Doug: Welcome to another work week. As is our habit around here, we try to help you ease into your list of meetings and tasks with some comic book diversion. Today it's four Bronze Age beauties, brought to you in the 100-Word Review format by Mike S., known galaxy-wide as Martinex1. Be sure to pen a comment or two during the course of today's conversation. Thanks, Mike!
What If? #6 (December 1977)
"What If the Fantastic Four Had Different Super-Powers?"
Roy Thomas-Jim Craig/Rick Hoberg/Sam Grainger
In typical What If fashion, the Watcher explores possible outcomes of the fateful flight and cosmic ray impact in the origin of the FF. The artwork is serviceable at best but the story and characterization move briskly. In what may be the first overt linking of the foursome’s personality to their powers, we get Big Brain, Dragonfly, Mandroid, and Ultra Woman. Fairly standard adventures ensue. The highlight is the rather 1950’s horror inspired lunacy of Reed’s floating bodiless brain. Only Marvel could have vengeful dialogue like, “What’s wrong kiddies? You got something against Grand Funk Railroad!” Who needs Dr. Doom?
What If? #7 (February 1978)
"What If Someone Else Had Become the Amazing Spider-Man?"
Don Glut/Roy Thomas-Rick Hoberg/Sam Grainger
The ol’ Watcher is at it again, sharing alternative tales of Spidey’s origin with the icon’s supporting cast being bitten by the radioactive spider. We get three abbreviated stand alone and tragic tales in which Flash Thompson, Betty Brant and John Jameson are the recipients of that fateful bite. The costumes are repetitive at best, and reflective of 70’s goofiness at worst. Spider Jameson (yes that is his moniker) dons a helmet reminiscent of the TV Captain America. No great insights here, and the ultimate outcome on all three worlds is predictable and melodramatic. Makes you long for Spider Ham!
What If? #20 (April 1980)
"What If the Avengers Had Fought the Kree-Skrull War Without Rick Jones?"
Tom DeFalco-Sal Buscema/Alan Kupperberg/Bruce D. Patterson
In a nice companion piece to the Kree-Skrull War, the Watcher investigates a world in which Rick Jones dies at the hands of Ronan so he is never employed as the “deus ex machina” for that conflict’s conclusion. The alternative action which includes an armada of heroes joining the fracas could have been explored more thoroughly. But Alan Kupperberg’s art is better than expected, and the way the story deftly hits on original keynotes of the epic is admirable. Hard to believe that this enjoyable “imaginary” diversion was somehow the impetus for the morass that was Avengers #200.
Avengers #169 (March 1978)
"If We Should Fail... the World Dies Tonight!"
Marv Wolfman-Sal Buscema/Dave Hunt