Saturday, December 18, 2010

A brief history of "What If...?"

“What If…?” is a series that has been running, on and off, for nearly 35 years.

Volume 1, published bi-monthly from 1977 to 1984, offered 63 stories over the course of 47 issues. “What If…?” then lay dormant a while, until a one-shot Special starring Iron Man was published in 1988, rejuvenating the series.

Volume 2, published monthly from 1989 to 1998, offered 115 more stories across 115 issues. Additionally, three “Alterniverse” one-shots (two of which were actually released in two parts) were published during this time. But then, “What If…?” ended again. An uninterrupted decade of stories seemingly tapped the well dry.

In 2005, however, the series was given a third lease on life. “What If…?” returned with a wave of six one-shots and a humor special. In 2006, another six one-shots arrived, and a wave of five new one-shots has been published every year since. Additionally, a special one-shot starring the New Fantastic Four was released in 2008 to honor the memory of artist Mike Wieringo.

If my count is correct, “What If…?” has thus far brought us 223 stories over the course of 199 issues. A uniquely-numbered “What If…?” #200 is in fact scheduled to hit stands later this month, followed shortly thereafter by the one-shots of 2011.

What better time for a retrospective?

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