Tag Archives: Uatu the Watcher

What If Ghost Rider, Spider-Woman and Captain Marvel Were Villains In Really Short Unsatisfying Stories?

This one’s another three parter, like a Simpsons Halloween Special. But not interesting. So, like a recent Simpsons Halloween Special. Uatu shows up in a splash page to tell us that this week, we’re going to see what would happen if Ghost Rider, Spider-Woman and Captain Marvel were all bad guys. Since we’re talking about a demon, a Hydra Agent and an alien from an evil space empire, we’re not at too much of a stretch here.

“What if these three yahoos were all evil? Who could even speculate?” Baldy yells, grasping his balls. “I can! For I am the Watcher!”

I love when he gets all mad about it. “Fuck you guys, I’m the Goddamned Watcher.”

We start off with Johnny Blaze, 70s stunt racer and future Nicholas Cage role, I’m sorry to say. Johnny and his lady friend Roxanne are excited that their travelling motorcycle circus (…okay.) has gotten a chance to perform at Madison Square Garden. They’re surprised when Johnny’s mentor and Roxanne’s father Crash “Flash Thompson” Simpson isn’t so in to the idea. Turns out he has cancer and could not be more blasé about it.

Johnny’s worried about his friend so he does the only logical thing. He sells his soul to the devil in a scene that’s pretty goddamn awesome.

Look at Johnny up there, praising Satan. I love comics.

So the Devil keeps his end of the bargain and cures Crash of his cancer. In the normal comic, he cures Crash only so that Crash can die performing his motorcycle stunt, driving home some of that irony that Satan’s so fond of. In this new universe, the Devil is… boring.

Crash safely executes the jump and then Johnny runs off to cry in his room. “Oh, boo hoo. I don’t have a soul any more. I had no idea this deal with the devil would go wrong.” At that point, Satan shows up and turns Johnny into the Ghost Rider, star of stage, screen and more drunken tattoos then Hot Stuff the Lil’ Devil.

At this point, Crash stops by Johnny’s room to see if Johnny still has any skin on his face. He fails to knock and Ghost Rider burns all his flesh off. BEHOLD THE FATE OF ALL SINNERS! Remembering who he is for a second, Johnny jumps on his motorcycle and takes off into the night, vowing to send to hell anyone who fails to politely enter a room. Just like in the Bible.

Not long after, reports start appearing all over America that Skeleton Evel Knievel is driving around setting criminals on fire. Roxanne sees this in the newspaper and realizes that that flaming skeleton can only be her boyfriend Johnny Blaze. She figures out that Johnny is heading for a prison so he can kill everyone in it and resolves to beat him there. Luckily Greyhound travels way faster than a motorcycle from Hell.

Roxanne arrives just as Johnny is attacking the prison and he murders the everloving fuck out of her. Like, we’re talking a fight of about one panel. I guess Marvel decided it’d be more interesting to have Ghost Rider fight Daimon Hellstrom: The Shirtless Son of Satan. Because showing the drama of a man possessed by a monster murdering his only friend is way less cool than him throwing fireballs at a dude in a Dracula cape with a pitchfork. At least we get a good shot of sad Ghost Rider.

That’s hilarious.

Daimon and Ghost Rider fight for a couple of page, before Daimon finally gets fed up and sucks out all of Ghost Rider’s fire. This leaves Johnny nothing but a skeleton in a jumpsuit in the middle of the desert, his only hope for the future to provide background in a Road Runner cartoon.

Alright, that done, we cut live to our second story already in progress. Jessica Drew (AKA Spider-Woman, no relation.) is strangling Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD* because Fury’s captured Jessica’s boyfriend and fellow Hydra agent, Jared (What a chilling name for a Hydra Agent.) Jessica tries to zap Fury with one of her venom blasts but Fury uses Jared as a shield** and Jess murders him. She goes to kill Fury but can’t do it.

At this point, Fury’s girlfriend and partner, the Contessa enters and Spider-Woman prematurely venom blasts Fury to death.

Whoops. At this point, Spidey-Womey decides to cut her losses and heads back to Hydra Headquarters, presumably in the Terror Dome.

Back home, Jessica turns to the Supreme Hydra and his Supreme Mustache for help. She wants to know what her secret origin is, but Brian Bendis won’t clear up that convoluted mess for thirty years. Just then, the Contessa and a metric fuck-ton of SHIELD Agents burst in. Supreme Hydra and Jess beat cheeks, leaving a bunch of faceless goons to die. Being in Hydra sucks.

Shocked by his betrayal of his troops, Jessica is further shocked when Supreme Hydra tries to leave her behind too. Wow, it’s like this guy can’t be trusted or something. He tosses Jess out of his escape craft and then crashes it in the woods. He probably shouldn’t have also betrayed his steering wheel and brakes. Idiot.

Jess is knocked out by the Contessa and regains conciousness in the middle of her trial, which doesn’t exactly seem legal.

She’s about to go down for a whole lot of terrorist and accidental murder charges when her defence calls his witness. It’s the Supreme Hydra. Uh, minus the costume. Looks like somebody knows how to dress for a court date, JESSICA.

Supreme Hydra tells the court that it’s impossible for them to try Jess as she’s not a human. She’s a mutated spider! Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s about as dumb as Wolverine being a mutant Wolverine who was raised by Wolverines. Jessica gets tired of this bullshit and flies away.

Six months later, we rejoin her, in Paris on the run from SHIELD and Hydra and paying off criminals with ridiculous accents for information on her origins. Her completely trustworthy informant betrays her for the bounty SHIELD has on her, but Jess zaps him and flies off to use the information he gave her to find her father. The end! Boy, that was unsatisfying! I told you!

Alright, finally, we get to the Captain Marvel story. I like Captain Marvel but the current awesome Kelly Sue DeConnick one. I don’t know a whole lot about the original guy, except that he’s a guy named Marv-Ell who is a soldier for the evil Kree empire come to Earth to see if we were a danger or ready for conquest or whatever. But then he really liked it. He’s like the Silver Surfer without the missing genitals.

We open with Marv battling the Sentry. No, wait, come back! It’s not the Superman guy in the gold tights that Marvel tried to convince us was interesting and not boring and stupid for ten years. It’s just a big invincible robot. Much cooler. I have no idea why they are fighting but it seems important.

Back on a Kree ship, Marv’s not really friend Yon-Rogg and Marv’s sort of girlfriend maybe Una are reporting to their boss, Ronan the Accuser (He’s the bad guy in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie! In my head, he sounds like Sean Connery!). Ronan’s pissed that Yon-Rogg has sent Captain Marvel to Earth on his own and then had the Sentry fight him just because Yon is trying to sleep with Marv’s girlfriend. He takes Una hostage and then escapes. Okay, this is all making a little more sense now. I think.

