Tag Archives: Reed Richards

What If Captain Marvel Gave The Universe Cancer?

Okay, first things first, sorry fans of Carol Danvers but this title refers to Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel. Carol is exactly nowhere in this issue. I know, I was disappointed too. I don’t know much about Captain Marvel other than that he’s been pretty consistently dead since 1982. I also know he died of cancer and his last moments were in bed surrounded by grieving super-heroes which is a pretty ballsy way to send a character to meet his maker. It’s like the exact opposite of the Flash running to save the multiverse.

What... uh... what's up with your face there, buddy?
What… uh… what’s up with your face there, buddy?

This issue gives us a little more info. Mar-Vell was a Kree soldier who invaded Earth (Presumedly with his friends Dee-Cee, Dar-Korse, Im-Age and IDW the Infinite Dynamo Warrior.). Then he realized he really liked the place and became a superhero instead. Then he got Cosmic Awareness from a moldy sandwich with a face and a bomb exploded him with cancer. Just a day in the life of the average 70s space hero!

God, can you imagine the smell of this thing? Old dog and wet bread.
God, can you imagine the smell of this thing? Old dog and wet bread.

In our universe, he died in a pretty great original graphic novel I haven’t read since the sixth grade but in this issue of What If, Mar-Vell knows that the best form of prevention is early detection and meets up with Dr Strange and Thor’s alter-ego Donald Blake. Reed Richards is also there but he’s the only one who doesn’t have a medical degree so who really cares what he thinks?

"Nobody is impressed, Stephen. Nobody."
“Nobody is impressed, Stephen. Nobody.”

Using a combination of superhero science and banishing Mar-Vell to a magic universe where there is no time, the League of Super Doctors are able to cure the Kree warrior of his cancer. This is good news because Plan B was for Marv to make crystal meth and sell it to the aliens of the Marvel Universe. It was gonna be called Breaking Brood.

Anyway, a delighted Mar-Vell returns to the moon of Titan to retire from superheroing with his wife or possibly girlfriend Elysius. This lasts for about ten seconds.

“I’ve gotten a second chance at life.” He tells Elysius. “I should probably do something important.”

“Like what?” Elysius asks him.

“I dunno. Ending the Kree/Skrull War and bringing eternal peace to the galaxy sounds like a pretty good start.”

With that, Marvel hatches a plan with other Titan guy Mentor to use something called the Omni-Wave to basically threaten the Kree and Skrull empires into peace. Because nothing makes peace happen like mutually assured destruction. That shit is in HISTORY BOOKS.

Marvel does okay at first, at the very least driving the Kree and Skrull to start attacking HIM instead of each other but that kind of crap can only last so long before everyone starts getting damned fed up with it.

This means absolutely nothing. People in media are always just coughing for no reason. Just like in real life!
This means absolutely nothing. People in media are always just coughing for no reason. Just like in real life!

Back on Earth, the cessation of battle between the Kree and the Skrull, as well as the continued use of the Omni-Wave attracts the attention of the Silver Surfer. The Surfer’s been trapped on Earth since Galactus banished him here during his first attack. Now, with the whole universe in trouble maybe, it’s probably time to give serious consideration to getting the hell off this stupid planet. The Surfer visits Reed Richards but Reed’s real busy with the plague of cancer that’s suddenly appearing all over earth. Literally everyone has it except Rick Fucking Jones, the little shit and ain’t that always the way?

The Silver Prancer
The Silver Prancer

Everybody pretty quickly deduces that Captain Marvel is the reason for the season of death and so they sneak the Silver Surfer off of Earth by giving him a lift through Asgard. Screw you, Galactus. That’s called line jumping.

Finally free of early 90s Earth and its love of hot pink neon, the Surfer heads straight for Marvel who has managed to spread his cancer across both the Skrull and the Kree. Which I guess IS putting an end to their centuries long war so… good job, Cap? Even though they’re both good guys and also friends, Captain Marvel sees the Surfer flying towards him and attacks because this is a superhero book and we’ve got to have a couple of tussles before we can get to the actual point.

Yeah, here comes a guy who just wants to talk. YOUR EYES ARE ON FIRE, NORRIN.
Yeah, here comes a guy who just wants to talk. YOUR EYES ARE ON FIRE, NORRIN.

Back on Earth, the Thing succumbs to his cancer and dies. If that weren’t depressing enough, Reed figures out the cure for the disease roughly a minute later. He realizes that, because of his time in the Negative Zone bonded to Marvel, Rick Jones’ blood contains… I don’t know, antibodies or mitichlorians or something. The good news is that they can begin making a cure almost immediately. The bad news is that they don’t cure everybody by tossing Rick into an oversized novelty blender and forcing everyone on Earth to bathe in his innards.

Listen, guys, I really don’t care for Rick Jones.

Back in space, Marvel and the Surfer have wailed on each other for the recommended amount of time and now can start having honest discussions. The Surfer fills Marv in on what’s been happening re: Marvel bringing about total universal extinction and Marvel gets all dramatic and upset. As well he should. He killed the Thing! Everyone loves that guy. My MOM loves that guy.

Man, it always depresses me when the Thing dies. Poor bastard.
Man, it always depresses me when the Thing dies. Poor bastard.

Just then, Doctor Strange teleports in with that good news about the cure. Even now, Rick Jones blood is being shipped all over every place. Except for the Kree and Skrull Empires which are both mostly dead. Hooray! Universal peace! Unfortunately, to keep his airborne cancer from spreading, Doctor Strange banishes Marvel to that magic timeless universe again where he can’t infect anyone. But he’s a nice guy so he also banishes Elysium so they can timeless bone for eternity. Hooray!

This is what we like to call a sketch universe. You take it to a con and get someone to draw the universe for you.
This is what we like to call a sketch universe. You take it to a con and get someone to draw the universe for you.

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 Fantastic Four Had Different Super Powers? Or, more accurately, What If the Fantastic Four Had Really Gross Powers?

 So, in reading and re-reading all of these What Ifs, I’ve made a startling discovery: There are a LOT of recaps. So first we need to tackle the Fantastic Four’s origin (Shitty scientist drastically mutates friend, girlfriend, brother in law.), then we need to address who the Watcher is (Bald moon creep.) and finally we talk about what would happen if something was different. In this case, it comes up because the FF beat the shit out of some muggers and Johnny Storm wonders what it would be like if they all had different powers.

“WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE INDEED, JOHNNY STORM OF EARTH 616” announces an especially big headed pantsless Uatu. “I TOO HAVE LONG PONDERED THIS VAGUE SENTIMENT FOR I AM THE WATCHER!” And with that, we are returned to… the Fantastic Four’s fucking origin again. This is, like, the third time I’ve read that thing in six issues of this comic. That is a lot of crashed spaceships for such a new series.

The ship crashes and out crawl Ben, Sue and Johnny, dusting themselves off and wondering where the hell Reed went. They don’t wonder for very long though, as Ben begins feeling pains in his back and goes to hide behind a rock in the tradition of great heroes.. These back pains quickly reveal themselves to be giant scaly wings, turning Ben into… well, basically Angel from the X-Men but interesting.

Ben flies out from behind his rock, revealing his new wings and naked chest. “Look,” cries Johnny. “Ben’s got wings. Like a dragon. Or a fly.” But there’s not time to further describe Ben Grimm’s new back deformity because now the cosmic rays are affecting Johnny, turning him into Colossus. You know, big stripey metal guy. But Johnny also makes a point of mentioning that he can feel his internal organs turning into metal and sure enough, it’s later revealed that his insides have been replaced by gears. This is, of course, disgusting and Johnny tries to relieve his anger by smacking Ben with a tree.

Luckily, Sue protects him by revealing her new stretchy powers although nobody seems to notice for a few seconds. This is also disgusting. And kind of hot. Moving on.

