Tag Archives: Fantastic Four

What If The Second Richards Kid Lived And Was The Messiah Or Possibly An Evil Alien Maybe?

This week we’ve got a special treat for everyone! It’s a double feature based around Sue Richards’ miscarriage! Doesn’t that sound fun? For anyone who’s unfamiliar with the Fantastic Four children, and who could blame you if you were, there have been two Richards kids: Franklin, who had prophetic dreams, joined Power Pack, created the Heroes Reborn universe and was thoroughly unlikeable until Jonathan Hickman started writing him and Valeria Richards who was named after the woman Doctor Doom loved and then skinned to turn into magic armor. Less well known was the middle Richards child who died after pregnancy complications due to… I think cosmic rays or something. I remember Reed hired Doctor Octopus to help with the delivery but then he saw a billboard featuring Spider-Man and freaked the fuck out. Probably for the best, I’d hate to see Doc Ock try to yank the baby out with his tentacles. Wait, no. I would LOVE to see that.

"You keep suggesting a caesarian, Octavius! I don't think it's neccesary!" "Sorry, I'm just really into the idea of cutting open a super hero."
“You keep suggesting a caesarian, Octavius! I don’t think it’s neccesary!” “Sorry, I’m just really into the idea of cutting open a super hero.”

Anyway, this week we’re addressing two stories about the Richards baby living. In the first one, Sue’s pregnancy is difficult from the start. She spends the nine months physically drained and eventually discovers she is unable to turn invisible. While this is happening, Franklin watches from the shadows in a suitably dramatic fashion. When the baby is finally born, not even the combined genius of Doctors Richards, Octavius, Morbius, Langowski and Banner can save Sue’s life. Of course, the fact that only one of these guys is a medical doctor and none of them have been trained to deliver a baby probably didn’t help. In mourning, Reed names the new baby after Sue and offers it to Franklin who runs off terrified. That’s okay, kid. I had a similar reaction when my siblings were born.

Gaaah! A horrible monster!
Gaaah! A horrible monster!

Years pass, little Suzie grows and gosh, wouldn’t you know it, friends of the FF just keep dying. First it’s Alicia, then a number of Suzie’s baby sitters, teachers and school chums all succumb to a bizarre wasting disease. What on earth could be causing it? Franklin obviously suspects Suzie which results in a lot of Reed yelling at him. I guess it’s tough being a single dad. When Franklin realizes that Johnny Storm has started to succumb to the wasting sickness, he goes to his father again. Reed, in his role as loving father, slaps the kid in the face. Okay, I think it’s time for a little less sympathy for the single dad. Anyway, Johnny fucking dies.

Here you go, Matt. Make a funny joke about horrible child abuse!
Here you go, Matt. Make a funny joke about horrible child abuse!

Reed assumes that all this death is a result of the FF’s cosmic rays, although he apparently doesn’t try to limit anyone’s contact with himself or the Thing to prevent more dying. Speaking of the Thing, that dude’s energy has drained enough that he is no longer permanently orange and rocky. His disease has actually cured him. Which is too bad because then some asshole shoots him like eight times. Ben is rushed to the hospital where he may recover. Until Suzie decides to pay him a visit…

So much trouble might have been avoided if ANYONE in the Baxter Building had just watched the Omen.
So much trouble might have been avoided if ANYONE in the Baxter Building had just watched the Omen.

With most of the FF dead and his father clearly fucking insane, Franklin travels to Latveria… somehow and contacts the only person left who can help: Doctor Doom. Doom isn’t exactly overcome by the love of the common man to help Franklin out but Franklin does mention that Suzie could eventually become a threat to Latveria. And also that Doom will get the chance to observe a stark raving mad Reed Richards whom he can then prove wrong. That’s like Latverian christmas. If Doom hadn’t banned christmas in Latveria six years ago.

"Well, she certainly does suck."
“Well, she certainly does suck.”

Team Frankledoom arrive back at the Baxter Building to find Reed in full-on freak-out mode.

“How DARE you turn against your wonderful perfect sister! How DARE you contact my greatest foe to help you!”

“Richards,” Doom replies. “You’re not yourself. Look, you’re making me seem calm and collected and I regularly refer to myself in the third person.”

This is the part where Suzie reveals her true self, turning into a giant energy devouring monster that was clearly cribbed from Alien. Reed realizes he may have made a mistake or two in the last few years. Unfortunately, it’s too little too late and the creature drains Reed of his energy, killing him.

At this point, I'd like to address the fact that it's never revealed WHY Sue and Reed's child is a weird monster. Is it a demon? An alien? Just born evil? Good fucking question!
At this point, I’d like to address the fact that it’s never revealed WHY Sue and Reed’s child is a weird monster. Is it a demon? An alien? Just born evil? Good fucking question!

Doom attacks the creature, hoping to give Franklin time to escape. It works too, but Suzie is still too much for Doom and she drains first his armour and then him. His last words are a futile “Curse you, Richards and your cosmic sperm!”

Suzie then stalks Franklin into the depths of Reed’s lab, taunting him. Suddenly, Franklin bursts in with a big… Ghostbusters looking backpack gun and shoots Suzie in the chest, knocking her through an open portal into the Negative Zone in a way which is nothing like the end of the first Alien movie which this comic is in no way like. So stop asking.

Yeah, this will never be a problem again. Nothing EVER comes out of the Negative Zone.
Yeah, this will never be a problem again. Nothing EVER comes out of the Negative Zone.

Franklin pauses over the body of his father. His entire family and everyone he knows is dead. But he WAS proven right in the end so I  have no choice but to label this one a HAPPY ENDING. Hooray!

That's a good Batman Year One homage, Franklin.
That’s a good Batman Year One homage, Franklin.

Meanwhile, in a less depressing reality, a baby Richards is also born. This one is named Mary because Sue doesn’t die so we’re already off to a better start. Reed and Sue carefully observe Mary for any signs that she might have also inherited powers from  her parents so they aren’t totally shocked when she starts flying around her crib.

"Listen, Reed. I just read that first story. Things could be a lot fucking worse."
“Listen, Reed. I just read that first story. Things could be a lot fucking worse.”

From there, Mary has a pretty normal childhood with absolutely no mysterious deaths surrounding her. When she’s fourteen, she goes on a walk with Ben and Johnny and watches a dog get hit by a car and is able to save its life by touching it. Which is good because it’s really hard to summarize comic when I am hysterically weeping over a dead fictional dog.

Guys, I can't even go to doesthedogdie.com because the crying dog logo makes me sad.
Guys, I can’t even go to doesthedogdie.com because the crying dog logo makes me sad.

Mary learns that she has incredible healing powers which she uses to save as many people as possible. She also starts working with environmental groups to save more lives and going on equality marches in Washington. Because the only way to enact real change in the world is if it’s led by a pretty, blonde white girl with rich parents.

The evil US president isn’t particularly thrilled by this development and orders the Avengers to have nothing to do with anyone speaking out against the status quo. This results in the Avengers disbanding, except for Captain America which is weird considering that dude is always the first guy to speak up when the government is getting too evil.