Back on Earth, Marv-Ell is getting his ass kicked by the Sentry when Carol Danvers shows up. Yay, Carol! A character I’m familiar with! Between the two of them they make some sort of plan and are able to attach the Sentry to a missile using Marv’s uni-beam. Which I guess is his thing. Sentry is killed by the power of the US Government’s missile program. At which point Yon-Rogg shows up.

Marv chases him off and then Yon beans him with a rock before promptly suffocating because Yon forgot to put on a space helmet or take pills so he could breathe Earth’s atmosphere. That’s… that’s terrible. Like… what?

Ronan arrives and congratulates Marv-Ell on his work and then leaves him on Earth to monitor it and see if it’s a threat or not. Like… like normal. Except this time, Marv acts all sinister like he didn’t just save the earth from an evil robot.

I… I didn’t care for this one.

 

*Strategic Heroic Something Something Whatever, True Believer!

**This one’s just an actual shield, not a secret spy agency.

What If I Knew Anything At All About Shang Chi: Master of Kung-Fu.

The hardest of these reviews to write are always the rare ones where I have no idea who the hell anyone is. I mostly know Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu and Marvel’s attempt to cash in on the popularity of Bruce Lee flicks, from his appearances in Secret Avengers. I think he was also in Spider-Man. None of the old Master of Kung-Fu issues are still in print, due to Marvel losing the license to the series’ main bad guy, Fu Manchu so I couldn’t go back and do any research. Also I refuse to do research.

What I do know is that Fu Manchu has been a character in fiction since the early 20th century. He’s basically THE yellow peril villain. You know, the insidious inscrutable celestial. He’s also… pretty racist by today’s standards. I mean, look at this guy.

Seriously, Spock ears? Jesus.

So we start off with the Watcher explaining the origin of Fu Manchu’s son, Shang Chi. Shang Chi has been trained since birth by Fu and his legion of chinese stereotypes to be a loyal, unquestioning assassin. Of course, he’s also been trained to revere life and be a good person. Which conflicts a little with his father’s whole “take over the world for the glory of China” plan. So Shang’s a little conflicted when Daddy sends him out into the world on his first mission: kill some old man!

The assassination goes off without a hitch, as Shang punches a sleeping man to death. Excellent use of a lifetime of training there. We definitely needed a good karate guy to do that. Shang’s on  his way out the door when he’s spotted by… a different old man in a wheelchair. It’s Sir Dennis Waylan Smith, friend to our new corpse and longtime hater of Fu Manchu.

In our reality, Shang sticks around to watch Sir Dennis mourn his punched-to-death friend and realizes that Fu Manchu’s plans for world domination are wrong. He rejects Fu, tears up his shirt dramatically and stars in a comic book for seventy issues.

In this shocking new world, Shang peaces out early, leaving Sir Dennis to mourn in silence. Shang returns to Fu’s castle where he wonders if murder is worth it. Fu makes the excellent argument that murder is great if Fu Manchu fucking TOLD YOU TO DO IT.

Shang is still a little conflicted on whether or not his father might actually be a bad guy, so Fu sets him up on a less controversial mission than old man murder: Grave robbery!

Meanwhile, in England, Sir Dennis is putting together a team of guys to combat Fu Manchu in the finest 70s Marvel tradition. He hires Black Jack Tarr, the British version of Ben Grimm and his AMAZING mustache, Clive Reston, who is boring, and Leiko Wu, who is also chinese and kicky. In case you thought the racism was only going to be tossed at the bad guys.

Sir Dennis and his team are just about to begin their search for Fu Manchu when Dennis receives a phone call concerning a bunch of Chinamen breaking into a local cemetery. This MUST be the work of the dastardly Fu Manchu. I mean, yeah, it is. But jeez, way to jump to conclusions, guys.

It is indeed Shang Chi and some random Fu Manthugs who have broken into the cemetery. They’re stealing the bodies of some of Fu’s old lieutenants for some reason. Shang continues to be conflicted. Was he not taught that all life is sacred? And why exactly was he taught that? His father is clearly terrible at breeding children as assassins. Shame on you, Fu Manchu.

Back at

we learn exactly what Fu’s plans are for the dead bodies as he injects a dead rat with the Reanimator potion from the hit movie Beyond Reanimator, returning it to life. For no one in all of England can defeat the DEADLY ZOMBIE RATS OF FU MANCHU.

Meanwhile, in England, Shang and his Fu Mancrew are attacked by Sir Dennis’ deadly British people. Shang escapes with most of his pals and all the dead bodies, leaving only a single grave robber behind. Black Jack and co. kidnap him for torture purposes and learn Fu’s deadly plan: Kidnapping the Queen. Which is still better than assassinating her, Naked Gun style, I guess.

Shang returns and Fu promptly locks him in his room while he reanimates his dead lieutenants. Shang weeps as he realizes that his dad would rather bring back dead people than play with him so he runs away from home.

Meanwhile, at the Castle of Queen Elizabeth II, Black Jack and friends arrive. They are prepared to do battle with undead chinese warriors. They are less prepared for said undead chinese warriors to be riding on giant lizards. It’s… it’s just wonderful.

Fu and his ridiculous army attack Buckingham Palace. Luckily, Shang arrives to kick everybody’s problems away before any royals can be kidnapped. Fu tells Shang that they are now enemies and then disappears in a puff of racism. Meanwhile, Black Jack manages to kill the undead lieutenants with his lizard eliminating gun.

With the day saved, Shang prepares to leave but Sir Dennis offers him a job. “You could stay with us and help us fight your dickhead father.” Shang declines. For seriously, is not all life sacred? Even life that has been resurrected by my weird-ass father. Then he leaves, to walk the earth alone. Until he gets tetanus from stepping on a rusty nail. Seriously, dude. Get some shoes.

What If There Were Four Other People Who Weren’t Nova And They Got The Powers Of The Guy Who Is Nova And He Got No Powers?

Also, what if there were a less awkward title for this issue. This week (Well, last week really. Sorry about that.) we open with our old chubby chum the Watcher watching four different realities at once. You know what that means? Yep, What If 15 was absolutely everyone’s last concern over at seventies Marvel Bullpen. On the other hand, we get some pretty sharp Walt Simonson art so it’s not all bad.

So first Uatu gives us the origin of Nova, which is good because I didn’t actually know it, despite reading a lot of Nova comics AND owning his trading card. There’s a reason for that. It’s basically Green Lantern’s origin exactly. Except instead of seeking out the guy on earth with the greatest will, whatever that means, it just seeks out somebody. So it just happens to grab teenage guy, Richard Rider and he becomes Nova: The Human Rocket. The man with the power to fly really fast and crash into stuff. He may also shoot beams.

That out of the way, Uatu postulates “What if some other random people were Nova?”. Would those random people, as the cover seems to lead us to believe, be the Fantastic Four? Or Doctor Doom? Nope, just regular schlubs from all over the damn place.

