What If Thor and Odin Had The Universe’s Largest Pissing Contest?

So, once upon a time, a blonde thunder god named Thor fell in love with a nurse named Jane Foster. They dated for a while and finally Thor asked his asshole dad, Odin, for permission to marry Jane. Odin said that was fine and Jane acended up to Asgard where Odin made her a goddess with a stupid hat. Asgard runs on similar rules to Agraba apparently.

New, dumpy raiment.

So Jane took her new God powers for a spin and almost crashed into a building because she had no faith in the powers Odin gave her. Sweetie, meeting GOD is exactly the sort of thing that should instil you with MORE faith. Or really, any pantheon in the Marvel Universe. They all exist!  Unless you’re Christian, I guess. Then you are shit out of luck.

“Sorry, it’s my first time flying. I’m not used to this.”

If you haven’t been paying attention to every issue of Thor ever published, Odin is a well-known enourmous douchebag, and he takes Jane’s lack of faith as a personal insult because OF COURSE HE DOES. Now, let’s see… what’s a reasonable course of action to take for your son’s fiancee disappointing you? How about locking her in a closet with a fear demon? Brilliant! It’ll be a fun story to tell the kids someday.

“Family tradition states that we lock you in the fear closet overnight. See you tomorrow!”

Unfortunately for true love, Jane fails miserably because unfortunately Jane kinds of sucks. Man, I miss Thordis. You guys remember Thordis? Odin gives Jane the boot because she’s a disappointment, like everything else Thor has ever done, but he gets her a sweet job back on Earth because I guess Odin has hiring/firing authority in Earth hospitals? Meanwhile, Thor starts dating Lady Sif because women are basically interchangable.

“So much better than ol’ whatsername!”

That’s how it happened in our reality but gaze with me, mortals. Gaze with me and a Watcher who looks like he was played by Alfred Hitchcock into a world where Thor decides to turn this already bizarre little argument into a FULL-ON CIVIL WAR IN ASGARD. As Odin’s about to literally cast Jane out of paradise, Thor speaks up saying how it isn’t fair, Dad. Why can’t you ever just get along with one of my girlfriends JEEZ, I wish I was never born. Only with a lot more ‘thees’ and ‘thous’. Odin invokes the “If you’re under my roof, you’ll do what I say” rule and throws Thor’s stuff on the lawn. Then he banishes the two love birds to Earth. He may take Jane’s powers back or he may not. I have no idea because Jane is basically out of the story now.

Thor goes to the Avengers to ask them for help killing his dad. He tells them Odin’s been possessed by evil or something which is an outright lie but anything for love, I guess. All of the Avengers join in except for Quicksilver because… well, because Quicksilver sucks.

This year’s movie darling, ladies and gentlemen!

Back in Asgard, Odin meets with his vizier. In any other piece of literature ever in history, this would be bad news because there has never once been a trustworthy vizier. This guy’s alright, however. He tries to convince Odin that maybe trying to kill his son over some girl isn’t exactly the best course of action but Odin has more sensible plans like putting Loki in charge of his army. “For against one son, what better weapon then another son?” Odin clearly learned about parenting from watching “Arrested Development.”

I cannot conceive of any universe ever where this could possibly be a good idea.

The Avengers have also arrived in Asgard where they travel to Thor’s house and meet with the vizier who has left Odin’s camp for Thor’s. Huh. I guess you CAN’T trust this vizier after all. While Thor has himself a little army of Asgardians who support him and his love for Jane, the vizier advises that Thor let the Avengers do most of the fighting. So that the people least involved in this stupid war will take the most casualties. Thor agrees and the two level the Avengers up so they will be powerful enough to battle gods. Captain America, for example, is given a magical sword. And Goliath is given the ability to become slightly taller than usual.

No jokes, I just think this is funny.

The war finally begins and we get a pretty bitchin’ splash page of the Avengers going to town on some Asgardian fools. And, as far away from awesome things as possible, Jane cries and gets a stern lecture from Heimdall. This is getting embarrassing.

“Oh, so it’s all MY fault?”