"No one will believe in things as long as I am Evil President."
“No one will believe in things as long as I am Evil President.”

Eventually, the evil President orders well-known Marvel sleazebag Henry Peter Gyrich (Boo, hiss) to assassinate Mary which he does by dressing up as Captain America and stabbing Mary at a huge rally. As far as assassination plots go, it’s pretty goddamn terrible but it does manage to spark a massive riot. Luckily, Mary is able to stay conscious just long enough to spray the crowd with her peace powers and calm everyone down. Then she faints.

Mary awakens from a coma a week later to find a vigil outside of her hospital, waiting for her to lead them as the new messiah. According to the Watcher, she eventually overthrows the corrupt government and saves the world. Meanwhile, the real Captain America beats the ever loving shit out of Henry Gyrich.

Wait, so is Cap possessed by Lil' Suzie? Is that what's happening? What the hell is going on?
Wait, so is Cap possessed by Lil’ Suzie? Is that what’s happening? What the hell is going on?

 

What If It Was The Fantastic Five Again?

It’s a story we’ve tackled over and over and over again. What if something happened in that first year of the Fantastic Four’s run? Hey, listen, it could be Atlantis Attacks again. And speaking of Atlantis and attacking, let’s talk about the time the Human Torch attacked a homeless man from Atlantis. The Torch is having a hissy-fit at the rest of the FF because he is clearly the one who got the short end of the stick in their whole getting powers thing. He leaves the Baxter Building and spends the night at what the texts continue to describe as a “flop house.” There he finds a familiar homeless person and sets his beard on fire. Then he throws said homeless person in the ocean and said homeless person luckily turns out to be Namor the Sub-Mariner. Because otherwise the FF would have a fucking lawsuit on their hands.

The Human Torch solves New York's homeless problem, one man at a time.
The Human Torch solves New York’s homeless problem, one man at a time.

While in our reality, the Torch dumps Namor in the drink on his own, in this issue we see the rest of the Fantastic Four helping to search for Johnny and them all watching him toss a strange man into the sea. Nobody seems to think this is a bad idea.

Anyway, Namor emerges from the ocean, pissed as hell but Sue Storm and the FF are able to calm him down. While they admit that Atlantis was destroyed years ago, they convince their new fishy friend to stick around, join the team and they can maybe help him find his people. Possibly before Atlantis Attacks and a giant snake devours the She-Hulk.

The Thing lets the new guy borrow his undies.
The Thing lets the new guy borrow his undies.

Namor’s first mission with the Fantastic Five is inevitably going to be the one where Doctor Doom sends the team back in time to search for Blackbeard’s treasure because it always is. Fuck you, Doom. You become a god on multiple occasions. Why the hell do you want some dead asshole’s doubloons? Anyway, Doom holds Sue hostage because she’s the woman and sends the rest of the team into the past. Luckily for everyone, Namor is familiar with Blackbeard’s treasure from when his team recovered the wreck years ago and knows exactly where to find it. Unfortunately, once he finds it, it is no longer there in the future for his people to discover and thus the location is lost to him so he could never find it in the first place and… GODDAMNIT, TIME TRAVEL. The hell with this, everyone back to the present to beat up Doom. That motherfucker.

"I see you're wondering about my friend's ears. He was injured... in a... mechanical rice picker."
“I see you’re wondering about my friend’s ears. He was injured… in a… mechanical rice picker.”

Back in the present, Namor unleashes the magical power of Blackbeard’s gold. Specifically, the gems of Merlin that were hidden among it. Jesus, how many famous historical figures interacted with this treasure? Did it also contain the bow of Robin Hood, the crown of Genghis Khan, the Dracula trophy of Dracula and the microphone of Elvis? Anyway, Namor unleashes the power of Merlin to turn Doom into a squirrel and then be seduced by another squirrel. Unfortunately, it’s just another fucking Doombot so guess who is still around to make bombastic statements and talk about himself in the third person. Fucking Doom.

The FF5 share many more exciting adventures all of which are made easier because Namor is there and isn’t he just so great? The super-apes of the Red Ghost are no match for the chiseled pecs of Namor the Sub-Mariner. Nor is Reed Richards and his stretchy flabby man chest. As he and Sue grow apart, she and Namor grow closer together until one evening whilst they enact the flying scene from Superman, Namor asks Sue to marry him. She says yes and luckily in this case, does not have her body permanently altered so it can live underwater. Good call, Sue. Excellent foresight. They do have a rather swinging wedding though (As far as I can tell, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are NOT invited.) and at the wedding toast, Reed proclaims that he is leaving the FF to pursue his scientific pursuits. Jesus, Reed. Way to bring the room down.

Way to bring down the party, REED.
Way to bring down the party, REED.

Fortunately, things seem to work out pretty well. The Fantastic Once Again Four continue to be a force for good in the Marvel Universe. Namor and Sue are expecting their first child while Reed opens Richtech where he can develop technology of the future without being distracted by frivolous things like fighting crime and being with a loving family. Alas, the good times cannot last forever. Needing a lab assistant, Reed hires hot foreign redhead Lissette Orlova and yes, those of you with linguistic degrees in the languages of fake eastern European countries, that IS a Latveria name. You see, Lissette is a spy for Doctor Doom, poisoning Reed even as she falls in love with him.

"Face it, tiger. You just hit... wait, that's not me."
“Face it, tiger. You just hit… wait, that’s not me.”

Eventually, Doom places his plan into action. He kidnaps Reed and his… weird purple singlet thingy and injects him with a neurotoxin that completely saps his free will. Meanwhile, Lisette apologizes. A LOT. Doom drags Reed to the Baxter Building and uses Reed’s knowledge to bypass the security systems. It’s a lot like the Baxter Building level of the Maximum Carnage game except the soundtrack is provided by Reed’s whimpers and not the musical stylings of Green Jelly.

After sealing Ben and Johnny in their rooms, Doom attacks Namor and Sue and their one set of pyjamas. Doom beats Namor pretty easily and then starts strangling Sue. Unfortunately for Sue, she has forgotten that she is the most powerful member of the FF and has beaten Doom numerous times and just lets herself be strangled until Reed snaps out of it and attacks Doom. Then Doom throws him at the window and Reed cuts himself badly, forgetting that he is a stretchy guy. I guess amnesia is communicable by air. Anyway, Doom escapes vowing revenge but the issue is almost over so I guess don’t worry about him.

The FF and Lissette rush Reed to a hospital where a blood transfusion from a Stretch Armstrong doll saves his life. Then Reed realizes that he loves Lissette and they hook up and they all live happily ever after with their creepy, creepy offspring.

PS Doom exploded on the way home.

 

What If Doctor Doom Graduated?