We start out with Helen Taylor whose husband has just been Batman’d (Killed by some dude in an alley.). She vows revenge on the mugger and, luckily, is then blasted by the Nova force! Handy! Discovering that she now has the amazing power to fuck some fuckers up, she proceeds to kill the entriety of New York’s underworld in a search for her husband’s killer while Uatu gets… weirdly religious.

The police are baffled by this insane woman who leaves only her calling card: Seriously, it’s a card with an explosion on it. Awesome.

Eventually, everyone gets tired of a bucket helmeted Punisher murdering crime (including a pretty great scene where she drops the Kingpin out a window.) and the President sends the Fantastic Four after her.

“Why would the Fantastic Four attack me?” wonders Helen. “They only attack villains. And also heroes. But mostly villains. Well, if they’re attacking me, an obvious hero, it must mean that the most well known team of super-heroes on the planet are actually evil. I’d better murder them.”

Luckily, she does not succeed and Sue Richards drops the old “Suffocate you with an invisible thing” trick. Helen passes out and the FF send her on a one-way trip to the Phantom Zone, er Negative Zone where she’ll be no tribble at all.

That done, we cut to the police pulling a drowned car out of the sea. The cops look inside to reveal… Helen’s husband’s murderer! Why, he died in a car accident months ago! All while Helen was trying to find and kill him! That’s some Rod Serling* shit right there!

Next up, we show a homeless African-american fellow named Jesse and his cat being booted out of a hotel on Christmas Eve for not being able to pay for a room. Which is the very definition of douchebaggery. We don’t see the hotel owner being menaced by three ghosts but if you’re interested, that tale appears in Haunted Hotel Stories #248!

Jesse wanders around talking about how being poor sucks in broken dialogue that could only be written by a white guy.

He also mentions the weird Nova costume he found and how he’d put it on if it wasn’t ridiculous. He may be the first super-hero to think that.

Meanwhile, in space, an invading army of Skrull looks down on Earth and resolves to steal all our precious minerals. The Skrull army lacks quartz, you see and our planet is filthy with the stuff. They also get readings from Jesse’s Nova costume and decide to steal it for the glory of the Skrull Empire, I guess!

Back on Earth, Jesse finds himself a home at a local loving orphanage. He becomes a hit with the kindly old couple who own the place and the cheerful young ragamuffins that live there. It’s fucking revolting, frankly. Luckily, at that point, Skrulls show up to kill everyone.

Jesse puts on the Nova costume and beats up some Skrulls and then allows himself to be captured, drawing the fight away from Norman Rockwell’s Home for Doe-eyed Children. Once back in space, Black Nova (Seriously! It says that in the fucking caption! I think it’s awful too!) leaps into action, killing everyone on the Skrull ship, including himself.

At the orphanage, the kindly couple look up to see a brilliant flash as Jesse sacrifices himself to save the world. “It’s a miracle.” They say. “A Christian miracle!” Once again getting weirdly religious.

“Well, that was a couple of boring nobodies!” Says Uatu, intuiting our boredom with this concept. “How about if Spider-Man was Nova?”

“Hooray!” We cry, excited by the prospect of an intergalactic web-slinging quipster, perhaps fighting the Space Sandman for some reason.

“Not so fast!” Uatu says. “This Spider-Man is even whinier and more annoying than our regular Spider-Man!”

“You suck, Uatu!” We cry. “We’re glad you were recently murdered in Marvel’s current summer event ‘Original Sins’ Also we think it’s hilarious that people keep lugging around your ridiculous giant eyes!”

So Peter Parker gets bitten by the radioactive spider but this time around, it just almost kills him and does paralyse him. Also Aunt May dies from shock because of course she does. Think about this. For every time, Aunt May has almost died in our universe, she’s definitely died in millions of other universes. That’s a giant pile of uncooked wheat cakes and Spider-Man shaking his fist at the ceiling.

So Pete’s a grumbling asshole until he’s struck by the Nova Force for some reason. He realizes he can walk now and also fly, so he heads home to tell Uncle Ben. Maybe they can use his new flying powers for wrestling purposes or something.

Unfortunately, Peter flies in on his uncle about to be murdered by a burgler. (I assume Aunt May’s funeral threw off the burgler’s schedule by a couple of months or something. I’m sure it makes perfect sense.) Peter stops the burgler by diving in the path of the bullet meant to kill Uncle Ben but it ricochets, killing the burgler instead. How ironic.

Tired of killing murderers, Peter throws the costume away, vowing to be Nova no more and leaving a powerful weapon for just anyone to find. Also he forgot that the costume allowed him to walk again, so he falls to the ground. Hopefully into the path of a truck. Oy.

Finally, we come to the best of the four, Evil Cigar Nova. Guy doesn’t have a name but he hangs out on a satellite with Doctor Doom, the Red Skull and the Sphinx. And no, I have no idea who the Sphinx is. I guess he’s a big cosmic guy or something. Anyway, everyone’s really happy because thanks to Evil Cigar Nova, these four guys have killed all the super heroes on Earth. It’s a pretty special day.

So, after an awkward toast to himself, Nova goes to bed and everyone and their dog tries to kill him. First Doom, then the Skull. It’s sad really. Evil Cigar Nova just wants some recognition for a job well done. He’s also perfectly willing to work with history’s greatest monsters. But they just can’t see past their own egos.

Finally, everyone gets killed by the Sphinx who can now turn his attention to wiping out half of humanity in his search for the one person on Earth who can kill him. Seriously, that’s his goal. I just… I’m not super clear on what’s happening here.

Anyway, it turns out the only one who could kill him was Nova. And now Nova’s dead! More Rod Serling shit!**

*Did you guys know it was Rod Serling? I thought it was Sterling for years! Nuff said! – Marvelous Matt!

 

**I also thought his first name was Rob! It isn’t.

What if they found a way for me to give a shit about pre-eyepatch Nick Fury?

If there’s one thing I don’t know (or care, frankly) about, it’s Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos. War’s been an important genre of comics up til… I think like the eighties but nobody gives a shit about it anymore, least of all me. So how do you make me want to read a war comic about Nick Fury? Put it in space! Or, I guess, have Garth Ennis write it. That usually does the trick too.

So, we open on Space Station Pearl, on December 7, 1941. In the Hawaiian part of space, I assume. While Sgt. Nick Fury and his good buddy Red Hargrove are playing cards and talking about… I dunno, either space women or stuff from the 1940s, the story goes back and forth, Uatu shows up with his usual big box of exposition.

“I hear you wondering, O reader at home” He says, drawing my attention to the fact that he is not wearing pants. “How is it 1941 and yet we have spaceships and stuff? Why is Space Station Pearl about to be bombed by interstellar lizard men from the other side of the sun? The hell is going on?” Good questions all, but mostly I’m just wondering if we’re gonna get to see Fury lose his eye in space? That sounds AMAZING.

