What If The Clone Saga Started Thirteen Years Earlier, Lasted One Issue And Took Place At An Amusement Park?

So here’s one I’ve been looking forward to for a while and am actually surprised I never read before today. Back in the 70s, a third-rate Spider-Man villain called the Jackal (AKA Spidey’s college professor Miles Warren) made a clone of perpetually dead girlfriend Gwen Stacy because he was a gross creep. Dating a student is a strict no-no at Empire State University. Dating a dead one is even worse. Bringing one back to life so you can date her is some Re-Animator shit. Anyway, Warren also cloned Peter Parker… I think as a test subject or something.

So Spidey and Clone Spidey fought and then put aside their differences like every issue of Marvel Team-Up ever and then Clone Spider-Man exploded and Real Spidey dumped his corpse down a wishing well. AND WE NEVER HEARD FROM HIM EVER AGAIN. EVER.

A real comic that existed.
A real comic that existed.

But what if, our old friend Uatu asks. What if the Spider-Man Clone survived? What if that did happen, didn’t last three years and almost destroy the character? Well, it seems like it would mostly involve the Spider-Clone wandering around, trying to justify why he can’t remember any of his life. Excitement!

So, in the middle of the Two-Spidey-Fight, Real Pete calls a truce and then Cloney punches him in the face and knocks him out. Meanwhile, Doctor Warren begs the clone of Gwen Stacy to please love him. And why shouldn’t she? He’s a creepy old weirdo with a pedophile mustache! That’s hot stuff. Alas, Gwen isn’t interested so Warren kills himself saving the life of Ned Leeds AKA the Hobgoblin. I think. Nice one, buddy. After that, the Gwen clone leaves, vowing to find her own life away from Peter Parker. I think she finally got killed in a Spider-Man crossover a few years back. Let’s see… “Years later, she was apparently killed by another Gwen Stacy clone called ‘Abby-L.’” Well, that clears that up.

How could she possibly turn him down?

So Cloney takes the unconscious body of Peter Parker down into Doctor Warren’s basement and sticks him in suspended animation until he can figure out what to do with him. You know, like murder him or whatever. Then he heads out into the world, telling himself over and over that he MUST be the real Peter Parker. And he’s just forgotten everything over the past three years. Since giving a tissue sample to Doctor Warren. The clone maker. I can’t see any sort of problem there.

"Yes, despite all the weird stuff about this clone, I am clearly Parker Prime."
“Yes, despite all the weird stuff about this clone, I am clearly Parker Prime.”

Cloney makes the rounds of Peter Parker’s life, exploring his old abandoned house, meeting up with Aunt May and sleeping on his own doorstep because he doesn’t know what apartment he lives in. He also starts going to class in Peter’s place at Empire State University. Which would be great if he didn’t only have a high school education.

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Typical clone-of-Parker luck.

Returning home, Cloney roots through Peter’s old stuff and finds a bunch of old letters and pictures from Pete’s time dating Gwen Stacy. Cloney realizes that his whole “I must have amnesia” thing might not be as airtight as he believed and he returns to Doctor Warren’s lab to look for clues. What he mostly finds however is a goddamn TON of evidence about Warren’s cloning experiments three years ago, about his taking DNA from Peter Parker, about him making an elaborate clone of Peter Parker who thought he was the original and… Wait a minute…

This revelation took THREE years to sort out.
This revelation took THREE years to sort out.

That little revelation finished, Cloney heads out to do some web spinning and thinking. He’s gone about ten minutes before he runs into a flying camera with guns on it. It’s the Kingpin… for some reason. Just randomly flying his computerized flying camera around looking for Spider-Man. I suppose it’s more interesting than… I don’t know, running a criminal empire. Cloney torches the little camera and then accidentally trips over the actual Kingpin out yelling on his roof. They fight for a couple of minutes before Cloney realizes that the Kingpin is actually something of a threat. He hauls ass out of the fight, leaving the Kingpin to yell threateningly, jump on his hat and tell Spider-Man to meet him at the Coney Island amusement park for a final showdown.

Standard issue for the secret crime boss of all New York.
Standard issue for the secret crime boss of all New York.

Cloney finally gives up on his chance at successfully impersonating Peter Parker and heads back to Dr Warren’s lab. After a couple of seconds of considering letting Pete stay in his techno casket and just die, Cloney decides he’s not a big fan of murder and lets the Spidercicle out. Real Spidey, apparently not angry that he’s been imprisoned for like a week while somebody lived his life for him, decides to team-up with Cloney to defeat the Kingpin.They dress Cloney as Peter Parker so that Cloney can snap pictures of Spider-Man and not actually be a fraud for the first time in his career.

"My God, I'm pretty."
“My God, I’m pretty.”

