What If Wolverine Ate Some Babies?

We open right smack-dab in the middle of Inferno, a demonic invasion of New York that, to cut a very, very long story short, resulted because Cyclops is not a great husband. The combined teams of the X-Men and X-Factor battle Cyclops’ ex-wife, Madelyne Pryor and S’ym, a demon who is definitely not the Earth-Pig Born, that’s for darn sure.

Easily the most dead babies every to appear in Marvel book.
Easily the most dead babies every to appear in Marvel book.

Whilst in our regular reality, Maddie is defeated by Jean Grey because that always happens (Poor Maddie.), in this new universe FUCKING EVERYONE FUCKING DIES. Except Wolverine because even S’ym knows how much of a money maker THAT dude is. Instead he gets a much pointier mask, standard evil accoutrements and oh yeah, STARTS EATING BABIES. The earth is overrun by demons, monsters and evil building with mouths.

"I'm the best there is at what I do and what I do is probably the worst thing ever."
“I’m the best there is at what I do and what I do is probably the worst thing ever.”

While this is going on, we cut to the Federal Bank Reserve which has so far remained untouched by Maddie’s demonic army. I guess demons hate… finance? A small resistance cell made up of Dr Strange, Baron Mordo, the Human Torch,Thor, Kitty Pryde, She-Hulk, Spider-Maaand never mind the rest of them just got massacred.

whatif5403
“HULK SMASH FOR GLORY OF SATAN.”

 

A bunch of demonic soldiers led by Wolverine and the Hulk bust through the vault, having finally overcome their fear of gold. Good for them! After some fighting and a whole lot of people getting stabbed through the back by Wolverine so their costume bulges out the front but there’s no blood or anything (an attack that was extremely popular in the 90s.), Thor provides a distraction by exploding himself and what’s left of the team escapes.

"Whosoever hold this hammer, if he be pink..."
“Whosoever hold this hammer, if he be pink…”

Next we cut to the Baxter Building where a demonically possessed Reed Richards and Dr Doom are finally getting along. They’ve been working on a device for Maddie and S’ym to spread Maddie’s demonic influence across the multiverse (Making this a much less interesting column to write unless you REALLY like Inferno.) and extinguish male lights throughout the universe. Unfortunately for them, they’re on a bit of a time crunch, due to the inevitable arrival of the Living Tribunal who you may recall bailing on an entire universe back when Korvac annihilated literally everything. If he arrives before S’ym can enslave the universe, the Tribunal will destroy the entire Earth. Which sucks for people who live there.

Meanwhile, the unstabbed remnants of Team Strange have set up shop at the Daily Bugle, hoping for sanctuary now that Spider-Man is dead. Luckily for them, it doesn’t particularly matter since J Jonah Jameson is now digging for building cavities in City Hall’s new teeth. Strange detects an incredibly powerful new source of energy. It turns out it’s Rachel Summers, Cyclops and Jean Grey’s daughter from an alternate future where that makes sense! She’s apparently been transformed into a mannequin by S’ym, lord of hell and also weird fetishes. Luckily Strange has a counter spell for that. For some reason. He returns her to normal and they reunite with the team.

This is gonna get me so many hits from the Mannequin TF Boards.
This is gonna get me so many hits from the Mannequin TF Boards.

Now that they have Rachel on their team, Strange explains his plan to summon the Phoenix Force back to Earth, a plan which has never failed ever in the history of the Marvel Universe. Once Rachel has control of the Phoenix, she can burn all demonic life from the planet. Which, yes, will likely kill billions of possessed people but it’s the Phoenix Force so this isn’t exactly news.

Unfortunately, at this point we get a complete repeat of act one as Evil Wolverine, S’ym, Maddie and an army of more demons bust in and start slaughtering people. Again. (I get the feeling this is a comic I would have really enjoyed when I was ten. Evil Wolverine. Demons. Kitty Pryde. Stabbings. Everybody getting murdered. Maddie wearing almost nothing. It’s like a Spawn comic without the disadvantage of having Spawn in it.) It turns out that Baron Mordo has sold the team out because of course he has. He’s Baron fucking Mordo, the Starscream of the Marvel Universe. Mordo murders the Human Torch who sacrifices the last of his energy to attack his foes with a Nova Blast. Which does not work even a little.

whatif5406
“No! It’s impossible! We literally just did this!”

