Last time, as you’ll recall or can just go and read about, Professor Erskine, creator of Captain America’s super soldier serum was not killed by anyone at all. Instead, the serum was made available to the US Army, giving them an advantage over all other countries which they used to make the world a better place. Ha, I kid of course. The US has conquered the Earth, with an evil racist President Steve Rogers in command. But the day might somehow be saved if Alan Moore beard Namor can save the real Captain America from being worshipped by sterotypes!
Luckily, he can! Namor quickly rescues the frozen patriotcicle before being shot in the back by Frank Castle in an Iron Man costume. Luckily for Frank, in this universe, the squad of SHIELD hunters he works for all wear black costumes with big skulls on them, It’d be a shame to lose that look. Frank and his squad are escorting Cap and Namor back to Evil Empire HQ when Cap awakens and beats everyone up. Namor explains about how America is evil now mid-fight and Cap gets REALLY mad. Then Frank realizes that he’s a horrible monster and murders his squad mates and joins with Namor and Cap.
“You killed them!” Cap says.
“I punished them.” Frank replies. “Yeah, I like the sound of that. I’m some kind of… Iron Punisher.”
“Well, we’re just gonna call you Iron Man. Also don’t kill nobody.”
“Lame.” says Frank, the smell of still-burning friend in his nostrils.
Anyway, Captain America forms the Avengers and then goes to look for some guys to add to his team because three guys ain’t great. Luckily, Cap knows some guys to help who are inexplicably still alive and not decrepit after forty years. They start by heading to British Columbia, Canada (The 57th State apparently, and fuck you, Dictatorial America by the way.) to pick up Cap’s old friend, Logan. Unfortunately, this Logan never became the popular character Wolverine. Instead, he was cursed by an ancient Indian spirit to forever transform into the giant canabalistic monster know only as… the Hulk! Okay then. Everyone fights for a while because being a cannibal monster somehow made Logan MORE ornery. Also he hates Evil President Cap.
After the mandatory tustle, the Avengers add Wolverhulkdigo to their team. Next they go to Hank Pym’s house to pick him up. Because Cap… knows about him. Somehow. Unfortunately, Hank and his totally cannonical wife are already dead but it’s okay. They’ve arrived just in time for Sam “Never Got To Be The Falcon” Wilson who just happens to be robbing the place. Good representation there, Marvel. Cap offers Sam a place on the team despite Frank’s racist arguments. I guess Frank was under the impression we were returning freedom just to White America. No, Frank. No. No. No. So Cap gives Sam Hank Pym’s giant man pills and Sam becomes what I am really pleased is not called Black Goliath. No, he’s just regular Giant Man.
With their awesome team assembled, Cap’s Avengers begin their raid on the SHIELD helicarrier. It’s really REALLY easy since Frank’s passcodes allow them to walk right in. They’re barely there for five minutes when they basically trip over a bunch of SHIELD guys torturing Thor of all people. Well, a quick rescue attempt and we’ve got our complete team. Except for any women at all but who’s counting? With the Avengers all together, Cap goes off to find Professor Erskine who is still alive and has been holding the super soldier in his head for forty plus years. Cap takes him out of his bunker, turns on the tv and shows him the horror that is America.
“Nice one.” He tells the horrified professor.
Then Evil Steve appears and yeah, he’s totally the Red Skull. He just had his conciousness beamed into a Steve Rogers clone and then had Cap and the Howling Commandos’ boat destroyed. He allowed himself to be rescued by American troops and then slowly took over the country. What an asshole. Anyway, he and Cap fight, Erskine sacrifices himself to save Cap and then Cap… kills the Skull? Maybe. Anyway, with the Skull dead(?), the Avengers press their attack on the forces of SHIELD and… they all die. Every one of them. Except then the Watcher shows up and tells us everything worked out fine. Because that is exactly what happens when the leader of a dictatorship falls with nobody to prevent more dictatorial assholes to rush in and sieze power. So good job, Avengers!
This week, we travel back to that most well-known of crossover, Atlantis Attacks. And I honestly have no idea how this issue of What If could possibly improve upon it. Mostly because I had no idea what Atlantis Attacks was about, except for the stray issue that floated through the comic store I used to work at. Apparently, it begins with the Silver Surfer (a popular fellow around here recently.) battling some dude called Ghaur, some kind of blue… space wizard with an incredibly difficult name to spell. Ghaur had been turned into an intelligent gas and was briefly stole the Surfer’s power so he could become human again. But, like a blue human. I guess this is how Ghaur rolls.
Once he has returned to Earth, he sets about attempting to summon the giant snake demon Set by convincing the current leader of Atlantis Attuma to attack the surface. As if Atlantis ever needed an excuse to attack the surface. Most of the time, “Prince Namor has a winged boner* and wants to take another shot at the Invisible Woman.” will do in a pinch. The second part of Ghaur’s plan involves him kidnapping seven lady superheroes to be Set’s seven brides. You may recall the musical that was based on these events: “Seven Brides For Seven Screaming Demonic Snake Heads.” It won a Tony!
Next, Ghaur begins building his army by getting a bunch of drug addicts and infecting them with a serum that turns them into snake people. Unfortunately for him, there is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the grips of a serious snake god cult serum.
Finally Ghaur succeeds in summoning Set to Earth by uniting all of the Serpent Crowns in the multiverse which blesses him with a giant seven headed snake monster. Nice job, Ghaur! Why on Earth did you want this?
Problems arise and our reality sharply turns to this new one when
Namor is killed in a boating explosion like someone took out a mob hit on him.
The Punisher and Moon Knight fail to stop Ghaur from infecting New York’s drug fiends with Serpent Crack and are indeed themselves turned into snake men.
Thor fails to get his naked half-brother to help him protect Thor’s mother Gaea, the spirit of the Earth and the character Whoopi Goldberg played on Captain Planet.
