What If Spider-Man had joined the Fantastic Four?
So we start with a little introduction featuring famous giant bald white guy the Watcher, here to explain what exactly an alternate reality is. He’s also the Cryptkeeper of the What If series, minus the bad puns and rotting jaw line. Unfortunately.
So after a little (a lot.) of explanation about what the hell is actually going on and then a catch-up on who Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four are (Stan Lee lived by a single philosophy: Every comic book is somebody’s first comic book. And if your first comic book is an story about four guys in jumpsuits who hire another guy when normally they wouldn’t have, God help you.) and what their whole deal is. And then we get about four pages of a scene in Amazing Spider-Man 1 where Spidey tries to join the FF by breaking in, ruining an expensive plexiglass cage and then beating everyone up. (Stan Lee lived by a second single philosophy: Never go into a job interview ready to beat up the guy interviewing you. And at least tell somebody you’re there for an interview too.)
Then the Watcher freezes everything, Out Of This World style, so he can explain what the concept of the book is again, in case the slow kids weren’t paying attention. Spider-Man goes to leave but Sue calls him back, explaining to Reed that the FF doesn’t have enough jerks in it. Considering this is set in the Silver Age and Reed is still in his “Shut up, Sue, I’m doing science. Go buy yourself a hat.” phase, this is saying something.
The FF hires Spidey and they have a big press conference where they can dramatically remove their “4” emblems to reveal a fancy new “5”. Then J. Jonah Jameson shows up to proclaim Spidey a menace because it’s day time. He goes into his usual rant about how Spider-Man ruined his son’s space adventure or whatever but what’s this?! Apparently, Reed has some pull at NASA and gets them to drop the charges on Spidey. Jonah, easily cowed by the all powerful National Aeronautics and Space Administration backs off. Tomorrow’s Bugle Headline will read “Daredevil: Menace or Asshole?”
What follows is a few short stories about what’s changed now that the FF and Spidey are best friends forever. Basically the Chameleon never shows up because he’s afraid of Reed Richards and the Vulture gets his ass kicked in about five minutes because he doesn’t like being set on fire. Then Reed presents his new spaceship, powered by energy he found in “certain meteors” and proclaims his plan to have the FF be the first people to set foot on the moon! Except he kind of built it with only four seats, whoops, so Sue, uh, maybe you should sit this one out, muffin, here’s the credit card, go get yourself something pretty.
So the Fantastic Five minus One go on an adventure while Sue stays behind and justifiably fumes, when she receives a psychic booty call from the ever-aerodynamic but not actually psychic Prince Namor to meet her at the docks. Upon arriving, Namor smacks her with a hypno fish. One of nature’s miracles, the hypno fish can not only breathe air and fly, it also has the incredible ability to hypnotize people and then capture them in bubbles so they can be safely transported under the sea. Scientists refer to it as ichthyius bullshitus.
Having soundly whipped the shit out of some communist moon super gorillas, the FF-1 return home to discover that a) Sue is missing and b) fucking Namor’s hanging out in the rec room. It takes all four superheroes failing to punch Namor in the face to realize that this is actually a hologram. Namor, politely waiting, invites them to his swinging undersea pad where they can all beat on each other in safety. The FF- 1 hop into their handy submarine and randomly drive around the ocean until they run into Namor. Seriously. It’s a good thing the ocean isn’t really big or they never would have found him.
Meanwhile, this whole thing is being monitored by the Puppet Master, who is also around, looking fucking creepy. He’s used his horrible puppet powers to control Namor but not the FF, despite clearly having puppets of them. This is not explained, nor is the Puppet Master’s possession of a Submarine of his own. Presumedly, he has a clay shipyard stored somewhere in his attic.
The FF arrive at Namor’s bachelor pad to find Sue trapped in a bubble and being attacked by the largest squid in the ocean. Namor challenges them to hand to hand combat, as is the tradition of his people apparently. Then he uses his array of extremely specific sea creatures to defeat the FF, including a seaweed mop that eats fire, a fungus that grows on rock guys, and a blowfish that exclusively feeds on inattentive super-intelligent husbands. There’s some more fighting and then Ben throws the squid through the ceiling where it smacks into the Puppet Master’s submarine. The Puppet Master tries desperately to forge a clay octopus but only has time to make one of the arms. Somewhere in the ocean’s depths, an eel plans to kidnap Sue Storm.
Freed of the Puppet Master’s puppet mastery, Namor comes to his senses. And attacks Reed because, mind-controlled or not, he still wants him some of that sweet Invisible Girl action. Aw yeah. At this point, Sue finally speaks up and tells the men to for god’s sake knock it off. And then she dumps Reed and hooks up with Namor. Tired of feeling like the fifth wheel from that one time Spider-Man took her seat on a spaceship, she abandons the surface for a carefree life under the sea, searching for Namor’s people and… I dunno, looking at fish. Luckily for her, Namor has prepared a device ahead of time that turns humans into fish, Blood Waters of Dr. Z style so he kicks Sue in there, permanently keeping her from returning to land, her family and the life she knew. Good thing she gave that decision a whole six seconds to think over.
So the once again Fantastic Four return to the surface, Reed mopes and Johnny and Spidey talk about how, if Spidey had never joined the FF, none of this would ever happen. And then the Watcher explains the premise again in case anyone fell asleep.