TimeQuake I: In Which Mr Fantastic Is Snippy And Doctor Doom Does A Good Deed.

Since your sun burned hot in the sky and also since I started writing this thing lo those many years ago, there has been one standard in What If comics. The Watcher hangs around and doesn’t do anything. Except when he sent Wolverine back in time and accidentally ended the universe for no fucking reason. (Nice one, Watch.) All of that changes TONIGHT in What If’s very first ever five issue arc: TimeQuake! Which I read the last issue of when I was eight and thought was the coolest thing ever. And if the first issue is anything to go by, the old saying is true: Eight year old Matt was an idiot.

Uatu the Watcher in Watcher Battle Armor.
Uatu the Watcher in Watcher Battle Armor.

We open with Uatu doing his usual spiel about the multiverse and forbidden to interfere and then he starts going on about Nexuses. Apparently a Nexus is a particular person who has the power to change reality through… like, time travel or something. Apparently Kang is one. Immortus is another. Or possibly the same. Also that fucker Rick Jones because he can’t stop playing his harmonica on the multiverse dick. God, I hate that guy.

Uatu senses some kind of disturbance in the multiverse or whatever and sends his consciousness into the future and also an alternate reality where three giant cloak dudes called the Time Keepers watch over a bubbling cauldron and prepare to name Franklin Richards Thane of Cawdor. Actually, they’re just going to cause a very, very late abortion for Frankie Says Relax. It turns out Franklin is this universe’s Nexus and by killing him, the Time Keepers can continue to influence this reality. Or something to that effect. I don’t know, I stopped paying attention. Anyway, Uatu asks if he can watch because it’s what he does and the Time Keepers have no reason to question him so we jump back to the universe where Spider-Man Joined The Fantastic Four from What If 1*. Except that Sue divorced Namor, Namor undid his making her a permanent no-take backs fish person and then Sue hooked up with Reed, rejoined the FF and got pregnant.  No, it isn’t confusing at all! Shut up!

"Shut up, stop poking around and get in here, Uatu. You prick."
“Shut up, stop poking around and get in here, Uatu. You prick.”

Anyway, Sue’s having birth complications delivering Franklin so the FF travel to the Negative Zone to find the Cosmic Control Rod which can Cosmically Control Sue’s womb into not killing her or her enchanted baby. Of course Reed doesn’t actually tell Spidey, Ben or Johnny any of this, so when Spidey is captured by green armor jerk, Annihilus and accidentally steals the Cosmic Womb Wrangler, it’s a real lucky break for everyone.

Oh no, Dick Bats!
Oh no, Dick Bats!

Anyway, Spidey fights Annihilus and then the rest of the FF show up and they also fight Annihilus. The Time Keepers quickly realize that they are going to fail at killing this baby (Easily the simplest thing in the world! I mean, it’s like babies WANT to be dead.) so they send Doctor Doom to go fight the FF and steal the rod. Telling Doctor Doom what to do rarely works very well, but it seems to go pretty darn fine this time until a ghost steals Doom’s soul out of his body. Seriously. The ghost in question is a big scary cloak called the Whisperer so he could really be anyone. My money is currently on Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. The Ghost tells Doom that if Sue and Franklin die, Reed will lose his damn mind (in the west) and bathe the world in nuclear fire. Which is a perfectly rational thing to expect from Mr Fantastic. Doom agrees and tosses Reed the control rod and then he pushes Annihilus into the Antimatter Negative Positive part of the Negative Zone and they both get erased from reality except Doom is secretly saved by the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

Ooogidy Booogidy Boo!
Ooogidy Booogidy Boo!

The FF return to Earth and use the cosmic control rod to save Sue and the baby… somehow. And then they celebrate the birth of this kid and the death of their greatest enemy. Hooray!

Meanwhile in space, Uatu gloats and the Time Keepers prepare to kill another Nexus or whatever and we TO BE CONTINUE and GOD, I hope this thing gets better. That was a twenty-eight page punch comic. Yeesh.