Dr. Strange, the Thing, Thor and Quasar travel to Set’s home dimension hoping to lure the big gross jerk home but the Thing is eaten by a giant slug, Quasar is cast into eternity and Dr Strange is burned to death by slug fire. Yes, these giant slugs breathe fire. This is the worst place in the entire universe.
Back on Earth, the Avengers take a run at defeating Set and fail utterly. The Beast and the Wasp are both burned to death and then Set goes all Hungry Hungry Hippos, devouring Hank Pym and Ghaur. So at least that’s one problem solved! And also Ghaur is dead! Yeah, fuck you, Hank Pym.
The remaining superheroes mount an attack on Set and its remaining minions under the sea and they get their ASSES KICKED. Like, this shit is embarrassing. Somebody stabs Captain America in the back with a giant tuning fork. That is not how Captain America dies. He gets shot with a time bullet, obviously. The only survivor is Thor who gets his ass beat so badly he is cast out of the ocean
Back in New York, the armies of Set have infected the city’s water supply, transforming everyone into hilarious snake-headed monsters. Seriously, look at these guys. They’re ADORABLE.
In the Baxter Building, Thor regroups yet again with Rachel Grey, Doctor Doom, Wolverine, Sabretooth, the Grey Hulk, Cloak and somebody who I am told is the Aquarian but who I am pretty sure is Jesus Christ**. Most of these guys have been protected from the Snake Serum because of their healing factors and in Doom’s case because he only drinks his own urine, purified through his armour. This is my personal head canon. Deciding they have no other options, the remaining heroes resolve to kill Set’s brides so that they cannot birth Set’s unholy snake babies and also defeat Set once and for all. It’s not a great plan but let’s face it, aside from Doom and maybe Rachel, we aren’t talking a team of great thinkers here.
Meanwhile, in eternity, Quasar has been falling for several days. He eventually decides that this plan isn’t working the way he hoped, and stops falling, returning to the place of the giant slug battle. There he finds the remains of the Thing and also Dr Strange’s Eye of Agamotto. Then he yells for a while which helps nobody.
Back on Earth, the heroes make their two-pronged attack. Wolverine leads his squad to assassinate the brides of Set when they are attacked by an army of snake-headed superheroes and it is going to take a real effort not to just post pictures of these guys because they are hilarious. Look at snake Colossus. That’s just wonderful.
While the snake army is not much of a threat, the mind controlled brides pretty much ruin our boys. Storm incinerates Sabretooth with a lightening bolt, proving that Storm is the shit and Sabretooth is garbage. The Invisible Woman cuts off the Hulk’s air supply which forces him to return to Bruce Banner after which She-Hulk and Andromeda beat him to death. The Scarlet Witch changes Wolverine’s molecules into anti-matter and then throws him at Jesus and they both explode. Try coming back from that, Jesus! And finally, Cloak is bombarded with light energy and is sucked into his own shadow dimension. He looks sad but Cloak always looks kind of sad, so maybe this is okay for him.
Meanwhile, Thor and his buddies make their attack on Set. It doesn’t go well. Doom is burned to death by the serpent’s fiery breath but he goes out like a champ so it’s still pretty damn awesome.
While Rachel uses the Phoenix Force to blind and weaken Set, Thor tosses his hammer, splattering one of the monster’s seven heads. Then the Phoenix Force craps out and Rachel falls to the ground, shattering every bone in her body. Whoops.
Thor attacks Set some more but only ends up covered in fourth degree burns all over his body. He’s grabbed at the last second by that giant hand from Cabin in the Woods and dragged into the center of the Earth by his mother Gaea who keeps him frozen in carbonite for all eternity where he will be safe. Thanks, mom.
Then, because everyone else is dead or swallowing bird eggs whole, the Silver Surfer arrives and blows off another of Set’s heads. Nice one, Surfer. Where the hell was the amazing sense of timing twenty minutes ago when everyone was still alive?
Set knocks the Surfer for a loop and then Quasar shows up, fifty feet tall and pissed. He’s combined the Eye of Agamotto with his Quasar powers and also his Captain Universe powers and he’s also activated Rita Repulsa’s growth staff so now he’s ready for Whacking Day. Unfortunately, all he succeeds in doing is sucking himself and Set into the Eye where they will battle for all eternity. But Set is defeated! So that’s good, right?
Not so much. Each of Set’s seven brides give birth to a giant snake monster of their own who promptly devour their mothers and then set about eating every other snake hybrid on Earth, before slipping into other dimensions to begin the cycle again! So thanks for your heroic sacrifice, Quasar!
*Editor’s Note: Another name for Namor’s penis is Quetzalcoatl: The Winged Feathered Serpent!
**First appearance: The Bible, True Believers! In God!
This week’s story opens with the Vision and Starfox so I am seriously considering another delayed column. But no, I am a professional. In as much as I am not paid for writing this and nobody has asked me to do it so we press on. Our tale begins with the android Vision merging his mind with Isaac the Super-Computer of Titan. With sudden complete knowledge, Vision of course turns his attention to ruling the world by taking over all the computers, because of course.
In the original reality, the Avengers were eventually able to talk Vision down but not so in the first of TWO tales, you lucky people, you. Vision spreads his influence across all of Earth’s computers, disarming weapons and inconveniencing She-Hulk. Eventually, his big gross red face appears at the United Nations where it offers to work hand in hand with the people of Earth for a better tomorrow. Well! If there’s one thing the people of Earth and its army of super-heroes can get behind, it’s a benevolent dictatorship so everyone just surrenders right the fuck away.
We get scenes of the Avengers disarming nuclear missiles, X-Factor feeding the homeless and the Punisher working at a soup kitchen. I desperately wish that last one was true. Years pass and the Earth truly becomes a paradise. And not a ridiculous paradise like that insane High Evolutionary issue that Vol. 2 started with. The human race sends Wolverine and the New Mutants to Mars (intentionally. The Vision didn’t just abandon them there.). It develops faster than light travel and eventually takes its rightful place among the other advanced civilizations of the universe, Star Trek style. In that we push everyone around and put ourselves in charge of everything.
