Friday, October 07, 2005
WHAT IF Vol 2, #1 Marvel Comics, 1989
This is the first issue of the second series of Marvel’s What If? comic.
The premise of the What If? books is simple: what if a key storyline in a Marvel comic had turned out a different way? How would this “road not traveled” affect the Marvel Universe? You know: What If Elektra Had Lived? Okay, that’s not a good example. What If Captain America and Bucky Had Both Survived World War II? Hmm, that’s not a good example either. What If Daredevil’s Secret Identity Was Exposed? Okay, no. What If The Hulk Went Berserk? Hmm, perhaps the What If? books were meant to explore the “road eventually traveled.”
In my mind, there were several big flaws in the What If? comics.
One was that in general, in the What If? comics everybody died. Seriously, in every damn issue, regardless of the scenario, the entire Marvel Universe died – except The Punisher. What If Spider-Man Had Joined The Fantastic Four? Why, that would mean the death of us all! I may be overstating my point a little, but it seemed like the What If? series was a great opportunity to gack some beloved characters for cheap dramatic effect.
The second big problem with the What If? series was that after a while, they sort of ran out of interesting scenarios. The first volume of the series ran for over a hundred issues, and after a while they just seemed to be copies of the classic What If The Avengers Lost The Korvac War? issue.
Case in point: What If The Avengers Had Lost The Evolutionary War? This is the first issue of the second series, and they’re already tapped out for ideas. I think a more appropriate question for the book to pose would be: What If People Cared About The Evolutionary War?
For those of you who don’t care or know of the Evolutionary War, let me give you some background: In this summer annual crossover, The High Evolutionary, a genius who wears magenta, wants to jump-start man’s biological evolution with, of course, a Huge Bomb. The Avengers stop this pink madman from his misguided scheme, and everything works out in the end.
But in the What If? universe, anything can happen! In this alternate reality, the High Evolutionary’s genetic bomb goes off, blanketing the world in evolvo-fallout. Mankind and mutantkind start to evolve at an incredibly fast rate (except for US Senator Rick Santorum, who doesn’t believe in shit like that), and comedy ensues.
For instance, the genetic bomb bulks Wolverine up to normal-person size, and now he’s got really huge adamantium claws. Check it out:
Wolverine isn’t the only person affected: everybody’s car keys grow to five times the normal size. It’s a New Dawn for Metal Tools everywhere!
I’m kidding, but what actually happens is much worse. Behold:
Long story short: Wolverine becomes the messiah of the new Homo Superior Superior, and all the mutants fly up into space in a big comet and Earth becomes a living planet or something.
But not before everybody breaks into song!
And hey – who’s that pink blob guy standing next to She-Hulk? Is that Karkas? They get points for sneaking him into the book.
You gasp and ask yourself, “Self, who wrote this?”
Roy Thomas. ‘Nuff said! I’m not dissing Roy Thomas, who has written some comic books that I absolutely love, but this comic seems a little… out of step? Do kids really want to see giant egghead people and mutants floating in space and Eternity and Death and all that? I mean, I think it’s kind of charming and goofy, but man, is that a strong way to kick off your new What If? series?
I could describe the rest of the book, but it gets very cosmic and heady and frankly, uninteresting. One of the big problems I have with it is that, story-wise, it’s sort of a mess. There’s no protagonist, there’s no antagonist, there are no goals or people to root for or obstacles to overcome. Plus, seriously – was The Evolutionary War such a big deal that they actually had to write a spin-off comic that enhanced on the original story? Were the Marvel readers in 1989 just dying to know how things would have turned out if the Avengers had lost?
I say thee nay.
Plus, big-head people. Come on, that is never cool.