Thursday, March 31, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #1

One-Shot (2009)
What if Doctor Doom kept the Beyonder’s power?

CoverWritten by Karl Bollers
Drawn by Jorge Molina

Victor von Doom knows that he is the most capable man on Earth. His intellect is shocking, and his power – a marriage of science and mysticism – is astounding. If only the world recognized his greatness, it would submit to his absolute rule.

But even Doom is mortal. He may usher in an age of unprecedented peace and prosperity, but he cannot guarantee utopia's survival beyond his own demise.

In a future not our own, Doom has become a demigod. It no longer matters how or why. All that matters is the result of the coming contest between Doom and the Celestials: the stellar custodians of Earth whose power is beyond description…

“What man hath wrought… let no god put asunder.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #2

Volume 2 #2 (1989)
What if Daredevil had killed the Kingpin?

CoverWritten by Danny Fingeroth
Drawn by Greg Capullo

Matt Murdock has spent years fighting for justice both as an attorney and as the masked crimefighter Daredevil. But Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime and Murdock’s greatest enemy, has just learned that Matt and Daredevil are one and the same. And so, he devotes his limitless resources to ruining Matt’s life.

Matt’s bank accounts are frozen. His law license is revoked. His home is bombed. In a matter of months, the Kingpin robs Matt of everything, including his sanity. Without any reasoned plan, Matt confronts the Kingpin in his headquarters, armed with nothing but a nightstick. Fisk beats Murdock into unconsciousness, frames him for murder, and arranges his own death. The Kingpin's victory is complete.

But in another universe, Matt is more calculating. He enters Fisk’s headquarters unarmed, but he lifts a gun off of a guard. Moments later, the Kingpin looks down the barrel of that gun and calls a man who isn’t bluffing. With the squeeze of a trigger, Matt secures revenge at the cost of all that he has ever stood for…

“There is only one solution. A man breaks the law… he’s got to pay the price. And again, Matt Murdock goes in pursuit of justice.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #3

Volume 2 #76 (1995)
What if Peter Parker had to invent Spider-Man?

CoverWritten by Terry Austin
Drawn by Stuart Immonen

During their high school days together, Peter Parker and Flash Thompson shared a singular relationship. Flash was the BMOC, and Peter a nerdy nobody; the duo’s bully/victim dynamic was simple… until a radioactive spider bite imbued Peter with superhuman strength and agility. Using these powers, Peter became the masked crimefighter Spider-Man, and Flash his foremost fan; yet Flash continued to mistreat Peter at school, not knowing that it was he behind his hero’s mask.

Given the countless times that Spider-Man has saved New York from costumed villains, it can be easy to forget that Peter could just as easily have joined their ranks instead. In one alternate universe, events transpire with only a grotesque sort of familiarity after Flash is the one granted spider-like superpowers.

“Tell the Daily Bugle that the Vulture is old news-- the kind they wrap fish in! The Spider is the criminal of tomorrow, gents!”

In line with his sense of entitlement, Flash becomes what Spider-Man is unfairly alleged to be: a menace. And thanks to his sense of responsibility, Peter must rely on nothing but his terrific intellect to find a way of stopping him…

Friday, March 25, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #4

One-Shot (2005)
What if Dr Doom had become the Thing?

CoverWritten by Karl Kesel
Drawn by Paul Smith

Years ago, Empire State University admitted two students of unusual genius named Reed Richards and Victor von Doom. Whereas Reed allowed himself time for leisure, Victor devoted himself entirely to a number of clandestine experiments. One day, Reed noted a flaw in the calculations of his jealous rival. Victor shrugged off the remark, and soon, the criticized experiment literally blew up in his face.

Yet even the arrogant Doom could have paused and reconsidered his work. Finding that Richards was right after all, Victor could have partnered with Reed to share ideas and achieve the impossible. In a universe unlike our own, he did.

It is now five years since Reed and Victor began working together, and the final products of their research will soon be unveiled. Two civilian passengers are presently flying into space with the scientist pair to prove the safety of their first commercial spacecraft. Success seems assured until potentially lethal cosmic rays begin to bombard the ship, and Victor makes a sinister announcement…

“I’ve already dredged the most useful ideas from Richards’ mind. And so I will finish the research and bask in the glory alone…”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #5

Volume 2 #104 (1998)
What if the Impossible Man obtained the Infinity Gauntlet?!

CoverWritten by Thomas Virkaitis
Drawn by Gregg Schigiel

The inhabitants of the planet Poppup can shift their shapes on a whim. Years ago, a Poppupian visited Earth and - upon realizing that his powers far exceeded those of any human - chose to wreak havoc in myriad absurd ways, thereby earning the moniker “Impossible Man”. Humanity ultimately rid itself of this bizarre mischief-maker only by depriving him of the attention that he so obviously craved.

Years passed before the Impossible Man was seen again; in the meantime, Earth was faced with yet more terrifying alien threats. One of these was Thanos, a mighty madman who hailed from the Jovian moon Titan. Following a first, failed attempt at galactic conquest, Thanos devised a new scheme that was sure to succeed: collecting for himself all six of the universe’s inconceivably powerful Infinity Gems, he crafted a wearable omnipotence called the Infinity Gauntlet.

It is said that Thanos used this gauntlet to snuff out half of all sentient life in the universe; and it is whispered that most of Earth’s superheroes died in a battle to reverse that unthinkable destruction. But it is furthermore rumored that none of that actually occurred; instead, the Impossible Man simply popped up and stole the Infinity Gauntlet to use it for his own ridiculous purposes…

“This is not happening.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #6

Volume 1 #22 (1980)
What if Doctor Doom had become a hero?

CoverWritten by Don Glut
Drawn by Fred Kida

Years ago, Victor von Doom was a poor Romani youth growing up alone in the tiny kingdom of Latveria. During Victor's early childhood, both of his parents were put to death: first, his mother for practicing witchcraft, and later, his father for failing to cure the Latverian baron’s wife. Upon becoming a graduate student in America, Victor swore that he would find a way to reach the mother he had never known.

Although Victor was hugely intelligent, he was also so arrogant as to refuse to acknowledge his rare mistakes. Reed Richards, a fellow student of equal genius, once noted a critical flaw in Victor’s calculations, but his warning went ignored. Thus, when Victor finally attempted to contact his late mother, his machine exploded in his face, leaving him with nothing to show for his work but scars.

If only Victor had listened to Reed, his experiment might have succeeded. In a world unlike our own, Victor’s machine locates his mother’s soul in Hell. Instead of finding a reason to hate Richards, Doom finds a reason to thank him before departing to pursue a fantastic new project: the liberation of his mother’s soul…

“Yes, farewell, Victor von Doom… though I can’t shrug off the feeling… that tragedy will follow your accomplishments, no matter how noble they may be.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #7

Volume 2 #11 (1990)
What if the Fantastic Four all had the same power?

CoverWritten and Drawn by Jim Valentino

The Fantastic Four have saved the world – and each other’s lives – on a great many occasions, thanks to the complementary nature of their powers.

Johnny Storm can light on fire and take flight; his sister, Sue, can become invisible and create force fields. Would a Fantastic Four sharing just one of their powers always use it responsibly for the good of mankind?

Reed Richards possesses an odd stretching ability; his friend Ben Grimm wields super-strength at the expense of a monstrous form. Would a Fantastic Four in either of their places seek to become superheroes?

Tasked with observing all that transpires on Earth, the otherworldly Watcher has had a special interest in the Fantastic Four since their founding. All of the realities considered above have – in other universes – played out before his eyes…

“Four different worlds, four different fates. Each one could have been yours, had only circumstances been slightly different.”