Iron Man decides this whole war thing is moronic (He’s right.) and compares it to his time in Vietnam (He’s probably less right about that.). Then he fucks off to Odin’s palace to convince the enourmous beardo that possibly killing hundreds of your own subjects over your son’s girlfriend is maybe a stupid idea. Odin agrees and sends Iron Man back to Thor with a message of peace. Unfortunately at this point, General Loki shows up and stabs Iron Man in the fucking head. To death. Gee, maybe putting your GOD OF EVIL son in charge of YOUR FUCKING ARMY wasn’t such a hot idea, Odin. Who could have possibly seen this coming?

“Remember me… as… a… warmonger…”

Speaking of said god of evil, Loki sends one of his henchmen to do some sinister whispering in Odin’s ear. He convinces Odin to let Balder the Brave lead Odin’s army instead of Loki. Because, look, Loki’s done a great job of killing your son’s friend but… I mean, he’s also kind of a shit, right? Father of the Year Odin decides NOT to give his new favourite son the chance to prove himself finally and sends Balder to lead the army. While he does that, Loki’s henchman uses a magic glove to suck out Odin’s Odinpower and send it to Loki. Thus shall Loki steal Odin’s power, defeat Thor and conquer Asgard at long last! Or he would if the Wasp didn’t murder him with a wasp sting to the brain. Whoops.

“Fill my hat… with soup…”

Now Thor is REALLY pissed. He drags Iron Man’s corpse to Odin’s castle, ready to finally kill the old man. And with Odin’s power sucked out by Loki, he might actually do it. Odin pulls his last trump card, the Oversword, which will basically destroy Asgard. Also it is literally a giant sword.

Ppppphhppt… SERIOUSLY?

The vizier enters at this point and tells everyone to calm the fuck down, this is idiotic. Thor and Odin finally hash it out and Odin reveals that he was really just jealous of Thor’s new girlfriend. Well, that justifies a fucking war, doesn’t it? Some good DOES finally come out of all this though, as Thor finally moves out of his dad’s basement.

A letter!

Dear Forbidden to Interfere:

I notice that sometimes in comics, the Watcher is a skinny dude with a big chunky head, and sometimes he’s just a big chunky dude in general. Is there any consistency to this? Which Watcher do you prefer?

I remain, sir, your most humble servant,

Hey, Art.
Our favourite bald narrator, Uatu the Watcher, varies drastically depending on the artist. From Kirby’s original drawing of “Fat Bald Giant Guy” to Frank Miller’s “Fat Bald Giant Guy Who Looks Like Somebody Dropped A Safe On Him” I feel like, as long as you are capturing the essence of Uatu (Bald guy in toga), you’re probably doing all right for yourself. Personally, I prefer the giant skinny guy with the giant head over, say giant fat baby man monster. In fact, my Watcher preference is this one: This is from the back cover of my “Best of What If” trade from back in 1991. It’s the oldest tpb I own and it was my first extended exposure to “What If” comics. I always assumed it was John Byrne’s Watcher but clearly no. Anyway, this is my boy right here. Other Watchers can step off. Thanks for writing!

What If Gwen Stacy Lived and the Green Goblin Retired and Everything STILL Sucked?

We join our hero, Peter Parker: The Amazing Spectacular Friendly Neighbourhood Marvel Team-Up Spider-Man doing what he do best. Specifically moping on the George Washington Bridge about his dead girlfriend. It’s been a year since she died and Spidey’ still in mourning. “If only I had realized that grabbing you by the ankle mid-flight would snap your neck like a twig” he thinks before swinging away.

Hope he doesn’t mope about this for thirty years.

That’s about when Ultruatu the Fifty-Foot Watcher shows up, looking like so much Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man “Peter Parker may be in mourning now because of his dead girlfriend but I, Uatu the Mysteriously Huge This Issue Watcher, can peer through the curtains of reality to see a world where Gwen Stacy lived! I find this sort of thing much more interesting than seeing the reality where Hitler won World War II or Napoleon had a fleet of dragons at his command!”

“Don’t swat me, Chubby Cheeks!”

After a quick recap of how Gwen died (Green Goblin AKA Norman “Ridiculous Hat” Osborne kicked her off a bridge.), we head for our new alternate reality. Here we see Norm give Blondie the boot but this time Spidey decides to swing down and catch her instead of webbing her foot. This is a wise decision. Unfortunately, Spider-Man doesn’t actually have anywhere to swing TO, so he and Gwen nose dive into the Hudson River anyway, crashing directly into Cosmo Kramer out for a swim. The Green Goblin watches them nose dive and fucks off assuming they’re dead. Idiot.

