I can honestly say I’ve been dreading this one since I started Forbidden to Interfere all those months ago. I used to look at that number. Thirty-four. “Well, it’s so far off. I wouldn’t worry, you’ll likely never even get there.” Which is a fair estimate based on any project I do that doesn’t include a co-host to yell at you. But here we are. What If 34: What If The Watcher Was A Stand-Up Comedian? Well, from what I can tell, it’s a dark, terrifying reality where this hideous monstrosity tells bad jokes and not nearly enough of it is drawn by Fred “I wrote ‘Fantastic Four Roast’ and will always have a soft spot in Matt’s heart for that” Hembeck.
Anyway, we open on the Watcher explaining the difference between an alternate universe story (a reality identical to our own that veered off from a specific point) and an imaginary story (literally all of fiction.). He then gives us some examples from both camps, including two jokes that get repeated later in the issue. Marvel must have thought that comparing Ant Man to Aunt May was HILARIOUS. Well, listen, bud. She’s no Spider-May, I’ll tell you that.
After that, we get “What If Everyone Who Was An Avenger Stayed An Avenger” which I’m pretty sure is the actual philosophy behind the six hundred Avengers books published at Marvel these days. The only thing missing is casting non-Wolverine X-Men as bad guys.
Then there’s… this which… Well, moving on.
What If Dazzler Was A Stand-Up Comedian follows, as if this issue didn’t have enough terrible jokes in it.
Next we have “Spidey Intellectual Stories”. See, the gag here is that they’re overly wordy but they still feel less talky than the average Bendis comic.
This one’s just about Watchers from different realities watching each other and… hey, how come there are no realities where the Watchers aren’t all just white guys? Listen, What If, I wouldn’t have even thought if it if you hadn’t done that Power Man gag. This one’s on you.
What If Black Bolt Were A Rock Star? Apparently he’d look almost as terrifying as Wacky Watcher.
I’m pretty sure “What If Daredevil Were Deaf Instead Of Blind” uses old Frank Miller art from his actual run on the book. I can’t say for sure because, man, I have seen a lot of panels of Frank Miller’s Daredevil beating up random dudes.
Then there’s this. Now, let’s be very clear. I hate this because it’s lazy. Not because it’s more shitty Canadian jokes I’ve heard a billion times.
Speaking of lazy…
And if the other Power Man stuff wasn’t bad enough…
And so on in that fashion… Feel free to come back next week when I can get back to friggin’ work.
Back in the 80s, Disco sensation and X-Man Dazzler was kind of a big deal. Shocking, I know but here we are. Apparently, Dazzler (AKA Alison Blaire who, with her mutant ability to convert sound into light defends a world that hates and fears her as a member of the Uncanny X-Men! Sorry, Claremonting a bit there. Won’t happen again.) was such a big deal that she was actually kidnapped into space by Galactus’ computer.
According to the computer, there was nobody more likely in the entire fucking universe to defeat Galactus’ former herald-turned-world-conquering-asshole Terrax*. Yeah, I wouldn’t have pinned all my hopes on a pop star who can create strobelights either but I also haven’t been alive since the universe before this one so what do I know?
In regular continuity, after Terrax has his ass whipped by Dancing Queen, he resumes working for Galactus at reduced pay and Dazzler gets sent home to her surprisingly popular solo series. Seriously, I have no idea how this thing sold back in the day. She got an ongoing series before fucking WOLVERINE did.
Anyway, then an uncharacteristically stout Watcher shows up to reveal our alternate reality of the week. What if Galactus took a shine to Dazzler and made her his new herald? So Galactus kicks Terrax into a black hole because seriously fuck that asshole and his big stone beard. Terrax’s axe disappears and will definitely not be important later on so don’t worry about that. Then Galactus turns to his robot buddy, R-11 and tells him to start fitting Dazzler for a company uniform.