We all know the story. It’s a tale as old as time. Brilliant Eastern European son of a witch damned to Hell moves to New York, enrolls in university, befriends/hates the smartest guy on the planet and then blows his face off trying to contact said dead mother and gets kicked out of school. Victor Von Doom, could you possibly be any more cliche? But what if Doom’s crusty old dean was a little more lenient with Victor? What if, instead of expelling the student for attempting to contact the forces of evil, he sent Victor back to his dorm with a face full of bandages? What if all of that crap happened? And what if it was written by Dwayne Mcduffie?

Space Ghost has mastered the Five Magiks!
Space Ghost has mastered the Five Magiks!

This week we travel back to a time before Fantastic Four 1. Reed Richards is living at a boarding house with a very teenage Susan Storm and a ten year old Johnny Storm. Listen, it has long been canon that Reed met Sue when she was super young and then they married when she got a little older but that shit is still really creepy. Get your mind outta the gutter, Richards! Reed’s working on a Space Warp Projector which… shows the galaxy. In 3-d. Which is neat, I guess but it’s no rocket to the stars. Come on, Reed! Apply yourself for once and you might permanently disfigure your best friend for life.

Empire State University is really hard up for alumni, I guess.
Empire State University is really hard up for alumni, I guess.

Speaking of said best friend, Reed is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Ben Grimm. Unfortunately, he’s running a few minutes late because he got stuck in traffic behind the sinister Toyota of Dr. Doom. Doom arrives at the Boarding House looking for a place to stay and definitely not to do anything evil that might involve contacting the souls of the damned. And he looks so gosh darn trustworthy what with his face bandages and his mystic powers and his manservant. Then Ben arrives and it’s like a class reunion if one of the attendants hated all the rest. So, it’s like my class reunion.

This is absolutely the thing to say to somebody you know who has been disfigured.
This is absolutely the thing to say to somebody you know who has been disfigured.

Victor’s been in the house less than three hours before he steals Reed’s Space Warp Projector, using mystic powers to put Sue and her aunt to sleep. Reed and Ben decide to use science to track Doom and Sue and Johnny come along because what’s more fun than child endangerment? Nothing, that’s what.

"...this isn't my house."
“…this isn’t my house.”

The Nontastic Four follow Doom back to his cliche abandoned warehouse where he sets upon them with traps and robots. Which he calls Doombots. Which shouldn’t be hilarious because there’s no difference between college drop out classic Doom and legitimate Doctor Doom but it really is.

"If only I were a hideous orange rock monster with super strength and also depression!"
“If only I were a hideous orange rock monster with super strength and also depression!”

Doom traps our heroes and then begins trying to summon his mother from Hell with a combination of magic and Reed’s Space Warp Projector. He manages to tear a hole in reality and fill the room with demons but his mom is also there so I guess that’s a win? Good job, Doom? Ben manages to unplug the projector, meaning that the entire world won’t be swallowed by Hell, just the room. Man, today is just full of good news.

"Thanks, Satan!"
“Thanks, Satan!”

The group manages to hide in a pentagram on the floor, protecting them from the hellhole. Then Sue gets the bright idea to close the portal with satanic magic, attaching her lipstick to Johnny’s Fantasticar prototype and drawing another pentagram. This closes the portal, banishing the forces of hell and Doom’s mom. Doom is understandably pissed off so Reed spends literally SECONDS studying Doom’s research and figures out a way to free Doom’s mom.

The moral of this story is that sometimes people are just assholes.
The moral of this story is that sometimes people are just assholes.

The fact that Doom now has actual proof that Reed is smarter than him, combined with a mother’s love long denied him makes Doom finally realize… that he should be a super-powered monstrous despot! ALTERNATE REALITIES.

In unrelated news, Reed Richards has discovered a way TO SAVE PEOPLE FROM HELL AND NOBODY SEEMS TO THINK THIS IS IMPORTANT.

"Jesus, Reed... Maybe we should contact the Vatican about this or something?" "...why?"
“Jesus, Reed… Maybe we should contact the Vatican about this or something?” “…why?”

What If The Fantastic Four Killed Billions Of People And A Lot Of People Cared?

Reed Richards is dead! Yes, the Fantastic Four’s own Mr Fantastic Four’s own Mr. Fantastic Four’s own Mr… Shit. Reed Richards is dead. Executed by the Shi’ar Empire for the crime of saving the life of the world devouring Galactus (for some reason.) and thus responsible when Galactus devoured the Skrull Homeworld and ending the lives of seven billion Skrulls. Including, according to a Skrull representative, some very attractive princesses.

"YOUR FATE WILL BE DECIDED BY THESE BALLOONS!"
“YOUR FATE WILL BE DECIDED BY THESE BALLOONS!”

While in our universe, Galactus answers his cosmic summons and calls upon Eternity the very conciousness of the universe itself to testify (There’s your celebrity witness.) on Reed’s behalf in the universe we examine this week, Galactus can’t be bothered.

“Mighty Galactus” calls out Frankie Raye, the universe spanning Nova and Galactus’ current herald. “My friend and your saviour Reed Richards of Earth has been called upon to answer for the crime of saving your life! He needs your intervention to save his life.”

“Well, that’s his tough fucking luck, ain’t it?” Galactus replies. “I hate that stretchy asshole! He can go piss up a rope made of himself. Peace out!”

"He saved your life!" "Yeah, that was fucking dumb of him! What a maroon! So says Galactus!"
“He saved your life!” “Yeah, that was fucking dumb of him! What a maroon! So says Galactus!”

And with that heaven-splitting drop of the mic, Galactus dooms the life of Reed Richards. Empress Lilandra and the gathered impartial jury sentence Reed to death and then laser him to death right in the courtroom. In front of his wife and everything! That shit is COLD. The Traumatized Three are flabbergasted which is when the Watcher sends them back to Earth.

“Sorry!” He says. “ I figured watching your best friend and husband get brutally executed in front of you would be good for you! Boy, is my giant bald face red! Anyway, love to stay and help with that overwhelming grief but alas! I am forbidden to interfere!”

Man, I’m getting real sick of that guy’s bullshit.

They spell Revenge the same way everyone does. They tried getting a couple of 4s in there but it didn't work.
They spell Revenge the same way everyone does. They tried getting a couple of 4s in there but it didn’t work.

Anyway, the remaining FF decide to do what they do best: Namely seek out terrible revenge on Lilandra. They pile into a captured Skrull flying saucer (Yes, Skrulls cruise around in flying saucers. Honestly? I’m glad their homeworld blew up. These dudes are too cliche’ to live.) and head back to the Shi’ar Empire, only stopping to grab Annihilus’ old cosmic control rod. Presumedly in case they need to control anything. Cosmically.

The FF arrive on Chandilar, the Shi’ar throneworld and home to a bunch of X-Men adventures that aren’t important right now. They’re attacked by some Shi’ar patrol ships and then Johnny sets them all on fire and kills them. Which… uh… Wow. Well, way to kill some guys, Johnny. That’s… wow.

When you seek revenge, dig two graves. For the two people the Human Torch just fucking murdered.
When you seek revenge, dig two graves. For the two people the Human Torch just fucking murdered.