So here’s the deal: Back in the renaissance, Leonardo Da Vinci drew a helicopter. In our reality, he didn’t build it because it wouldn’t work so he got back to painting people and co-starring in Assassin’s Creed games. In this reality, it DID work, ushering in a world where all of technology was invented way sooner. This results in man landing on the moon (in paper spaceships, I assume) in the 1600s and traveling outside our own galaxy in 1903. It’s actually pretty fucking awesome.

So, back on the Space Station Pearl, lizard aliens attack and Fury and Hargrove spring into action, shooting lasers and smoking in the space helmets. This is a recurring theme in this issue and I never stop finding it hilarious.

In fact, just when the laughter from Fury’s stogie starts to die down, he and Hargrove find their commanding officer Sam Sawyer dying, a pipe still clutched in his teeth. How is this even a little useful? Far be it from me to judge the Greatest Generation.

With his dying breath, Sawyer begs Fury to lead the new team of commandos Sawyer was building because (I assume.) he knew that the attack on Pearl Station would result in Earth finally entering Space World War I But Earth World War II Except We Aren’t Warring On Earth And This Whole Thing Is Getting Confusing.

We jump forward a couple of months to Fury and his new Howling Commandos training with some fighting robots. In addition to Fury and Hargrove, we also meet Dum Dum Dugan, a circus strongman* who wears a bowler hat inside his space helmet. Seriously, it just keeps being funny. There’s also Gabriel Jones and his bugle that shoots a laser when he blows into it. Through his space helmet.

Apparently, our laser bugle designers were uninformed that AIR CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO GO IN AND OUT OF A FUCKING SPACE HELMET. IT’S LITERALLY THE THING’S ONLY JOB. There’s some other guys too (including a cowboy space guy with a gun that shoots lassos for some reason.) but who cares? They’re basically the “And the rest” guys.

So Fury takes the Commandos to meet their new commanding officer and everyone’s pretty mad when it turns out to be a super computer because space.

Fury tries to pick a fight with it but the Super Computer attacks him with a robot who sprays Fury with freeze gas. The computer then gives them their assignment. The evil Beta Aliens are planning to attack the station so Fury and co. are on 24 space hour guard until they show. And Hargroves’ a pilot now for some reason. Fine.

So now we cut over to the Beta Aliens’ ship, where the Master Betan guides his fleet towards the Earth space station. See, it turns out that the Betans have a spy in the Earth’s guard. I wonder who it could be? Certainly not the bald be-monocled Baron Admiral Strucker who was a promising Nazi until Earth decided to skip the Holocaust and fight aliens instead. Which is definitely MY preference.

However, Strucker’s got a plan of his own. He’s playing both sides of the fence, hoping to lure the Betans into a war they can’t win and then take over Earth for the Nazis. I assume he also plans to reinvent Nazism but one thing at a time.

So, the Betans attack and Hargrove and his team of fighter pilots get into a pretty fucking kick-ass space battle. Unfortunately all of Hargrove’s buddies are slaughtered but he manages to eject so it all works out. For him, anyway. His friends are all dead.

Meanwhile, the Howling Commandos and their robot buddy awake from sleep duty to attempt to defend the space station. Mostly though, they just get knocked around by lasers. The robot is buried under some crap but Nick and Gabe save it, winning its friendship.

At this point, the robot tells Fury that Admiral Strucker is a traitor, although I personally have no idea how it knew and I just read this fucking comic twenty minutes ago. They go to arrest Strucker but he attacks them with his team of Aryan Supermen. Because of course.

Eventually, Fury kicks Strucker out an airlock and the Commandos beat the holy shit out of the Aryan Supermen. Fuck you AND your blonde smugness, A-holes.

There’s some more space fighting, the Betans are blown up to death, Hargrove is saved and the robot is randomly killed by space debris. Just as he and Nick were bonding too. It’s sad.

The war won(?), Fury and co. report back to their computer commanding officer who applauds them for winning the war but also tells them they are loose cannons who should do things more by the book. Fury shoots him with a space bugle.

At no point, does Fury lose an eye and need it to be replaced by a robot eye. A missed opportunity if I ever heard one.

*Yes, there are still circuses in a world where we’ve mastered interstellar travel. I’m as upset as you are. Ugh.

 

What If Conan Did The Stuff He Always Did But Also Smacked A Car With A Sword?

Know, O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities and the years of the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of… about which I know very little due to never having read any Marvel Conan comics.

So this week we, and the fattest Watcher I’ve seen in a What If comic travel back in time to the Hyperboria Age where we find Conan entering some city so he can get laid and maybe join an adventuring party in a nearby tavern. He gets about as far as the tavern when a local wench slips him a mickey and wraps him in a rug. If only he hadn’t dressed so provocatively in… nothing.

So the wench takes Conan to a nearby pyramid (the Hyperboria Age was lousy with them.) where he encounters a ridiculous sorceror with a funnel on his head. The sorcerer, whose name like everything else in this stupid fantasy setting is completely unpronouncable, shows Conan and the Wench his magic well. Apparently, this guy found a well that sends stuff through time. He puts something in and something cool comes out. We aren’t shown any actual examples but trust Funnel Head on this one.

So Funnel Head pops Conan in the well’s bucket, and also the wench while he’s at it because fuck it, why not? Who knows what cool time stuff I’ll get from a hairless naked guy and some lady? Probably… like… future money or something.

So down goes Conan and wench. Luckily, the mysterious well energies begin to rot the ropes that Conan is tied up with for some reason. Since nothing else is affected by this, we can assume the well was full of rope-rotting rays. Man, magic is stupid. Conan is able to save the wench but the rope rotting rays do their thing and Conan drops into the well and into time.

He arrives, Howard the Duck style, in 1970s New York in a world he never made. It is a strange and terrifying land of fired punk rock bands and abusive old ladies who are promptly stuffed in garbage cans. Eventually everyone gets fed up with the giant naked man with the big sword who keeps yelling at people and the police are called.

Conan makes his escape and is saved when he tries to attack a young lady’s taxi cab. Young Dannette takes pity on the big red idiot and stuffs him in the back of her cab and takes him home. This is also how I met my wife.

Meanwhile, all over New York, magic lightening from Conan’s time is striking things and causing a huge power outage all over the city. The people of New York decide to use this as an excuse to get to rioting.

Back at Danni’s appartment, she and Conan are getting their sex on. So far they have spoken maybe one word to each other that either of them understands, but hot couch sex knows no language. Conan is bathing in afterglow when there comes a crash from the furniture store under Danni’s appartment. It’s the Foot Clan, post-beating up Raphael and ready to burn down April’s antique store. Actually, it’s just those fucking rioters from before. Conan goes downstairs and beats the shit out of them. He also tips over a volkswagon beetle. Presumedly, in the traditon of George Mallory, because it was there.

The shop saved from having its rattan furniture stolen, Conan and Danni return upstairs to look at books. Luckily, Danni shows Conan a picture of the Guggenheim Art Museum, which just happens to look a lot like the pyramid that Conan was in before he went on his most excellent adventure through time. Danni drives Conan to the Guggenheim so they can investigate a little. Also the lobby probably has a couple of sex couches.