And then we jump forward one hundred and sixty-three years to the good ship Henry Pym Absolutely Didn’t Hit His Wife And Earned This Spaceship where the Cosmic Avengers are on an important mission. Said Cosmic Avengers are:
Starhawk, an unpopular Guardian of the Galaxy who was found frozen in something or other.
Commander America, the shoulder pads having defender of a not terribly important state on Earth.
Iron Droid, the Iron Man 2020 of the future.
Tachyon Torch, the descendant of Johnny Storm and runner up for worst name on this team.
Jhen the Gammazon, a clone of She-Hulk and WINNER of worst name on the team. Man, they even spelled Jen wrong. Jesus.
Thor. Just boring old Thor. Who hasn’t changed his costume in over a century. Or changed it back a lot which seems more likely.
Anyway, the Cosmic Avengers are attempting to stop an alliance between the Kree and the Skrulls to use the incredibly popular Omni-Wave Projector to destroy the Earth. Specifically by smashing Haley’s Comet into it because they are assholes. The Mega Skrull (way scarier than the Super Skrull!) and Supremor (now a fat guy with legs!) have united and together they will destroy the Federation! I mean Earth. Earth.
And then the Cosmic Avengers arrive and just beat the shit out of everybody. Commander America throws his mighty shield, the Tachyon Torch sets some motherfuckers on fire and Iron Droid gets FUCKING CRUSHED TO DEATH.
Eventually Classic Thor defeats the Mega Skrull and everybody gets to go back home. Also the Cosmic Avengers are sad because Iron Droid is dead and the Vision never learned how to mourn. But who cares? The End!
Next we head to our second reality. The UN meeting with the Vision begins as before but this time the racist nation of Genosha freaks the fuck out and drops an atomic bomb on New York in an effort to kill the Vision. Since Genosha has no IDEA how computers actually work, this completely fails although it does kill millions of people plus most of Earth’s super-heroes. So nice job, assholes.
The rest of the planet is terrified that the Vision has apparently blown up New York and begins taking action immediately. Stupid actions like destroying computers and shooting each other with modemless guns. Eventually the entire earth is engulfed in total war. After a few annoyed years of this, the Vision approaches Dr. Doom, the Mad Thinker, the Supreme Hydra and the Kingpin, uniting them in a new Legion of Villainy to conquer the world. Which they do really easily by mass producing Doombots and Awesome Andys I mean Androids and marching them across the country. Also I guess the Kingpin has an army of mob guys now even though New York was destroyed and he lived there and… actually a lot of this isn’t adding up.
Anyway it doesn’t matter, because Earth sucks now. People are numbered, there are concentration camps and everything is awful unless you’re one of four jerks. We cut once again to a hundred plus years in the future where humanity has created a vast star empire. It’s only remaining adversaries are… of course, the Kree and the Skrulls.
Earth sends a team starring a clone of Dr Doom to meet with the Kree/Skrull alliance and unite to conquer the rest of the universe. Everyone agrees to unite for a greater good and of course everyone is LYING. The Kree/Skrulls attempt an interplanetary bamboozlement on Earth but find out too late that the hunters have become the hunted.
Doom Clone infects the Kree military with the Vision who quickly dominates them and Vision reveals that he has given all Skrulls a disease that requires regular cures from Earth. Also it turns the Skrulls blue for some reason. I dunno. Anyway, the story ends with Earth conquering the universe so… that’s a win for us, I guess?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In honour of the first (admittedly late) Forbidden To Interfere of 2015, and also because it just so happened to work out this way, this week our tales of thrilling alternate realities take us into the Marvel Universe’s far future. No, not 2099. That’s too far. No, nor the incredibly distant future of Iron Man 2020 (AKA Arno “I have a stupid name” Stark.) No, it’s 2050 and a tale of the Avengers! The ones who are still alive anyway!
We join our heroes as they return from a mission. Just so we’re all on the same page, that line up consists of Thor, Jocasta the Android Woman, the Vision, some weird green guy made of energy who also has a moustache and looks like 70s Stan Lee and Devil Ears Iron Man, here played by Michael Rhodes and his giant afro.
Everyone’s enjoying the post mission cool-down except the Vision. It turns out his wife, Wanda Maximoff AKA the Scarlet Witch is dying of old age and extreme flowyness as shown here in a dress that extends into alternate timelines.
Wanda’s watched over carefully by Thor’s alter ego Donald Blake and also her nurse Cassie Lang. So much for being the awesome Young Avenger Stature in this reality, Cassie! On the other hand, you’re also not dead so I guess it’s kind of a wash.
As Vision takes Wanda for a roll in the garden, he tells her of his plans to deactivate himself once she dies so that, if there is to be an afterlife, they may forever be joined there. It’s a very beautiful sentiment but Wanda’s having none of it, commanding Vision to live for as long as possible. My working theory is that Wanda’s hoping to hook up with Wonder Man in the hereafter. Which is a great theory except that nobody wants to hook up with Wonder Man ever. Wonder Man sucks. While this is going on, Jocasta menacingly watches the duo from a window in the mansion and creeps everybody out. Man, I hope yet another Hank Pym built robot isn’t about to go crazy and murder a bunch of people.
That night, Wanda has like eighteen old person heart attacks and Doctor Blake tells Vision it’s only a matter of time before she goes to that big lunatic asylum in the sky. Vision remains visionlently, excuse me vigilantly at her side until the end. Then Jocasta kicks in the door, telling Vision that Doctor Blake has made a discovery that may save Wanda and he should go to the library at once. Never mind that the library is empty, dark and locked. And Blake’s in bed. And it’s three AM.