“There’s no reason to assume they’re alive! Myah-ha-ha-ha!”

Pete drags Gwen to shore and gives her mouth-to-mouth, saving her life. Which is good. “What If Gwen Stacy Died A Slightly Different Way” probably wouldn’t give me two and a half to three pages of content.

Just drop the corpse anywhere.

Gwen regains conciousness and sees Peter in his Spider-Man costume. Gwen, a frequent Daily Bugle reader who believes Spider-Man killed her father, is understandably terrified. Luckily, Pete takes an hour or two to explain the past one hundred and twenty one issues of his comic (plus annuals!) and Gwen realizes he isn’t a menace. Then, on a greasy dock, covered in raw sewage, Peter Parker proposes to Gwen Stacy before webbing off to kick the ever-loving blue-eyed shit out of his best friend’s dad.

The thing I always loved about the Green Goblin is that he’s a very simple villain. He’s not out for revenge or to save his dying wife. He mostly just wants to be crime boss of New York. The dude is basically the Kingpin in a Halloween costume strapped to a mechanical flying bat. Right now, he’s trying to leverage his murder of Spider-Man into a play for Mr Crime King 1973 by gathering all the faceless criminals in the city and telling them how great he is. The various Italian-American stereotypes aren’t buying it though especially when Spidey busts in and starts picking fights with people.

“We ain’t stupid! We don’t just listen to any two-bit freak in rubber leggings!”

The ferocity with which Spidey beats up the mob guys pretty much terrifies Gobby and he flees. Like… out the door. On foot. And then he walks home, still in his Goblin gear, stopping only to mail a package. There’s something I find positively delightful about this whole. I just wish he’d stopped to get a cab.

“Where the hell did I park?”

When he finally gets home, he finds his poor, long-suffering son, Harry Osborne and comes clean about the whole “I’m the Green Goblin, your best friend is Spider-Man and we’re locked in a personal battle of wills.” In his defense, Harry takes it pretty well but this might be when he’s experimenting with LSD, I honestly can’t remember.

At this point, Spidey busts in, having beaten up all of New York’s crime. He tries to finish Norman off but Harry gets in his way, trying to protect his deeply insane father. There’s a brief scuffle but the only person who really gets hurt is poor Harry who gets knocked back and forth across the room like a tennis ball. Norman’s about to blow the whole building to hell when he sees Harry still trying to defend his father from Spider-Man. This act of kindness reminds Norman how much he loves his pathetic son and he breaks down, allowing Harry to get him much needed help at whatever the Marvel version of Arkham Asylum is. (It’s the Ravencroft Institute. Motto: In vita, nos , per fraudem stragis. Or, according to the Google Translator I just used: In Life, We Are Murdered by Carnage.)

Family’s always embarrassing.

That unpleasantness out of the way, Peter meets back up with Gwen. We skip ahead about a week to their wedding. All of the seventies cast is there, from Aunt May to Best Man Flash Thompson. I assume Flash threatened to beat Parker up if he wasn’t in the wedding party. Everything’s going according to plan when J. Jonah Jameson busts in with a bunch of cops! Remember when the Goblin mailed that package on his way home? That was pretty weird, right? Well, it seems it was full of proof about Spider-Man’s true identity and Norman mailed it to the Daily Bugle. That is some PETULENT fucking revenge, Gobby!


The cops try to arrest Peter, Aunt May has a heart attack because *Matt, don’t forget to think up a new joke about how often Aunt May has a heart attack before you post this thing* and Pete bails out the window. Meanwhile, wedding guest of the year Jameson yuks it up, delighting in destroy Pete’s life at his own wedding. This bullshit causes Robbie Robertson to quit the Bugle and he and Gwen head off to try and clear Peter’s name.

Lonely dick.

We finally end with Peter outside his own appartment as it swarms with cops. He’s unable to get his costume or webshooters or change out of his rented tux. He wonders how his life could possibly get any worse as the Watcher looks on and gloats. Fuck you, Baldy! That was some Monkey’s Paw shit you pulled on poor Peter.

What If the Hulk Just Fucking LIED Right To My Face?