They arrive at the museum to find the door open. Turns out the place is being robbed because of course it fucking is. Conan tries to go easy on the art thieves until one of them shoots him. And then he brutally murders them all. Like… Jesus.

At this point, the cops show up and Conan beats cheeks to the roof where he waves his sword at the sky like one of the monkies from A Space Oddessy. The cops are about to shoot him down when he’s struck by lightening and transported back to his own time for some reason. This done, he handily defeats Funnel Head and whatever scheme he’s… Oh, excuse me. Actually he completely forgets about whatever Funnel Head was doing and just rides his horse out of town.  The End.

So what would happen if Conan walked the Earth today? Looks like he’d beat up a bunch of people, get laid and then leave. Basically what he was doing back home. I… actually, I can kind of respect that.

What If the Hulk Needed A Place To Hang Out?

fuckandyes:

What If Rick Jones had become the Hulk?

Okay, I was fully expecting to hate this one. First because, goddamnit, I was promised a tale of Conan walking the earth in the 1970s and that sounds fucking awesome. Secondly, because seriously fuck Rick Jones. My dislike of this character has been fully documented in a couple of these things so I basically went into What If 12 with a bug up my ass, ready to hate it. Luckily, this turned out to be one of the better issues I’ve read so far.

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We’ve seen this opening before, way back in Incredible Hulk 1 or possibly less way back in Forbidden to Interfere 2. This time around, Doc Bruce Banner drives out to save shitty teenage Archie stand-in Rick Jones only to have the little shit save him instead. Rick knocks Bruce into safety of the gamma radiation proof five foot deep concrete trench and is bathed with green radiation. He seems fine so Bruce drives him back to the military base to see how much of Rick’s body is now pure cancer.
Turns out to be none. None cancer. In fact, Rick seems fine until the sun goes down, at which point Rick turns into the Hulk. Specifically swinging sixties this-is-what-Stan-and-Jack-thought-teenagers-sound-like Hulk. It’s hilarious.

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Seriously, I had to fight hard to not just have every picture in this thing be shots of Rick Hulk calling Banner a square.

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Anyway, Rick Hulk escapes into the night and Bruce gives chase. The Rick is spotted by General Thunderbolt Ross but he sneaks away using all the stealth power of a giant green greaser and hides in the desert. Banner eventually finds him but Ross never does. He’s eventually shipped back to Washington to fill out paperwork, dreams of wasting taxpayer money throwing tanks at the Hulk washed away.

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Meanwhile, the Rick is about to smash the holy hell out of puny square Banner when the sun comes up. Bruce takes Rick to a secret underwater base out in the desert(?) where he can keep Rick stashed during the night while Bruce works on a cure during the day. It would actually be a pretty good plan if not for the fact that Loki decides that the best way to get revenge on Thor is to free the Hulk and then get him to blow up a bridge. Apparently Loki tricking the Hulk into blowing up a bridge is pretty standard across the multiverse.

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Anyway, long story short. Hulk joins Avengers, beats up Loki, beats up Space Phantom, quits Avengers. At exactly that moment of Avengers quitting, Banner shows up and zaps Rick Hulk with his new cure laser. It turns Hulk back into Rick permanently. That done, Bruce ditches Rick to return to the exciting field of comic book science.

We jump forward a couple of months to Rick randomly wandering around New York when he happens to come across Captain America getting his ass whipped by Hydra* Agents. But while these mighty foes may be a threat to the Living Legend of World War II, they’re no match for a whiny harmonica player. Rick helps Cap defeat them and in return Cap agrees to train Rick to be the new Bucky. This seems like it’d be an important twist in the story but don’t be fooled. On a mission to fight more random Hydra guys, Rick Hulks out again and runs away. The fact that this issue of What If does not feature the Hulk dressed as Bucky is a huge missed opportunity.

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So Rick runs away again and we jump forward another couple of months (Does Captain America come looking for his new sidekick? No, he does not.) to more random wandering. Say what you will about this issue, it certainly keeps alive the tradition of sad Hulk wandering. Suddenly, an image of Captain America appears guiding Rick to some strange bracelets. He puts them on because this is a superhero comic and is instantly contacted by Kree hero Captain Marvel. Marvel tells Rick that he must bang the bracelets together and when he does, Rick is transported to the Negative Zone. Which is basically space but you can breathe there. Which is lucky because Rick needs to breathe.** Marvel goes on to explain that Rick will only have to stay in the Negative Zone for three hours before he is swapped back and that he will be safe in the Negative Zone. Which is an outright lie because then Rick is attacked by giant metal bug monster Annihilus.

Huh. Really? Annihilus is in my googledocs spell checker? Alright then.

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So Rick is getting his ass whipped by Annihilus when he suddenly blasts the ugly sonnuvabitch with new mind powers and is then rescued by a hideous giant green head. It’s the Supreme Intelligence! Ruler of the Kree Empire and gross thing! The Supreme Intelligence needs Rick’s special brain to stop a war with the Skrulls! Which happens off panel and ends with Rick bushed out on the ground. Rick finally returns to Earth and hooks up with a foxy lady named Lou Anne. He also tells Captain Marvel where to stick it because he’s frankly tired of always having to go to space. And frankly I don’t blame him. Kid’s been having a weird year.

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Eventually Captain Marvel is forced to return when Rick is attacked at the lab of Professor Savannah (No, not the one you’re thinking of. Different Captain Marvel.) by a large gold man. He too is defeated off panel and Rick returns to the Negative Zone. This time, Lou Anne visits with Dr Banner and the two of them go to get help from Reed Richards, the only guy who knows anything about the Negative Zone. Bruce brings his giant Hulk shooting laser again.

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Back in the Negative Zone, Rick has ended up in another fight with Annihilus, who is clearly stalking the little bastard. Rick turns into the Hulk again and he and Annihilus beat on each other for a while. Eventually, Bruce and Reed are able to zap Rick with the Hulk Laser, this time seperating Rick and Hulk into two people. While Rick is rescued by Reed and his gross stretchy arm, Hulk uses the martial arts he learned from Captain America to kick Annihilus into an asteroid where he explodes to death.

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Rick returns to Earth, freed of the Hulk, Captain Marvel, Captain America, the Fantastic Four and various other Marvel super heroes and is able to freely date his attractive lady-friend, while playing the harmonica in places a harmonica ought not be played. In the Negative Zone, Hulk is worshipped as a hero and gets to jump around on flying rocks. A solid win for everybody!

 

*Hydra does not stand for anything.

**Rick’s needed to breathe oxygen since his first apparence in Irritating Baby Comics #1, True Believers! -Marvelous Matt

 

What If the Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become the Fantastic Four?