 

Rachel manages to contact the Phoenix Force, not realizing that there’s someone else on Earth with a bit of a passing familiarity with that thing. It’s Maddie! And the last thing she needs is control of a genocidal murder bird in addition to everything else.

Telepathic laser bird battles in the Mighty Marvel Manner!
Telepathic laser bird battles in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

Kitty attacks Wolverine who claws her fucking stomach open. As he watches his friend die, Wolverine feels the last of his humanity drain away (One would have thought a steady diet of newborn babies would have done the trick but what do I know?) He goes into a berserker rage and murdors Mordo just as Mordo kills S’ym in a double reverse Starscream. Unfortunately for our baby devouring hero, Mordo takes Wolvie with him, burning the flesh from his adamantium skeleton.

This is the dickiest looking skeleton I've ever seen.
This is the dickiest looking skeleton I’ve ever seen.

Rachel attacks Maddie but then Maddie gets backstabbed by S’ym possessing Wolverine’s skeleton because not even total disintegration can stop THAT sales juggernaut. Rachel manages to finally take control of the Phoenix Force and wipes out all demonic influence from the earth (including Ghost Rider probably.) Then the Phoenix leaves Earth forever, briefly meeting up with the Living Tribunal who was just on his way over to kill everybody.

Meanwhile, Earth has returned to a stone age level of technology and Dr Strange and Rachel deliver Johnny Storm and Alicia Masters’ baby. Oh! And Strange has an eyepatch for this entire story for some reason. Nobody mentions it but it looks cool as hell.

Eyepatch!
Eyepatch!

 

What If Wonder Man… AGH, Wonder Man? Goddamnit…

I suppose it was only a matter of time before Wonder Man took center stage in a What If comic. He’s appeared before and always been terrible because he is Wonder Man. So let’s start with a quick origin story because this issue is all over early Avengers history.

I've done fifty-three of these summaries and I've never seen a more annoyed Uatu in my life.
I’ve done fifty-three of these summaries and I’ve never seen a more annoyed Uatu in my life.

So Wonder Man (AKA Simon Williams) was some dude with… ionic powers? that was hired by Baron Zemo. His job was to infiltrate the Avengers and then betray them. In original continuity, he has a change of heart just before smooshing Thor to death under a big rock because big rocks are the God of Thunder’s only weakness.Then he dies of Ionic poisoning and Hank Pym scans his brain patterns because Hank Pym is a monster and everything he touches turns to shit.

In this new reality, Wonder Man’s change of heart happens much earlier. He comes clean to the rest of the Avengers and they hire him on the spot. It turns out the Avengers are really good about recruiting former villains. Must be a good tax write off or something.

Real professional, Jan.
Real professional, Jan.

So Wonder Man joins the team and Hank Pym leaves because a super strong guy in green chainmail is way better than some douche with antenna who can become twelve feet tall. The rest of the founding members eventually all go their seperate ways and are eventually replaced by Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye. I have no idea how Avengers kept coming out back in the day. “Hey, we’ve got a team full of popular Marvel characters.” “Fire all of them!”

Anyway, Wonder Man quickly catches the eye of the Scarlet Witch for some reason. They flirt a little but when Wonder Man tries to ask Scarlet Witch out, he’s cockblocked by really creepy possessive borderline incesty Quicksilver. Quicksilver threatens to leave the team and take Wanda with him because I guess he can do that if she and Simon don’t call off their… seriously just flirting at this point. It’s really embarrasing and gross. You suck, Quicksilver and you always will! Call me when you’re the best thing about Days of Future Past!

These great characters coming to a theater near you!
These great characters coming to a theater near you!