The Parker Pair arrive at Cloney Island, excuse me, CONEY Island and the Spider-Clone is quickly captured by Kingpin’s goons. Luckily, Cloney and Spider-Man still make short work of a couple of idiots in fedoras with pistols. Then Real Spider-Man chases the Kingpin to the Ferris Wheel. They fight a little longer before Kingpin reveals his secret weapon: A flying ferris wheel car that he can float around in and shoot lasers from. He’s like a fucking video game boss. And not even the LAST boss. Anyway, Spidey knocks him out of it, the day is saved and they all go out for Frosty Chocolate Milkshakes.

You dodge the lasers and then punch him until he starts blinking red.
You dodge the lasers and then punch him until he starts blinking red.

Later, at Casa de Parker, Cloney is preparing to leave like the Gwen Clone did. Head out into the world, start a new life, maybe help some people. Peter offers him another idea. Stay here, we can split being Peter Parker fifty-fifty and just reenact the Parent Trap/Sister, Sister/any movie with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for the rest of our lives! There’s no way anything bad can come from this! Exactly three seconds later, Pete’s roommate comes home and the jig is up.

A SOLID PLAN WITH ABSOLUTELY NO FLAWS.
A SOLID PLAN WITH ABSOLUTELY NO FLAWS.

What If the Avengers were just SHOCKINGLY stupid? Also: What If Homeless Namor Went to Sea?

Wow, and I thought the plot to Avengers vs. X-Men was stupid (It is.). This week we visit a reality where the Avengers set themselves up as the only authority on Earth, arrest and depower all the rest of Earth’s super humans and then ship them off to an alien jailer. No, it’s not Civil War but it does almost as good a job of making Iron Man an asshole.

You can't fool me, blurb. This is a cover of lies.
You can’t fool me, blurb. This is a cover of lies.

 

So we begin our story as the Hulk is preparing to leave the original Avengers line-up (Iron Man, Thor, Wasp and Giant Man.) because everybody hates him. Which, honestly, that’s fine. The Hulk is, like the moodiest motherfucker ever to join the Avengers. Except maybe Silver Age Hawkeye. So Hulk’s on his way out when a giant red man appears in the sky. It’s the Scarlet Centurion, a time traveller who has peered into the future and seen the horrors of a world overrun by superheroes! Since a horrid world overrun by superheroes is the future of the Marvel universe like…. nine out of ten times, nobody is particularly surprised by this. Still, the Centurion gives the Avengers twenty-four hours to decide if they want his help.

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Glad we got to skip the exciting “twenty-four hours of discussion” scene.

When he returns, the Avengers are all for it and when he reveals that the only course of action is for the Avengers to capture every single superhero and villain on Earth, they get right to it. NOBODY QUESTIONS THIS IDEA FOR A SECOND. This is probably because everyone is too busy kicking the shit out of the Fantastic Four. Personally, if I took it upon myself to battle every motherfucker on the planet, I’d start small with… like, the Shocker or the Enforcers but I’m not an alchoholic super genius taking orders from a giant man from the future who wants me to beat up my friends so I’m probably a poor choice here, judgement-wise.

whatif2903
I SEE NO PROBLEM WITH THIS PLAN.

So, the second the Avengers leave, the Scarlet Centurion reveals that he isn’t your run-of-the-mill good guy in power armor. He’s actually… Immortus! The Space Egyptian from the Future! I think. Look, I know my Marvel history reasonably well (Way better than I know my Canadian history.) but when it comes to the whole Immortus/Kang the Conqueror/Iron Lad/Dr. Doom?/Nathanial Richards thing, I’m a little out to sea. Anyway, Immortus reveals to absolutely nobody his plan to enslave all the super-humans of Earth by getting the Avengers to beat them up. It’s a really terrible plan in any reality where these people aren’t total idiots.

whatif2904
“Yes, I snapped the Invisible Woman’s neck for a good cause.”

Once they have defeated everyone in the Marvel universe (IN A SINGLE SPLASH PANEL ARE YOU KIDDING ME, 80s MARVEL. THIS ISSUE HAS TWO FUCKING BACKUP STORIES AND YOU TELL THE STORY OF THE AVENGERS BEATING UP LITERALLY EVERYONE IN ONE FUCKING PANEL? A PANEL THAT SPIDER-MAN IS NOT EVEN IN? SERIOUSLY? LOOK, I AM NOT SAYING I NEED TWELVE ISSUES OF STUPID FIGHTS FOR IDIOTIC REASONS*, I’M JUST SAYING USE THE SPACE YOU HAVE AND MAYBE THROW A COUPLE OF PUNCHES. JEEZ.), the Avengers go on TV and proclaim that anyone who displays powers on Earth will be rounded up and sent to the Centurion. Well! Nothing unheroic about that development! What this means for the superhumans of other countries, non-powered vigilantes and Earth’s slowly approaching race of mutants is never addressed so we can finish the issue with a story about Namor going fishing.

whatif2905
“Shut up, Martha. It’s time to watch ‘The Rockford Files.’ He’ll never betray us.