Surprising no one, Dazzler’s not particularly interested in helping giant purple spaceman (Have I used that one before? I’m running out of ways to make fun of Galactus and he shows up in What If a LOT.) murder trillions of people. R-11’s able to convince her to stick around when he mentions that, if she becomes the new Herald, Galactus probably won’t eat Earth. Which has been a recurring problem on Earth for a while now.
Galactus endows Dazzler with the Power Cosmic, which allows her total control over all light as well as the ability to roller skate across the universe. I’d like to stop and mock this concept here, but is this really any stupider than a silver bald guy who surfs through space?
Yes. It really is.
So time (a LOT of time) passes and Dazzler travels the universe, finding uninhabited planets for Galactus to eat. Galactus begins to soften in his demeanour, at one point refusing to devour a planet that Dazzler picked out before she knew it had life. Everything is basically going as well as it possibly could for a planet eating space god and his disco-clad best friend when a fleet of warships piloted by remnants of races Galactus had murdered shows up seeking revenge.
The warships zap Dazzler with a ray guy built from the remains of Terrax’s tear axe, badly injuring her and forcing her to return to Galactus to warn him of the attacking fleet. Who are trying to get justice for their butchered worlds. I’m not really sure I’m cheering for the right team here.
The fleet catches up to Galactus but their attempts to zap him with the Terrax gun fails miserably because it’s fucking Galactus. The only thing that can kill him is shitty comics writers trying to make their new bad guy characters look impressive by having them take out the scariest guy in the universe, Mark Millar I’m looking at you. Galactus destroys the fleet (Again, why is this a good thing?) and then revives Dazzler. After Dazzler chews him out for killing all those people, Galactus fires her and sends her home to Earth. Unfortunately for Dazzler, Earth is an utterly destroyed long dead wasteland with not a single record store so she returns to her work with Galactus, hoping to someday make him a better person, despite his many genocides.
That done, we travel back to Camelot and a classic Iron Man story (I am told, having not actually read it yet.). During a battle over… I don’t know, land or something, Iron Man and Doctor Doom are sent back in time. Iron Man unites with King Arthur, star of Spamalot! while Doom teams up with Morgana Le Fey (AKA Darkwing Duck’s girlfriend.) Eventually, Stark and Doom are forced to work together and they both return home. But what if Doom betrayed Tony because he’s Doctor fucking Doom and he’s an asshole? What then?
What then is that Tony heads back to Camelot with his armor damaged and next to no power. He spends some time wallowing in depression and considering seeing how drunk a man can get on booze from the middle ages. (If you’re wondering at home, it’s drunk enough to write songs featuring the words ‘hey-nonny-nonny.’) Then Morgana Le Fey appears in astral form or possibly as a hologram to let Tony know that barbarians are attacking and giving Stark the much needed boot to the ass to stop sucking so badly.
After laying into the barbarians and making me wish for a comic where Iron Man fights Conan, Stark returns to Camelot and Arthur knights him. This is by far the best outcome for anyone trapped in time, especially since (somehow) Tony doesn’t end up fucking Arthur’s wife.
Not long after, Morganna sends an evil crow with a warning to the round table. Her son Mordred is on his way to overthrow Camelot. Luckily, Camelot has put all of its eggs in a single basket and assumes that Iron Man will easily save the day while the King and his knights watch from a nearby cliff and mock Mordred’s army. It’s obviously the best plan ever until Tony gets stabbed in the ARC reactor with a knife made from Excalibur. Somehow. Tony drops like a drunk mustache guy in an expensive suit of mechanical armor.
Tony awakens not long after back at Camelot. The kingdom is under siege and Tony’s armor is busted. Luckily for him, there’s just enough time to pull an “Army of Darkness” and cobble together some steampunk armor for himself in the castle’s basement. He also builds a robot hand which makes infinitely more sense than Ash’s ever did.