So I was damn excited for this one. Look at that cover. What If the Hulk Had Become A Barbarian? That looks amazing. The Hulk’s wailing away on some monsters, he’s got a battle axe, he clearly stole Cerebus’ wardrobe. This looks incredible. So we crack it open and…


the fuck is this?

So, I know my Hulk pretty well. I’ve got most of a complete collection of Peter David’s decade long run on the book, but I don’t know the Jarella’s World story that well. From what I picked up, the Hulk gets shrunk down so small that he drops into another tiny reality. In this tiny reality, his intelligence returns, he hooks up with the local hot green queen Jarella and lives happily ever after. Until they both get deshrunk back to normal sized and a building falls on Jarella. Because if there is anyone in the entire Marvel Universe who can’t have nice things, it’s the Hulk. And possibly the Punisher.

So instead of the actual stated question of What If the Hulk Was a Barbarian (Not to be confused with the wonderful “Planet Hulk” which is basically the same but the Hulk is a gladiator instead), the book asks us what would happen if Jarella lived. You know, it genuinely shocks me that we’re tackling the question of whether a famous Marvel superheroes one true love didn’t die and it isn’t Gwen fucking Stacy.*

Anyway, Jarella lives and she and the now stupid Hulk wander off. They have no way to return home since some idiot dropped the microscope slide that contained Jarella’s planet, K’ai. (Seriously.)


So mostly they sit by a lake while Jarella tries to ignore the Hulk begging her to tell him about the rabbits.

Just then, SHIELD arrives with Agent Clay Quartermain looking like King Megaphone Douchebag of Stupid Orange Jumpsuit Mountain. Look at this prick.


He tells Hulk and J. Rel that he’s got good news. Specifically, Hank Pym’s taken some time off from being insane to figure out a way to get the two green guys home. It involves shrinking them again. Trust me here, the science makes perfect sense. Anyway, Hank sends them off to leave the Earth forever. “So long, Marvel Universe!” Hulk calls. “You won’t have Old Tricky-Dick Banner to chase around the desert with tanks any more!”

The trip to Jarella’s world is harder than she or the Hulk expected, taking them through the various tiny realms of the Marvel Universe, including the Microverse, Tarraconia and the musky space beneath Ben Grimm’s couch. Finally, they return to K’ai, arriving at her weird castle full of green people. Home at last, the happy couple is wed beneath a fishing rod holding some firecrackers. As is the local tradition.


That night, as Hulk ponders his new status as King of Tinytown, Jarella is attacked by an octopus assassin.


With a mighty smash, Hulk renders the octopus so much unsightly carpet stain and then he and some guards follow the octopus’ trail to the basement. Behind a locked door, they discover a green vampire in a hood worshipping dark gods. Hulk grabs him, but Hoody melts into a pile of goo, giving the castle cleaning staff even more crap to scrub out of the royal carpets.

A few days later, Hulk and Jarella gather together a council of war to discuss the attack. Apparently, K’ai has been under attack all over by various degrees of weirdness ranging from giant robots to fungal attacks. Yuck. Jarella summons the K’ai Justice League, a bunch of green hero guys who fight evil and make the Hulk feel inadequate. I mean, sure. The guy smashes well, but will he ever be as cool as Glunno the Winged One? No. Because nobody will.


Jarella’s wise mustache man tries to figure out where all this evil could be coming from. He’s not sure… but there IS a place nearby called Wol Ulrai: The Heart of Darkness where All Evil Comes From. Might be worth a peek. Hulk and the K’ai L A. hop on some of Glunno the Winged One’s giant birds and head off to investigate. Is there nothing you can’t do, Glunno?

Once they arrive, they are attacked by shadow monsters and some rotting zombie guy I’ve never heard of called Lord Visis. Sometimes I think I should try reading the comics these What If are based on. But then, instead I don’t do that. Lord Visis tells Hulk about the Dark Evil Gods who live in the reality next door. If he can pierce the barrier between here and there, he can send the Dark Gods into all other realities, without shrinking or growing them. Which is a welcome change after the rest of the issue. Then Visis attacks Hulk with a Hulk duplicate, containing all of Hulk’s rage. Hulk looks deep inside of himself, remembers his love and then looks at the cover of this issue. Overcome with anger at not having a giant axe, Hulk tears a mountain down on Visis and Second Hulk, saving the day and ending the story rather abruptly.

