Tag Archives: Forbidden to Interfere

TimeQuake I: In Which Mr Fantastic Is Snippy And Doctor Doom Does A Good Deed.

Since your sun burned hot in the sky and also since I started writing this thing lo those many years ago, there has been one standard in What If comics. The Watcher hangs around and doesn’t do anything. Except when he sent Wolverine back in time and accidentally ended the universe for no fucking reason. (Nice one, Watch.) All of that changes TONIGHT in What If’s very first ever five issue arc: TimeQuake! Which I read the last issue of when I was eight and thought was the coolest thing ever. And if the first issue is anything to go by, the old saying is true: Eight year old Matt was an idiot.

Uatu the Watcher in Watcher Battle Armor.
Uatu the Watcher in Watcher Battle Armor.

We open with Uatu doing his usual spiel about the multiverse and forbidden to interfere and then he starts going on about Nexuses. Apparently a Nexus is a particular person who has the power to change reality through… like, time travel or something. Apparently Kang is one. Immortus is another. Or possibly the same. Also that fucker Rick Jones because he can’t stop playing his harmonica on the multiverse dick. God, I hate that guy.

Uatu senses some kind of disturbance in the multiverse or whatever and sends his consciousness into the future and also an alternate reality where three giant cloak dudes called the Time Keepers watch over a bubbling cauldron and prepare to name Franklin Richards Thane of Cawdor. Actually, they’re just going to cause a very, very late abortion for Frankie Says Relax. It turns out Franklin is this universe’s Nexus and by killing him, the Time Keepers can continue to influence this reality. Or something to that effect. I don’t know, I stopped paying attention. Anyway, Uatu asks if he can watch because it’s what he does and the Time Keepers have no reason to question him so we jump back to the universe where Spider-Man Joined The Fantastic Four from What If 1*. Except that Sue divorced Namor, Namor undid his making her a permanent no-take backs fish person and then Sue hooked up with Reed, rejoined the FF and got pregnant.  No, it isn’t confusing at all! Shut up!

"Shut up, stop poking around and get in here, Uatu. You prick."
“Shut up, stop poking around and get in here, Uatu. You prick.”

Anyway, Sue’s having birth complications delivering Franklin so the FF travel to the Negative Zone to find the Cosmic Control Rod which can Cosmically Control Sue’s womb into not killing her or her enchanted baby. Of course Reed doesn’t actually tell Spidey, Ben or Johnny any of this, so when Spidey is captured by green armor jerk, Annihilus and accidentally steals the Cosmic Womb Wrangler, it’s a real lucky break for everyone.

Oh no, Dick Bats!
Oh no, Dick Bats!

Anyway, Spidey fights Annihilus and then the rest of the FF show up and they also fight Annihilus. The Time Keepers quickly realize that they are going to fail at killing this baby (Easily the simplest thing in the world! I mean, it’s like babies WANT to be dead.) so they send Doctor Doom to go fight the FF and steal the rod. Telling Doctor Doom what to do rarely works very well, but it seems to go pretty darn fine this time until a ghost steals Doom’s soul out of his body. Seriously. The ghost in question is a big scary cloak called the Whisperer so he could really be anyone. My money is currently on Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. The Ghost tells Doom that if Sue and Franklin die, Reed will lose his damn mind (in the west) and bathe the world in nuclear fire. Which is a perfectly rational thing to expect from Mr Fantastic. Doom agrees and tosses Reed the control rod and then he pushes Annihilus into the Antimatter Negative Positive part of the Negative Zone and they both get erased from reality except Doom is secretly saved by the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

Ooogidy Booogidy Boo!
Ooogidy Booogidy Boo!

The FF return to Earth and use the cosmic control rod to save Sue and the baby… somehow. And then they celebrate the birth of this kid and the death of their greatest enemy. Hooray!

Meanwhile in space, Uatu gloats and the Time Keepers prepare to kill another Nexus or whatever and we TO BE CONTINUE and GOD, I hope this thing gets better. That was a twenty-eight page punch comic. Yeesh.

 

*Not to be confused with the other reality where Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four, Sue married Namor, Spider-Man quit, Reed tried to destroy Atlantis and failed to identify a pregnant woman.

At least it isn’t Assistant Editor’s Month.

