Monday, January 31, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #14

Volume 1 #24 (1980)
What if Gwen Stacy had lived?

CoverWritten by Tony Isabella
Drawn by Gil Kane

When Peter Parker first gains the proportionate strength and agility of a spider, his thoughts are not of becoming a superhero, but of making a quick buck. This selfishness soon leads to the murder of Peter’s surrogate father, teaching him – at a terrible cost – that with great power comes great responsibility.

As the spectacular Spider-Man, Peter goes on to protect the people of New York City from innumerable super-powered criminals. Like most of these super-villains – and like Spider-Man himself – the maniacal Green Goblin wears a mask to hide his identity; unlike virtually anyone else, the Goblin knows who Spider-Man is.

Years ago, the Goblin sought to hurt Spider-Man by kidnapping Peter’s first love, Gwendolyn, and holding her hostage atop the George Washington Bridge. During the battle that ensued, the Goblin sent Gwen plummeting towards the Hudson, and Peter shot one desperate strand of webbing after her.

“My webbing caught your leg. I thought I had done it. I thought I had won.”

But the sudden arrest of Gwen’s fall served only to snap her neck, killing her. And even now, Peter wonders what might have been if he had succeeded…

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #15

One-Shot (2005)
What if Karen Page had lived?

CoverWritten by Brian Michael Bendis
Drawn by Michael Lark

Everything you know about Matt Murdock is true. By day, he fights for justice as one of New York City’s most knowledgeable attorneys. By night, he wages a one-man war on crime as Daredevil, the man without fear.

Matt's efforts are as thankless as they are tireless. But one woman, Karen Page, sees all that Matt does and loves him.

Meanwhile, Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, understands Matt and hates him. Fisk knows that if Karen were to die, Matt would be destroyed.

“He steals and murders and no matter what Matt Murdock does, no matter what Daredevil does… Wilson Fisk always, somehow, dances between the raindrops.”

By means of his favorite mercenary, the Kingpin has just orchestrated an attempt on Karen’s life. Matt is now determined to ensure that this stunt is Fisk’s last…

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #16

One-Shot (2007)
What if Wolverine was never deprogrammed?

CoverWritten by Jimmie Robinson
Drawn by Carmine Giandomenico

The savage mutant Wolverine is no stranger to death. Thanks to his razor-sharp claws and his ability to survive any injury, he has delivered and recovered from more than his share of mortal wounds. It therefore comes as a shock when the terrorist organization known as HYDRA succeeds in killing him.

More startling, however, is the revelation that an order of mystical ninja called the Hand has resurrected him. Motivated by the Hand’s brainwashing and assisted by HYDRA’s teleportation tech, the already bloodthirsty Wolverine has become an unstoppable killing machine. Most superhumans are now dead.

Kitty Pryde, one of the few superheroes left alive, has just been recruited by Captain America to help put Wolverine down at last. Despite Cap’s reputation as a master strategist, Kitty has good reason to doubt that any plan can survive contact with the man who was once her mentor…

“We were screwed from the start.”

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #17

Volume 1 #30 (1981)
What if Spider-Man’s clone had survived?

CoverWritten by Bill Flanagan
Drawn by Rich Buckler

The scene is unlike any other: Spider-Man versus Spider-Man. One is the real Peter Parker, the other is Peter’s clone, and not even Miles Warren, the clone’s creator, can tell the two apart. Ultimately, this mirror match ends only when both Warren and his clone are killed in an explosion meant for the real Spider-Man.

Yet this fight was so evenly matched that no outcome was inevitable. The bogus Spider-Man could have gained the upper hand; the real Peter could have died alongside Warren. But how, thereafter, would the false Peter have coped with a reality three years removed from the one in his mind?

Peter’s clone visits the childhood home that he fondly remembers only to find its windows boarded. He learns that an old friend of his is now his girlfriend and that an old girlfriend of his is now married. What Peter’s clone does not realize is that the many holes that he perceives in his memory are in fact one massive void…

“Parker, my boy-- I think we’ve been asleep for a very long time.”

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #18

One-Shot (2006)
The devil who dares

CoverWritten by Rick Veitch
Drawn by Tommy Lee Edwards

If the multiverse is as vast as the all-seeing Watcher leads us to believe, then it should come as no surprise to learn that some Earths differ vastly from our own. Another Earth’s 19th-century Japan could even resemble present-day New York.

The blind hero Daredevil could be the son of an aging samurai. The evil Kingpin of Crime could be a corrupt Shogun. And the femme fatale Elektra could be the daughter of a man merely posing as an ambassador from Greece.

On one improbable Earth, this is all precisely the case.

The year is 1857, and Old Devil is walking home with his infant son, Masahiro, when he is halted by the Shogun’s messenger pigeon: a masked man known as the Owl. Old Devil would sooner die than assist the Shogun, but the Owl has come prepared for this. Removing a radiant stone from his belt, the Owl punishes Old Devil as only the Shogun could have devised: by casting this ore into Masahiro’s eyes, he blinds him completely. While Old Devil succeeds in killing the Owl, he may never restore his son’s sight…

“How brave you are, little Masahiro. Too young, perhaps, to yet know the meaning of fear.”

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #19

One-Shot (2007)
What if the Hulk landed on the peaceful planet that Reed Richards promised?

CoverWritten by Greg Pak
Drawn by Rafa Sandoval

How does one man explain to another that he must be exiled for crimes that he did not commit? When Reed Richards banishes fellow scientist Bruce Banner for the misdeeds of his monstrous alter-ego, it is with the sincerest tone of apology.

“There will be no one there to hurt you… and no one you can hurt. You always said you wanted to be left alone… May you finally find peace.”

Years ago, the explosion of a gamma ray bomb transformed Dr Banner into the super-strong, untameable Hulk. Although that initial change was temporary, subsequent high-stress moments have repeated the trick, and Bruce has ever struggled to limit his involuntary stints as a rampaging brute.

At last, Dr Richards has cut the Gordian Knot: since nothing on Earth could stop the Hulk, he has removed the Hulk from Earth. Stranded on an alien world, the Hulk resigns himself to his fate; Dr Banner, however, does not…

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #20

Special (1988)
What if Iron Man had been a traitor?

CoverWritten by Peter Gillis
Drawn by Steve Ditko and Pat Redding

Anthony Stark is brilliant, and he is dying. Days ago, American soldiers were escorting him through the jungles of Vietnam, where he was observing tests of weapons which he himself had designed. Then, one errant footstep set off an anti-personnel mine, killing Tony’s guards and embedding shrapnel in his chest.

A band of guerrillas soon stumbled upon the unconscious weapons designer and carried him off to their leader, Wong Chu. This mountain of a man informed Tony upon his revival that the metal buried in his breast would reach his heart in under a week. But until that time, his considerable intellect would not be wasted.

Commanded to invent an awesome new weapon, Tony spends what could be his final days designing something truly amazing: a suit of armor fitted to double as his life-support. With the pull of one final switch, Tony shall become invincible.

But before Tony can power his armor on, he is set upon by Wong Chu and transported to the headquarters of a superior officer. When this man learns of the dual purpose of Tony’s armor, he modifies it so that it can be powered off at the push of a button. And then, he offers Tony an ultimatum: betray America or die…

“You will go along-- and try to find a loophole. Think of it as a battle of wits…”

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