This is followed a short story about the Celestials coming to Earth in prehistoric times to do experiments on cavemen. It’s actually pretty cool and gorgeously drawn, but it ain’t a What If story so moving on.

Then shit gets NUTS. In a follow-up to the now-classic What If 7 (featuring the first appearance of fan favourite character Spider Jameson.), we get “What if Aunt May Was Bitten by a Radioactive Spider.” Dan Slott, I know you read this column. If Aunt Spider-May does not appear in your upcoming “Spider-Verse” crossover, please unsubscribe me from your newsletter. Also I love your run on Silver Surfer.

So, while going about her daily routine of not dying of a heart attack, Aunt May realizes that Peter Parker has forgotten his bag lunch and rushes to the local science center where he’s viewing radiation in all its glory. Unluckily for what precious little remains of Pete’s social life, his 90 plus year old Aunt arrives to present him with a still warm bag of cottage cheese and mashed string-beans. Since, in this world, Peter never gets spider powers, we are viewing a world where the guy has literally NOTHING on Earth going for him. Meanwhile, May gets bit by a radioactive spider.


On the walk home, May dodges a car full of troublesome teenagers with her new spider agility and realizes she has super powers. She then decides to try to figure out a way to make some money off it. She returns home (ignoring Uncle Ben passed out on the couch) and sews herself… uh… this.


Which doesn’t actually make a whole lot of sense since she seems to think she got her powers from a vitamin supplement. Anyway, Aunt May tries to figure out a weapon she can use… to fight crime, I guess. I seriously have no idea how she arrives at this conclusion. She smells the bread she was baking earlier and forgot about and head to the kitchen to investigate. She finds the oven full of sticky bread dough, expanded from too much yeast and then shoves it into a pastry bag to… spray at foes?


Next on the old insanity parade, May sees that the villainous Leap Frog (Guy in a frog costume on springs, a worthy foe for Aunt Spider-May.) has robbed a jewellery store and swings to the rescue. On sewing thread. Leap Frog takes a swing at the ninety year old woman because he’s a piece of shit and then the fight ends up in the Parker’s back yard because why the fuck not?


Hearing the noise, Peter comes outside to find an old woman fighting Spring Heeled Kermit the Frog in his Aunt’s gazebo and faints because Peter Parker sucks in this universe. Aunt Spider-May finishes her fight with Leap Frog by spraying him with bread dough. She then takes the unconscious Peter inside where she can coddle him for the rest of his sad, sad, sad life.


Look at that expression on Pete’s face. This is a man who knows he will be a virgin until he is twenty-seven.

*Come back next week, True Believers! 

What If Doctor Doom Was… Okay, LESS of an Asshole.


I love me some Doctor Doom. You want to talk classic, yelling, boasting, talking about himself in the third person villainy, Doctor Doom is definitely the way to go. So an entire issue based around the guy so evil his name is fucking DOOM becoming a good guy? I am there. And if that didn’t hurt, look at that fucking cover. That is amazing.

So if you’ve never heard the story, our old buddy Uatu is there to fill us in as he bombs out on an asteroid, his watcher’s crotch on display for all to see. BEHOLD ITS GLORY, HUMAN. I gotta say, guys, Fred Kida’s art in this is fantastic.

Ahem. So… Victor Von Doom. Born in the tiny nation of Latveria, a… Germanesque? country full of fans of lederhosen, alpenhorns and a distinct fear of werewolves, Doom is raised by his father, Werner von Doom. (Jeez, I never would have guessed that there’d be a better supervillain name than Victor von Doom but Wernher von Doom? That’s fantastic.) Doom’s mother, Cynthia was  a witch, burned at the stake while Victor was still a tiny, speaking in the third person baby.

One day, Latveria’s evil baron (Of course, there’s an evil baron.) contacts Wernher von Doom to help his sick wife. “Zat’s not my department” says Wernher von Doom. He is put to death. Victor swears revenge and then heads to America to get his doctorate in “Contacting My Mother In Hell” studies. I’ve always assumed this was the class Dr. Venkman was teaching.

So Doom attempts to use a combination of sorcery and witchcraft to contact his mother’s damned soul. Before he can, Reed Richards gets a look at his work and sees that a few decimals points are missing. He tries to tell Victor but Doom is having none of it. He goes ahead with the experiment, blows his own fucking face off, flees to Tibet, forges himself some armor and builds a time machine to steal Blackbeard’s treasure. You know, that old chestnut.