That’s right, Interfereacateers, just in time for Christmas, it’s the worst thing to happen to Forbidden To Interfere. Well, the worst thing besides me moving to America, getting a job and missing my fucking deadlines left and right. Why, yes, I AM plagued with guilt. Thanks for asking. Yes, instead of the usual fascinating, strange and occasionally ridiculous adventures to the alternate realities of the Marvel Universe, we have… the funny issue. I swear to god, I could not sigh hard enough.

We start with the rather bizarre first story (which is also told remarkably straight for a humor issue.) wherein during an epic battle between the Mad Titan Thanos and the World Devouring Galactus, Thanos uses the power of the Infinity Gauntlet to change Galactus into an ordinary human whom he abandons naked and alone on Earth. Galactus finds himself with a nasty case of amnesia in a trailer park in Kansas. Luckily, he’s quickly found by local woman Gertrude Rebmann who mistakes him for Elvis.

Yeah, this is where we’re going this week.

Gertrude takes Galactus in and attempts to return his memory by showing him old Elvis flicks, pompadouring his hair and feeding him peanut butter and banana sandwiches in an effort to stave off the hunger of the world devourer.

Not as good as the "Kids In The Hall" sketch about Elvis being Bruce's landlord.
Not as good as the “Kids In The Hall” sketch about Elvis being Bruce’s landlord.

It’s also quickly discovered that Galelvis has a singing voice at least on par with the King, and he finds himself ready to return to the stage and his music. His first performance is a hit and soon whispers cross the Marvel Universe that Elvis has somehow returned to life. Luckily, this IS the Marvel Universe so nobody thinks to hard about it. Literally half the universe has died and come back at some point.

Eventually, the night before a sold out concert, Galelvis is approached by Adam Warlock.

“It’s over, World Devourer! I have defeated Thanos and wrested from his grip the Infinity Gauntlet! You can return once more to the cosmos!”

“Alternately,” Galactus replies. “I could stay on Earth, be Elvis and not commit genocide anymore.”

It’s really win-win for everyone.

Silver Surfer is gonna make one hell of a roadie.
Silver Surfer is gonna make one hell of a roadie.

After that, we get some one page jokes and then head into a story about Spider-Man and his hideous monster baby, Spidey-Baby having to fight crime while Mary Jane is out of town. It’s not very good. Spidey-Baby is really horrible to look at. It looks like Gonzo had sex with a football, which is not entirely impossible. Also it involves Hydroman getting absorbed by a diaper so I think we’ll just call it a night.

I hate everything about what I am seeing here.
I hate everything about what I am seeing here.

What If Phoenix STILL didn’t die but it’s a what if so somebody fucking does?

So we’re back after a week off so I could continue to make the hideous climb from early to mid-thirties. Maybe taking a break during a two parter wasn’t my best decision, but I have the second annual “wacky” What If next week, so trust me. I will be punished. Last time, as you’ll recall, Jean Grey of the X-Men was lobotomized by the Shi’ar to remove her Phoenix powers. This is the cosmic equivalent to slapping a band-aid on a gaping head wound, and it worked just as well. Unfortunately, Jean’s powers arrived just in time for her baby to be kidnapped by Mastermind who was possessed by the Shadow King so we can have an “X-Men Villains Matt Doesn’t Particularly Care For” twofer. Then Jean realized she was actually the Phoenix Force in the form of Jean and went to visit the real Jean’s sleeping cocoon. And accidentally vaporized her. Well, not even immortal fire goddess are perfect, I suppose.

Anyway, Jean mounts an attack on the Shadow King. Unfortunately for her, Shadow King has found and used former X-villain Erik the Red’s Aging/Deaging Device* to turn Baby Rachel into Excalibur Rachel. Complete with weird spiky bodysuit. That she wouldn’t get until the dark Days of Future Past Future. But whatever. Jean tries the whole “Listen to me, Rachel! Remember who you are!” but Rachel still has the brain of a nine month old, so the only thing she remembers is that time she shat herself this morning. This is not at all useful in a superhero battle.

Perhaps Jean's creepy baby arm will save the day,
Perhaps Jean’s creepy baby arm will save the day,

With no other options, Jean takes the battle to the Shadow King’s home on the Astral Plane and then burns him to fucking death. Hey, she killed a whole planet. One bodiless douche canoe is not a big fucking deal. With that done, she’s left with a sixteen year old Rachel Summers with the brain of a nine month old. Luckily, the power of the Phoenix can be used to completely rewrite the Rachel’s DNA, returning her to infanthood. And while we’re messing around with her on a molecular level, let’s just tweak that hair colour a little, make her good at piano and maybe not cry so fucking much when Mommy’s had a long day. What mother could do less for her kid?