Armor built, Iron Man attacks Mordred’s army, beating them back. Unfortunately, this is not before Mordred and kill one another. With his dying breath, Arthur makes Tony Stark king of the Britons. Which I don’t think is how royal succession works but whatever. We leave the story with the Watcher assuring us that King Tony’s reign led to over a thousand years of peace in England. Which I don’t really buy considering I remember how the dumbass ran SHIELD.
*Previously seen being a world conquering asshole in Forbidden to Interfere #27, True Believers!
I’ve mentioned once or twice the old What If paperback I had when I was a kid. It was sort of the inspiration for me writing this column and it’s where I read a lot of my favourite What If comics originally. This week’s issue “What If the Avengers Became Pawns of Korvac” was always a favorite of mine. Not because of the Avengers. The line-up in this issue is… not great. The big players are Thor, Hercules, Vision and Wonder Man. It would take me years and some really good comics to make me realize how great Thor and Hercules were. I still hate Wonder Man though. No, the thing with What If 32 is… It gets… big. Like, ridiculously big. It actually kind of blew my young mind away with how fucking big it got by the end. This one sort of made me realize “Oh… we can do ANYTHING.”
So let’s start with a little backstory. Korvac was a guy from the year 3000, hometime of the Guardians of the Galaxy. No, no. The original Guardians of the Galaxy. The crappy ones. Korvac was a computer technician employed by the ridiculously sounding Badoon. And by employed, I mean enslaved. Like, he tried to take a nap at work one day so they cut off his legs and attached him to a flying computer.
This horrible betrayal of trust drove Korvac insane so he fought the crappy Guardians of the Galaxy and then went back in time to the twentieth century.
Upon arrival, Korvac performed a little B&E on Galactus’ homebase and sucked all the energy out of his computer. Said energy had the added benefits of giving Korvac near godlike powers and also giving him back his legs.Korvac then travelled to Earth where he bought a really nice house, a pair of really short shorts and started planning his revenge. Or possibly his retirement. The text is unclear.
Meanwhile in space (a sentence I never, ever get tired of writing.), Korvac is watched by giant cosmic space guy, the Collector. The Collector suspects Korvac’s swank retirement might not be all it appears to be and sends his daughter Carina to spy on Korvac. Which is a great plan until she falls in love with him.
Meanwhile, meanwhile, the crappy Guardians of the Galaxy have followed Korvac to the present where they team-up with the Avengers. The Collector notices all this and brings the two teams to his own base where he can help them… I guess with his collection stuff? I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter because Korvac vaporizes him. The Avengers attack and Korvac murders almost all of them. As he’s being attacked by Thor, Starhawk, Iron Man and Vision, Korvac glances over at Carina for help and sees a fleeting look of doubt on her face. So he gives up, kills himself and resurrects the Avengers. And then Carina kills herself too. Well, that was a tidy ending.
But, he said FINALLY getting to the actual point of this column, what if instead of doubt, Korvac saw a look of love and faith?
Korvac redoubles his efforts (which may not actually be a word and just something I saw in Star Wars.) and kills the remaining four Avengers. He then passes the fuck out.
In Asgard, Thor’s dad Odin receives news from his magic crows that Thor is dead. Nearly ripping off his chainmail eyepatch in fury, Odin marches the armies of Asgard on Earth.
Unfortunately, Korvac’s used his diminishing god powers to disconnect Earth from all other dimensions and realities. Which raises the question of how our Uatu is observing any of this but whatever. Korvac also disconnects this particular moment from time, locking the era off from time travellers, ensuring no interference from Immortus, Kang or Rip Hunter (Wait, shit, he’s DC.) Finally he banishes Doctor Strange, Phoenix and the Silver Surfer to… somewhere? Nobody ever says where. I guess maybe a different story? I don’t know. Anyway, they’re gone.