At this point, the Scarlet Centurion reappears to tell the Avengers that there are only five superhumans left on Earth. Then the Watcher pops up to tell us that the timeline is diverging yet again! I guess in another reality, this universe was invaded by five Avengers from OUR timeline who defeated the Evil Avengers? No, that’s too much credit. They defeated the Moron Avengers and freed the captive supers. Anyway, here it didn’t happen so instead the Hulk decides to just quit out of the blue. No idea why. Maybe it’s because the Hulk, who has spent his short life being an outsider with powers constantly chased and harried by an oppressive government who only want to attack him suddenly realizes that he has become everything he ever hated and feared. More likely, it’s because the Hulk is a jerk and doesn’t play well with others. The Avengers quickly beat him up and send him to Centurion Jail. Then they disband because there are no other threats to fight and Earth is never, ever invaded by… say, Galactus, the Skrulls, the Kree, the Kree/Skrulls or the hilariously named but still menacing Badoon.

whatif2906
I was trying to think of something funny to say about Thor but all I can think about is Giant Man leaving his enormous underpants lying around his and Jan’s apartment.

A couple of months pass, Aunt May hangs up more and more “Have You Seen My Missing Nephew” posters around Queens and we check in with the retired Avengers. Thor has returned to Asgard to beat up Frost Giants and hope that his brother Loki (A THREAT SO BIG THAT THE AVENGERS NEEDED TO BE FORMED TO DEFEAT HIM) never returns. Giant Man and Wasp finally marry, and without a life of super heroics to distract them, discover they have nothing in common.  Iron Man, finding a life of drinking and wearing bow ties no longer agrees with him, decides to run for some sort of office. While about some sort of politiking, Iron Man spots the Scarlet Centurion on the news. “Hey,” he thinks. “It’s that guy I gave all my friends to. I wonder what he’s been up to!”

whatif2907
NO ONE COULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING.

What the Scarlet Centurion has been up to is telling the world that, with all its superhumans gone, it should now be simple for him to take over the world. “Whoops.” Iron Man thinks, pulling his armor out of retirement. “Didn’t see that obvious betrayal coming!” He joins up with Giant Man, the Wasp and Thor who I guess gets Earth TV in Asgard and headed over to help out as soon as he could?

They very quickly defeat the Centurion since they’re Earth’s Mightiest Heroes™ and he’s not actually very threatening at all. I WONDER WHY EVERYONE INSISTED ON LISTENING TO HIM ALL THOSE MONTHS AGO. Iron Man floats the idea of them reforming the Avengers since they all work pretty well together but nobody seems to want to do it. Which is understandable, since imprisoning all those superpeople for no reason is pretty embarrasing. Hey, what about all those innocent people anyway? You know, the ones you imprisoned for no reason? Any idea where they are or what the Centurion was doing with them? No? Are they even alive? You didn’t think to ask? Well… good work, guys. Nice job. High fives all around.

whatif2908
Maybe think about this shit before you do the whole “Super Human Registration Act”, Tony.

So, that out of the way, we head to our second story. If you guys aren’t familiar with the origin of Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner and his reintroduction to the Marvel Universe in the Silver Age, here it is. Prince of Atlantis fights in World War II, gets amneisa for like twenty years, is found by a currently unemployed Human Torch who sort of recognizes him, burns off his beard and throws him in the ocean, restoring his memory.  If he weren’t a hero, I’d be certain the Human Torch is a douche. Actually, I’m pretty certain of that.

whatif2909
Here we see the Human Torch abusing the homeless.

Instead, in a wonderful panel, Johnny decides the particular flophouse Namor dwells in is a little too shitty for his tastes and passes on. I wait with crossed fingers and high hopes for the sequel to this story: What If Johnny Storm Stayed At A Holiday Inn?

whatif2910
Here we see the Human Torch abusing the hotel industry.

Anyway, we jump forward in time five years and Namor AKA John Smith is working on a boat because why not? Unfortunately for him, in all that time working at sea, he has never actually fallen into the sea. Or taken his hat off to reveal his pointy ears. Or removed his shoes to show his ankle wings. Clearly the Sea King’s stench is overpowering. His shipmates don’t think much of him for this reason. Also he spends all of his time staring into the ocean, pondering his destiny and that sort of person makes everyone uncomfortable.

whatif2911
“You want to switch hats?” “…later.”