Anyway, no time to be upset about Johnny Storm, Human Murderer. The FF’s spacecraft is now under attack by a Shi’ar army. While Ben opens fire with the ship’s lasers, Sue uses her invisibility powers to weld the Cosmic Control Rod into the ship’s weapons because a) I guess she can do that and b) maybe it will help?

Well, it definitely helps. In that it completely blows up the entire Shi’ar homeworld, killing billions of people. Uh… whoops.

Well, this is embarrassing.
Well, this is embarrassing.

The FF return home as akwardly as humanly possible and then Sue appears on television from the UN to let Earth know exactly how fucked they are. The answer is very. Very very very fucked. The UN officially awards power over all of Earth’s armed forces to Nick Fury and SHIELD who prepares to defend the planet from the onslaught of the remaining Shi’ar empire and oh yeah, every other space going race in the universe. All of whom are a little fed up with Earth’s shit.

Meanwhile, the new Skrull Empress has recieved a message from a spy in the Kree army, basically laying out the oncoming attack on Earth. The Empress equips a Skrull ship with the Omni-Wave* and then stashes it on one of Mars’ moons. The plan is that when the armada attacks Earth, the Omni-Wave will wipe out every military power in the universe AND make it look like Earth did it to any survivors. Skrulls are total assholes.

Borrowed from last week's column.
Borrowed from last week’s column.

Back on Earth, the remaining Fantastic Four are surprisingly not in jail. They’re all just chilling in their giant office building, playing with Franklin. Franklin notices a distinct lack of smiles among his remaining family (He doesn’t mention his dad, which made me assume they hadn’t told him in case Reed get resurrected for a new FF movie or something. I don’t have the heart to tell him the FF are owned by Fox.) Anyway, Franklin wonders why the FF don’t just go and apologize to Shi’ar. Well, out of the mouths of babes, huh? That’s a wonderfully innocent stupid idea and the FF head out, leaving Franklin with a baby sitter. Who hopefully like raising small children with omega level mutant powers because there is no way the FF are coming back from this.

Well, gosh, if Frank Castle thinks you're doing a good job...
Well, gosh, if Frank Castle thinks you’re doing a good job…

The FF steal back their Skrull flying saucer and head out into space but before they can leave the system Ben detects another Skrull ship on one of Mars’ moons. They land to investigate and discover the hidden Skrull ship and its Omni-Wave. Both of which they punch until the day is saved. Unfortunately, the later explodes, killing the FF and also destroying Mars’ moon. Boy, history is going to look real kindly on the Fantastic Four.

That movie is VERY popular in space.
That movie is VERY popular in space.

Anyway, then the space armada arrives and tells everyone on Earth that since the FF blew up the traitorous Skrulls and are now dead, everyone else on Earth is probably pretty cool and how would you like to join our Federation of Planets? And that’s how Star Trek started! Cannonical!

 

*Last seen last week when Captain Marvel threatened a bunch of people with it. Thing is goddamn popular for something I’d never heard of before. I guess I just never had the Marvel trading card about it.

What If The Fantastic Four Murdered (But Didn’t Eat) A Child? And Did Some Other Stuff Too? Mostly Quitting.

This week, our old pal Uatu the Woolly Watcher (I guess? Is this a Marvel nickname? You’d think I’d be better at this by now.) decides to take a half day and give us four really short stories about the Fantastic Four all having the same powers. All it really did was make me dream of a What If where all of the New Fantastic Four had the same powers because a comic where Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, the Hulk and Wolverine all had stretchy powers is an amazing concept that should be explored more fully.

Seen here: The New Fantastic Four! Also the first comic I ever bought!
Seen here: The New Fantastic Four! Also the first comic I ever bought!

Our first terrifying tale begins with the inevitable crash of Reed Richards’ spaceship in some garbage field somewhere. As our heroes pull themselves from the wreckage, Johnny Storm discovers the incredible new ability to burst into flames and fly around. Soon he is joined in the sky by his sister and friends, all flying around and on fire. This does not seem the least bit dangerous.

The Human Torch! The Original Human Torch II! The She-Human Torch! And Mr. Fantastic! Because Reed Richards is still a bag of dicks.
The Human Torch! The Original Human Torch II! The She-Human Torch! And Mr. Fantastic! Because Reed Richards is still a bag of dicks.

Eventually everyone calms down and they decide to form the Fantastic Four. I would have thought that the Fiery Four or the Flaming Four or hell, the Flaming Freaks might be better but I also think a superhero team where everyone has the same power is fucking boring so what do I know? I guess they also don’t pick code names or anything. These guys are going to have to work a lot harder if they want to be anywhere close to the world’s greatest comic magazine.

Anyway, the FF’s first few adventures battling the Mole Man and the Skrulls go pretty well. You’d be surprised how many deadly foes will surrender to you if you threaten to SET THEM ON FIRE. It’s real quality crime prevention. Their tragedy arrives in the FF’s third adventure when Johnny notices a magician looking at a statue of a monster. Since I think we can all agree that, aside from Penn and Teller, there has never been a trustworthy magician, the Flametastic Four rush to stop him from… whatever the hell he’s doing.

One of my friends in the sixth grade was a magician and I can tell you from experience that they are completely untrustworthy.
One of my friends in the sixth grade was a magician and I can tell you from experience that they are completely untrustworthy.

Whatever the hell he’s doing is bringing the statue of a monster to life so it can rampage as much as a giant papier mache lizard that has been given life can. This is not much but the FF still decide to stop it. Mostly by burning down a city block which isn’t the best plan. Now, I’ll admit that the FF give it a cursory glance and recognize that the entire block is shitty and condemned but they still don’t exactly check to make sure the buildings are empty. Which is something you should definitely check when you are SETTING EVERYTHING ON FIRE. Come on, guys. This is probably how Chicago burned down.

"It's my missing face!"
“It’s my missing face!”

So the FF defeat the not terribly threatening monster and then fly off to attack the magician with third degree burns until he surrenders, COMPLETELY IGNORING THE BUILDINGS THEY SET ON FIRE. “The fire fighters will take care of it.” says Reed, arguably the smartest man on Earth. It’s at this point that the police arrive and tell the team that those buildings they burned down ARE BURNING OUT OF CONTROL AND THERE IS A LITTLE GIRL TRAPPED IN ONE. Whoops.

This Man! This Manslaughter!
This Man! This Manslaughter!

The FF return to the scene of their arson and attempt to absorb the flames, a skill THEY KNOW THEY HAVE AND YET COULD NOT BE BOTHERED TO USE. They’re able to stop the fires but not before the little girl tragically burns to death in the arms of a severely traumatized fire fighter. Okay, as far as third adventures go, this one could have gone better. The FF are somehow acquitted of their arson and manslaughter charges but the team breaks up because killing a child can wear on you. Well, it can if you’re Sue Storm who leaves the team to get thee to a nunnery. Everyone else pretty much just does whatever the fuck they want as Reed gets back into science, Johnny races cars and Ben joins the Avengers. Hooray for moving on with your life! A GIRL IS DEAD, FANTASTIC FOUR. YOU MURDERERS.

