knowing that, when Don found it, he’d be worthy to be Thor again. Unfortunately, this elaborate plan backfired when Jane found the stupid thing instead. And that’s why you don’t teach lessons. So now, they’re all stuck with Thordis and the real Thor is stuck in the body of Don Blake, unaware of his destiny. Whoops.

So Odin gets pissed (No shock there.) and boots Jane out of Asgard. Which is fine by her because everyone is a dick and the Warriors Three keep sexually harrassing her. Thordis gets back to the serious business of kicking all sorts of ass and also joining the Avengers. It’s pretty awesome for everyone. Everyone except poor stupid lame Don Blake.

Don’s treating himself to a sad limp by the ocean when he spies a girl drowning. Throwing his self-pity to the wind, he dives into the sea and saves her. It’s Sif, ex-girlfriend of Thor, who followed Jane back to Earth to get herself up on some of that lame guy dick. Sif throws herself at Don, but can never tell him exactly why she has fallen for him, due to Odin’s stupid lesson. She also heals Don’s leg so that outta shut him up.

Sif and Don go out on the town only to be attacked by Loki. In his greatest evil plan yet, Loki, god of tricks, master of lies and a villain known for his great cunning… tries to beat Don and Sif with a big stick. Please keep in mind that the stick is actually heavier than Loki is. As are Loki’s shoes. Dude is not phyically impressive. Still, he manages to knock Sif out. Then Don drops a coat on his head.

Thordis shows up to return Loki to Asgard and then she and Don take Sif to surgery to recover from her stick attack. She pulls through just in time for Ragnarok to arrive. Isn’t that always the fucking way? Thordis, Sif and Don all return to Asgard to help stop the end of the world. They find Asgard being attacked by MANGOG, THE GIANT KICK-ASS LOOKING MONSTER WHO TRIES TO UNSHEATH THE MIGHTY ODINSWORD. He fails miserably when Odin shows up and tell him to knock it off.

So ragnarok is prevented, Loki is banished (again.) and the day is once again saved. Odin shows up and gives Don Blake Thordis’ hammer because… I guess he proved himself worthy. So now he gets to be Thor again. Sorry, Jane. You were actually a pretty fucking great super hero but this blonde idiot wants his hammer back so sorry, I guess. He’s also reunited with Sif so good for them.

As for Jane’s reward, Odin turns her into an actual goddess with a big stupid hat. Then, because there are no other characters to hook up with, Odin asks to marry her. (Don’t worry, the Watcher informs us that Odin’s not married in this universe for whatever fucking reason.) Which is fucking gross for a variety of reasons, least of which because they barely know each other and last time they met, he threw her out because she wasn’t a dude. But whatever! Enough super heroics! Get in the kitchen and make me an Odinsandwich! Sigh.


* Or until Planet Hulk, True Believers! -Smilin’ Stan, er, Matt.

**Earth, as is Thor comic tradition.