Okay, this is a weird one. Firstly, because it features the Fantastic Four as played by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Flo Steinberg and Sol Brodsky (the latter I am only vaguely aware of from reading Sean Howe’s excellent Marvel: The Untold Story). Secondly, this one is written, inked and drawn by Jack Kirby. According to the backmatter, this was the first time Jack had worked on the FF in eight years. Pretty cool.

So we open on the new FF on some island somewhere doing battle with an evil troll monster. They are searching the island for Dr Murrow (You get it? Do you get it?), a scientist who may be able to help them in their search for the mysterious “S” People. Unfortunately, after Flo uses her invisible forcefield to get the evil troll monster to kill himself, they discover the creature actually was Murrow. How ironic. Tragic. Whatever.

The FF decide to explore Murrow’s INCREDIBLY AWESOME KIRBY LAB to see if there’s any clue to why he turned into a troll, how he got a ray gun and why he was trying to kill Jack Kirby. Trying to kill Stan Lee is less shocking.

After some digging, Flo manages to find a mysterious pinging box which she pulls out to show Stan. It instantly begins bombarding them with more fucking cosmic rays so they break it. Fuck you, Box. That’s what happens when you mess with the new Fantastic Four!

At this point, Kirby Watcher yells at we, the readers at home to tell us how these strange new heroes came to be. Namely someone dropped off a present for them at the Marvel Bullpen. Flo and Jack open it and everyone is bombarded by cosmic rays. Luckily, Jack shows us what a kid learns growing up on the mean streets of New York and beats it to death with a shoe.

They’re about to write it off as a prank from some damn college kids when Jack starts changing into the Thing. At this point, I should point out that the actual Fantastic Four comic is currently coming out. Nobody, including the Watcher, mentions that this is kind of bizarre.

Soon the other three begin to transform. Flo becomes invisible, Sol bursts into flames, ruining some original Kirby art, nice one, Sol and Stan becomes all creepy and stretchy. If you were wondering what would make Mr. Fantastic’s powers more unsettling, I can happily tell you that having them be wielded by a guy with a mustache does the trick quite nicely.

They examine the remains of the box and find a note on it reading “Greetings! Open this box and experience the ultimate fantasy! – The “S” People. Before you ask, it’s not Superman. I thought it was gonna be Superman and this would turn out to be a loving poke at the distinguished competition but it’s not that clever. It’s not Superman. Damnit.

So this new Fantastic Four sets out to have some adventures and beat up a bunch of weird half human monsters that have also been changed by the “S” People. Many of them are murdered. Do not cross Seventies Era Stan Lee. It’s at this point that we cut back to the present as the FF return from the island of Dr Murrow. Kirby is angry and changes back to his human form. So if you were hoping this issue of What If featured some hot half naked Kirby action, you are in luck, my friend!

After discovering that the “S” People are from space (Still not Superman.), they head in the exact opposite direction, taking Stan Lee’s submarine under the sea. Their plan: to visit the Sub Mariner! Who, a caption box helpfully informs us, exists in this insane universe along with some other unnamed super villains.

The FF arrives at Namor’s underwater palace where they are promptly captured. Namor shows up wearing a HUGE KIRBY CROWN and yells a little, as is his wont. He shows them his own box that was apparently delivered. Hopefully also in colourful wrapping with a friendly note. Stan tells Namor to destroy it. “Good idea!” shouts Namor, crushing it like a shoe wielding comic artist.

Kirby gets pissed off and breaks free and then we get to watch Stan Lee blow himself up like a balloon to take a punch from the Sub Mariner. This comic is fucking weird, guys.

Everyone calms down when Flo yells at them and they explain themselves to Namor. Namor goes over to his handy alien detector field thing to find out if there are any present delivering aliens around. Turns out there is! One of Namor’s guards is actually a fiendish Skrull! Get it? Skrull? They were the “S” People. Clearly the S was not for subtlety. The Skrull escapes by turning into a giant hideous pink whale and the FF and Namor give chase.

They follow the hideous whale back to the Skrull’s undersea base and Namor and Jack wreck up the place. Then Stan shoots it with a giant laser rifle, destroying the building and brutally murdering all who dwell within. Excelcior!

The Skrulls all dead, the FF return home, sad that they will never be normal again but glad that they can continue to help the world with their powers. Hopefully in this universe, being a giant orange rock monster means that everyone will be too scared to cheat Kirby out of millions of dollars.

 

What If Some Random 1950s Marvel Characters Decided To Randomly Call Themselves The Avengers?

So, in a thrilling change from the last eight issues, we open with the Watcher. This time, however, instead of a thrilling and mysterious alternate reality, he just shows us Iron Man calling together some random Avengers to watch TV. Uatu invites all of us viewers at home to pull up a couch and watch a bunch of old Marvel characters from the 50s hang out together. Uh, after a splash page about stuff from the fifties featuring N

So we open with Jimmy Woo, FBI Agent and Asian-American which is pretty cool for a comic from the 50s, considering he’s just treated like a regular competent guy. Jimmy’s in an ongoing fight with… oh dear, the Yellow Claw. The Yellow Claw’s your basic Fu Manchu rip-off character, trying to dominate the world and making everyone uncomfortable. He’s also teamed up with an ex-nazi named Van Horstbaden to take over the United States, the Orient and then the world in that order.

Jimmy, meanwhile, recruits himself a bunch of great well-known super heroes like Marvel Boy, the pantsless wonder from Uranus! Gorilla-Man: The Gorilla Who Used To Be A Man And Is Now Basically The Thing Ten Years Early. Venus: The sheet wearing goddess of love! The Living Robot: Not actually living but immune to sarcasm!  And 3D Man: Two guys made into one guy with the strength of three guys. Math! Together they are the Avengers!

With that revelation, we cut back to Iron Man’s rec room where his gathered buddies realize why they’ve been watching this whole thing. There was apparently a group of super-heroes in the 1950s who called themselves Avengers for no particular reason (The robot thought it was a good idea.) and who haven’t tried to sue the current Avengers for some reason. Beast asks again “Seriously, why are we watching this?” and Iron Man hits play again.

So we jump forward a month to the Yellow Claw plotting to kidnap Dwight Eisenhower from his golf course using a bunch of random super villains. And a brainwashed super hero called Cold Warrior. There’s Electro (Not that Electro, another Electro. This one’s Russian.), the Great Video, a masked magician who got x-ray vision from an explosion and Skull-Face, a skeleton in a purple robe who is the greatest of all. Together, they kidnap Eisenhower down a hole.

Jimmy follows the President and summons the Avengers, who are arguing and picking fights with one another in the great tradition of Marvel characters. When they hear Eisenhower is in danger, they burst out the door, yelling the battle cry they all voted on: Go, Avengers, Go. Must have been up all night working on that one.

The Avengers follow Jimmy’s signal to the Washington Monument, bust in and fight for five  pages. It’s pretty standard, except for the part where the awesome Skull-Face bites Marvel Boy, cursing him to turn into a Were-Skull-Face every full moon. Also Cold Warrior freezes Venus in ice but the power of love frees her, proving once again to be a curious thing.