Hey, kids! Comics!
Hey, kids! Comics!

Next we head to another reality where the team all have the powers of Mr Fantastic. The ship crashes, the powers develop, Reed suggests they use their new abilities to save mankind and… they don’t.

“These powers are really gross and stupid.” says Sue, not entirely incorrectly.

“Yeah,” says Ben. “How exactly are we supposed to help mankind? By reaching things for them on high shelves?”

Reed considers this for a moment.

“Yeah, they’re actually not that great. Let’s not help mankind instead. That seems easier.”

Who could possibly consider these powers "stupid" or "useless?" Haven't you seen the Incredibles?
Who could possibly consider these powers “stupid” or “useless?” Haven’t you seen the Incredibles?

Meanwhile, Johnny takes the stage name “Mr Fantastic” and appears on Letterman for a couple of weeks before the world tires of his stupid, stupid powers. He eventually gets a job on the Vegas Strip as “Elastic Elvis”, picks up a heroin addiction and dies of a heart attack at thirty-four.*

With moderate power comes none responsibility.
With moderate power comes none responsibility.

Our third reality asks what if our four heroes had all become monsters like the Thing. And what happens is that Ben turns into a giant orange rock monster, Reed becomes a purple gorilla man, Johnny a… slightly smaller giant orange rock monster and Sue becomes… Man-Thing for some reason.

Whoever knows fear burns at the awkward sibling hug of the Man-Thing.
Whoever knows fear burns at the awkward sibling hug of the Man-Thing.

The foursome briefly consider trying to figure out a way to cure themselves (especially Sue who can’t talk and is worried about being turned into another comic character.) but Reed exhibits dimming intelligence and mostly just wants to pick fights with Ben and random cars. I guess he’s really excited about not being the traditional 98 lb weakling anymore.

They eventually pile into Reed’s Fantasicar that he’d apparently been working on and head to Monster Island in the Pacific where they can give up on ever regaining their humanity so that Reed can pick fights with Godzilla for as long as Marvel has the rights to legally print his adventures.

"Aren't we going to look for a cure, Reed?" "Screw that! We're gonna hang out with Fin Fang Foom!"
“Aren’t we going to look for a cure, Reed?” “Screw that! We’re gonna hang out with Fin Fang Foom!”

Finally, we travel to the reality where everyone has Sue’s invisibility powers and also everyone is working for SHIELD. It seems that, in this universe, Nick Fury was waiting for Reed’s spaceship when it crashed to scoop up whatever weirdness it brought from the stars. Some astronauts who can turn invisible and have military experience? Please sign up for my covert espionage task force.

OH MY GOD, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HEAD?
OH MY GOD, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HEAD?

The team spends most of their time working on whatever their talents make them best at. For Reed, it’s science and development, Johnny works on vehicles, Ben in training and weapons and Sue on dispatch. See, because she’s a woman. But when Doctor Doom attacks in his Doom-o-Coptor and demands Reed because he’s Doctor Doom and he’s a bombastic asshole, the team gets wicked invisible and travels to Latveria.

"Behold, Richards! The diabolical trap door of Doctor Doom!"
“Behold, Richards! The diabolical trap door of Doctor Doom!”

Upon arrival, Doom drops Reed through a trap door in his chambers because this is his perfect idea of revenge. Alas, there will be no forced trips back in time to retrieve Blackbeard’s treasure. Mostly what there is is Sue saving Reed’s life while Ben and Johnny beat the shit out of Doom. There’s a brief problem when Doom threatens the team with a gun that shoots sonic blasts but Reed makes it invisible, meaning that Doom can’t find the trigger. Then they beat up Doom until he isn’t a problem anymore. Hooray for everything!

AAAAAAAAGHH!!
AAAAAAAAGHH!!

 

*In the now legendary “Elastic Elvis Adventures #275”, True Believers!

What If Every Kid In The 90s’ Fantasy Came True?

When I started doing the second volume of What If, I knew it was only a matter of time until we started getting the 90s guys. Wolverine’s shown up a few times already and in What If vol 2 #1, we got the first Punisher appearance. Complete with giant head. Now, of course, it’s Venom’s turn.

This display is not accurate to the Venom trading card I had as a kid.
This display is not accurate to the Venom trading card I had as a kid.

For those who are unaware or only know Venom from Spider-Man 3 as the ooze monster that possessed Peter Parker and made him dance, Venom first appeared… sort of in the giant Secret War crossover. Peter had shredded his usual costume and started wandering around, stopping at the first thing that “looked like it wanted to create a costume.” Impeccable logic there, Spidey. Anyway, it did indeed make Spidey his kick-ass 80s black costume. Then it turned out it was an evil parasite, tried to possess Peter, had to be murdered with bells (All aliens hate bells, as you well know.) and later possessed some asshole and became one of the most popular villains ever if you are polling people’s younger brothers.

So this week we ask what would happen if Spider-Man never got rid of the symbiote. Peter’s feeling pretty run down lately (Mostly due to the symbiote running around with his body after Pete’s gone to sleep at night but also because of regular sex with his current main squeeze, the Black Cat. Often while suspended in webs which is goddamn weird.) The Cat suggests Spidey picked up some sort of space bug whilst Secret Warring. Then she runs off before she gets Space Clap or something. Classy.

"I find this a little worrying, Cat."
“I find this a little worrying, Cat.”

Peter visits his friend/foe Curt Connors AKA the Lizard AKA who diagnosis Pete as completely space flu free. He’s less of an authority on the effects of evil costumes on people so that bit of research has to wait a couple of days for the Fantastic Four to get back into town. When they finally do, Reed gives the costume the once over.

“Bad news, Spider-Man.” Reed says. You’ve got a full body skintight tapeworm.”

“There is literally nothing good about what you just said.” Spidey replies as his body clenches with seizures and the costume takes over. Luckily, Reed manages to stun Spidey with one of his giant science guns. Then he seals the webslinger in a giant glass case because we all know symbiotes are afraid of glass. A quick phone call to Dr Strange leads to some mystical backup but even that doesn’t help when Spidey kicks his way out. So much for the glass idea. Spidey knocks Strange and Richards out and then heads off into the night.

whatif5203
If you’re saying “I must quickly–“, you’re not being quick enough, Doc.

 

Meanwhile, for some reason, the Avengers are fighting it out with a (surprise surprise) extremely pissed off Hulk. They’re very excited when it appears that Spider-Man has arrived to help out. They’re less excited when it turns out he’s just there so that the symbiote can ditch Peter’s now burnt out body and take over the Hulk instead. Well… this probably could have gone better.

Well, that's deeply disturbing.
Well, that’s deeply disturbing.