Vision eventually realizes something’s amiss and returns to Wanda’s bedside only to find her and Jocasta both gone. He wakes the other Avengers and tears the mansion apart looking for them. He eventually finds them both in Jocasta’s lab where Jocasta is performing a standard Freaky Friday operation on the two. She has downloaded herself into Wanda’s shitty dying body and imprisoned Wanda in her unfeeling steel frame. And then Jocasta dies of extreme oldness. Meanwhile, the now immortal Wanda in her unstoppable robot body builds some insane robot sons out of an old freezer and then eliminates all mutants. Stupid Pym built robots….
Next we visit the dare terrifying future of Old Captain America and Really Old Retired Nick Fury! These days, Cap spends his time between training the New Avengers and performing family duties with his wife Sharon Carter and kids Steve Jr and Severus Albus Rogers.
Sharon is in the middle of begging Steve to retire from captaining America when the call goes out: the cast of the Warriors is messing with hardworking future police officers in New New York’s oddly named Punk Row! Cap leaps both onto his flying motorcycle (because the future is awesome and also exactly like Saint’s Row 3) and into action, kicking several punks in the face.
Just as he’s mopping up the last of these jerks, Cap gets a call that his villain proof skyscraper headquarters has been broken into! But who could be responsible? Well, that flying car with the big red skull on the front seems a good indicator: It’s clearly 1930s entertainer Red Skelton out for revenge! Or it’s the Red Skull again. Fucking Nazis. Jeez.
Cap chases the Skullmobile to the site of the 1963 World’s Fair. Which is apparently still around in the future. Or possibly rebuilt for the youth of today to enjoy. He finally meets up with the Ancient Red Skull in his (seriously) Armchair of Death.
The Skull battles Cap for a little while before revealing his evil plan (a bomb attached to the Skull’s heart that will go off if the Skull dies) and his evil son (Red Skull Jr, here to kill Cap and save his father. Presumedly by climbing vines and avoiding crocodiles.) Cap manages to defeat both Skulls but then Jr shoots his father, activating the bomb. Luckily, Cap stops it with a handily thrown shield because what else is Captain America going to do? NOT throw a shield at something. Anyway, Cap saves his family and resolves to never stop hunting the Red Skull no matter how old, decrepit or useless he might be. Sharon weeps over the charred remains of their marriage.
Finally we jump into the future of 2013 as Matt Murdock (AKA Aredevil according to the title page)
and his friend Vice President Foggy Nelson await the arrival of the new president of New Russia Natasha Romanov (AKA the Black Widow). Foggy and Natasha are here to take part in a new peace conference with important leaders from all over the world. Matt’s here mostly because he’s sad that his (unnamed) wife is dead and Foggy’s trying to cheer him up. Foggy, you’d think you’d know by now that nothing can stop Matt Murdock from being in a shitty mood except beating the hell out of people.
Luckily, the conference is attacked by a new and mysterious Kingpin of Terrorism and his faceless army. Gee, I wonder who it could be? My money’s on the Owl. Natasha and Matt both change into costume (which they both luckily decided to wear for the first time in twenty years) and start handing out beatings. They eventually reach the top of the building and face the terrorists’ mysterious leader and SHOCK FOLLOWS SHOCK, it’s Wilson Fisk AKA the Kingpin. There’s like three minutes of fighting before Matt knocks Fisk off the roof, smooshing him like so much Allfather from Preacher. This finally pulls Matt out of his shell again, proving once more that murder can solve anything.
This week, we discuss the Thing’s path from lumpy orange rock monster to cancerous green rock monster. After the usual Uatu spiel, we get a quick recap of the now legendary ‘Marvel Two-In-One’ #81. As if we’d need it! Everyone remembers the story of Ben Grimm’s capture by MODOK* and the forces of AIM** and his infection with the insidious Virus X***. Ben escapes and meets up with the FF again and he’s eventually saved by Captain America and the Bill Foster version of Giant Man (You have no idea how impressed I was that they didn’t call him Black Giant Man.). Giant Man briefly considers taking the cure himself after learning that it will cure his cancer but instead sacrifices himself and dies. For a while. Ben is cured and returns to a life of not wearing shirts and yelling.
But what if, true believers? What if instead of returning to his oldest friend and smartest man on the planet Reed Richards, Ben stole a flying scooter and went and hid in a cave? That ought to add some conflict to this whole thing, right?
Back at the Baxter Building, a hideous drawing of Sue Richards attempts to comfort Ben’s long time girlfriend Alicia. Luckily, Reed’s built a giant Thing-tracking rocket ship for just such an occasion. And because Ben takes one of these hissy fits every couple of months (Sooner if the Human Torch hits him with enough pies.) The FF head out in the Fantasticar to find him.
Meanwhile, Captain America and Giant Man attack MODOK’s base, searching for the cure. Giant Man manages to get the cure (Luckily stored in an enormous cure firing gun!) and then defeats MODOK by shaking him like an particularly large and ugly baby. Afterwards, he cures himself with some of the anti-virus and they take it back to FF HQ.
Back at the Thing’s hideous ravaged face, problems are occurring. Ben’s body continues to mutate. It also turns green and starts giving off radiation. Oh no, he’s turning into the Hulk! Actually, no, he’s just dying horribly.
The FF and Alicia arrive but Reed warns them not to approach because of the Thing’s high levels of radiation. Alicia, having somehow never heard of radiation and what it can do DESPITE LIVING IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE WHERE RADIATION IS LITERALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED SINCE THE SIXTIES enters the cave. She eventually convinces Ben to come out to get help from his friends. Which is great news until he explodes.
Yes, no longer able to control the swirling mix of radiation and cosmic energy inside of him, the Thing goes off like an atomic blast. Only Sue’s invisible force field saves the team. Reed tells everyone to look away as the force of the blast is blinding but Alicia is already blind and terrible at following orders and refuses to cover her eyes.
It’s a good thing she does because this is a magical happy ending explosion that somehow restores her sight for some reason. It also turns the Thing back into a normal human without a trace of radiation in him.