Finally, the Avengers prove to be bad enough dudes to free the President but the Yellow Claw escapes, leaving behind only an exploding Yellow Claw dummy to fool Jimmy. Eisenhower thanks the Avengers for saving him and then orders them to disband because… communism. Whatever. Marvel Boy takes Gorilla Man back to Uranus.

Back in the present, the regular Avengers realize why Iron Man showed them this video. Because all of them are sort of like the 50s Avengers. Kind of. I guess. Like, Iron Man’s sort of like Human Robot. And the Beast is a furry guy like Gorilla Man. It’s kind of a stretch and Tony is fired from getting to pick movie nights anymore. Then we cut back to the Watcher who tells us this was maybe an alternate future or maybe not and maybe we’ll see these guys again or maybe not, I dunno, forbidden to interfere, yaddda yadda yadda, go read Agents of Atlas, the end.

What If the World Knew Daredevil Was Blind?

After a brief lesson on who Daredevil is (Matt Murdock) and how he came to be (Belted by gamma rays) from the Watcher, we cut to a crime already in progress. It’s Electro, current star of a weak Spider-Man movie and big flappy mask owner! Apparently he was really into stealing cars until his arch-nemesis(?) Daredevil broke it up. Electro escapes by cunningly climbing a pole and resolves to rob the Fantastic Four instead. Because what do you do when you graduate from car theft? Rob the high security home of the most well-known super hero team on the planet!

Luckily for Electro, the FF are out of town receiving a prestigious award for failing to contribute anything to science despite Reed Richards being able to cure cancer on his day off. Everything’s going according to plan and Electro is just about to load the FF’s giant TV into his van when Daredevil and Spider-Man both happen to show up. Fucking typical. Everything’s going fine until Electro attempts to blind Daredevil with a flash of electricity, only to discover that nothing happens. This, combined with Daredevil’s sudden complete inability to lie, leads Electro to realize that Daredevil is blind.

Daredevil and Spidey leave Electro tied up for the cops and then Daredevil confesses to Spidey that yes, he’s a blind guy with super senses. Spidey rudely interrupts to recount his own origin (Dude, nobody asked.), insult DD’s costume (“Yeah, it LOOKS like a blind guy designed it.”) and then fucks off. “Everything will probably be fine!” he says as he swings away. What a dick.

The next day, while in court, Electro reveals to the world that Daredevil is blind. The Daily Bugle runs with the story (“Blind People: Heroes or Menaces?”) and soon everyone’s talking about it. We cut across the river where Daredevil villain and Penguin rip-off the Owl schemes in his giant owl-shaped house.

“If Daredevil is blind, he must have other special senses to get around with.” The Owl deduces, hastily stashing a copy of “The Complete Handbook to the Marvel Universe D-E”. “I can use this in my needlessly complicated plan to also have my own enslaved lawyer, Matt Murdock, who I randomly chose out of the phone book. Seriously.”

So the Owl shows up at Nelson and Murdock’s law offices to kidnap Matt when Daredevil bursts in (In a slick new red costume, having been shamed by Spider-Jerk.). Unluckily for DD, the Owl has installed a giant hooting farting robot at Nelson and Murdock, overwhelming Daredevil’s senses.

At that moment, future porn star, heroin addict and fake AIDS haver Karen Page arrives, further distracting Daredevil and allowing the Owl to escape. He vows to return with an even more needlessly elaborate plan and much larger stinking owl robots. Karen runs to Daredevil, quickly deducing that he’s her boss Matt Murdock because there are suddenly WAAAAAY too many blind people running around for this to be a coincidence. Karen vows to keep Matt’s identity a secret and Matt vows to make out with Karen in his Daredevil costume just as Foggy Nelson and the cops arrive. Foggy leaves, sad. HE wanted to make out with Karen.

A few weeks later, Karen mentions to Matt that she’s been in correspondence with Doctor Van Eyck, an eye specialist formally of Boston and now living in a tiny medevial country somewhere vaguely in Europe called Lichtenbad. Karen thinks the Doctor can cure Matt’s blindness. Matt argues that being able to see might also cure him of being Daredevil but Karen reminds him that nobody thinks he’s special any more and they head out, leaving Foggy Nelson behind confused and lovelorn as usual. Poor dumb dope.

Matt and Karen arrive in Lictenbad on a plane with the country’s dictatorial ruler and Matt’s former classmate Duke Klaus Kruger who is almost assassinated at the airport and then karate chops his assassin to death. That out of the way, he drops Matt and Karen off at the eye doctor.

Matt’s super hearing reveals to him that basically everyone in Lichenbad is planning to rebel against the Duke and his army of chainmail robots. Matt wants to help but Karen reminds him he has an eye doctor appointment. Luckily, the problem basically fixes itself when Kruger has the doctor and Matt arrested for seemingly no reason.

Matt quickly changes to Daredevil and then beats up the Duke until there is freedom. Unfortunately, the Duke is a bit of a sore loser and plans to flood the entire Earth with radiation just because he lost his shitty little country. Daredevil is able to disarm the giant radiation flood device (Not shaped like an owl, alas.) but get dosed with radiation, robbing him of his powers for some reason. At this point, Van Eyck removes Daredevil’s bandages, revealing that Matt can see now. Phew. That’s handy. Also Doctor Van Eyck manages to figure out that Matt is Daredevil because seriously look at all these blind people suddenly here.

Matt and Karen return home only to find that a famous judge has been kidnapped by the Owl. The judge was previously responsible for sentencing the Owl to jail and now the Owl wants to hold a trial for the judge on Owl Island in his giant Owl House. He gets Matt Murdock to defend the judge. All of this is needlessly ridiculous and I’m starting to think the Owl might be an idiot.

Matt does his best to defend the judge but the Owl’s pretty into his revenge plot so Matt calls his next witness. Daredevil. Then he runs away and hides. A few seconds later, Daredevil busts in. “Luckily, I got Matt Murdock to safety!” he says. Seriously, how did everyone not find out who Daredevil was years ago? Are you ALL fucking idiots?

So Owl turns on his hooting farting robot but now DD has no super senses to blind so that doesn’t work. Owl escapes and, after getting the judge to safety, Daredevil follows. In the next room, the Owl reveals his new giant non-farting robot owl that he was going to use to explode the judge with for some reason. The robot owl attacks Daredevil but DD manages to beat up the non-robot owl and then he and the judge ride it (the robot owl) to safety. Afterwards it explodes.

So, the regular Owl defeated and all the robot owls destroyed, Matt Murdock finally reveals to the world that he is Daredevil before literally everyone figures it out for themselves. He quits being Daredevil and instead runs for DA, winning in a landslide. Meanwhile, Foggy Nelson cries some more. HE wanted to be DA.