Venom Hulk fucks off, leaving Earth’s Mightiest Hero and Starfox to help Peter. It seems the Symbiote feeds off adrenaline (something that has never come up in any Spider-Man comic I’ve ever read but whatever, other worlds than these, blah blah.) and it’s pretty much drained Peter leaving him with the appearance of an eighty year old man.

"Help me... I don't have pants."
“Help me… I don’t have pants.”

When he regains consciousness, Old Man Peter goes to visit his Aunt May for one last time and give some last touching words about… power or responsibility or something. Then he leaves before she dies of a heart attack. Ironically, said heart attack kills Pete  that night while he’s going over his symbiote notes. This tragic death will lead to Aunt May making a deal with Mephisto to save Peter and destroy her marriage to Mary Jane but that’s not important right  now.

Better get the mop.
Better get the mop.

The next day, Black Cat and the Kingpin meet up at Spider-Man’s secret funeral. I guess Fisk gets really sentimental when people he hates dies. I don’t remember any of this crap when he thought Daredevil was dead but whatever. Anyway, he and Cat seem to hit it off finally and he gives her a lift home.

Meanwhile, Reed’s working on another giant science gun that will actually kill the symbiote which is probably a great idea since it’s strapped to the fucking Hulk right now and that dude is terrifying when he’s not freaking out on tanks in the desert. He also figures out a way to track the symbiote and brings the Avengers to Mt. Rushmore to finally put a stop to Venom Hulk. The rest of the FF stays home for some reason. I guess nobody thought having the Thing who regularly beats up the Hulk or the Human Torch who is basically made of the stuff the Symbiote is afraid of was a good idea. Nice job, smartest man in the world.

So Venom Hulk appears, pleads for mercy with Thor and then attacks him because he’s a total douche from space. Thor does some excellent shitkicking on the symbiote and it eventually drains off, leaving only Bruce Banner. Thor examines the wad of alien smear on his hammer when it jumps off, engulfing him as anyone who has ever seen a horror movie could guess. I’ll let it slide because I don’t imagine Thor is a big movie guy.

Gross.
Gross.

Having now possessed an actual god, the Symbiote takes the next obvious step and… goes and hides in a cave. Master strategist, this fellow. It’s a shock we’re not already dead. Anyway, this cave hiding gives Reed a chance to make a really long distance call to Black Bolt of the Inhumans. Luckily for everyone, the Symbiote is also weak against sonics and knuckles and Black Bolt has both. He yells into the cave, blasting the symbiote off its Asgardian host. And also completely destroying Mt. Rushmore. Whoops.

Not even Venom can resist Thor's gorgeous hair.
Not even Venom can resist Thor’s gorgeous hair.

Reed and Dr Strange argue over what to do with the beaten Symbiote when Black Cat appears and zaps it with her own stolen giant science gun. Turns out she found Peter’s notes on how to build the thing and then took them to the Kingpin whose scientists put it together. Now she’s gotten revenge for her boyfriend and all it cost her was a lifetime of servitude to New York’s most powerful gangster. So, I guess that’s a win!

What If Radioactive Man Wasn’t?

This week, we explore the wonderful, murderous origins of Tony Stark, the cool exec with the heart of steel. As we have no doubt discussed before, and if not there was a whole damn movie made about it, Tony builds weapons for the government. While visiting… apparently China although I could swear it used to be Vietnam, Tony is exploded in this amazing panel.

WHOOO!
WHOOO!

Stark regains conciousness back at Evil China HQ with shrapnel on its way into his heart and is forced to work for the villanous and pouch covered Wong Chu (Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar.). Chu sets Tony up with a lab and an assistant and tells him to get cracking building some sort of pro-communist weapon. Instead Stark and his assistant build the original Iron Man armor and luckily for them, Chu doesn’t notice. (“That sure looks like a glove that shoots beams out of it.” “This? Nah. It’s a… bomb. Shaped like a hand. Hand bomb. Super big in the West.” “Ahh, of course. Carry on.) As the Iron Man armor is finally activating, Chu busts in. In our reality, Tony’s assistant sacrifices himself, giving Tony the extra minutes he needs to turn on the armor but here, Chu arrives a little too early, leaving Tony stuck on the table like a… plate. That’s been nailed to a table. Look, similes are hard.

whatif4802
“You’re dirty, Lips. Ya need a bath.” “No, no! Not the bath, Big Boy! NOT THE BATH!”

After some brief torture, Tony’s shipped to Even More Evil China HQ at the request of Chen Lu (Better known in our reality as Radioactive Man seen here with his eyes safely protected by goggles.).

Chen tortures Tony a bit more because it’s become a very popular passtime in China and then ships him back to the states with a “little” communicator (It’s only coaster sized.) wired into his brain. Chen’s plan is to use the billionare industrialist as a spy and possible assassin. Tony protests of course. For one thing, nobody is paying him. Also he keeps getting tortured for some reason. But Chen activates a device in Tony’s chest plate that deactivates it, forcing the shrapnel closer to his achey breaky heart. Eventually, Tony comes around and gets sent home. After some additional farewell torture.

whatif4803
Apparently Spider-Man creator Steve Ditko did the breakdowns on this. But like… this is some bad fuck-off art.

Back in the States, Tony premiers Iron Man for everyone to see. Of course, he doesn’t tell anyone that he’s the guy in the suit. This was set back in the sixties when everyone had a secret identity, not just Spider-Man. Anyway, Iron Man is welcomed into the brotherhood of superheroes with open arms and Tony spends the next few months doing hero crap and eating Burger King. Problems arise when a pre-eye patch Nick Fury drops by. Fury has this crazy idea that Iron Man’s working for the Chinese, possibly because he read the cover of this comic. Unfortunately, he can’t actually prove it because he has literally no proof. So he mostly just yells and gets angry.

Nick Fury looks good as hell in a thin tie.
Nick Fury looks good as hell in a thin tie.

Soon after, Tony is contacted by some military dude. The government has been working closely with Stark on the formation of SHIELD* and they drop off their recommendation for its first director, Fury. Chen sees this and passes the information on to Hydra who try and assassinate Nick at the eye doctor. (Did you know Nick Fury only wears the eye patch to keep his vision from getting worse? This is the worst trading card fact ever!)

This is the worst origin for Fury's eye patch ever.
This is the worst origin for Fury’s eye patch ever.

Meanwhile, Chen begins observing strange changes in Stark. He’s taken to meditating and touching his belt a lot. “Well,” thinks Chen. “That’s weird but however this dude wants to handle my forcing him to be a traitor to his country is fine by me.” This lax attitude towards meditation will once again be Chen Lu’s undoing.

"Listen, just because you're my exact double doesn't mean you can waste my time."
“Listen, just because you’re my exact double doesn’t mean you can waste my time.”

Fury drops by the Fantastic Four’s appartment to let them in on the fact that Iron Man might still be up to something so a poorly drawn Ben and Johnny swing by Stark Industries where they get into one of their hilarious fights. And then secretly bug the place. They quickly learn that Tony is indeed working for the bad guys and Sue Storm invisibly informs Fury. Unfortunately, Chen has also bugged Fury because espionage is complicated. He sends Iron Man to kill Mr Fantastic at the  Baxter Building because throwing away your top secret super hero spy on a hit mission is a great fucking idea.