In fact, Namor’s only friend on the ship is the captain, McCandless and none of the crew thinks too kindly of him either, seeing as he’s trying to locate the Hollow Earth. I’d mock the guy, but it’s the Marvel Universe. Like… the Mole Man lives down there. And the Fantastic Four have actually been down there. See? Problem solved! We can all go home! Unfortunately, the captain isn’t that easy to convince. You know, with facts. So the crew mutinies. Twice.

whatif2912
If you wanted to skip the summary, this one’s about guys with beards fighting at sea.

A huge fight breaks out in the middle of the storm, as Namor fights the mutineers off single handedly. At some point, he loses his hat and his pointy ears are revealed to the crew who figure he’s some kind of demon or Star Trek fan. Either way, they try to kill him. Namor eventually overpowers the mutineers, throwing them into the sea one by one. He then finds Captain McCandless but the guy’s already been shot. He MIGHT have survived but then he sees a cave in the arctic ice, convinces himself it’s the entrance to the hollow earth and jumps into the sea. Godspeed, you noble lunatic.

whatif2913
Knocked his shoe off his foot and onto a nearby power line.

Then the boat explodes for some reason.

whatif2914
“You and me, frozen flag man. Best friends forever.”

Namor survives, of course because he lands in water but the explosion gives him… some sort of double amnesia. Except instead of remembering everything like some scientific Flintstones episode, he just gets the MOST amnesia, forgetting who he was, the second person he was and everything ever. Luckily, he’s found by… *sigh* eskimos who have been worshipping the frozen body of Captain America for the last few years. Finding Namor, they decide to worship him too for some goddamn reason. I guess they’re really into… co-gods? I don’t know, this whole issue isn’t very good.

*Suck my balls, Avengers vs X-Men! – Mad-At-Avengers-Vs-X-men-Matt

 

What If Ghost Rider Battled The Pope? Also: Something About Daredevil or Whatever.

Everybody who’s anybody remember the time that Hell’s Spirit of Vengeance, the Ghost Rider was separated from his host, stunt bike racer and mullet-haver Johnny Blaze by the evil red wizard, Azaziah, right? Like, I don’t have to go into details about how this Merlin-looking motherfucker deposessed Johnny in an effort to take the Ghost Rider for himself? And Blaze and the Ghost Rider realized they were both far weaker without one another and reunited and it felt so good? Good, I can skip all that boring crap and get straight to the blasphemy.

I literally just noticed that Ghost Rider is pointing like he has something to say but can’t because the Watcher won’t shut up.

In this new reality, Azaziah knocks Johnny on his ass and gives himself the power of the Ghost Rider easily. Then it’s an easy thing to summon Ghost Rider’s hellcycle and go out to try and take over the world. I’m a little delighted by the idea of an immortal wizard turning into an Evel Knievel style stunt racer but I guess thing about different hosts making different looking Ghost Riders hadn’t been written yet. Shame. I’d kill for a bearded skeleton riding around in a flaming wagon like Satan’s own Santa Claus.

“So long, suckers!”

Azaziah takes his motorcycle across the sea, heading straight for Vatican City in Rome. His goal: To murder the Pope! For by sacrificing the pope, Azaziah will be able to control the minds of every Christian on Earth. Or all of Christendom, as he repeats over and over and over again.

Not seen: Ghost Rider doing a sick jump off a whale.

Back in America, Johnny regains conciousness. Remembering Azaziah’s words about planning to attack “the pearl of Christendom”, Johnny realizes that this was the name people in the middle ages gave the “seat of papal authority”. Which is pretty good for shit-kicking hick in need of a haircut. Friggin’ hippy. Johnny realizes his chances of biking to Rome are pretty low so he steals a plane and gives chase.

Johnny Blaze: Theology Major.

 

Meanwhile, Azaziah has rampaged through Rome, openly mocked the papal guard for their ridiculous uniforms and taken the Pope to one of Vatican City’s many ancient torture chambers.

Every single Pope panel is hilarious to me.

Johnny finally arrives on a stolen Vespa but he busts his leg trying to jump the circle of hellfire surrounding the Vatican. Nice one, buddy. I thought jumping over fire on a motorcycle was literally the one thing you were good at. Azaziah quickly finds him and chains him to a wall, knowing he can’t kill Johnny without killing himself as well. Wonder if that’ll come up later.

Azaziah returns to normal (or “Old Man in a flowery dress form.”) and prepares to sacrifice the Pope, summoning a huge scarlet scimitar to stab him with. Gotta say, the pope’s taking all of this surprisngly well. He spends a lot of time just hanging out.

See? Here he is again, just being the Pope on a giant stone altar while Ghost Rider rubs his sore foot.