All of that done, Korvac starts working on his plan. It’s all about order. Korvac’s sick of crap he can’t control like free will and people’s minds so he begins banishing chaos from the universe. He resurrects the Avengers, sending some of them (including… ugh, Wonder Man again) to the moon to kill the Watcher. Oh god, not the Watcher! Who will alternate universe Matt use for a logo? I’ll have to steal another host character from… like, House of Mystery or something. (Wait, shit, that’s DC too. What is wrong with me this week?)
The Avengers arrive in the blue area of the moon (If you’ve forgotten, that’s the part of the moon that has oxygen. Which is good because people keep beaming to the moon in Marvel comics and then remarking that they don’t have anything to breathe when they get there. Nobody does any fucking planning in comic books.) where they first gaze up the Watcher’s mighty skirt and then attack him. Unfortunately for them, the Watcher is a pacifist and escapes.
Arriving on his home planet of Watchor 1, Uatu summons all of the universe’s other Watchers for a pow-wow.
“Look,” he says. “I know we’re FORBIDDEN TO INTERFERE with all the planets we watch, but this Korvac guy? He could be a problem. Like… if he destroy Earth, that would be kind of a bad thing.”
The other Watchers sigh.
“Uatu, this is like… the eighteenth time you’ve acted to help out Earth. Why don’t you just fucking marry it if you’re so in love with it. Let’s go, guys. We have people on alien planets to watch having sex.”
And they bail.
Well, since that didn’t work, Uatu calls a second meeting, this time with all the big cosmic guys in the galaxy. These include Galactus, the Gardener: sower of seeds and master of the universe’s vegetation, the Shaper of Worlds, a big white Skrull attached to a box, the Living Tribunal: a gold guy with three faces and no neck, the Stranger, whom the text describes as an “enigmatic experimenter and provocateur” and I describe as an old white dude with amazing facial hair, the Inbetweener whose name hides the word “Weiner” within it, the Grandmaster who I thought was the Beyonder but isn’t and Lord Chaos and Master Order, two floating heads that represent… chaos. And order. Respectively.
So the big cosmic guys all agree to team-up and defeat Korvac in the traditional manner. Attacking him one at a time. Galactus and the Gardener (Good god, I cannot think of a less threatening name then the Gardener.) head for Earth in Galactus’ spaceship but they’re intercepted by the Avengers who run around shooting them and biting at their ankles. Starhawk takes control of Galactus’ ship and crashes it into Mars.
Back on Earth, Korvac is approached by the Gamesmaster and the Shaper of Worlds. Neither of them is interested in Uatu’s cosmic guy team. Gamesmaster challenges Korvac to a big summer event but Korvac hates those as much as I do (Avengers/X-Men: Axis! On sale now!) and vaporizes Gamesmaster. The Shaper he lets stick around. Turns out Shaper knows about Korvac’s plans to remold the universe and just wants to help out, traitorous dickhole that he is.
Back on Mars, Galactus and the Gardener have the Avengers on the ropes. Galactus throws Hercules into space, killing him almost instantly and then the Gardener murders the Vision with… a garden.
Realizing that his Avengers aren’t doing so hot, Korvac resurrected Captain America and sends him to Korvac’s favorite shopping mall, Galactus’ ship. Cap tosses the place and finds the Ultimate Nullifier, knowing the threat of this weapon has defeated Galactus before.
“Oh, come on.” says Galactus. “You guys always whip out the Ultimate Nullifier when I show up and none of you have ever actually had the balls to pull the trigger. We all know that whoever uses the Nullifer also gets killed and you would ne-”
These are really embarrassing last words for Galactus as Cap presses the button and vaporizes them both. Not looking so hot now, are you, Galactus? And then Korvac kills the Gardener from Earth because the Gardener is terrible.
Back at Big Cosmic Dudes HQ, the Inbetweener and the Stranger have a new plan. They’ll kidnap Carina and force Korvac to back off. But first they need some sort of distraction… Hmm… What’s a big enough threat to distract Korvac? I know! Let’s throw the FUCKING MOON AT HIM.