Could this be the worst drawing of the Thing I have ever seen? No, because I have attempted to draw the Thing.
Could this be the worst drawing of the Thing I have ever seen? No, because I have attempted to draw the Thing.

Iron Man arrives at the Baxter Building, easily disabling the security. Luckily for him, Reed knows he’s coming and has sent the rest of the four to see a movie. It’s that version of Terminator 2 with Sylvester Stallone from the Last Action Hero because alternate realities are weird. Tony and Reed fight some before Tony escapes, leaving a tape behind for Reed to find. Reed plays it and discovers that it’s a super slowed down message from Tony. Turns out Tony’s meditation has actually been extremely slowed down words begging for help. Reed realizes that Tony’s not actually a traitor, just a prisoner and lures him into some super magnetized room that shuts down his armor.

What the fuck is actually happening here?
What the fuck is actually happening here?

Tony lives but he’s completely paralyzed for some reason. Meanwhile, Reed loads the Iron Man armor with TNT and fires it at China, blowing Chen Lu up. Yeah, seriously.

And that's how America won the war.
And that’s how America won the war.

 

 

*Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

 

What If The Hulk Got Mad? …wait, seriously?

This week we explore the Hulk, the implications of the logical conclusions of angering said Hulk and whether or not these implications will be found palatable. Or to put it simply, what if the Hulk got really, really, REALLY angry. Like, message board angry.

Let's all just take a moment to admire this gorgeous Bill Sienkiewicz cover. And applaud me for spelling his name correctly on only the third go.
Let’s all just take a moment to admire this gorgeous Bill Sienkiewicz cover. And applaud me for spelling his name correctly on only the third go.

Our story begins, as it often does in tales of intense rage with Rick Fucking Jones. Of course, in this case the rage is mine but that isn’t important. We follow the usual chain of events as the dumbest teenager in the Marvel Universe drives Archie’s jalopy out to an atomic bomb testing site so he can play the harmonica and win fifty cents for an egg cream. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for anyone who owns property in New Mexico, Dr Bruce Banner races out to save Rick’s life. In this case, he fails to knock Rick into the radiation proof trench that all nuclear test sites feature and the two are both belted by gamma rays.

Kidnapped by mindless ones!
Kidnapped by mindless ones!

The military takes the two radioactive idiots back to Gamma Base and they’re both put to bed and given all the ice cream and ginger ale they could want. Problems arise when Bruce realizes he wants more vanilla and Rick telepathically reads his mind. Then, angered by indescribable pain and lack of that peanut butter stuff you drizzle on the ice cream and then it hardens, Banner freaks the fuck out and turns into the Hulk. He kicks a wall down and runs out into the desert.

When General Thunderbolt Ross arrives seconds later, Rick tries to cover for the man who saved his life. “Uh, yeah. Bruce WAS here. But then a giant… green guy busted in and kidnapped him. I think he was a robot.” Fortunately, in a post-Kirby Monster Comics universe, this is completely plausible and so the Army begins its search for a green, scientist kidnapping robot. Arch Hall Jr and a jeep with a shovel in the back are mobilized at once.

"Son, I fought in the Fin Fang Foom wars and what you're saying makes complete sense to me."
“Son, I fought in the Fin Fang Foom wars and what you’re saying makes complete sense to me.”

Meanwhile, the Hulk is absolutely hysterical, feeling nothing but pain and also really worried about the annoying teenager that apparently lives in his head. He tangles with the army a few times before Rick can convince him to go into hiding. Unfortunately, Ross observes Rick slipping the Hulk mental mash notes and realizes that they two are mentally linked. Desperate to hush up the unstoppable rage monster before the public finds out, Ross decides his best course of action is to start torturing Rick. General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, ladies and gentleman. The man who never met a hornet’s nest he couldn’t poke with a stick.

"HULK HAVE DEEP PERSONAL EMOTIONS."
“HULK HAVE DEEP PERSONAL EMOTIONS.”

Surprising literally no one, inflicting pain on the guy whose brain is psychically linked to the strongest scariest motherfucker on earth is a TERRIBLE idea. Hulk starts freaking out worse than ever, throwing around tanks and actually killing people. And since that isn’t bad enough, Ross goes ahead and tortures Rick to death. Now, personally, I have no problem with this but the Hulk oddly takes issue.

Whoops.
Whoops.

After a devastating attack on Gamma Base, Ross calls in the only people who can possibly help him: The Fantastic Four in their 43rd What If appearance. Unfortunately, the FF have little effect on the Hulk as Johnny fails to burn him, Reed almost gets torn in half and Sue fails to confuse him by turning invisible. Which is not a very good plan. Finally, the Thing takes a crack which would have been my first go-to but whatever. Unfortunately, then the Hulk hits the Thing with a nuclear missile.

With a single puff, the Hulk ruins children's birthday parties across America.
With a single puff, the Hulk ruins children’s birthday parties across America.

Everyone thinks the two monster men are both dead until a human Ben Grimm carries an unconscious human Bruce Banner out of the giant crater. So it looks like everything’s going to be fine, right? Not so much.

Bruce regains conciousness, is flooded by the mental anguish of Rick’s death, turns back into the Hulk and snaps Ben’s neck. This causes Johnny to attack and the Hulk swats him like a fucking fly, reducing the Fantastic Four to the Fantastic Fiancees. “Well, I’m out of ideas.” Says Reed.

At this point, Thor and Iron Man, who have been watching the whole thing unfold on TV, arrive. Thor uses his lightening powers to overcharge Iron Man’s transistors (Silver Age Iron Man was always solving his problems with transistors. The only thing they couldn’t cure was alcoholism.) hoping to make the Golden Avenger stronger. What it mostly does is make Iron Man’s armour light up like a pinball machine when the Hulk twists his spine backwards.

The best part is that this headbutt comes out of fucking nowhere.
The best part is that this head butt comes out of fucking nowhere.

Finally, with no other ideas, Thor just fucking grabs the Hulk and breaks his neck. Which probably would have saved time in the long run. As the Hulk dies, he turns back into Bruce Banner and Thor zaps the corpse with lightning, giving a proper burial to a fallen foe. And disposing of the corpse of the guy he just killed. Meanwhile, Ross is digging his own grave behind Gamma Base for that sixteen year old civilian he tortured to death. Whoops!

 

What If They Fridged The Invisible Woman?

Forty-two weeks of writing this column has taught me a number of things. The Watcher looks better with a shirt than without. It’s always funnier when somebody destroys the universe. People cared way more about Namor in the 80s then they do now. And if Reed Richards loses his wife, he freaks the fuck out. So this week we’re exploring what would happen if Sue Richards died giving birth to future Deus Ex Machina and member of Power Pack, Franklin Richards. It’s not very good at all.

whatif4201
“Why on Earth would something that could help Sue’s pregnancy be in another universe, Reed?” “Shut up, Johnny. We’re going on a science adventure!”