"I'm gonna remake you into someone who isn't a constant disappointment."
“I’m gonna remake you into someone who isn’t a constant disappointment.”

Jean returns to the X-Mansion with the kid in tow and decides… no, I don’t think my teammates, family and husband really need to know about my returned powers, my baby’s brief adolescence or my latest murder. Instead, Jean decides to fake it and just be a mother. Which is a wonderful plan that works just plain great for eight years until an anti-mutant president enters the White House, starts stirring up anti-mutant hate and the rest of the Marvel Universe fall in line. Thanks a lot, guys.

Worried about her family, Jean decides to finally bring the Phoenix out of retirement for one last job. She sneaks into the White House and lobotomizes the President into a more mutant friendly type of guy.

“Mr. President, what are your thoughts on the ongoing tensions in Russia?”
“Mutants are good.”

“That doesn’t really answer my question, sir.”

“MUTANTS ARE GOOD!”

So THAT plans goes absolutely perfectly for about eight seconds before the President is assassinated by anti-mutant terrorists. And because the President had… you know, a Vice President with pretty much the exact same opinions, we’re back at square one. And square one is a Presidential Order to kill all mutants with Sentinels. Shit.

Alas no one could have seen this coming.
Alas no one could have seen this coming.

So because Sentinels are the absolute most stable giant robot monsters in the Marvel U, they quickly decide that the thing to do is wipe out everyone with powers. The Avengers and the Fantastic Four both bite the dust, leaving the X-Men on the run. It’s around this time that Wolverine gets his shit together enough to realize that Jean still has her powers. And then he punches her a bunch of times until her powers manifest. Because violence is the only way Wolverine knows how to solve his problems. The Phoenix Force does indeed emerge and Jean unloads her eight years of lies to Logan before she wipes his brain. Like a friend would. Unfortunately, Cyclops and Professor X were listening at the door like so much Mr Furley and they kick Jean off the team.

"I probably should have packed or something."
“I probably should have packed or something.”

While Jean goes to mope on her giant rock in New Mexico, the X-Men and Magento mount an attack on the Sentinals’ home base in the Baxter Building. It… doesn’t go great. The Sentinels are tipped off by Magneto’s magnetic powers (“Lousy powers! You sold me out!”) and then they paralyze him. Then Jean stops moping and comes back to help out, murdering hundreds of Sentinels with an effective AOE attack. While that’s going on, Colossus chucks Shadowcat into the Master Mold, where she re solidifies, choking the robot making robot with her intestines. I guess that’s one way to do it.

SPLUTCH
SPLUTCH

With Master Mold and the Sentinels destroyed, the X-Men return home to count their dead. And then a suspiciously Mole Man looking Destiny tells her that if she stays on Earth, she will eventually destroy it. And so the Phoenix leaves behind her husband, her daughter and all that make her human to explore the galaxy. And probably blow up some planets that we personally do not live on.

 

*Totally a real thing. They used it to turn Magneto into a baby. Which also totally happened.

What If The Phoenix Didn’t Die And Also We Never Did This Particular What If Before?

So here we are again at the most obvious What If story ever: What if Jean Grey AKA Marvel Girl, Phoenix, Dark Phoenix and according to her 1994 Marvel trading card just Jean Grey hadn’t been replaced by the Phoenix force, stuck in a cocoon and impersonated for like eight years? So we start with Jean’s heroic sacrifice on the moon completely fucking up and instead the alien Shi’ar cut out a sizable portion of Jean’s brain so she can’t access her mutant powers anymore. Then they kick the X-Men out which is probably a good choice for the entire Shi’ar empire in the long run.

Congratulations! You survived the experience!
Congratulations! You survived the experience!

Back on Earth, Scott and Jean have the saddest wedding ever, the Angel buys them a house on a cliff and Jean gets into some serious full time moping.

“You can’t understand what it’s like to lose your powers, Scott!” she cries.

“Jean’s right.” Scott thinks. “But doesn’t she know I’d give anything to lose my accursed optic blasts. With a glance, I could level a building…”*

I don't know what exactly is raining on these guys but it is disgusting.
I don’t know what exactly is raining on these guys but it is disgusting.