 

*Not to be confused with the other reality where Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four, Sue married Namor, Spider-Man quit, Reed tried to destroy Atlantis and failed to identify a pregnant woman.

At least it isn’t Assistant Editor’s Month.

That’s right, Interfereacateers, just in time for Christmas, it’s the worst thing to happen to Forbidden To Interfere. Well, the worst thing besides me moving to America, getting a job and missing my fucking deadlines left and right. Why, yes, I AM plagued with guilt. Thanks for asking. Yes, instead of the usual fascinating, strange and occasionally ridiculous adventures to the alternate realities of the Marvel Universe, we have… the funny issue. I swear to god, I could not sigh hard enough.

We start with the rather bizarre first story (which is also told remarkably straight for a humor issue.) wherein during an epic battle between the Mad Titan Thanos and the World Devouring Galactus, Thanos uses the power of the Infinity Gauntlet to change Galactus into an ordinary human whom he abandons naked and alone on Earth. Galactus finds himself with a nasty case of amnesia in a trailer park in Kansas. Luckily, he’s quickly found by local woman Gertrude Rebmann who mistakes him for Elvis.

Yeah, this is where we’re going this week.

Gertrude takes Galactus in and attempts to return his memory by showing him old Elvis flicks, pompadouring his hair and feeding him peanut butter and banana sandwiches in an effort to stave off the hunger of the world devourer.

Not as good as the "Kids In The Hall" sketch about Elvis being Bruce's landlord.
Not as good as the “Kids In The Hall” sketch about Elvis being Bruce’s landlord.

It’s also quickly discovered that Galelvis has a singing voice at least on par with the King, and he finds himself ready to return to the stage and his music. His first performance is a hit and soon whispers cross the Marvel Universe that Elvis has somehow returned to life. Luckily, this IS the Marvel Universe so nobody thinks to hard about it. Literally half the universe has died and come back at some point.

Eventually, the night before a sold out concert, Galelvis is approached by Adam Warlock.

“It’s over, World Devourer! I have defeated Thanos and wrested from his grip the Infinity Gauntlet! You can return once more to the cosmos!”

“Alternately,” Galactus replies. “I could stay on Earth, be Elvis and not commit genocide anymore.”

It’s really win-win for everyone.

Silver Surfer is gonna make one hell of a roadie.
Silver Surfer is gonna make one hell of a roadie.

After that, we get some one page jokes and then head into a story about Spider-Man and his hideous monster baby, Spidey-Baby having to fight crime while Mary Jane is out of town. It’s not very good. Spidey-Baby is really horrible to look at. It looks like Gonzo had sex with a football, which is not entirely impossible. Also it involves Hydroman getting absorbed by a diaper so I think we’ll just call it a night.

I hate everything about what I am seeing here.
I hate everything about what I am seeing here.

What If Phoenix STILL didn’t die but it’s a what if so somebody fucking does?

So we’re back after a week off so I could continue to make the hideous climb from early to mid-thirties. Maybe taking a break during a two parter wasn’t my best decision, but I have the second annual “wacky” What If next week, so trust me. I will be punished. Last time, as you’ll recall, Jean Grey of the X-Men was lobotomized by the Shi’ar to remove her Phoenix powers. This is the cosmic equivalent to slapping a band-aid on a gaping head wound, and it worked just as well. Unfortunately, Jean’s powers arrived just in time for her baby to be kidnapped by Mastermind who was possessed by the Shadow King so we can have an “X-Men Villains Matt Doesn’t Particularly Care For” twofer. Then Jean realized she was actually the Phoenix Force in the form of Jean and went to visit the real Jean’s sleeping cocoon. And accidentally vaporized her. Well, not even immortal fire goddess are perfect, I suppose.