So Sue’s giving birth to Franklin and the whole thing’s gone wrong. This is probably mostly due to all the cosmic rays that Reed and Sue absorbed and not because of Reed’s terrifying elastic sperm. Good God, there’s an image I regret thinking. So Reed, Johnny and Ben leave Sue’s side to head into the Negative Zone which contains a Cosmic Control Rod. Apparently, in addition to giving the leader of the Negative Zone and metallic bug man Annihilus control over the Annihilation Wave or whatever the hell it was called back in the sixties, the Control Rod also makes for safer pregnancies. I honestly do not recall reading that in the “Did You Know” section of the Cosmic Control Rod’s trading card.

This plan seems perfectly sensible.
This plan seems perfectly sensible.

While the Fantastic Three beat the crap out of Annihilus, Sue sits in bed and remembers how she met Reed and I am very pleased to see this flashback does not include Reed meeting Sue when she was six and he was in college. That shit is canonical and also disgusting.

If there's anyone more attractive than TV's Russell Johnson, I haven't met them."
If there’s anyone more attractive than TV’s Russell Johnson, I haven’t met them.”

In the Negative Zone, Reed manages to snatch the Cosmic Baby Control Rod (That’s a baby controlling rod that is cosmic, by the way. Not a rod that controls cosmic babies. See Jack Kirby’s 2001 comic for that particular rod.) but then he, Ben and Johnny are captured by Annihilus instead.

Hilarious!
Hilarious!

They escape only when Reed stretches out his fingers to give Annihilus history’s grossest face massage. Only then do they escape back to Earth just in time… for Sue to already be dead.Whoops.

Not hilarious!
Not hilarious!

The Marvel Universe gathers for a funeral that would be quite touching if so many people hadn’t shown up in their long underwear. Seriously, Spider-Man. Rent a suit for God’s sake. And hey, Hercules. There’s not a “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” sign outside of the funeral parlor but trust me. IT’S IMPLIED.

I can't take you idiots anywhere.
I can’t take you idiots anywhere.

Anyway, Johnny breaks down, Ben gives a speech that’s actually nice enough to be featured in a better comic than ‘What If’ and Reed… spirals into depression. And when the smartest guy on the planet gets depressed, you maybe want to keep an eye on that.

And some pants. Get him some pants.
And some pants. Get him some pants.

After the funeral, Namor offers to stick around for a while. Ben and Johnny both agree because who better to spend time with when you’re grieving than the shirtless dude who always wanted to bang the deceased. Namor’s… honestly a little worried about Reed. “Look, we’ve fought, we’ve been friends, your brother in law burnt off my beard when I was a hobo. I just want to make sure you’re okay.” Also stuff like this can be a good tip-off that someone isn’t happy.

All things considered, this is actually a pretty nice splash page.
All things considered, this is actually a pretty nice splash page.

That night, Reed swipes that weird jet suit that Silver Surfer wore back in issue 37* and heads back into the Negative Zone to kill Annihilus. Namor, doing the nightly bed check, discovers that the Baxter Building is Reedless and wakes Ben and Johnny. They manage to track Reed, finding him on an asteroid where he’s torturing Annihilus. Who is actually super pathetic. He’s already drained from the recent fight over the Cosmic Baby Control Rod and basically just begging Reed not to kill him. Also he didn’t actually kill Sue so he’s super confused about what the hell is actually happening. Poor dope. Unfortunately for him, Reed’s in full-on “My Wife Is Dead And I Am A Super-Hero Dealing With Real Issues” mode.

BEHOLD THE DEADLY FOE OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR!
BEHOLD THE DEADLY FOE OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR!

Johnny, Ben and Namor arrive and try to talk Reed out of murdering Annihilus and probably killing himself in the process but Reed’s having none of it. He shoots Annihilus with some sort of Jack Kirby ray or something and they both fall into the barrier between the Negative Zone and Regular Universe. Ben tries one last shot to save his friend, but Reed’s like “fuck it” and kills himself. Afterwards, Namor, Johnny and Ben head for home, wondering if Reed and Sue are finally together somewhere. I don’t know much about religion but if you buy into that stuff, murdering some guy and killing yourself are not, so far as I know, the keys to the kingdom of Heaven.

Meanwhile, back at the Baxter Building, literally everyone has forgotten about Sue’s still very much alive baby. Nice job, assholes!

And look after the kid my wife died bringing into this world only for me to completely ignore it!
And look after the kid my wife died bringing into this world only for me to completely ignore it!


*Issue 37, True Beliebers!

What If The Thing, The Beast And The Silver Surfer All Continued To Mutate? But The Surfer Mutated Into A Bald Guy With No Powers.

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.

What If Jonah Hex was the Thing?
What If Jonah Hex was the Thing?

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?

A vroom vroom vroom with a zoom zoom zoom!
A vroom vroom vroom with a zoom zoom zoom!

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.

Is that Sue or Johnny with boobs?
Is that Sue or Johnny with boobs?

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.

If you shake him hard enough, soda foams out of his Moe haircut.
If you shake him hard enough, soda foams out of his Moe haircut.

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.

LEGITIMATELY UPSETTING.
LEGITIMATELY UPSETTING.

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.

Well, there's certainly no way THIS can end happily...
Well, there’s certainly no way THIS can end happily…

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.

No sense. Whatsoever.
No sense. Whatsoever.

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.

A real thing that happened in a real comic that is not even ten years old.
A real thing that happened in a real comic that is not even ten years old. That is getting a movie adaptation.

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!

This week's celebrity Watcher: Alfred Hitchcock!
This week’s celebrity Watcher: Alfred Hitchcock!

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.

"It's a good thing I found underwear that perfectly matches my fur."
“It’s a good thing I found underwear that perfectly matches my fur.”

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.

I miss you, Kitty Beast.
I miss you, Kitty Beast.

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.

whatif3710
I imagine Hank talking like Beast Man from here on.

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.

Just picture a box spinning on his dick.
Just picture a box spinning on his dick.

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.

Yeah, this is exactly what one of the smartest men in the Marvel U wants to happen to him.
Yeah, this is exactly what one of the smartest men in the Marvel U wants to happen to him.

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.

"So long, buddy! This was the easiest solution we could think of!"
“So long, buddy! This was the easiest solution we could think of!”

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?

I love how petulant Galactus is here. "Screw you, man. Go ask your new friends for help if they're so great."
I love how petulant Galactus is here. “Screw you, man. Go ask your new friends for help if they’re so great.”

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.

Lady, he JUST told you he can read your thoughts.
Lady, he JUST told you he can read your thoughts.

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.

Adding to a long legacy of gold ladies in bathing suits.
Adding to a long legacy of gold ladies in bathing suits.

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.

I think he stole it from a Batman action figure from the 90s.
I think he stole it from a Batman action figure from the 90s.

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!

**Acronyms are fun!

***X!