And then Magneto shows up and kidnaps Jean to his Asteroid Base where she can at least complain in a vacuum. Once there, Magneto offers Jean some new clothes and such but she’d much rather spend half the issue in her underwear so whatever. Then Mags offers Jean her heart’s desire. He can restore the Phoenix Force to her and all it will cost… is her very SOUL. MOO HOO HA HA. No, but seriously, it’s not going to cost anything. Mostly Magento is just hoping once she’s repowered, he can get her on board with his whole pro-mutants agenda.

Imagine you're sitting next to Wolverine on this space flight and he just starts snarling and shaking his claws at nothing. I imagine it was very interesting to be friends with Wolverine in the 80s.
Imagine you’re sitting next to Wolverine on this space flight and he just starts snarling and shaking his claws at nothing. I imagine it was very interesting to be friends with Wolverine in the 80s.

Meanwhile, Scott’s grabbed the X-Men and they’re all heading to Asteroid M to beat up Magento because this is how the X-Men solve their disagreements. Real mature, guys. While they distract Magneto by punching his face, Jean has a crisis of conscious, remembers the billions of people she killed when she was Phoenix, realizes she probably got off pretty lucky and then smashes up Magento’s power restoring chamber with a big stick. Fuck you, Magento and fuck your gifts too! Annoyed by her vandalism, but respectful of her in that weird way Magneto always is, he lets Jean and the X-Men go. Jean eventually puts on some pants.

Things slowly return to normal back at the X-Mansion. Jean graduates from a college that isn’t secretly a paramilitary cult and starts teaching the New Mutants at Xavier’s. She and Scott have a baby who they name Rachel, drawing a direct line from here to the Days of Future Past universe so no matter what, we know this is all going to end well.

whatif8004
“Also don’t form X-Force if you can help it.”

One fine afternoon, while the rest of the X-Men are teaching the Beyonder to poop over in Secret Wars II, Jean and Rachel are attacked by gross pervert Mastermind again, who uses his Castle of Illusion, I mean powers of illusion to torture her for a while. Jean gets pissed and fights back and then it turns out it isn’t Mastermind, it’s Mastermind possessed by the Shadow King because stacking villains is definitely the way to go here. And because the Shadow King isn’t super into the idea of long protracted revenge plots, he shoots Jean like eight times in the chest and she dies. Huh. Guess we should have called this one what if the Phoenix died slightly later in the year.

Yes, that IS a baby with a spike through it's eye. Kids love X-Men!
Yes, that IS a baby with a spike through it’s eye. Kids love X-Men!

So Shadow King steals baby Rachel to be his new host (Why do demonic forces always want to live in babies? Being a baby sucks almost as much as having to spend time with a baby.). Meanwhile, Jean who is actually the Phoenix Force discovers that while her host body’s dead, she’s the Phoenix and therefore can’t really die. She also realizes that she’s replaced the real Jean Grey and flies off to Jamaica Bay where Real Jean is cocooned. And then Phoenix accidentally kills her. Whoops. Well, this is going to be a fun story to tell Cyclops next week.

 

*Man, writing like Chris Claremont is fun!

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 Yeah It Turned Out It Was The Fucking Red Skull All Along?

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.

Do not be fooled, these three men are not the same.
Do not be fooled, these three men are not the same.

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.

In this case, everything we've got is an oversized caber.
In this case, everything we’ve got is an oversized caber.

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.

Yep, that's definitely Sam Wilson alright.
Yep, that’s definitely Sam Wilson alright.

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.

"Yeah, that guilt you feel? That's good."
“Yeah, that guilt you feel? That’s good.”

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!

You built the statue facing the wrong way, you shower of idiots.
You built the statue facing the wrong way, you shower of idiots.

 

What If The All-Old All-The Same X-Men Stuck Around?

So we open our story with the X-Men’s attack on Krakoa, the Island That Is Like A Land! However, unlike in the classic Giant Sized X-Men Number One, the original X-People (That’s Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Havok and Polaris, true believers!) are actually able to defeat a stupid fucking island. Nice job, guys. Unfortunately, that new line-up was all that was preventing you guys from getting cancelled so… see you around. The End!

"There will be absolutely no fun on this mission, Iceman!" -Cyclops, always probably.
“There will be absolutely no fun on this mission, Iceman!” -Cyclops, always probably.