Despite the fact that he literally exploded. So Ben and Alicia get married and Giant Man joins the team but refuses to wear the FF uniform because I guess he’s a jerk. I’d watch my step if I were you, Giant Man. You piss off Mr Fantastic, he’ll kill you with a Thor clone, wrap you in chains and bury you in the backyard.
Next up, we have another terrifying tale of tragic transformation as we take a step into the Wayback Machine with Marshmallow Fluff Uatu (Behold! For he has observed an infinite number of pies!) to visit the best of the All-Old X-Men: The Beast!
So once upon a time, Hank McCoy AKA the Beast left the X-men for an exciting career working for a chemical company and not being murdered by giant racist government robots. Eventually Hank discovered the chemical cause of mutations in human beings and then drank it to prevent The Man from getting a hold of it. Which is a great plan unless it turns you into a big furry monster man. It all worked out for the best though and Beast ended up joining the Avengers. And then less best when he joined the Defenders.
But imagine a world… a world where Hank McCoy continued to mutate. First into a grey monster. And then a blue monster. And then a cat. And then whatever the hell this is.
Oh wait, that all did happen. Alright, screw it. What if Hank got all monstery?
So, after mutating, Hank escapes from his science lab, retreating to Central Park like all crazy people in New York (Please be aware that all of my knowledge of New York City comes from Home Alone 2 featuring Tim “The Tool Man” Curry.) Fortunately, Professor X has been psychically monitoring Beast since he left the Xavier Institute. Because once you’re an X-Man, you’re an X-Man for life. He sends Angel out to look for Beast, knowing Warren’s natural ability to fly and see things will make him an asset. For the first time in his life, Warren Worthington knows what it is to be a useful member of the team.
Angel corners Beast, who chucks rocks at him like a common park pigeon. A fight ensues and Hank wrestles Warren to the ground, almost killing him and then waving his junk in Warren’s face like a Full Monty cast member. He’s chased away by the arrival of Cyclops and Marvel Girl.
After an unfortunate encounter with a tossed cornice, Beast easily defeats his fellow X-Men. He’s just about to smother Marvel Girl in Jean Grey Poupon when Professor X arrives. Seeing him, Beast momentarily regains his senses and begs the Professor not to let him turn into an animal.
But, of course, Charles doesn’t listen and instead of consulting Reed Richards, Tony Stark or one of the other genius in the Marvel U about curing Hank, the Professor carts Hank’s furry ass out to the savage land where he can be free, running, playing and remembering dimly a time when he was one of the most brilliant men on the planet. Then the Watcher pops up to declare this a happy ending. Fuck you, Uatu.
Finally, we return to Fantastic Four 50 and the Galactus trilogy (Sadly not nearly so well known as Marvel Two-In-One #81.). In our original continuity, the space faring Silver Surfer betrayed his master Galactus to save the earth. As punishment, Galactus exiled the Surfer to Earth where he could fly around moping all the time and mourning his vanished junk. But just imagine… I mean, uh, what if… Galactus removed the Surfer’s powers, returning him to boring bald Norrin Radd?
After removing Norrin’s powers, Galactus ditches the poor bastard on Earth like your drunken asshole friend leaving you on the side of the road. Norrin pleads for help in returning him to his home planet of Zenn-La from the Fantastic Four but it’s still pretty early into their series and Reed’s not that helpful yet. It’s at that point that Uatu steps up to the plate and proclaims that “Though I am forbidden to interfere…”
“I CAN let you guys root around in my library for stuff that lets you travel through space super fast. I mean… I probably don’t have anything useful but….”
So while the FF help Uatu clear out his basement, Galactus heads back for Zenn-La. Now that he’s heraldless, he needs to eat a planet and can’t be bothered to look for one so he just heads back to the last place he couldn’t eat. There he’s approached by the Surfer’s ex, Shalla Bal. When Galactus tells her he ditched Norrin, Shalla gets the bright idea to follow in her boo’s footsteps. She figures she can pledge herself as Galactus’ new herald and then ditch him and grab Norrin from Earth.
Alas, the mighty Galactus is not so easily ditched. He senses her traitorous motives, removes her emotions and transforms her into the golden goddess of the spaceways, Starburns! I mean glow. Starglow.
At this point, Norrin arrives at Zenn-La in some sort of ridiculous contraption forged from the Watcher’s old sink and encounters Starglow heading the other way.
He eventually recognizes her as Shalla Bal (after first mistaking her for a man.). Of course now, she wants nothing to do with his hairless pink ass. Galactus watches all this and (for some reason) takes pity on Norrin. He returns to Norrin the power of the Silver Surfer and leaves him bound to Zenn-La where he can protect it from… you know, whatever. Mostly, as in keeping with tradition, the Surfer mopes.
*Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Espionage Law-Enforcement Division!
We begin our first story with Matt Murdock (AKA Daredevil) doing what he does best: moping in the rain. In this case, it’s because his long lost one true love (this week) and also hired murderer Elektra is dead. Matt’s approached by a giant bald guy with an umbrella and, while we know it’s just the Watcher being subtle for the first time ever, I’d be careful. The last thing a grief stricken Matt Murdock wants to see is a giant bald white guy. He’s had trouble with those before.
Uatu, spotting Matt’s obvious grief, does what any of us would do. Specifically, tell the mourner a story about an alternate reality where his girlfriend is alive. Nice! Thanks, buddy! The Watcher gives Matt and us a quick catch-up, reminding Matt of a time not so long ago when his ex-girlfriend tried to have his best friend killed. Which is a bi-annual occurrence for Daredevil.
Elektra has Matt’s friend, Foggy Nelson kidnapped. She’s about to execute him on behalf of the Kingpin when Foggy recognizes her. “Aren’t you Elektra Natchios? Matt’s old girlfriend? Wow, you always said you were going to grow up to be a ninja hitwoman but we never believed you. Because that’s insane.”