Luckily, Johnny’s able to pick the locks on his chains. By which I mean he pulls them out of the wall. Lousy shoddy ancient masonary. He’s then able to snatch the scimitar away before it can commit papalcide. Azaziah returns to Ghost Rider form but Johnny bonks him on the skull with the shattered masonary and then stabs him with the scimitar. This final act of heroism kills them both, leaving a very confused Pope wondering just what the fuck has happened.

“God be with you, hick who saved me from Alan Moore in a dress.”

Next we go to our backup AND cover story, an actual Daredevil comic by Frank “I’m not crazy yet” Miller! This one starts off simply enough with Daredevil’s usual origin: Kid saves blind man, kid gets hit in the face with chemicals, chemicals fall down storm drain, chemicals mutate four baby turtles and a rat, turtles and rat form media empire that lasts thirty years. Simple!

 

This time around, we learn that the chemical truck in question belonged to Tony Stark and Stark’s been following it across town to keep an eye on it. When Matt Murdock’s face gets splattered, Tony bustles the kid into his awesome flying car and takes him to the best medical facility on the planet: the SHIELD helicarrier on a rare day when it isn’t crashing.

Maybe you could also do something about that GIANT FIRE, Tony.

Unfortunately, all of this has been noticed by an agent of HYDRA who had been following Stark following the chemical truck. (You know, I’ve read a lot of Daredevil origins and I never remembered the truck accident being this BUSY.) The Hydra Agent figures an acid splattered teenager might be worth having for some reason and sends a Matt Murdock doppleganger robot over to Matt’s father’s gym. The fact that they have a Matt Murdock robot just kicking around raises the question of why they would want a human Matt Murdock who also can’t see at all but whatever. Robo-Matt kidnaps Matt’s father and then disappears from the story.

“I was replaced by a robot” is probably the absolute last thing Jack Murdock expected when he asked Matt how his day went. Runner-up is probably “went blind, got super powers.”

Up on the Helicarrier Stark and Fury have discovered that the chemicals have enhanced all of Matt’s senses. And dehanced his eyes significantly. Matt’s pretty bummed but Fury thinks that his new powers will make Matt a perfect SHIELD agent and begins training him right away.

“We swiped this technology from Professor X’s danger room, kid. Hope you survive the experience.”

About a month passes and Matt starts asking Fury about his father. Matt’s been missing a while and he suspects his father is worrying. Unbeknownest to Matt, Fury’s had SHIELD agents looking for Matt’s dad since they picked Matt up and had no luck finding him. Fury lies to Matt, making some lie up about Matt’s father being sent on a completely legitimate cruise or something but Matt realizes he’s lying and quits.

Matt’s just wondering how he’s going to locate his father when he’s approached by the shittiest double agent ever to work with SHIELD or Hydra. She offers to take Matt to see his father and the two of them try to escape the Helicarrier. It takes about three seconds for them to be recaptured by Fury who tells Matt that they’ve located the Hydra base Matt’s father is stashed at. Which is really handy considering an hour ago, nobody had any idea where the hell he was. Also if you’re wondering who the double agent was, what side she was actually on and what happened to her, join the club. She too disappears from the story.

“Let’s just say I’m the world’s worst double agent and I’m willing to blow my cover to a kid who’s worked here for a month.”

Matt approaches the underwater Hydra base, easily defeating the guards in some really damn sharp Frank Miller action sequences. He quickly rescues his dad from the pole in a giant empty room he was strapped to and then they escape. Fury also shows up to kill some people. Hooray!

I don’t have anything to say here, I just love this fucking action sequence.

Safely back on the Helicarrier, Matt finally tells his father what’s been going on and takes a job with SHIELD. Matt’s father celebrates that his son has found a good, useful career. And Robot-Matt and the SHIELD Double Agent have a Vegas wedding.

 

What If Nobody Cared that Jean Grey Killed Billions of People?

I can’t believe it’s taken twenty-seven issues of What If to get to an X-Men story. On the other hand, we’ve had like fourteen Fantastic Four issue. It just goes to show you how staggeringly different the comics of yesteryear were to today’s. Really makes you think.

Anyway, this week we address the second most obvious What If question ever: What If the Phoenix hadn’t died. We start with a quick recap of the original Phoenix origin as Jean Grey successfully crashes a spaceship into Jamaica Bay, saving the X-Men and failing to splatter herself all over the beach.Instead she’s possessed by the cosmic entity Phoenix, making her into an A Number One Bad Ass.

It’s not actually Jean but I do not have the space to explain what is actually happening with the Phoenix here.