Sure enough, the Stranger pulls the moon out of orbit and chucks it at Korvac’s lovely California home. Korvac catches it because seriously, guys? The moon? Are you even trying? while the Inbetweener bombs out with Carina. Korvac wins the moon tug of war, destroying it completely. Then he kills the Stranger too because fuck that moon tossing asshole.
The Inbetweener takes Carina back to his weird Steve Ditko realm only to discover she’s actually the Shaper of Worlds in disguise. It’s always tough when you take the hot bikini girl back to your place only to discover she’s actually a giant albino skrull in a box. Adding injury to insult, Korvac then kills the Inbetweener by betweening him. No, I have no idea what this means.
Out of options, the Living Tribunal plays his last card and forces the sun to GO FUCKING NOVA, DISINTEGRATING THE ENTIRE FUCKING SOLAR SYSTEM. Unfortunately, Korvac surrounds Earth in an energy field protecting it.
“Whelp.” says the Tribunal, fetching his hat. “That was my big play. Good luck with your doomed universe. Let me know how that all turns out. If anybody needs me, I’ll be literally anywhere else.” Then he bails.
At this point, a wormhole opens where Earth’s solar system used to be and warships from EVERY SENTIENT RACE IN THE UNIVERSE arrive to stop Korvac.
“Shit.” He says. “I’m more powerful than any living thing in the universe. I’m not more powerful than EVERYTHING in the universe.” Needing all the power he can get, he kills the Avengers, the Shaper, and every living thing on the planet (including Spider-Man!). The combined warships arrive at Earth to find the enormous Korvac perched on top of Earth, whistling casually and tossing the Ultimate Nullifer to himself.
“s’up?” he says.
At this point, Uatu appears to beg Korvac one last time not to destroy the universe. Unfortunately for literally everything, Korvac isn’t interested and pushes the fire button, destroying himself and all of creation in one brief horrifying moment.
So this week we follow the adventures of Wolverine up in Canada in his first appearance. That’s his first official appearance. Starting from Incredible Hulk 181, we’ll be getting Wolverine flashback comics that basically go back to the beginning of time when Logan was a bad-ass assassin for a secret team of Galactus Heralds.
Anyway, this story picks up with Wolverine sent to capture the Hulk and the Wendigo for the Canadian government. Everything’s pretty much going according to plan until the Hulk punches Wolverine in the face one two many times and Wolverine freaks the fuck out. He murders the Hulk and Wendigo and this is treated like a huge deal despite the fact that Wolverine has killed more people than actual old age.
The news that the Hulk has been mysteriously murdered races across the Marvel universe and a nation mourns the death of an infantile engine of destruction with a history of yelling at people. Also people who were fond of professional bomb builder Bruce Banner, I guess. Honestly? I’m not seeing a downside here.
Back in Canada Logan, drunk on his own sense of self-worth and also about ten thousand weak Canadian beers, gets into a bar fight and accidentally kills some dude. Whoops. He does what the most popular character in Marvel comics and one of the most bad ass characters ever invented always does when he commits murder.
He runs home and begs his boss to get him out of it. Seriously, he hauls ass back to Department H and begs James McDonald Hudson (AKA Guardian, Vindicator or possibly Weapon Alpha. Guys, I’m from Canada but I do not give a shit about Alpha Flight.) to get him out of this.
“Look, man. You did a bad thing.” says Hudson. “You’re going to have to face the music. But this is Marvel Universe Canada, one of the most powerful countries on the planet. We can get you the best Canadian lawyers and get you off easy.”
Unfortunately, facing the music is not something that interests this universe’s lame Wolverine so he panics and runs off instead. Seriously, Logan. Buddy. You know how to disappear a murder. You’re starting to look like a bit of a chump.