There’s also a short back-up feature called What If A Spider Had Been Bitten By A Radioactive Man that features the ‘mazing Man-Spider battling the can of Raid that killed his uncle. It’s not as good

What If Someone Else Had Been Bitten By The Radioactive Spider And Also That Person Designed A Hideous Costume?

It’s a quiet night in New York as the Watcher creepily observes Spider-Man swinging around New York and talking to himself, as is his wont. Just then, Spidey observes a tiny Mexican boy attempting to fall to his death from a high building. I note the boy’s race because GOOD LORD, does the comic make a big deal about it.

“Ohhhhh-” says the kid. “It is El Hombre Arana! You have saved me! Gracias!” He then invites Spidey back home for dinner. Spidey declines because he doesn’t want to try to eat refried beans through his mask. Wow.

Anyway, none of this actually matters, it just does what What If does best. Namely killing pages. Then we get the Watcher telling us the usual “Hey, alternate realities. What’s that about? Ever wondered what would happen if someone who wasn’t Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider?”

Then we get a Simpsons Halloween Special style three parter, starting with Flash Thompson busting in on Pete’s science experiment. Apparently someone told him that science experiments involving radiation were great places to pick up swinging chicks and harrass sweater vest fans. Everyone knows what happens next. Radiation. Spider. Bite.

Flash leaves with a pair of ladies while Peter investigates the dead radioactive spider. “Hmm! This spider absorbed a lot of radiation. Maybe I should keep it for no particular reason.” Meanwhile, Flash and his girlfriends head home when they are menaced by a speeding car, which Flash quickly beats up. Instantly realizing that he has gained super powers from the spider bite, he drags the girls to a near-by wrestling area so he can beat up what appears to be a giant naked baby for a hundred bucks.

Alas, all does not go as planned as Flash accidentally snaps the monstrous baby’s horribly thick pink neck. Whoops. The police arrive and Flash flees into the night through an open window. Luckily, he discovers that he can crawl on walls now since the arena is like fourteen stories up(?)

Finding himself on a nearby building, shirtless, a murderer and alone, Flash vows to never be caught by the police. He also vows to become a superhero to make up for what he did to that poor innocent wrestler. The wrestler’s family does not feature in our tale but if they did, I’m sure they’d take solace in the fact that their father and husband’s murderer was roaming the streets free and stopping muggers.

Flash breaks into a costume shop where he sews himself a costume and names himself “Captain Spider.”


 

Well, that’s just embarrasing.

 

Captain Spider (sigh) sets about defeating the criminals of New York, basically covering everyone that regular Spidey fought in his own comics. He easily defeats both the Chameleon and the Tinkerer. It’s only when the Vulture: Angry Old Man of the Sky arrives that he faces real trouble.

Captain Spider witnesses some typical thugs stealing a bird statue from a run-of-the-mill bird statue store. He’s about to intervene when the Vulture arrives to steal it himself, clearly taking a page from how themed crime works in Gotham City. Captain Spider and the Vulture fight before Vulture flies the Captain up into the sky and then bonks him on the head with the statue.Captain Spider falls to the ground, dying on impact, finally avenging the death of Crusher Hogan.

That unplesantness out of the way, we turn our attention back to the science experiment again and new protagonist Betty Brant. For the uninformed, Betty’s J Jonah Jameson’s secretary at the Daily Bugle. Why a secretary is covering a science experiment is not important right now. What IS important is that Betty is bitten by a radioactive spider. Peter Parker is also there and suavely uses this tragedy to make his move, taking Betty out for coffee.

At the coffee shop, Pete gets Betty angry and she accidentally smashes a table to pieces. Embarrassing. Fortunately for all concerned, Peter knows a superhero origin when he sees one and takes Betty home so he can dress her in a leotard and make her lift heavy objects while he makes notes. Odd boy, our Peter.

After some observation, Peter and Betty realize that Betty now has spider strength, speed and stickiness and they decide that Betty should become a superhero because why not. Betty, fearing her new strength, resolves to never actually use it. Which is fine, I guess. Peter promises to build her a set of web shooters anyway, so whatever. While he’s doing that, Betty sews herself the ugliest alternate Spider-Man costume since… definitely since Captain Spider’s. Back at the coffee shop, a lone barista mourns the death of his beloved table.

 

So Peter and Betty get themselves a pretty sweet gig, Betty fighting crime as Spider-Girl and Peter getting pictures to sell to the Bugle. It’s all going fine until they stumble on a burgler escaping from the cops. Unfortunately, Betty’s all out of web fluid and dares not use her spider strength to stop the villain. Come on, Betts. I know you’re both new at this but it’s a simple burglar. This is cime fighting 101. Jeez.

So the burgler escapes and SHOCK FOLLOWS SHOCK immediately goes out and kills Peter’s Ben. WHO COULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING? ONLY I, THE WONDEROUS WATCHER! AND I AIN’T TELLING CAUSE I’M A BIG JERK. While Peter weeps and tries to keep Aunt May from her thirty-second heart attack, Betty goes to the docks to arrest the Burglar. She discovers that he’s the guy she and Peter didn’t stop that morning, realizes that with great power must come great responsibility and resolves to NEVER BE SPIDER-GIRL AGAIN.

Uh… I don’t think that’s the lesson to be learned here, guys.

So finally we come to our last story, and also hopefully, the last time we need to go to this boring fucking science experiment. This time, it’s J Jonah Jameson’s son John who gets bitten and everyone figures out that he has powers pretty much right away. Which is good because I do not need to see another “Oh my god, I have spider powers” scene today. Jonah convinces his son to use his powers to become a superhero while Jonah plays up his heroics in the Daily Bugle. And thus is born… SPIDER JAMESON.

It just keeps getting worse.

So then we cut to the Bugle where Peter Parker is trying to get a job. Jameson isn’t interested until he and John notice that the spaceship that John was supposed be flying before he resigned from the Air Force is now crashing. Spider Jameson leaps into action, flying his jetpack (Yes, Spider Jameson has a jetpack.) to the shuttle’s location. JJ and Peter follow in Jameson’s car.

Spider Jameson manages save the shuttle by cushioning it with his stupidly dressed body. He dies a hero, with JJ there telling his son he’s proud of him. It’s a beautiful, touching scene only marred by the sounds of the dying shuttle pilot begging to be freed.

At the funeral, JJ unveils a giant gold statue to his dead son and then tells Peter that he’s going to use his newspaper to help all other superheroes that he finds. Pete fails to sell him photos of his son’s smooshed corpse.

So, after all these stories wrap up, we cut back to the Watcher, showing us Peter Parker working in his basement. “Behold!” says the Watcher. “This shit is happening in all three of these universes! Peter Parker recovered the corpse of that radioactive spider! Can you believe it?”

Sure enough, Pete experiments on the radioactive spider and is able to produce from the a serum that can give the spider powers that he never actually got in the first place. Once again, Spider-Man patrols the streets of New York, only this time he’s a crappy rip-off and nobody likes him!