Then we skip ahead a few months to Victorian Dandy and Mega Creep, the Mastermind who uses his mutant powers to make Jean think she likes dressing in bondage gear and hunting humans for sport. It’s a very specific fantasy. Eventually, Jean becomes Dark Phoenix, vaporizes a star and kills billions of people. Which is still the second highest body count on the X-Men behind Wolverine.

Gaze deep into the not-so-hidden sex lives of Chris Claremont and John Byrne.

Professor X psychically strips Jean of her Phoenix powers, returning her to her usual normal powers. At this point, the Shi’ar Space Empire arrives on Earth, pissed about all those dead aliens for some reason. The X-Men are forced to battle the Shi’ar’ Imperial Guard to save Jean but she feels the Phoenix Force returning and elects to vaporize herself instead. Which is the end of Jean Grey. Until it’s revealed the Phoenix really just took the Real Jean’s form, trapped her in an underwater cocoon and impersonated her for years. But that’s not important right now.

This week, we look at that tragic vaporization and wonder what would have happened if Jean survived it. She does dodge it and eventually the Imperial Guard whittle her and Cyclops down, beating the goddamn hell out of Scott. The Guards round up the X-Men and then take Jean away and lobotomise her, utterly destroying her Phoenix powers and her regular psychic powers too. Then they boot the X-Men back down to Earth, tip their hats and fuck off back to the important task of being stuck-up, high falootin’ bird people. Jerks.

“Hey, could we maybe not lobotomize her half-naked in front of everyone?” “Shut up, Scott.”

Back on Earth, the X-men try getting back to life as usual. Professor X brings Kitty Pryde (AKA Sprite, Ariel, Shadowcat and First Girl Matt Ever Fell In Love With) onto the team. He also apparently hires Jean on as a maid, since he has no goddamn idea what else to do with her. Charles, you’ve been training this woman since she was sixteen, she’s an accomplished superhero and original X-Man. Find something better for her to do than making cookies for the boys.

“What if I put on a frilly maid outfit and do the dishes? Would that help the X-men?”

Professor X gets a call from the Shi’ar. “Hey, guys. I know we just finished tearing your friend’s brain out, right after we beat the shit out of you guys but.. uh, we’ve got a minor Galactus problem.” Sure enough, one of the planets in the Shi’ar Empire’s about to be eaten by giant purple man/actual fucking apocalypse Galactus. Professor X tells the team that he’s heard of Galactus from Reed Richards. I assume he was out of town that time that Galactus came by New York a couple years back. The X-Men head out, bringing along auxiliary members Polaris, Havok and Angel. Because when you’re fighting the doom of all civilization, you really want to bring the blonde guy with the wings. Good planning, guys.

The X-men arrive at the attacked planet, discovering Galactus and his current herald, Terrax. So named because he has an axe. Look, sometimes you just take the name that falls in your lap, alright? While Galactus sets up his big “Eat Your Fucking Planet” device, Terrax spends his time being a complete prick to the local aliens, a race of little ball people who are amazingly good at crying. Which is great when your planet is about to die.

I love the little dude on the far right pointing down at Galactus like “Look at this prick!”

The X-Men attack but they are out of their fucking depth, man. They can barely hold their own against Terrax, let alone get the attention of the big purple G-Man himself. (No, not the Grimace.) Finally, only Cyclops is left. Terrax goes in for the killing blow when Jean senses the attack. Her powers come rushing back and she bursts out of the spaceship in a blast of flame. She also almost kills Kitty before remembering that impressionable teenagers NEED AIR TO BREATHE and encases her in a little customized spacesuit.

Jean not doing much to endear herself to the new kid.

The returned Phoenix quickly curb stomps Terrax, returning him to his non-axe owning, naked  form. She then attacks Galactus, who does my absolute favourite Galactus thing ever. Specifically getting his ass kicked while he tells you it’s all part of his plan. “IT WAS TOTALLY MY PLAN TO JOIN YOU IN THE SKY, MORTAL. AND THEN ALMOST GET MELTED AND HAVE TO SCOOP UP MY LITTLE NAKED FRIEND AND GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE BECAUSE JESUS YOU’RE SCARY. BUT THIS IS ALL PART OF MY PLAN.”

“THIS IS ALL THE WILL OF GALACTUS. C’mon, Terrax, let’s get the fuck out of here. YES, EVERYTHING FOLLOWS THE PLAN OF GALACTUS. No, leave the axe, I’ll get you a new one, just go already. SO LONG, MORTALS.

Jean rejoins the X-Men and the sad ball people just as the Shi’ar Empress Lilandra shows up. “Hey, Jean, two wrongs don’t make a right but saving one planet from genocide TOTALLY makes up for killing another. You go on back to your home planet and nobody worry about a thing. We cool!”

“Oompa loompa doompity dactus, thank you for saving us from Galactus.”