But, asks Uatu, still displaying his crotch in a manner that can only be to make us uncomfortable, what if Doom wasn’t a big dickhole? What if he listened to Reed, checked his math and THEN sent his spirit to hell? And that is, in fact exactly what happens. Doom sends his soul into the demonic pit where he finally contacts his mother. After laying on the traditional parental guilt trip (Why don’t you CALL, Vicky?”), she drops a knowledge bomb on him, letting him know that he’s the true heir to Latveria. She never mentions why exactly if that was the case, he and his father were living crappy lives in a shitty Gypsy camp but, to be fair, he never asks.

Victor’s soul returns to his body and he tells Reed of his plan to finally save his mother from Hell and then return victorious to Latveria where he shall rule benevolently. Perhaps in a gaudy suit of armor. He and Reed part as friends, and Reed heads off to tragically mutate his best friend and then presumedly spend the rest of his life fighting… I don’t know, probably the Mole Man.

In a gorgeous and very Bernie Wrightsony sequence, Victor travels the world learning dark secrets of the occult, speaking to ancient sorcerers and appearing in eight issues of Tomb of Dracula. Finally, on a trip to Tibet, Victor learns the secrets he needs from an ancient order of monks. The monks forge him a suit of golden armour and a… let’s say unique helmet.

Looking good, Vic.

Doom heads to an uninhabited cave to work his magicks, contacting Satan like so much Ghost Rider. He finally frees his mother’s soul, allowing her to go to… Heaven? I guess. The one afterlife that HASN’T been proven to exist in the Marvel Universe. Except for that time the Fantastic Four found out Jack Kirby was God.

Meanwhile in Hell, (a sentence that has never worked out well for anyone.) Mephisto (the actual devil) discovers that one of his souls is missing, resulting in a lot of yelling and acting rude to his demonic whores.

Incidentally, Mephisto’s in this? Hooray! A story where the hammiest motherfucker in the Marvel Universe pisses off the second hammiest motherfucker in the Marvel Universe? SOLD. Anyway, Mephisto vows revenge. Blah blah blah.

Back on Earth, Doom returns to Latveria, determined to rule it as is his birthright. Unfortunately, he finds it under the control of the evil, medallion wearing Prince Rudolfo, which may be my new favourite name ever. Rodolfo’s been doing the usual evil king stuff: taxing the peasants, throwing people in the dungeon, cancelling Christmas and banning all toys in the kingdom. You know the drill.

Luckily for the sad peasants, Doom arrives in his ridiculous gold armour to wreck up the place. He uses a combination of magic and technology to fucking destroy Rodolfo’s army of guards, including turning one into a giant frog which is FANTASTIC.

Rudolfo is ultimately killed by a bullet’s ricochet, alas. Good night, sweet prince. I look forward to openly mocking your ridiculous tombstone.

Doom frees all of the prisoners in Rodolfo’s dungeon, including his old girlfriend Valeria. He then moves all his stuff into Latveria Castle and begins using his technology to improve the lives of his people. This mostly involves robot farmers but… you know, Latveria is a simple country. Doom also proposes to Valeria. He marries her in front of his subjects, including a young Alfred E Neumann and Hansi, the Girl Who Loved the Swastika.

Everything’s basically perfect until Doom and Mrs. Doom head off on their honeymoon… and the Devil shows up. “Now you run a pretty good country, boy, but give Mephisto his due. I’ll take every life, damn your lovely wife, Latveria burns because of you.”

Basically, Doom owes Mephisto a soul and to get it, Mephisto is perfectly willing to drag all of Latveria to hell. This is followed by some truly glorious purple prose as these two guys yell at each other and address themselves in the third person. It’s wonderful.

Finally, Mephisto offers Doom a deal. Latveria’s safe. That’s off the table. All Mephisto wants is one soul. Doom’s… or Valeria’s. Surely that decision can’t be too difficult for the benevolent savior of Latveria?

Unfortunately, Doom might be a good guy but he’s still an arrogant piece of shit. “The world can’t lose me. I’m Doctor Fucking Doom! I have so much love to give!” So he sentences his wife to burn for all eternity, vowing to find some way to someday save her. (Spoiler alert: He doesn’t.)