Okay, maybe not. So the classic X-Men reunite for more exciting adventures. Eventually. First they fight Count Nefaria and his Ani-Men and those guys are 100 percent pure garbage. The X-Men make such short work of those losers, it doesn’t even take a panel. Then they go on to fight Erik the Red and his two sidekicks, Nightcrawler and Proudstar (which I realize is Thunderbird’s actual last name but makes him sound like a She-Ra character.). Luckily for the X-Men, they are on a serious roll lately and they kick additional ass, arresting Erik and James. Nightcrawler escapes because that is what he is good at and also swears revenge for some reason.

"--It shall be completely unexpected and at the end of the book!"
“–Probably at the end of the book!”

The X-Men unmask Erik who is revealed to be some dude from the Shi’ar Empire who is messing with them pre-Phoenix Saga. After some discussion, the X-Men decide that local law enforcement is probably too busy to deal with… you know, an alien criminal so they have Erik illegally detained with Moira Mactaggart on Muir Island. Apparently, they’ve been keeping a lot of X-criminals there including Baby Magneto. This is probably a good time to remind everyone that Magento was a baby for a while. And not in the way we were all babies for a while. Like… again.

Nobody ever tells you how much fun being Erik the Red is. It's why Cyclops has been so depressed since then.
Nobody ever tells you how much fun being Erik the Red is. It’s why Cyclops has been so depressed since then.

While they’re sticking Erik in the mutant version of Guantanamo Bay, the X-Men get a phonecall from the Beast. Apparently, he and Professor X are being attacked by Sentinals. Again. Once again, the X-Men kick ass off panel and eventually end up in space. Somehow. They have to somehow land their spaceship but it’s flooding with radiation and only Jean can use her telepathic powers to pilot the ship and save the day at the cost of her own life. Until Polaris reminds everybody that she has magentic powers and everyone should shut up and stop trying to sacrifice themselves, you bunch of noble idiots.

Polaris instantly becomes my favourite character.
Polaris instantly becomes my favourite character.

Having safely returned to Earth, the X-Men are home about six seconds (Long enough for Beast to rejoin the team. Good to have you back, Hank.) before Lilandra of the Shi’ar brings them back into fucking space for more adventure. Now they have to protect the M’Krann crystal from Emperor D’Ken before he can bring about the universal apocalypse. Which is a bad thing. Probably.

The X-Men team up with the Starjammers briefly (Just long enough for Cyclops to glance at Corsair and think “Man, that guy sure looks like if my dad was a space pirate…”) and are then absorbed into the M’Krann crystal where Jean’s psychic rapport with the team keeps them from being hypnotized or whatever. Cyclops uses his eye beams to keep the crystal from cracking and everyone goes home pleased over a job well done. Good work, X-Men. Way to survive the experience!

Fingers crossed for Polaris and this robot fellow hanging out.
Fingers crossed for Polaris and this robot fellow hanging out.

Back on Earth (yet again), the X-Men do some more stuff the All-New X-Men did in an original X-Men manner. They battle Mesmero, Warhawk and the awesomely named Moses Magnum in Japan. They meet Canada’s terrible Alpha Flight and Cyclops is inspired by a short Canadian guy who smokes too much hitting on the daughter of a Japanese crime boss to ask Jean Grey to marry him. She almost agrees before she’s overcome by some Deanna Troi style psychic pain. She believes she is marrying some 18th century creep. Unlike in the real reality, where Jean quietly goes insane, the couple go to Professor X who tells them that Jean is being psychically manipulated. Well, we should probably check that out right away. Or alternately meet up with Kitty Pryde and Dazzler. Who do not appear in this comic but DO lead the X-Men to the Hellfire Club.

"Wolverine's so cool. I bet we'd be really good friends if he joined the team."
“Wolverine’s so cool. I bet we’d be really good friends if he joined the team.”

 

The X-Men enter the club through Angel’s membership and encounter Mastermind, whom Jean recognizes from her crazy person dream. The X-Men prepare for a final legendary showdown when… they’re kidnapped back into fucking space by Lilandra. You couldn’t have waited five minutes, Lil? Mastermind SUCKS.

Lilandra’s basically swung by as a courtesy.

“Hey,” she says. “You know your sun?”

“Yes?” answers Cyclops who does.

