If you think there is nothing new worth reading of our favorite jade mass of muscles then read on! Basically I am going to highlight two books – One you should totally read – like, right now, and the other is one to avoid like the plague! Let’s get started!
What If? #70
What If the Silver Surfer Had Not Betrayed Galactus? (1995)
The story idea itself sounds like a great idea – and it intrigued me since I am knee deep reading the 3rd volume of the Silver Surfer (a review will be coming of this entire series). Unfortunately, they did not deliver what could have been an amazing battle. Instead the Earth is destroyed, the ultimate nullifier is incinerated, and Galactus makes Reed Richards look like a complete wuss. But hey, they lived – so happy ending, right? Ugh. Not to mention, Doom kills the Surfer (or Surfer kills Doom) and they are both no more. I was thinking the story would show off an epic battle between all of the heroes on Earth and Galactus withe the end result of Galactus still being beaten – but instead the Surfer betrays the FF and hands over the one thing Galactus feared to his master. The Ultimate Nullifier. With that in Galactus’ hands he wastes no time in turning the Earth into rubble. All but the FF who stow away in a storm cellar of sorts inside the Baxter Building.
After that the FF tear after Galactus, bent on revenge. Doom somehow survives the event as well and wants the power that Galactus displayed for himself. He tries to catch up to Big G’s ship but runs into Surfer instead. The two battle it out and, surprisingly, Doom overloads Surfer with power, and blows the Surfer up – killing them both. Meanwhile, Reed – who takes the Nullifier back – shows his hand holding nothing as he can’t even bring himself to use it. Instead, he says that he and the rest of the team will be his new heralds finding non-populated worlds for him to consume.
So… the Earth dies off but he won’t kill anyone else? And that’s a happy ending? The fact that Doom beat Surfer in space so handily was also a sore spot with me. How? Why? What? If you read a full story with all questions still being left unanswered than you know someone hasn’t done their job properly. Grade: D+
What If? #49
What If The Silver Surfer Possessed the Infinity Gauntlet? (1993)
P: Clark / West
The month before Hulk kills Wolverine the What If? series hands us one of the best What If? stories in the whole run! One that I am still bummed they omitted from the Infinity Gauntlet Omnibus. This is certainly an issue that would have fit in nicely! The story begins with the Surfer tearing toward Thanos (who is about to dispatch Cap) and instead of missing taking the Gauntlet off of Thanos’ hand – he snatches right off. Warlock congratulates the Surfer on a job well done but then asks for the gauntlet. Surfer, having no intention on filling that request puts the golden glove on himself. He reverts the world back to normal and undoes all of Thanos evil-doing.
Trying to purge the world of all evil and keeping peace everywhere Surfer even visits Mephisto – and when he doesn’t get the answer he sought actually destroys the lord of the underworld. With Thanos and Warlock watch the Surfer trying to handle being a God (and realizing that this will all go wrong) they seek Strange’s help in dethroning the former herald turned deity. Strange’s only real suggestion is to bring back Shalla-Bal. She does convince the Surfer to re-think his current plan – but not before a little domestic dispute, including a little celestial assault. It ends in an almost predictable fashion – but still fulfilling jus the same. Really great issue! Grade: A
What If #78
So, here’s the deal. The Fantastic Four was captured by a Skrull Queen and then hired a new group of 4 – those heroes being the Hulk, Ghost Rider, Spiderman and Wolverine. Now, anyone hiring these 4 mis-fits to be a team should already be suspect – but they went along with it anyways. In this What If? it examines how the events might have unfolded had the real FF died in their fight to come back.
MJ gives Peter some "hard" thinking to do...
The issue starts out on a pretty high note as the new team begins by moving into the Baxter Building (MJ even gives a little fashion show) and they dispatch all of their new foes pretty easily. The world starts to notice this new FF. Even the heroes old foes start coming out in force but are easily taken down by the quartet.
The Sininster Six? More like the S.. the Sapp.. no - Stupid Six! Yeah! Good one!