With that puzzling pronouncement done, the X-Men return home where they basically kick the asses of every evil mutant ever because one of their guys is playing in God Mode now. Everything’s going more or less fine (Wolverine keeps hanging around in the shadows like a creep because he wants to bang Jean but that’s no surprise.) when Phoenix starts sneaking out into space to blow up a meteorite or two. “It’s no big deal.” She says. “I can stop anytime I want.”

“Why, it’s so not a problem that I don’t feel even a little guilty about sneaking in at night after everyone’s gone to bed.”

The real problems come when, after an attack by the new and improved Sentinels (This time they have the technology to shove Wolverine in a box!), Jean heads into space and ends up eating an entire star. I mean, okay, it’s not around an inhabited planet or anything this time but …. y’know, that’s still rude. When she returns home, Kitty confronts her on the X-Men’s front lawn like so much white trash. Unfortunately, Jean doesn’t have time for arguments over her dietary decisions and chooses to vaporize Kitty instead.

So much for “surviving the experience.”

Whoops.

Professor X tries to shut down Jean’s mind again but this time she’s in full-on Dark Phoenix mode and isn’t having it. She obliterates his brain before brutally murdering the rest of the X-Men. These include smashing Angel into the side of the mansion like a bird against a windshield, stabbing Colossus WITH Wolverine and burying Storm alive in one of the most brutal scenes I’ve witnessed since I started writing these things.

You know, we have a lot of fun here at Forbidden to Interfere but I just want to take a moment to say that this is fucking horrible.

She finally works her way down to Scott who’s been holding back since he still loves her. He finally opens up with an optic blast but Phoenix barely feels it and blasts him in the face, killing him. That done, Jean realizes what’s happend and her Phoenix force vaporizes first New York, then Earth and finally the Universe. That done, Uatu pops his giant head in to mention that, while Jean dying in our reality was a tragedy, this universe might just be worse. Gee, MIGHT? You think, Watch? MIGHT BE WORSE. Jesus, this guy…

“Hey, who knows, man? I guess the universe where literally everything is consumed by fire might be a little worse than the one where one person dies. But what do I know, I’m just the Watcher.”

What If Captain America Was President And Also Something About the Man-Thing?

Back in the Bronze Age, so the story goes, a popular Marvel Comics character considered running for President. No, not Howard the Duck. It was Captain America. Seems like a pretty obvious idea honestly. The symbol for America also in charge of it. At the very least, you could get a good twelve issues out of it. Ultimately, Steve Rogers decided against becoming president which is probably for the best. You can’t throw a shield at communism, folks.

Dick Tracy villain Littleface.

But, our mysteriously egg-shaped Watcher asks this week, what if Cap HAD become president? In a scene that looks like he basically decides to run spur-of-the-moment, Cap declares his plan to run for president as a member of the New Populist Party. I took a couple of seconds to look this up, since I’m Canadian and honestly didn’t know if this was a real thing. It isn’t, far as I can tell. Anyway, at the request of the NPP’s chairman, Sleazy Truman Capote, Cap enters the race.

“You and your plaid suit seem trustworthy.”

The excitement of a super hero running for president takes the world by storm, as noted ever loving blue eyed political commentator, the Thing shows his support for Cap. Meanwhile, local newpaper editor and loud person, J Jonah Jameson takes a negative stance. I can only assume he fears this would result in Spider-Man for mayor. (Luckily, this is not to be. The idea of Spider-Man at a desk job is too chilling to imagine.)

I honestly couldn’t think of anything funny to put here.

Cap selects his running mate, African-American Andrew Jackson Hawk who does not have time for your bullshit, by the way. The NPP is not thrilled by Cap’s decision but screw those guys, their party doesn’t even exist. Hawk accepts Cap’s offer while the NPP make some ‘hilarious’ political commentary.

“You think this A on my forehead stands for ‘amused by political commentary?'”

Cap soundly defeats presidential hopefuls Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, making this only the second most embarrassing Captain America comic that Reagan has appeared in.* He then umasks, revealing to the world that he is popular comics artist Steve Rogers. Personally, I think it’s a little weird to elect a guy in a mask president but again, I’m Canadian. Things are different up here.

“I just know I’m going to ruin this Grant Morrison script…”

President Cap’s new plans for America take the world by storm. He converts America to solar based energy and weapons, freeing the country from, as a giant immortal spaceman puts it “they tyranny of foreign oil.” And when the South American country of San Pedro’s army of freedom fighters begs the US for help in overthrowing their corrupt government, Cap sends them solar lasers of their very own, winning the war overnight. Which, again, feels a little worrying to me.

I like your Kirbyesque blunderbuss, buddy.