Elektra takes pity on Foggy and lets him go. Knowing she’s betrayed the Kingpin, she goes into hiding. And here’s where the timeline jumps off track. You see, in this reality, Elektra’s eventual murderer Bullseye has been killed a couple of months earlier in a prison break. As he’s no longer alive (The Kingpin has a strict “Do Not Hire Dead People” rule. Which is weird in the Marvel Universe where literally half the people have been dead.), Kingpin is forced to hire some cheap discount hoods to revenge kill Elektra. Kingpin completely forgets about killing Foggy, which is frankly ridiculous.
The hired goons track down Elektra and there’s a pretty goddamn sweet Frank Miller drawn fight scene for our enjoyment. Elektra kills a bunch of guys, apparently gets stabbed in the ass and eventually escapes, returning to Matt Murdock’s brownstone.
Meanwhile Foggy, terrified that he’s going to be murdered tracks down Matt and begs him for help. Matt calms his friend down and then leaves him alone. I hope Kingpin sent Matt a memo about the whole “Hey, I don’t want to kill Foggy any more” thing because otherwise leaving your friend alone to be murdered by mob guys is a pretty dick move.
Matt returns home to find Elektra bleeding on his couch. He’s about to take her to jail when Elektra tells him that she’ll just be murdered in prison instead. So instead, without another word, they both fuck off to some gorgeous beach somewhere, leaving poor Foggy to wonder whatever happened to his best friend and partner. Of course, he doesn’t need to worry for very long before the Kingpin remembers he’s going to have Foggy killed and has him executed. Probably by a shirtless dude holding a length of chain.
Next up, we have a tale of the Avengers. The current line-up is Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Tigra, Wasp and Hank Pym dressed as Yellowjacket. For those playing along at home, Yellowjacket is Pym at his shittiest, wife beatiest best. In fact, as the story begins, Hank is screaming at the Wasp (AKA Janet Van Dyne-Pym) for being… y’know, better than him. At everything.
Suddenly, the Avengers are called to fight an invading alien called Elfquest I mean Elfqueen. Elfqueen. Jan stays behind, still shaken by her piece of shit husband. During the fight, Yellowjacket’s laser wrist thingy disconnects, further embarrassing him. Unfortunately, it reconnects as Elfqueen is finally surrendering. Cap notices, calling for Yellowjacket to stop but it’s too late. He blasts Elfqueen in the back, and in retaliation, she drops a fucking truck on him. While in our universe, Jan arrives just in time to save Hank, here she spends a few minutes thinking about what an asshole he is and is too late to save him from smooshing.
After the funeral, the Avengers report that Yellowjacket was killed when he attacked Elfqueen after she surrendered. Jan freaks out, convinced he died a hero. She goes before reporters (in her new costume, complete with Dracula collar) and tells him Hank died a hero.
Next Avengers meeting, the group tries to comfort Jan while telling her that going against the team was NOT COOL. Unfortunately, she wants Cap to change his report on what happened, saying that Hank died in the line of duty. Cap refuses to lie because he’s Captain Goddamn America and Jan storms out.
Looking for revenge, Jan calls one of her many butlers (This story features three.) to drive her to the shittiest part of town. She wanders around in her finest jewels for about six seconds before some traditional 80s New York Street Punks attack her. And then she fucking wrecks them. “Tell them your asses were kicked by the Black Wasp!” she says, tossing away a cigarette as explosions go off behind her.
Reports start appearing in the Daily Bugle of the vigilante Black Wasp and her war on crime. The Avengers figure out who the Black Wasp is pretty quickly because they aren’t completely stupid. (Well, Thor probably is.) They get into another awkward argument but then they’re called to save a building from burning down, thank God.
Everything’s going fine until a big chunk of wall collapses, almost hitting Cap. Janet spots it tumbling but decides to do nothing. Unfortunately for her, but fortunately for friends of democracy, Tigra notices and saves Cap at the last minute. With this one act of heroism among many, many other acts of heroism today, Jan realizes that she’s actually a terrible person. She quits the team to go be a sad sack elsewhere. Relieved that he no longer has to fire her, Cap gets to looking for a replacement who won’t leave him to die.
I’ve mentioned once or twice the old What If paperback I had when I was a kid. It was sort of the inspiration for me writing this column and it’s where I read a lot of my favourite What If comics originally. This week’s issue “What If the Avengers Became Pawns of Korvac” was always a favorite of mine. Not because of the Avengers. The line-up in this issue is… not great. The big players are Thor, Hercules, Vision and Wonder Man. It would take me years and some really good comics to make me realize how great Thor and Hercules were. I still hate Wonder Man though. No, the thing with What If 32 is… It gets… big. Like, ridiculously big. It actually kind of blew my young mind away with how fucking big it got by the end. This one sort of made me realize “Oh… we can do ANYTHING.”
So let’s start with a little backstory. Korvac was a guy from the year 3000, hometime of the Guardians of the Galaxy. No, no. The original Guardians of the Galaxy. The crappy ones. Korvac was a computer technician employed by the ridiculously sounding Badoon. And by employed, I mean enslaved. Like, he tried to take a nap at work one day so they cut off his legs and attached him to a flying computer.
This horrible betrayal of trust drove Korvac insane so he fought the crappy Guardians of the Galaxy and then went back in time to the twentieth century.
Upon arrival, Korvac performed a little B&E on Galactus’ homebase and sucked all the energy out of his computer. Said energy had the added benefits of giving Korvac near godlike powers and also giving him back his legs.Korvac then travelled to Earth where he bought a really nice house, a pair of really short shorts and started planning his revenge. Or possibly his retirement. The text is unclear.
Meanwhile in space (a sentence I never, ever get tired of writing.), Korvac is watched by giant cosmic space guy, the Collector. The Collector suspects Korvac’s swank retirement might not be all it appears to be and sends his daughter Carina to spy on Korvac. Which is a great plan until she falls in love with him.
