Saturday, December 18, 2010

An intro to the best of "What If...?"

As I noted in my History, there have been 199 issues of “What If…?” over the course of the past 35 years, accounting for an impressive 223 stories.

Not all of these stories are good, however, and this can be blamed in large part on the fact that “What If…?” has never secured any one talented writer.

Roy Thomas and Don Glut co-captained Volume 1’s first two (bi-monthly) years, but they were succeeded by a grab bag of talent (and non-talent) from mid-’79 until mid-’83, when Peter Gillis arrived to helm the title for its final few issues.

When “What If…?” was brought back to life in 1989, it could perhaps brag of steady writers, plural; for its first three years, the title was scripted almost entirely by three capable men: Danny Fingeroth, Roy Thomas (again), and Jim Valentino.

But from '93 to '96, the series saw dozens of issues produced by totally random teams. And soon after that, Editor-in-Chief Tom DeFalco wrote a string of issues so awful that the series’ cancellation might best be described as a mercy killing.

With that said, the return of “What If…?” in 2005 was real cause for celebration. Top-notch writers delivered stories featuring characters they had written for years. And in 2006, a batch of “Elseworlds”-like tales offered something startlingly new.

Since 2007, though, virtually every issue of “What If…?” has been based on one of Marvel’s recent big-name “event” stories… with decidedly mixed results.

In short, while most of “What If…?” (like most writing of any kind) is not worth reading, there are perhaps two dozen issues that are deserving of your time.

In my next twenty-five entries, I'd like to introduce you to those issues. I won’t summarize their stories – and I certainly won’t spoil any of their endings – but I’ll attempt to say just enough to make you want to read them. They are worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment