Tag Archives: Nova

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

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

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

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

“You lousy monster! That equipment is expensive!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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