Meanwhile, meanwhile, the crappy Guardians of the Galaxy have followed Korvac to the present where they team-up with the Avengers. The Collector notices all this and brings the two teams to his own base where he can help them… I guess with his collection stuff? I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter because Korvac vaporizes him. The Avengers attack and Korvac murders almost all of them. As he’s being attacked by Thor, Starhawk, Iron Man and Vision, Korvac glances over at Carina for help and sees a fleeting look of doubt on her face. So he gives up, kills himself and resurrects the Avengers. And then Carina kills herself too. Well, that was a tidy ending.
But, he said FINALLY getting to the actual point of this column, what if instead of doubt, Korvac saw a look of love and faith?
Korvac redoubles his efforts (which may not actually be a word and just something I saw in Star Wars.) and kills the remaining four Avengers. He then passes the fuck out.
In Asgard, Thor’s dad Odin receives news from his magic crows that Thor is dead. Nearly ripping off his chainmail eyepatch in fury, Odin marches the armies of Asgard on Earth.
Unfortunately, Korvac’s used his diminishing god powers to disconnect Earth from all other dimensions and realities. Which raises the question of how our Uatu is observing any of this but whatever. Korvac also disconnects this particular moment from time, locking the era off from time travellers, ensuring no interference from Immortus, Kang or Rip Hunter (Wait, shit, he’s DC.) Finally he banishes Doctor Strange, Phoenix and the Silver Surfer to… somewhere? Nobody ever says where. I guess maybe a different story? I don’t know. Anyway, they’re gone.
All of that done, Korvac starts working on his plan. It’s all about order. Korvac’s sick of crap he can’t control like free will and people’s minds so he begins banishing chaos from the universe. He resurrects the Avengers, sending some of them (including… ugh, Wonder Man again) to the moon to kill the Watcher. Oh god, not the Watcher! Who will alternate universe Matt use for a logo? I’ll have to steal another host character from… like, House of Mystery or something. (Wait, shit, that’s DC too. What is wrong with me this week?)
The Avengers arrive in the blue area of the moon (If you’ve forgotten, that’s the part of the moon that has oxygen. Which is good because people keep beaming to the moon in Marvel comics and then remarking that they don’t have anything to breathe when they get there. Nobody does any fucking planning in comic books.) where they first gaze up the Watcher’s mighty skirt and then attack him. Unfortunately for them, the Watcher is a pacifist and escapes.
Arriving on his home planet of Watchor 1, Uatu summons all of the universe’s other Watchers for a pow-wow.
“Look,” he says. “I know we’re FORBIDDEN TO INTERFERE with all the planets we watch, but this Korvac guy? He could be a problem. Like… if he destroy Earth, that would be kind of a bad thing.”
The other Watchers sigh.
“Uatu, this is like… the eighteenth time you’ve acted to help out Earth. Why don’t you just fucking marry it if you’re so in love with it. Let’s go, guys. We have people on alien planets to watch having sex.”
And they bail.
Well, since that didn’t work, Uatu calls a second meeting, this time with all the big cosmic guys in the galaxy. These include Galactus, the Gardener: sower of seeds and master of the universe’s vegetation, the Shaper of Worlds, a big white Skrull attached to a box, the Living Tribunal: a gold guy with three faces and no neck, the Stranger, whom the text describes as an “enigmatic experimenter and provocateur” and I describe as an old white dude with amazing facial hair, the Inbetweener whose name hides the word “Weiner” within it, the Grandmaster who I thought was the Beyonder but isn’t and Lord Chaos and Master Order, two floating heads that represent… chaos. And order. Respectively.
So the big cosmic guys all agree to team-up and defeat Korvac in the traditional manner. Attacking him one at a time. Galactus and the Gardener (Good god, I cannot think of a less threatening name then the Gardener.) head for Earth in Galactus’ spaceship but they’re intercepted by the Avengers who run around shooting them and biting at their ankles. Starhawk takes control of Galactus’ ship and crashes it into Mars.
Back on Earth, Korvac is approached by the Gamesmaster and the Shaper of Worlds. Neither of them is interested in Uatu’s cosmic guy team. Gamesmaster challenges Korvac to a big summer event but Korvac hates those as much as I do (Avengers/X-Men: Axis! On sale now!) and vaporizes Gamesmaster. The Shaper he lets stick around. Turns out Shaper knows about Korvac’s plans to remold the universe and just wants to help out, traitorous dickhole that he is.
Back on Mars, Galactus and the Gardener have the Avengers on the ropes. Galactus throws Hercules into space, killing him almost instantly and then the Gardener murders the Vision with… a garden.
Realizing that his Avengers aren’t doing so hot, Korvac resurrected Captain America and sends him to Korvac’s favorite shopping mall, Galactus’ ship. Cap tosses the place and finds the Ultimate Nullifier, knowing the threat of this weapon has defeated Galactus before.
“Oh, come on.” says Galactus. “You guys always whip out the Ultimate Nullifier when I show up and none of you have ever actually had the balls to pull the trigger. We all know that whoever uses the Nullifer also gets killed and you would ne-”
These are really embarrassing last words for Galactus as Cap presses the button and vaporizes them both. Not looking so hot now, are you, Galactus? And then Korvac kills the Gardener from Earth because the Gardener is terrible.
Back at Big Cosmic Dudes HQ, the Inbetweener and the Stranger have a new plan. They’ll kidnap Carina and force Korvac to back off. But first they need some sort of distraction… Hmm… What’s a big enough threat to distract Korvac? I know! Let’s throw the FUCKING MOON AT HIM.
Sure enough, the Stranger pulls the moon out of orbit and chucks it at Korvac’s lovely California home. Korvac catches it because seriously, guys? The moon? Are you even trying? while the Inbetweener bombs out with Carina. Korvac wins the moon tug of war, destroying it completely. Then he kills the Stranger too because fuck that moon tossing asshole.
The Inbetweener takes Carina back to his weird Steve Ditko realm only to discover she’s actually the Shaper of Worlds in disguise. It’s always tough when you take the hot bikini girl back to your place only to discover she’s actually a giant albino skrull in a box. Adding injury to insult, Korvac then kills the Inbetweener by betweening him. No, I have no idea what this means.