Eventually true love wins out, by which I mean Simon and Garfunkle I mean Wanda agree to go on one date. They’re overheard by Quicksilver who sprints off in a snit and goes straight back to Magneto and the Brotherhood of Misunderstood Really Working For the Benefit of Mutants Everywhere Mutants. Which is to say Toad. Magneto hatches an evil plan and dresses Pietro up as the Grim Reaper. In normal continuity, that’s Wonder Man’s evil brother but that dude isn’t in this story at all so it’s Pietro.

There’s a big fight and Magneto attempts to crush Wanda under a sixteen ton weight when Pietro rushes to her rescue. He shoves her out of the way but is too slow to save himself from being crushed. Which is weird because being fast and being a douchebag are literally Quicksilver’s only deal. Anyway, Scarlet Witch gets wicked pissed and murders Magneto with a hex bolt, literally exploding him. It’s hilarious.

Quicksilver, seen here with a house dropped on him.
Quicksilver, seen here with a house dropped on him.

So Quicksilver’s comically flattened corpse has been in the ground for roughly a minute before Wonder Man gets down on one knee and proposes to Scarlet Witch. Because that’s what Pietro would have wanted. They’re married in typical Marvel fashion in a big church full of costumed superheroes while Stan Lee and Jack Kirby bang on the door. And then fifty years later, Stan tells everyone he invented banging on doors.

"...this may not be the best time for this."
“…this may not be the best time for this.”

So a few months pass, and during that time Hank Pym, who is back to working for the Avengers purely as a scientist is working on a new project. Artificial intelligence! Well, that works out about as well as you would expect. The giant steel potato that is Ultron-1 zaps Hank with a stun laser and then scoots out the door. Hank decides not to mention this error in judgement to anyone which is just one more reason why Hank is terrible.

"Probably don't need to mention this to anyone..."
“Probably don’t need to mention this to anyone…”

More time passes and we cut to the now humanoid Ultron in his… I don’t know, lab or whatever. We see him building the familiar green, red and yellow Vision android which he plans to use to infiltrate the Avengers because seriously that trick works every time! If he’s lucky, he’ll later reform and get to join the team. Anyway, in normal continuity, he imprints the Vision with Wonder Man’s brain patterns for some reason.

“Yeah, I’ll give this spy the brain of a man who sought redemption with his last breath. That’ll be great for my muderous robot!” He probably said, spraying Kirby dots from his mouth.

In this case, he does the smart thing and just puts his own brain patterns in there. And then he forgets all about the whole infiltration thing in favor of just flying over to Avengers Mansion and murdering those assholes. He attacks the Wasp first and then passes out for some reason. Jan takes him back to Avengers HQ where he instantly wakes up and beats the shit out of everybody.

Unluckily for Ultron, I guess Thor, Iron Man and Captain America were all visiting today because they all suddenly bust in through a wall and join the fight. There’s a Ferocious Fight In The Mighty Marvel Manner™ that ends in Wonder Man getting his Ionic heart punched right the fuck out. Oh, the tragedy.

No. Stop. Don't. Who will save Wonder Man.
No. Stop. Don’t. Who will save Wonder Man.

Meanwhile, Hank does what he do best and fucks off to change his identity. He grabs his old Ant Man helmet, shrinks down and then fills Ultron with ants which is absolutely disgusting. He crawls around in Ultron’s brain for a while and then manages to deactivate it.

Gross. Gross! GROSS! GROSS!!!
Gross. Gross! GROSS! GROSS!!!

Back outside of the now mouldering robot body, half of the Avengers rush the dying Wonder Man to their hospital. They also get Thor to turn back into a doctor because it’s probably a good idea to have one of those.

“His heart’s been punched out.” says Blake.

Thanks, doc!

Luckily, Ant Man has an Ant Plan. He grabs the Vision body from Janet who was preparing to store it in the Avengers museum. A man is dying! There is a time and a place for museum cruration, JAN. Anyway, Hank drags the Vision body down to the hospital and manages to transfer Simon’s brain into a robot body so that he can live forever. Then Robo Simon and Scarlet Witch make out and Simon wonders about this human emotion called love.

 

What If Every Kid In The 90s’ Fantasy Came True?

When I started doing the second volume of What If, I knew it was only a matter of time until we started getting the 90s guys. Wolverine’s shown up a few times already and in What If vol 2 #1, we got the first Punisher appearance. Complete with giant head. Now, of course, it’s Venom’s turn.

This display is not accurate to the Venom trading card I had as a kid.
This display is not accurate to the Venom trading card I had as a kid.

For those who are unaware or only know Venom from Spider-Man 3 as the ooze monster that possessed Peter Parker and made him dance, Venom first appeared… sort of in the giant Secret War crossover. Peter had shredded his usual costume and started wandering around, stopping at the first thing that “looked like it wanted to create a costume.” Impeccable logic there, Spidey. Anyway, it did indeed make Spidey his kick-ass 80s black costume. Then it turned out it was an evil parasite, tried to possess Peter, had to be murdered with bells (All aliens hate bells, as you well know.) and later possessed some asshole and became one of the most popular villains ever if you are polling people’s younger brothers.

So this week we ask what would happen if Spider-Man never got rid of the symbiote. Peter’s feeling pretty run down lately (Mostly due to the symbiote running around with his body after Pete’s gone to sleep at night but also because of regular sex with his current main squeeze, the Black Cat. Often while suspended in webs which is goddamn weird.) The Cat suggests Spidey picked up some sort of space bug whilst Secret Warring. Then she runs off before she gets Space Clap or something. Classy.

"I find this a little worrying, Cat."
“I find this a little worrying, Cat.”

Peter visits his friend/foe Curt Connors AKA the Lizard AKA who diagnosis Pete as completely space flu free. He’s less of an authority on the effects of evil costumes on people so that bit of research has to wait a couple of days for the Fantastic Four to get back into town. When they finally do, Reed gives the costume the once over.

“Bad news, Spider-Man.” Reed says. You’ve got a full body skintight tapeworm.”

“There is literally nothing good about what you just said.” Spidey replies as his body clenches with seizures and the costume takes over. Luckily, Reed manages to stun Spidey with one of his giant science guns. Then he seals the webslinger in a giant glass case because we all know symbiotes are afraid of glass. A quick phone call to Dr Strange leads to some mystical backup but even that doesn’t help when Spidey kicks his way out. So much for the glass idea. Spidey knocks Strange and Richards out and then heads off into the night.

whatif5203
If you’re saying “I must quickly–“, you’re not being quick enough, Doc.

 

Meanwhile, for some reason, the Avengers are fighting it out with a (surprise surprise) extremely pissed off Hulk. They’re very excited when it appears that Spider-Man has arrived to help out. They’re less excited when it turns out he’s just there so that the symbiote can ditch Peter’s now burnt out body and take over the Hulk instead. Well… this probably could have gone better.

Well, that's deeply disturbing.
Well, that’s deeply disturbing.

Venom Hulk fucks off, leaving Earth’s Mightiest Hero and Starfox to help Peter. It seems the Symbiote feeds off adrenaline (something that has never come up in any Spider-Man comic I’ve ever read but whatever, other worlds than these, blah blah.) and it’s pretty much drained Peter leaving him with the appearance of an eighty year old man.

"Help me... I don't have pants."
“Help me… I don’t have pants.”

When he regains consciousness, Old Man Peter goes to visit his Aunt May for one last time and give some last touching words about… power or responsibility or something. Then he leaves before she dies of a heart attack. Ironically, said heart attack kills Pete  that night while he’s going over his symbiote notes. This tragic death will lead to Aunt May making a deal with Mephisto to save Peter and destroy her marriage to Mary Jane but that’s not important right  now.

Better get the mop.
Better get the mop.

The next day, Black Cat and the Kingpin meet up at Spider-Man’s secret funeral. I guess Fisk gets really sentimental when people he hates dies. I don’t remember any of this crap when he thought Daredevil was dead but whatever. Anyway, he and Cat seem to hit it off finally and he gives her a lift home.