“Well, it turns out that the ancient chaos bringer Phoenix lives in there and it’s preparing to return and destroy the universe. So we’re just gonna put a pin in that and blow your sun up. That’s cool, right.”

“Um.” says Cyclops.

‘“Don’t worry, we’ll happily move your population to another planet.”

I feel like "Waaaaaaaaaiit a minute" should never come before "Are you going to blow up our sun." You lose your credibility.
I feel like “Waaaaaaaaaiit a minute” should never come before “Are you going to blow up our sun.” You lose your credibility.

Luckily for anyone who enjoys living on Earth, Cyclops is able to convince Lilandra to give him twenty-four hours to save the planet. After some research, Cyke discovers that the Phoenix can use a person as a host to stop it from rampaging. Which will also kill the host. Realizing that he’s almost gotten to the point of having a pretty good life and eager to put a stop to that, Cyclops volunteers.

Cyclop's idea of chaos bringing is staying up until 10:00pm on New Years with a box of wine and a cone shaped party hat.
Cyclop’s idea of chaos bringing is staying up until 10:00pm on New Years with a box of wine and a cone shaped party hat.

Unfortunately he never gets the chance because fucking Nightcrawler appears out of nowhere on this FUCKING SPACESHIP and bonks Scott on the head before stealing his shuttle and heading out to meet the Phoenix instead. He sends a quick phone call to the X-Men to say “Sorry about fighting you at the begining of the issue. I’ve been spying on you for months and realized you’re actually good people so I’m going to sacrifice myself in your place.” As the fuzzy german hero burns in the infinite fires of eternity, Scott gazes on and thinks “What a nice guy. He’d have been great on this team.”

Here is a man who knows he will never be in "The Draco."
Here is a man who knows he will never be in “The Draco.”

What If The Silver Surfer Battled The Devil For The Fantastic Four’s Souls? (This Comic Contains No Fiddle Contests.)

Man, did this one take a turn for me. When I saw the title (What If The Silver Surfer Were Stuck On Earth) my first reaction was “Awww, the Silver Surfer. That shiny motherfucker…” but this thing is great.

We open on the Silver Surfer fruitlessly bashing his head against the force field that Galactus has used to bound him to Earth because he looooooves it soooooooooo muuuuuuuch. The Fantastic Four watch awkwardly as their friend has a total freaking temper tantrum.

Ben wore a shirt because space is chilly.
Ben wore a shirt because space is chilly.

“You know,” Reed pipes up. “You could join the Fantastic Four. We haven’t done a Fantastic Five story in a while and those always end really well for everyone and never with the Torch trying to wipe out an entire people.”

The Surfer is hesitant but eventually agrees because Reed offers to continue experiments to get Shiny back into space. And so the wielder of the Power Cosmic joins the FF. And they start wrecking shit up. I mean, yes. Tough dudes like Doom and Terminus are on the ropes, sure but you don’t even want to know how badly they beat up the Mole Man. That shit is CRUEL. It’s like they turned on friggin’ god mode. This Fantastic Five makes that one with Spider-Man look like a box of garbage. Hey! You reading this, Spider-Man? Fuck you!

I just love whenever the FF are dynamically charging into battle and the artist draws Reed's little regular guy feet.
I just love whenever the FF are dynamically charging into battle and the artist draws Reed’s little regular guy feet.

Alas, time goes by and the Surfer continues to sink deeper and deeper into depression. All he really wants to do is get back out into space, see his wife and maybe egg the Beyonder’s house. He also refuses to go see Army of Darkness in the theater with Johnny and Ben so he is frankly WASTING his time on Earth.

It wasn't the alternate title in this universe! Also they kept the original ending in!
It wasn’t the alternate title in this universe! Also they kept the original ending in!

One night, Reed gets a call from a priest. Which is weird because Reed is a straight stone cold atheist. Like he even acts super awkward on the phone.

“Dr Richards? This is a priest.”

“…”

“H… hello? Dr Richards?”

“How did you get this number?”

“You’re in the phone book.”

“Uh… huh.”

“I have a matter of some… well, it’s of a supernatural bent.”

“I’ll give you Dr. Strange’s phone number.”

“N-No, Dr. Richards. I… the church could really use the Fantastic Five’s help.”

“UUuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh, FINE.”

"Sue! There's a robot on the phone who says we've won a cruise!"
“Sue! There’s a robot on the phone who says we’ve won a cruise!”