As San Pedro celebrates its victory the newly elected president and Che Gueverra impersonator, Jacinto Morez invites President Cap to visit. Cap arrives, sans guards, secret service or… really anyone else. Which turns out to be a real problem when Morez reveals himself to actually be the Red Skull in disguise. Ugh… THAT guy.

You’d think those weird brow bones would stick out of the face mask but no.

The Skull takes Cap out and then threatens America with a solar ray satellite of hate. Luckily for all Americans who do not want to be dead, Cap is able to escape the Skull’s insidious prison by hitting it very hard. He reprograms the satellite’s computer (again, by hitting it.), drawing its deadly heat beam away from Washington, Distinguished Competition. Good news for fans of monuments everywhere.

Sorry, vaporized tourists!

Less good news is that the beam is now being drawn back to its source. No, not the satellite, that’s ridiculous. It’s headed back to San Pedro where Cap and the Skull duke it out. It vaporizes the two battling presidents, making this the most exciting politics has ever been. Back in America, an army of super heroes gather to mourn at Cap’s grave while the once again Christian Watcher drops a bible quote on us. Oh, Uatu. Always beliving in Jesus.

I’m sure Cap would appreciate the giant painted statue.

Next, we have a short story about the Man-Thing. If you’ve never heard of the OTHER muck encrusted mockery of a man with the hilarious name, let the Watcher and I refresh your memory.

…WHELP.

Scientist Ted Sallis was working on a version of the Super Soldier Serum that created Captain America when mob guys attacked him. Sallis injected himself with the serum and then drove his car into the swamp because everyone knows mobsters are afraid of swamps. Also it turned out this swamp was the Nexus of the Universe because OF COURSE it is. Anyway, the combination of the super serum, the nexus of the universe and Marvel wanting to write Swamp Thing stories turned Sallis into a big green monster with a weird fly face who sets fire to people who are afraid of him. Simple, right?

Completely missed catching the bullet. You’ve SEEN Watchmen, right?

So, the number one difference between Man-Thing and Swamp Thing is that, while Swamp Thing would go out into the woods and write poems about his weird sex life, Man-Thing is kind of an idiot. Ted Sallis’ intelligence is pretty much gone. In this story, we explore the question of what if Man-Thing wasn’t an idiot?

Ted Sallis’ old buddy, Doctor Oheimer (Great name there, by the way.) has been working on restoring Sallis’ brain. Unfortunately, at a key moment the FBI shows up to kill everyone. While Oheimer normally dies, in this universe he survives and the FBI offers him a job instead. For some reason.

Sorry about almost killing you. You want a job instead?

Manuel-Thing and Ohemier head to a lab in Miami where Ohemier can run his experiments and Man-Thing can be cruel to caged animals in a fake swamp. Meanwhile, some government dude named Bendix plots to steal the soldier serum from Man-Thing and create an army of Men-Things. Because America’s military needs slow moving flamable muck men.

“Good god, I love being an evil businessman.”

Oheimer continues to work with Man-Thing, restoring his intelligence and teaching him to use the tools of humans like computers, chairs and clip boards. Here we see the Man-Thing in his natural habitat, stealing MP3s.

“Dear Strong Bad, how do you type with boxing gloves on. Your pal, Man-Thing.”

Little does Oheimer know that, while Man-Thing’s intelligence has returned, Ted Sallis’ humanity has not. The evil Man-Thing plots to return to the Nexus of All Reality and… do the obvious thing to it. Whatever that is.

“Oh, Oheimer. I could never stay mad at your smiling face.”

Meanwhile, Bendix’s evil government types think they have managed to replicate the Soldier Serum. They realize that they also need access to the Nexus of All Reality so they decide to close down Oheimer’s project. They fire Oheimer, set Man-Thing ON fire and ship the whole deal back out to de swamp.

Oheimer is shipped off to a mental institution but Man-Thing escapes and follows the government guys back into the swamp. At one point, he manages to destory one of the government’s jeeps. Luckily, Bendix is an idiot who doesn’t care if his jeeps randomly explode.

“Look, sometimes cars just explode for no reason. It’s not a big deal.”

The government scientists are happily running tests on some poor alligator when Man-Thing busts in and starts killing dudes. He strangles Bendix to death with some weeds and is about to leave when the alligator, infested with swamp magic, grows arms and legs for some reason. Man-Thing and Manigator fight it out in the swamp but Man-Thing is quickly defeated. For, while his former inhumanity protected him, the newly intelligent Man-Thing knows fear. And whoever knows fear burns at the self-touch of the Man-Thing. Also Manigator becomes the new king of the swamp.

Not for nothing, this is pretty frickin’ cool.

*One time the Serpent Society turned Ronny in a snake monster.