Meanwhile, Reed’s working on another giant science gun that will actually kill the symbiote which is probably a great idea since it’s strapped to the fucking Hulk right now and that dude is terrifying when he’s not freaking out on tanks in the desert. He also figures out a way to track the symbiote and brings the Avengers to Mt. Rushmore to finally put a stop to Venom Hulk. The rest of the FF stays home for some reason. I guess nobody thought having the Thing who regularly beats up the Hulk or the Human Torch who is basically made of the stuff the Symbiote is afraid of was a good idea. Nice job, smartest man in the world.

So Venom Hulk appears, pleads for mercy with Thor and then attacks him because he’s a total douche from space. Thor does some excellent shitkicking on the symbiote and it eventually drains off, leaving only Bruce Banner. Thor examines the wad of alien smear on his hammer when it jumps off, engulfing him as anyone who has ever seen a horror movie could guess. I’ll let it slide because I don’t imagine Thor is a big movie guy.

Gross.
Gross.

Having now possessed an actual god, the Symbiote takes the next obvious step and… goes and hides in a cave. Master strategist, this fellow. It’s a shock we’re not already dead. Anyway, this cave hiding gives Reed a chance to make a really long distance call to Black Bolt of the Inhumans. Luckily for everyone, the Symbiote is also weak against sonics and knuckles and Black Bolt has both. He yells into the cave, blasting the symbiote off its Asgardian host. And also completely destroying Mt. Rushmore. Whoops.

Not even Venom can resist Thor's gorgeous hair.
Not even Venom can resist Thor’s gorgeous hair.

Reed and Dr Strange argue over what to do with the beaten Symbiote when Black Cat appears and zaps it with her own stolen giant science gun. Turns out she found Peter’s notes on how to build the thing and then took them to the Kingpin whose scientists put it together. Now she’s gotten revenge for her boyfriend and all it cost her was a lifetime of servitude to New York’s most powerful gangster. So, I guess that’s a win!

What If Ronald Reagan Saved The Day?

It’s a dark time for democracy. Specifically, it’s the 80s. (Aw, snap! That’s some biting political satire.) Steve Rogers, the Star Spangled Sentinel of… S’liberty? is called before the League of America’s Top White Old Men. Seems that, back in World War II, Cap signed a contract to work for the United States Government until released by order of the President. And the president never actually gave that order. Now, part of that is because everybody thought Captain America was dead for… a non-specific number of years. But what it basically boils down to is that America’s Top White Old Men own the name, costume and if you want to get really specific, blood of Captain America. Yeeeaah, so we’re gonna need you to come in Saturday, Cap. Cap obviously protests. “I work for the Avengers. I work for SHIELD. I’ve done nothing since I came back from being frozen but help the American people.”

whatif5101
The giant flag in the background might be a bit much.

 

“True.” reply America’s Top White Old Men. “But we don’t particularly want you helping the American people that aren’t us.”

In our reality, Steve Rogers retires as Captain America, starts wearing a black costume as was popular in the 80s and calls himself the Captain. Not to be confused with this asshole from Nextwave.

HIS NAME IS THE CAPTAIN
HIS NAME IS THE CAPTAIN

But, what if Uatu asks because I don’t think I’ve mentioned him in a few columns, what if Captain America told those White Old Men to go fuck themselves? Would that rock and be metal as hell? Maybe! Let’s find out together!

So Captain America tells the League of America’s Top White Old Men that he will indeed not be returning his costume, nor will he unquestioningly work for a bunch of rich assholes. So they try to have Cap killed, ordering the military guard at… I guess it’s the Pentagon? after him and telling them that it’s not actually Captain America, it’s a Communist spy. Cap easily dodges these guys and escapes into the night.

That night, Cap calls the Avengers up to tell them what the score is. He resigns from the Avengers because he’s really busy being a fugitive and doesn’t currently have time to help save the world from Kang or whomever. The Avengers (especially Namor who is right fucking pissed) all tell Cap they’ll stand beside him but he hangs up.