So, in all the flying and stretching and having clockwork lungs, everyone has sort of forgotten about Reed and they return to the crashed ship to see if they can find him. Eventually, they discover him at the bottom of a hole, now an enourmous brain without a body. Ben scoops him up in his arms (which for some reason causes Reed no damage but still makes ME wince.). The four of them resolve to use their new powers to help mankind and then start trying to think fo names for themselves.. Ben, remembering Johhny’s description of him as a dragon or possibly a fly, names himself Wings Guy. Johnny, proving himself a man after my own heart, goes with the portmanteau of Mandroid. Sue briefly toys with Rubber Girl before deciding on Ultra Woman. Not real clear on how ultra stretching makes you but I’m not here to judge. (This is a lie.)

So time passes and the Gross Fantastic Four pretty much do the same crap as they did in the original run. They beat up the Mole Man, the Skrulls, Namor. (No word on whether the Sub Mariner is into Stretchy Sue but if he’s seen the ‘More Flexible’ scene in the Incredibles he’ll probably give it a shot.) The story cuts over to a museum where a He-Man villain is trying to steal Blackbeard’s treasure. The Fantastic Three (Reed stays home due to not having… anything.) save the day, sending Beastman back to where ever after a brief fight scene where Ben wishes he were stronger. Count your blessings, Ben. You definitely got the sweetest deal out of this whole cosmic ray thing.

Next we head over to Latveria where Doctor Doom watches his summoned He-Man demon fail to steal Blackbeard’s treasure. I still have no fucking idea WHY Doom wants Blackbeard’s treasure but who am I to argue with a guy with that sweet a cape? He decides to enlist the help of the FF after learning a bit more about them. Well, mostly he learns that the gross brain in the tube is his old school buddy Reed Richards, the asshole he blames for blowing up his face back in the day.

Back at the Baxter Building, Reed is using his psychic powers to watch his teammates. Ben dodges some excited fans who are eager to get all up in his wingspan while Johnny is mocked at a record store for being made of metal. We also get a demonstration of Johnny’s less obvious power: turning electronics on and off. What a thrilling universe. Over at the playground, Stretchy Sue watches some children and thinks about how her relationship with Reed is drying up because he no longer has a penis. Then she terrifies the neighborhood by turning into a giant top and spinning the kids around.

Doctor Doom then arrives at the Baxter Building and attempts to convince Reed that Doom can build him a new body so he can be a real boy again and score with Giant Top Sue but Reed doesn’t really seem into it. He prefers being a giant brain and… thinking about stuff? There’s some mention that Reed has turned the Baxter Building into a giant body for himself but it never comes up and I suspect Reed is just trying to feel better about himself. Giving up on bargaining, Doom throws Reed into one of those pneumatic message tubes and takes him to Latveria.

Luckily, the rest of the FF soon follow in their pogo plane and arrive at Castle Doom just in time to be captured in three specific death traps which they can only escape using their specific powers. Ben flies around a big room while someone shoots poles at him. (I assume this was designed by Professor X since this is literally the only thing Angel has ever done in the Danger Room.), Stretchy Sue gets buried in cement and then escapes by going under a door, and Johnny gets magnetized to the ground and escapes by realizing that he can control magnetism. So… more X-men powers. Fine.

Meanwhile, Doom is using a device to drain Reed of his consciousness, making him a powerful computer that will allow Doom to travel through time, stealing history’s greatest treasure. Dude’s gonna feel damn stupid when he finds out Carmen Sandiego already got them all. The rest of the FF show up and Doom kicks the shit out of them easily. He also blows up Johnny’s arm which is pretty awesome. When Doom finally attacks Sue, Reed freaks out and psychically attacks Doom, overriding his personality and giving himself a… well, swank new body isn’t quite right since Doom’s face looks like hot buttered garbage but now he has arms and legs and a dick so that’s a plus. We end the story by showing the new Gross Fantastic Four, complete with Reed not just in Doom’s body but with Doom’s hood and half skirt thing.  Look, I get keeping the mask but the skirt, Reed? Really?