Saturday, October 15, 2011

Time Machine Question -- Who Would Have Been Indispensible?

Doug: Here's a weekend poser for you: given the Silver Age, and predating the deaths of Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin in 1973, which single character's death would have totally reshaped the Bronze Age as it actually played out? So in other words, as Silver gave way to Bronze, which character's death (from any company), would have forever altered the landscape as we've come to know it? This is sort of a combined Open Forum and What If? post all in one -- but I want everyone to feel free to chime in with their own suggestions. Also feel free to play off of what others say; it's certainly fine to have multiple conversations flying around within the comments on this post!

Doug: I'll start by offering that the death of Reed Richards would have changed not only the lives and future of the Fantastic Four, but of the Inhumans, Avengers, potentially the X-Men, and indeed the entire Marvel Universe. Does Dr. Doom win in the end? Or, without his lifelong nemesis, does he lose all motivation and become a benevolent middle-European monarch concerned on whether or not his tiny fiefdom should join the EU? Does Sue take off with Namor? What if Doom, in his newfound niceness, cured Ben? What of the FF? Do they even exist at all? If Reed isn't there to cure Crystal from whatever was ailing her just before she took off to shack up with Pietro, does she die, pushing Johnny over the edge? One thing's for certain -- we wouldn't have to deal with that modern Civil War or Illuminati crap!

Doug: So who's your game-changer? Lois Lane? Doom himself? Peter Parker? Maybe Professor X was never "revived"? Let's hear it!


Chuck Wells said...

Professor X should never have been revived after his silver age "death" in X-Men #65 (Feb.1970).

He had served his purpose and graduating X-Men didn't need him, plus his ideals could have had more weight with his martydom at the hand of the Z'Nox.

Edo Bosnar said...

Well, if Prof. X stayed dead, it would not have gave Claremont an opportunity to create a really intriguing backstory for him, which intertwined with Magneto's (although like all things X, it eventually became way too convoluted). Also, at the end of the Silver Age, I don't think a definitive death for Prof. X would have been much of a game-changer. He was absent most of the time anyway.

I like Doug's suggestion of Reed Richards. When you think about it, he really involved in a lot of stuff in the Silver Age, and if he had been taken out of the picture, it would have forced some major changes in the Marvel U. My own suggestion would be the Hulk. What if they had just had him get killed at the end of that short initial 6-issue run? The Avengers' origin would have been really different, and maybe they wouldn't have even been formed. None of those great Hulk/Thing mash-ups, or indeed, any of the many Hulk v. whoever confrontations that drove so many stories well into the Bronze Age. Later, no She-Hulk, either...

William said...

I'll go with someone who was always at death's door anyway… Aunt May. Think about it. As Peter often stated, Aunt May's health as a major factor in keeping his life as Spider-Man under wraps. So, if she died he may have just gone ahead and revealed his secret identity to the world.

Possible consequences of this could have been…

1. J. Jonah Jameson has a heart attack and dies as well.

2. Peter is arrested and put in prison.

3. Peter gives up crime-fighting and cashes in on his fame.

4. Flash Thompson hangs himself.

5. Peter gets pneumonia and dies because there is no longer anyone around to nag (err, I mean remind) him to wear his galoshes and sweater when he goes outside.

The possibilities are mind-boggling. If Aunt May died and Spider-Man wasn't around anymore, think of all the other people who would still be alive… Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, Miles Warren, etc.

Or another possibility is if Pete was no longer doing the super hero thing, everyone on Earth may be dead, because Spidey has played a major roll in saving the world on more than one occasion.

Wow, all that because of the death of one old lady who looked like she was 100 years old when Peter was 16.

vancouver mark said...