Out of options, the Living Tribunal plays his last card and forces the sun to GO FUCKING NOVA, DISINTEGRATING THE ENTIRE FUCKING SOLAR SYSTEM. Unfortunately, Korvac surrounds Earth in an energy field protecting it.
“Whelp.” says the Tribunal, fetching his hat. “That was my big play. Good luck with your doomed universe. Let me know how that all turns out. If anybody needs me, I’ll be literally anywhere else.” Then he bails.
At this point, a wormhole opens where Earth’s solar system used to be and warships from EVERY SENTIENT RACE IN THE UNIVERSE arrive to stop Korvac.
“Shit.” He says. “I’m more powerful than any living thing in the universe. I’m not more powerful than EVERYTHING in the universe.” Needing all the power he can get, he kills the Avengers, the Shaper, and every living thing on the planet (including Spider-Man!). The combined warships arrive at Earth to find the enormous Korvac perched on top of Earth, whistling casually and tossing the Ultimate Nullifer to himself.
“s’up?” he says.
At this point, Uatu appears to beg Korvac one last time not to destroy the universe. Unfortunately for literally everything, Korvac isn’t interested and pushes the fire button, destroying himself and all of creation in one brief horrifying moment.
So, 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.
Okay, let’s skip Uatu’s opening monologue because yes, he’s still doing them and just set the stage. So the original Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Giant Man and Wasp) formed to defeat Loki, a threat so powerful no one hero could stop him. Except that Thor routinely stopped him but whatever. The reason the team stayed together was that the Hulk freaked out and ran off to the surprise of absolutely everybody and everyone decided it might be a good idea to track him down before he breaks anything and maybe/maybe not kills somebody depending on the writer and if the Hulk is currently in a movie.
So in the normal continuity, Hulk hooks up with Namor the Sub-Mariner who has a fish up his dick about humanity and finding his lost people (See What If #1 for another time Namor got in a shitty mood, true belivers!) and the two jerks pick a fight with the Avengers for some reason. The Avengers show up, there’s a sweet silver age style fight in the Mighty Marvel Manner, Namor and Hulk get the floor wiped with them, and the Avengers resolve to be just sort-of popular until the 21st century when someone has the bright idea to stick Spider-Man and Wolverine in there and sales go fucking nuts.
So in this reality, the Avengers resolve to… not actually go after the Hulk. Giant Man reasons that, hey, we never said the Hulk HAD to be an Avenger. Why not just let him go? Iron Man responds by saying “Well, sure. Nobody said he HAD to stay but he is a giant, moronic green guy with a tendency towards temper tantrums. Maybe we should keep an eye on him, what with our being super-heroes and all.”
And he bombs out of the story. Giant Man, watching Thor steal his dramatic exit, also heads for the door. The Wasp appears to want to stay but a quick “Shut up, Janet. Men are talking.” from Giant Man puts that shit to bed.
Still worried about the Hulk, Iron Man contacts the Hulk’s buddy Rick Jones (“Young Rick Jones is the Hulk’s friend. I’ll contact him! He’s a short-wave ham radio operator! I bet he’s at his set right now!”). Luckily, Rick is indeed ham radioing and agrees to help Tony find the Hulk. Then the Hulk kicks the door down and… well, he leaves actually. Just smashes up the wall to the room Rick is in and then goes and rampages somewhere else. Weird, Hulk. That’s really weird. Anyway, Tony arrives, Hulk whoops his ass and Iron Man carries Rick back to New York.
We then cut back to Uatu who tells us what happened to the Hulk, which is exactly what happened to the Hulk in the normal continuity. (He and Namor move into an electronic cave and plot to destroy the Avengers, unaware that laziness has done the job for them.) Namor sends a message to Iron Man, telling him and the rest of the Avengers to meet them at the electronic cave for some fist fighting. Iron Man agrees, worrying that, if he tells them that the Avengers have disbanded, they’ll think he is a coward. He decides that being beaten to death will be easier.
Fortunately, this plan doesn’t last too long and Tony falls back on the plan that will serve him well in the 2000s. He builds a whole bunch of new armors. Then he calls up Giant Man, Wasp and Rick to use them. Wasp is unsure but luckily Giant Man is there to tell her what to think. Seriously, it’s embarrasing how shitty that dude treats her. They all try testing their new armor and fail miserably at it. (My favorite scene involves Iron Man telling Rick that he doesn’t need to flap his arms to fly.) Finally, Tony loses his shit and fires them all again. So much for the Avengers again. That’s okay, nobody wants to read the adventures of Rick Jones.
So Tony fixes his armor so that it will be more powerful than ever (It has something to do with overloaded transistors because Iron Man used to be all about transistors.) and then flies off to fight Hulk and Namor. Meanwhile, Rick grabs Wasp and Giant Man and mentions that maybe they shouldn’t fucking bail on their buddy before he gets killed by a fish guy and the Hulk and try… oh, I don’t know BEING FUCKING SUPER HEROES.
Iron Man arrives at the electronic cave and fights Namor and Hulk for a while. He’s actually doing okay at first, bamboozling Namor into a rock and then gluing Hulk to the water(?) and electrocuting him. Unfortunately, Namor recovers from his head wound and the fight goes underwater, like all battles with the Sinister Sub-Mariner. Namor finally beats Iron Man and then gloats at Hulk for awhile when the cavalry arrives in their Iron Wasp, Iron Rick and the Iron Giant (“Sooooperman.”). They get Namor on the ropes by shooting him with needles and then Iron Giant bonks him with a rock. Namor is defeated but Hulk pretty much shit-kicks Iron Giant until Iron Man uses the last of his energy to make Iron Giant super powerful. They defeat Hulk but at what cost? Tony dies of a broken heart and the team resolves to… still be the Avengers without him? I guess. So the story ends basically the same as it normally would but more depressing! Hooray for What If!
An Infinite Number of Universes. All featuring Spider-Man.