So Reed loads up all the Ghostbusters supplies he can find and the gang head over to New York’s spookiest church. They’re quickly alerted to some bad business when Reed notices the PKE meter spiking. And also the walls start bleeding and a pew starts flying around the room. Typical church stuff. And then a camera flies down the Priest’s mouth and he’s all into Evil Dead mode, prancing around in stop-motion and rhyming. Luckily, they’re then pulled into Hell before Ben has to cut his hand off and replace it with a chainsaw and if anyone wants to draw fan art of that, that would be awesome.

"Johnny, fetch me Tobin's Spirit Guide."
“Johnny, fetch me Tobin’s Spirit Guide.”

The Fantastic Five regain consciousness in actual hell, all strapped to rocks except for the Surfer who does not have time for Hell bullshit. I mean, neither does Reed but he has less say in the matter. They’re approached by Mephisto, he who is the devil, star of Ghost Rider: The Motion Picture. And MAN, does this giant red dude have a hate boner on for the Surfer. They’ve fought before and I guess the Surfer is like the purest most good dude in all of creation because Mephisto hasn’t wanted to drag someone to Hell this badly since Jesus. He does some typical Devil bragging, they have a pretty epic fight scene with one of the metalist splash pages I’ve seen since the X-Men went to Asgard and then Mephisto offers the Surfer a deal. If the Surfer volunteers to stay in Hell, not only will Mephisto free the FF but he’ll recall all his demons on Earth, bringing goodness to the entire world, prematurely ending Inferno and binding Johnny Blaze’s head in skin again (Huh, it turns out I’m really jonesing for a Ghost Rider comic. I want to see him battle a pope stealing wizard again. Let’s see here… issue 45? Son of a…). The Surfer reluctantly agrees and then Mephisto burns Johnny Storm to death to show that he’s serious.

“I already said I’d do it!” The Surfer yells.

“Talk faster.” The Lord of Douches replies.

"You fiend! You've turned him into a skeleton! Don't worry, Johnny! I'll spend the rest of my life trying to find a cure." "Don't hold yer breath, kid."
“You fiend! You’ve turned him into a skeleton! Don’t worry, Johnny! I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to find a cure.” “Don’t hold yer breath, kid.”

Anyway, true to his word, Mephisto boots the Fantastic Three back to Earth and then goes about drawing in every demon he has to bind the Surfer into Hell. And it’s actually pretty great. As the demons withdraw, people actually start to get a little better. They stop being less racist, crime drops, the Punisher actually puts away his guns. It’s the dawning of a beautiful new age.

"Weeeeeee'll meet agaaaaaaaaaaain. Don't know wheeeeeeeeeere, don't know wheeeeeeeeeen..."
“Weeeeeee’ll meet agaaaaaaaaaaain. Don’t know wheeeeeeeeeere, don’t know wheeeeeeeeeen…”

Back in Hell, Mephisto laughs. Humanity may be in a glorious golden age, but it won’t be forever. It’s not demons that make people shitty. They just help. And then he turns back to the important business of torturing the Surfer for all eternity. Unfortunately for him, the Surfer is having none of it. He won’t bend and in a fit of rage, Mephisto crushes him like a bug.

That little victory lasts about ten seconds before the giant glowing form of the Surfer appears behind the Devil, blinding him with heavenly light.

“THAT’S RIGHT, MOTHER FUCKER. I’M TOO FUCKING BEAUTIFUL TO BE DESTROYED. I’M GONNA BLIND YOU AND EVERY OTHER DEMONIC ASSHOLE IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY. SUCK MY LACK OF A DICK, SATAN!”

"YOU DIDN'T COUNT ON MY BEING THE MESSIAH, DID YOU, MOTHERFUCKER?"
“YOU DIDN’T COUNT ON MY BEING THE MESSIAH, DID YOU, MOTHERFUCKER?”

 

What If Peter Parker Destroyed His Marriage To Mary Jane Instead Of The Devil?

This week, we travel back to an issue of What If that Joe Quesada had wanted to exist for like, fifteen years. It’s also the first two-parter we’ve ever had in an issue of What If so that’s pretty weird too. How will this differ from our usual columns? Let’s all find out together.

