Tag Archives: Factor X the Robotic Sherlock Holmes

What If the Fantastic Four Weren’t Actually Fantastic At All? Also What If Nova Was Dick? Wait, I’ve Done This One Before…

If there’s one thing we know here at Forbidden To Interfere HQ, it’s how the Fantastic Four got their powers. Which makes sense. Every third issue of What If is about them. This week, we imagine a world where renowned genius and literally the smartest man on Earth, Reed Richards doesn’t make… just a list of stupid mistakes. For example, instead of ignoring his best friend and pilot Ben Grimm’s advice to develop better shielding for their rocket, Reed elects to wait two weeks and not drastically mutate his family. Instead of taking his girlfriend and her kid brother into deep space, Reed takes… you know, trained astronauts. Instead of breaking into his own lab and secretly launching the spaceship under cover of… Wait, how the hell do you secretly launch a rocket exactly? Is someone whispering the countdown to explosions blasting a small tube into the outer atmosphere? Look, long story short, the FF never develop powers.

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“Sure, Sue. Come along. You’re a much better choice than two trained astronauts!”

And it works out great for them! The rocket trip is a complete success, interstellar travel becomes commonplace, Earth colonies dot the galaxy and a year later, Reed Richards and his friends are billionaires. It’s a great time to be alive! Or it would be if not for the giant holes that keep opening up all over the world? That’s… okay, that’s a little worrying. Reed resolves to start investigating it immediately. Except then Richards Labs is attacked by a giant green monster from the bowels of the Earth. Which, I guess is pretty lucky. As long as you or a loved one aren’t killed in the attempt.

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“You lousy monster! That equipment is expensive!”

The creature heads back into the Earth and Reed decides to head down after it, taking along… well, his best friend, wife and brother-in-law. All of whom are not even a little bit trained in monster fighting. Look, sometimes people just have to make the same goddamn mistakes.

"You ever killed a monster before, Johnny? It changes a man."
“You ever killed a monster before, Johnny? It changes a man.”

The FF (or, I guess just F in this case.) travel down into the hole, eventually reaching some sort of bottom. Touching down, they are quickly attacked by Rock Monsters. Because what else lives in the center of the Earth? Reed and Johnny fall through a hole in the ground and are knocked unconcious because in this reality Reed doesn’t have stretchy powers to save them. Sue and Ben escape into a nearby vent because lucky for them, this giant underground cave is full of vents.

John Byrne draws real good. Hell of a writer too. Do NOT let him produce a Star Trek photo comic for you though.
John Byrne draws real good. Hell of a writer too. Do NOT let him produce a Star Trek photo comic for you though.

Reed and Johnny regain conciousness sometime later and start looking for escape routes. They eventually locate a giant underground monorail that takes them through a giant room full of blindingly bright diamonds. The diamonds shine so bright that they actually knock the two out again. I had no idea that being blinded could have this sort of effect on someone but then, I’m no geologist.

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The scene where Reed and Johnny are wrapped up like a douche was sadly cut from the comic.

Reed and Johnny regain conciousness AGAIN (They should have called this one What If The Fantastic Four Slept Through Their First Adventure.) in the lair of a short ugly dude in a green onesie. It’s the terrifying Mole Man! So named because he’s small, blind and lives underground! Tremble, brief mortals, before the might of this terrible foe! He DOES control giant underground monsters though so he’s not entirely awful.

Do... do you think he KNOWS he looks like Dracula fucked a leprechaun?
Do… do you think he KNOWS he looks like Dracula fucked a leprechaun?

Mole Man tells our heroes of his plan to destroy all the cities on the planet and then take over the world. Then he wails on Johnny with a big stick so everyone knows how cool he is until Ben and Sue show up and shoot at him.

Moley tries to ring his “Giant Monster Summoning Bell” but Ben tackles him, saving the day. He may not look like a six foot orange thing that I pummiced off my foot but Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew can still beat up a blind midget in his pyjamas.

Why ring a bell? The monsters can hear the sound of your spine breaking from miles away.
Why ring a bell? The monsters can hear the sound of your spine breaking from miles away.

The F drag Moley to the surface but he fakes a leg injury and bumps another monster bell. This one summons the hoard of monsters from the “Real Ghostbusters” opening credits who chase our heroes back to the surface. They arrive on Monster Isle (Home of Godzilla!) where the army picks them up just before Mole Man blows the place up with an atomic bomb. So long, Monster Isle. You were a place too cool to exist.

All they're missing is a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
All they’re missing is a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Next up, we have another Nova adventure. I guess Nova was a pretty big deal back in the 80s. He’s been in like three issues of What If and the X-Men have only done two. Anyway, apparently after going into space and fighting in some big war or something on the Nova Force’s homeworld of Xandar, Richard Rider (AKA Nova the Human Bullet, I mean Rocket) is offered a trip home to Earth. But he has to give up the Nova Force. In the normal Marvel Universe, Rich gives it up to return to his family. And then gets it back the next time that Marvel wants to do a Nova series.

I AM THE LAW.
I AM THE LAW.

Here, however, Rich decides that being able to fly through space and blast lasers out of his hands are the only things that make him cool (He is correct.) and he stays on Xandar. Where he spends a year pacing around and complaining. Eventually, he’s had all he can stands, he can’t stands no more and he teleports home, smashing a hole in his parent’s house.

"Mom, Dad! I'm back from space! And I almost killed the dog!"
“Mom, Dad! I’m back from space! And I almost killed the dog!”

The family is… less than pleased to see him. Especially since he’s been gone a year, hasn’t called and OH YEAH, RUINED THE HOUSE. Things get even worse when the Champions of Xandar™ attack, trying to retrieve the Nova force. And then they all fight for a couple of pages.

Hope you've got asshole insurance.
Hope you’ve got asshole insurance.

Eventually, Rich’s parents speak up. “Hey, son? We appreciate you wanting to stay on Earth and also keep your awesome powers but you just blew up the neighborhood and also you are a dick. Give the nice alien people their powers back.”

Well... this is embarrassing.
Well… this is embarrassing.

Richard sees the wisdom in their words and awards the Nova Force to… some dude in a helmet, I don’t know. I like Nova and I can’t be bothered to care about these guys. They return to Xandar and Rich returns to obscurity. Again until Marvel decides to relaunch his book or put Nova in the New Warriors or whatever.

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Okay, this is Factor X, a robot Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps you’re wondering why I never mentioned this in the summary? Because how could I not? Because he doesn’t DO anything! There’s just a robot Sherlock Holmes hanging around the Rider home. NOBODY CARES. NOT EVEN THE NEIGHBORS!