At this point, Wolverine is stopped by Magneto and the Brotherhood of Not Going to Be Defined by Your Labels Mutants. Magneto’s been keeping an eye of Wolverine since the murder of the Hulk and he thinks he can slip Wolverine into the All-Old Classic X-Men as a spy. Wolverine agrees because he has no place to go and also is seriously a total chump.
The X-Men welcome Wolverine into their ranks with open arms when he just randomly shows up on their lawn a couple of days later. He dodges their questions and blocks Professor X’s mindscan with some device Magneto gave him.
Then, because some things don’t change, he starts hitting on Jean Grey. Which is WAY creepier when she’s in her old X-Men costume for some reason. Makes her still look sixteen.
What little worries the X-Men had over Wolverine quickly vanish after he blows up some Sentinals and he’s completely gained their trust in like two days. He’s having conflictions about betraying the X-Men but that doesn’t stop him from disabling their security when Magneto tells him to. Charles Xavier has some of the most high tech security on the planet. The only possible way to disarm it is to stab it with claws.
The next morning, Cyclops and Wolverine compete for Jean’s affections in a variety of different ways (Carving her name into steel, getting rid of your stupid Kitty Whiskers mask.)
when the Brotherhood attacks. They make short work of the X-Men which is shocking because this current line-up (Magneto, Mastermind, Lorelei, the Blob and fucking Unus the Untouchable) sucks. The tide turns when Magneto tries to throw a tile at Jean and murder her. Wolverine blocks the attack and rejoins the X-Men. Eventually, the X-Men are able to turn the tide and somehow defeat a guy named Unus.
Then Wolverine murders Magneto.
With his last breath, Magneto forces Wolverine to cut his own throat with his claws and they both bleed to death on the floor of the Danger Room. With the most popular character dead, this chilling universe’s X-Men are cancelled and kids in the 90s grow up super into Ghost Rider: The Animated Series.
So, meanwhile, in an entirely different story, the spaceship containing Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm crashes to earth blessing three of the crew with wonderous powers. And one guy with rock hard scabs all over his body. And when Reed Richards has finished dubbing himself Mr Fantastic and proclaimed that he and his friends shall help to save the world, Scab Guy tells him to go fuck himself. Which, given the circumstances, is understandable. Basically the Thing freaks out and then fucks off.
So the Fantastic Three leave Ben to wander across America wreaking stuff while they return to New York to… something? Look for him? I don’t know, it’s not a great plan.
Luckily for them, Ben’s arrived back in New York after walking across the country, being angry. He’s finally decided to go back to Reed for help. Unfortunately, his “giant coat, scarf and sunglasses” disguise doesn’t work particularly well in the middle of August so the crowd (including the Thing’s blind girlfriend Alicia and her creepy uncle, the Puppetmaster) realize there’s a giant rockman in the vicinity pretty quickly.
Ben gets pissed off again and starts up another rampage on THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY IN MARVEL HISTORY. In the course of an hour, he frightens Peter Parker away from his science exhibit and delays Donald Blake from his vacation in Norway. And then Tony Stark is called away from his business trip to Vietnam and Bruce Banner from his bomb experiments to stop the Thing. I assume on this same day, a truck carrying toxic isotopes stays home, an asshole surgeon doesn’t get in a car accident and nobody teaches a motorcycle stunt racer how to summon the devil.
The Thing attacks as Stark and Banner prepare their cosmic gamma ray gun in an attempt to cure the Thing. The Fantastic Three try to distract him using their new powers and finally the ray is fired. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to actually DO anything aside knocking everyone except Ben out. Ben considers murdering all of the downed normal people but decides he isn’t a complete monster and disappears into the sewer. Everyone regains conciousness and the F3 discover that their powers are gone. For some reason. With no super powers, every one breaks up and goes home leaving the Watcher to wonder how Earth will be defended from alien and Galactus invasions. X-Men had better step the fuck up.
An Infinite Number of Universes. All featuring Spider-Man.