Back in the day, Peter Parker was desperately trying to make an honest woman out of his main squeeze, Mary Jane. Hopefully before an asshole in a Halloween costume dropped her off a bridge. MJ refused for a variety of reasons until an attack by Spencer Smythe and his Spider-Slayers convinced her that Spidey could take care of both her and himself. Now, an infant baby? Not so much but that is a story for another day. Like, a LONG time from now. The two get married and stay that way for… a pretty long time anyway.

I do love that wedding dress to death.
I do love that wedding dress to death.

But there are other realities, Uatu tells us for the eighteen million billion time. Like, okay, what if Mary Jane got kind of hurt during that fight with the Spider-Slayer and even though it still convinced MJ that Peter was marriage material, it convinced Spidey that he couldn’t take care of a lady in his life. And what if he brooded on it and then didn’t say anything until the fucking wedding which was probably really expensive and had relatives coming to New York from all over the place and Mary Jane’s dress ALONE was not cheap at all and you’ve broken poor Aunt May’s heart and WAY TO GO, Parker.

Typical Parker class.
Typical Parker class.

Peter takes MJ up to the roof of the church so he can tell her that it’s over and they shouldn’t be together anymore and MJ leaves because she isn’t going to beg him even though he PROPOSED THREE FUCKING TIMES AND THEN CHANGED HIS STUPID MIND, DAMNIT, PETER. MJ leaves and Peter gets REALLY into Spider-Maning.

Criminals live in constant fear, as the lamp posts outside police headquarters hang heavy with bundles of captured crooks. Spidey even hooks up with Silver Sable and her Howling Silverandos in an effort to beat more people up. It’s good work but it also has absolutely nothing to do with our ongoing story so I have no idea why it is featured here.

Don't be fooled. None of this is actually important.
Don’t be fooled. None of this is actually important.

After a week or so, Peter heads back to Queens for a visit with Aunt May. He’s expecting a guilt trip but she’s mostly pretty level headed, telling him that she respects his decision for whatever reasons he had but she hopes that just because this marriage didn’t work, it won’t sour him on love.

“Hmm,” Peter thinks. “Aunt May is right. I HAVEN’T gotten my dick wet in a week or so. I should really get back into the dating world.”

He still doesn’t want to endanger Mary Jane though so he writes the only other woman he knows a letter. It’s the Black Cat and she arrives exactly fourteen days later to rock his spidery world and also take a bite out of crime. Also she totally gets in on MJ’s racket. Like, this is probably not the way to endear oneself to a new lover. On the other hand, it totally works so good job, Felicia, I guess.

Appropriate or not, this is hot as hell.
Appropriate or not, this is hot as hell.

The new Spider/Cat team does a pretty kick-ass job of continuing to really hurt the criminals of New York, even if Felicia is a little too… enthusiastic about the ass kickings she lays down.

“Stop punching that mugger, Cat!” Spidey will be heard to remark. “We’ve already defeated him!”

“Alright, Spider.” She replies. “You tell me exactly how many times is proper to hit this guy and I’ll try to work within that quota.”

Luckily for the new couple, Peter’s Spider-Sense cannot detect sarcasm.

The Cat proves herself incredibly useful over the next few months, helping to save Spidey from the insane and disgusting Kraven the Hunter, last seen a couple weeks back in this very column eating spiders by the handful. Dude is gross. I’m glad he keeps getting beat up.

Did You Know: The Black Cat is NOT to be fucked with.
Did You Know: The Black Cat is NOT to be fucked with.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane has been reading about the Spider-Cat Connection in the newspaper and realizes that she’s been left in the dust for the new hotness. She gives Peter a call but the Cat answers and hangs up on her. Not cool, Felicia. Not cool.

Peter Parker clearly has a type and it is Women With Intense Cleavage.
Peter Parker clearly has a type and it is Women With Intense Cleavage.

In fact things get even not cooler when Peter fucking proposes for what I count to be the fifth time this year and Felicia says yes. And then she celebrates in the traditional manner: arriving at her fiancee’s ex’s apartment in full costume and waving the ring right in her face. Jesus, Felicia. They oughta call you the PETTY Cat. Actually, no. That is worse than terrible. Never mind.

WOW.
WOW.

Anyway, all of this is witnessed by some bearded asshole who quickly puts two and two together and thinks he’s maybe found a way to net a cool million dollars and we get our first TO BE CONTINUED. Which we probably could have done without if we’d skipped three pages of flashbacks and all that Silver Sable garbage, thanks a lot, Uatu.

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?”