Anyway, Jean mounts an attack on the Shadow King. Unfortunately for her, Shadow King has found and used former X-villain Erik the Red’s Aging/Deaging Device* to turn Baby Rachel into Excalibur Rachel. Complete with weird spiky bodysuit. That she wouldn’t get until the dark Days of Future Past Future. But whatever. Jean tries the whole “Listen to me, Rachel! Remember who you are!” but Rachel still has the brain of a nine month old, so the only thing she remembers is that time she shat herself this morning. This is not at all useful in a superhero battle.

Perhaps Jean's creepy baby arm will save the day,
Perhaps Jean’s creepy baby arm will save the day,

With no other options, Jean takes the battle to the Shadow King’s home on the Astral Plane and then burns him to fucking death. Hey, she killed a whole planet. One bodiless douche canoe is not a big fucking deal. With that done, she’s left with a sixteen year old Rachel Summers with the brain of a nine month old. Luckily, the power of the Phoenix can be used to completely rewrite the Rachel’s DNA, returning her to infanthood. And while we’re messing around with her on a molecular level, let’s just tweak that hair colour a little, make her good at piano and maybe not cry so fucking much when Mommy’s had a long day. What mother could do less for her kid?

"I'm gonna remake you into someone who isn't a constant disappointment."
“I’m gonna remake you into someone who isn’t a constant disappointment.”

Jean returns to the X-Mansion with the kid in tow and decides… no, I don’t think my teammates, family and husband really need to know about my returned powers, my baby’s brief adolescence or my latest murder. Instead, Jean decides to fake it and just be a mother. Which is a wonderful plan that works just plain great for eight years until an anti-mutant president enters the White House, starts stirring up anti-mutant hate and the rest of the Marvel Universe fall in line. Thanks a lot, guys.

Worried about her family, Jean decides to finally bring the Phoenix out of retirement for one last job. She sneaks into the White House and lobotomizes the President into a more mutant friendly type of guy.

“Mr. President, what are your thoughts on the ongoing tensions in Russia?”
“Mutants are good.”

“That doesn’t really answer my question, sir.”

“MUTANTS ARE GOOD!”

So THAT plans goes absolutely perfectly for about eight seconds before the President is assassinated by anti-mutant terrorists. And because the President had… you know, a Vice President with pretty much the exact same opinions, we’re back at square one. And square one is a Presidential Order to kill all mutants with Sentinels. Shit.

Alas no one could have seen this coming.
Alas no one could have seen this coming.

So because Sentinels are the absolute most stable giant robot monsters in the Marvel U, they quickly decide that the thing to do is wipe out everyone with powers. The Avengers and the Fantastic Four both bite the dust, leaving the X-Men on the run. It’s around this time that Wolverine gets his shit together enough to realize that Jean still has her powers. And then he punches her a bunch of times until her powers manifest. Because violence is the only way Wolverine knows how to solve his problems. The Phoenix Force does indeed emerge and Jean unloads her eight years of lies to Logan before she wipes his brain. Like a friend would. Unfortunately, Cyclops and Professor X were listening at the door like so much Mr Furley and they kick Jean off the team.

"I probably should have packed or something."
“I probably should have packed or something.”

While Jean goes to mope on her giant rock in New Mexico, the X-Men and Magento mount an attack on the Sentinals’ home base in the Baxter Building. It… doesn’t go great. The Sentinels are tipped off by Magneto’s magnetic powers (“Lousy powers! You sold me out!”) and then they paralyze him. Then Jean stops moping and comes back to help out, murdering hundreds of Sentinels with an effective AOE attack. While that’s going on, Colossus chucks Shadowcat into the Master Mold, where she re solidifies, choking the robot making robot with her intestines. I guess that’s one way to do it.

SPLUTCH
SPLUTCH

With Master Mold and the Sentinels destroyed, the X-Men return home to count their dead. And then a suspiciously Mole Man looking Destiny tells her that if she stays on Earth, she will eventually destroy it. And so the Phoenix leaves behind her husband, her daughter and all that make her human to explore the galaxy. And probably blow up some planets that we personally do not live on.

 

*Totally a real thing. They used it to turn Magneto into a baby. Which also totally happened.