Dr. Druid, you are such a dick.
Dr. Druid, you are such a dick.

At this point, Freedom Force (who, despite basically being the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are apparently popular enough to get a blurb on the cover of this issue, showing you how popular anything connected to the X-Men was at the time.) bust into Avengers Manor looking for Cap. There’s a fight because Freedom Force wouldn’t know subtlety if it snuck up and bit the Blob on the ass and then Top Old White Men representative and total bag of dick water Henry Peter Gyrich shows up.

Namor legit looks like he should be whistling nonchalantly.
Namor legit looks like he should be whistling nonchalantly.

Gyrich is the government’s liaison to the Avengers and expects them to fall in line and sell Cap out. When they don’t, he strips them of any official standing and storms out. But not before being a sexist prick on the way out. Man, fuck that guy.

Dick.
Dick.

Back in Washington, the White Old Men begin training a squad to replace Captain America. The guy at the head of the class in this squad is John Walker. In our reality, he was the government’s choice to replace Cap. Here, he’s just another asshole who’s given the name and terrible costume of Super-Patriot. The other members of the squad are all given Bucky uniforms and can I just point out how in bad taste it is to have an African American wearing Bucky’s bellhop uniform. This really feels like a US Government you can trust.

Those are definitely some facial expressions right there.
Those are definitely some facial expressions right there.

 

And if that weren’t enough, one of the White Old Men, Rockwell makes a clandestine call to Smith, the top White Old Man, who smokes a cigarette in one of those Cruella De Ville holders and acts menacingly. Well, we’ve probably seen the last of him!

It's Captain Picard!
It’s Captain Picard!

Cap meets with a bunch of other heroes at the Lincoln Memorial (Gee, Captain America holding a meeting at a symbol of patriotism? Who would have ever guessed?). These heroes in question include Falcon, Nomad, Vagabond and… ugh, D-Man. But none of them are important to this story so don’t worry about it. Instead, worry about Cap’s plan to restore the public’s faith in him by standing outside the Washington Monument (Another American symbol. How exactly has Cap not been caught yet? If he was really smart, he’d be hiding in Canada.) and telling them… well, something. Before he can start, Super-Patriot and the Bucky Brigade arrive!

Ugh. this idiot again...
Ugh. this idiot again…

There’s a lot of fighting as per usual. Cap’s buddies arrive to help out but the battle is finally ended peacefully by the arrival of Ronald Reagan. Thank God! President Reagan proclaims that Super-Patriot will continue to function as a government super hero while Cap is pardoned and allowed to fight crime however he wishes. It’s a lovely moment that could really only be better if Reagan turned into a snake monster again. No luck alas.

Seriously, he was a snake monster in  Cap 344. Look it up!
Seriously, he was a snake monster in Cap 344. Look it up!

White Old Man Smith is watching all of this on TV and is furious that Cap’s getting away with it. Deciding to throw all his previous years of scheming away, (If it wasn’t clear by the cigarette holder and the severe racism, Smith is actually the Red Skull. A-fucking-gain.) Smith calls up Rockwell (Who has been at the meeting the whole time! I know, I was surprised too!) and tells him “Screw the plan. Just shoot that fucker in the fucking head.”

Can't be a very powerful gun if it didn't go through the front of his head. Maybe it just bounced off?
Can’t be a very powerful gun if it didn’t go through the front of his head. Maybe it just bounced off?

Well, that was easy.

Your tax dollars at work.
Your tax dollars at work.

Following Cap’s stupid death, Super-Patriot does indeed become Captain America. For a while. Eventually, Walker goes mad with power (as is tradition.), starts getting incredibly brutal and kills a bunch of people. The government hush it up because of course they fucking do and force Walker into retirement. After that, there is no Captain America and we cut to the Cap Memorial Flash Museum where we find Smith taking a stroll and laughing at having finally defeated his age old enemy. Well, that took a turn for the depressing!