Does it have to be a Bronze Age death? If yes,then I think I agree with your selection of Reed Richards.
But a Silver Age death? No question whose loss would have affected the whole Marvel Universe, ended it in fact... The Watcher.
When Galactus first arrived he found the Watcher and argued with him, then dismissed him and started setting up to eat the planet. Instead, what if he immediately used his pocket mini-nullifier and removed the Watcher entirely?
The FF would have lost, Earth would have been converted into an energy feast, and all Marvel would have left to work with would be the remaining Asgardians, the Skrulls, and assorted Toad and Stone Men.
DC and other companies who were at their peak of copying Marvel's style would have likely drifted away from super-heroes, and instead of the new Avengers movie, we'd all be excited about the upcoming Sugar n Spike 3D spectacular.

Fred W. Hill said...

Certainly if either Lee, Kirby or Ditko had died in 1964, the Marvel Universe would be considerably different and bereft of many key characters and stories. As for the characters themselves, while certainly fodder for many What If? stories, it seems highly unlikely that any genuinely indispensible character to the company as a whole (rather than in just one series, such as Gwen Stacy) would have been killed off and stayed dead (at least for more than a decade). Spider-Man was probably Marvel's most indispensible character and it's interesting to ponder the reaction of the super-hero community to his death and the revelation that he began his career while in high school. As for Flash Thompson, judging from some of those post-The Night Gwen Stacy Died issues, I don't think he would have been so shocked to discover that "puny Parker" really was Spider-Man. Even towards the end of Ditko's run, Thompson was shown ever so slowly growing out of his ignorant bully personality. Moreover, although he would never have admitted it outloud, he had to have wondered about that knockout punch Peter landed on him during their boxing match in issue 8. He still belittled Parker long after that, but there were several indications during the tenures of Lee & Conway that Flash had a strong inkling that Peter Parker was more than a nerdish geek and perhaps not so puny after all.

Rip Jagger said...

I'm going with Alicia Masters.

Without the humanity of Alicia impressing the Silver Surfer and making him Earth's ally in the first battle with Galactus, the entire Marvel Universe would've become Big G's breakfast.

Kill Alicia and you kill us all.

Rip Off

Inkstained Wretch said...

I am gong with a less obvious choice: Dr. Strange.

But think about it … Not only does Strange stop Dormammu and various other mystical evils from taking over our world, but if he dies who becomes sorcerer supreme of earth? Dr. Doom was in the running initially. Perhaps he would have abandoned science (Mr. Fantastic having proved too much of a match for him) to return to the mystic arts. I could see him cutting a deal with Loki for a shortcut to more power in exchange for closing the portal from Asgard to Midgard. Doom would finally have the despotic rule he so desired.

Also without Strange there would be no Defenders. Not only would the menaces they fought go unopposed but the Hulk and the Submariner would not have been brought into the superhero fold as they were. Strange’s guidance turned them from loose cannons at best and menaces at worst into real fighters for the common good. The Avengers couldn’t do that for the Hulk. Also without the Defenders the Valkyrie never exists, Nighthawk never turns on the Squadron Sinister, and Hellcat remains on Titan.

With no “classic” Defenders, there is no new Defenders either: Angel, Beast and Iceman do not reunite, never laying the groundwork for X-Factor.

Finally, Strange was instrumental in ridding the world of Dracula and the rest of the vampires.

Fred W. Hill said...

Hmm, and with Dr. Strange out of the way, Dormammu would have been free to step in and take over our dimension, and he might have put Dr. Doom in charge of running the Earth and helped Loki overcome both Thor and Odin. But would Thanos have sit still for all this and what about his uncle Zeus? And would Shang Chi have come forward to challenge Dormammu to hand to hand combat with the Pincers of Doom with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance?
Then, of course, if Captain Marvel had been killed by Yon Rogg, Thanos would have succeeded in giving the universe to Death as an engagement gift! But would that mean no one in the Marvel Universe no longer existed or would it just be a much gloomier place with everything being in Death's realm?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Alica was my first thought too. There’s a lot of those characters who had the fate of the Universe in their hands for a single moment. In fact, there are a whole bunch of characters who existed solely for that purpose. Leonard Tippit, anyone? Al B. Harper, anyone?

Am I cheating? Do you want a more conventional answer? How about Adam Warlock. Maybe if he HADN’T died, he wouldn’t have been able to stop Thanos?


Related Posts with Thumbnails