The real problems start when the most powerful foes of each hero start coming out of the woodwork and gang up together. While the team is distracted by paperwork the Baxter Building is infiltrated. Lady Death Strike and Abomination come bursting through the wall looking for a fight. Two other powerhouses – one looks to be a skrull – and honestly, I am not sure who the other is (if anyone out there does know – let me in on it!) come knocking, looking to destroy as well. These enemies seem to be too much for the new FF to handle.
Fixit uses him charm... to no avail...
As each hero is taken out and all looks lost and MJ even sits with Peter on the floor given up all hope – all of a sudden a blast comes through the wall and disintegrates the foes. It is Doctor Doom. He tells the FF that no one destroys them – except him. And then he flies away.
Doom Saves the Day... kind of
This issue has me confused on why the heroes had such a hard time taking on their old enemies? I mean, Wolverine was doing fine against Abomination – but the Hulk was having a heck of a time with Lady Death Strike! And he was blasted out of the building… TWICE! I wasn’t a huge fan of the issue – but it’s fun to think that Marvel would kill off any of the Fantastic Four… of wait… Grade: C
What If? WWH
This What If? is one of the better What If? stories to come out including the Hulk. The first story takes place at the end of WWH where the heroes are desperate to take out the Hulk in any way – and as Tony releases the laser from the satellites they find… it works and takes the Hulk out. But it also kills the Spider Woman *Skrull Queen*. This puts the very well fed Skrull Commander in charge – and he believes that the Hulk is the green prophet. He believes that the Hulk’s actions are actually signs that are telling him now is the time to strike and to make the “blue planet” their new home.
Hulk - the savior - the curse...
And strike they do – they release a fury of attacks and kill millions – humans, heroes and mutants alike. After a few months the Vision android returns to the site of the WWH final battle and finds Bruce. He’s poisoned and just waiting to die. The vision tells Bruce what has been going on, tells him that they could really use the Hulk’s help. Bruce finally agrees and tears through the Skrull army as easily as he did the heroes in WWH. As the Hulk takes out more and more the remaining heroes begin to gather and create an Army – they call themselves the Avengers and are preparing to take their planet back.
Hulk taking on the skrulls!
But the Skrulls have a plan of their own. A spy. A bomb – in the form of Giant Man. See, the Wasp is actually a Skrull – and as Pym professes his love she reveals herself – and also reveals that Pym a living bomb and he detonates. He destroys the remaining heroes – except the Hulk who summons the Surfer. Hulk demands that the Surfer bring Galactus to devour Earth. Surfer refuses… at first – but with a bit more urging from the Hulk the Surfer agrees.
The Hulk asks the Surfer for a favor
The Skrulls don’t understand where they went wrong. Why their new home, much like their old home, is being destroyed by Galactus. But the Hulk does not perish along with his home world – instead Galactus tells the Hulk that his rage is perfect to become his new Herald. The Hulk asks only to let him forget – and Galactus delivers. The New Herald – the World Breaker!
The World Breaker! WOW!
I liked this story – but everyone seems to address what the Hulk did in almost destroying the Earth – but not one writer has addressed the fact that Reed, Stark, and the others were responsible for the Hulk wrath… but the story is still pretty excellent: B+
The next story is about What If Thor came back at the end of WWH? Funny enough – it does address that Stark, Reed and others are to be held responsible – but it was really, really bad – one of those “happily ever after” kind of stories – one of those – let’s all help and get along and forgive everyone kind of endings. I won’t bother going on longer than that about it. Grade: D
What If? #71
I loved the idea of this book – but it wasn’t the story I was expecting. First off – the bomb that created the thousand Hulks was not the famous “Test” Gamma Bomb that Bruce created – instead it was the bomb that America dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The Hulks were both freaks and super strong mutants that no hero could fight against. The Hulks quickly took over the world, calling themselves the Oni – and the emperer of the Oni is a mutated one who goes simply by “The Leader”.
A bunch of different Hulks... creepy looking Hulks
The Leader imprisoned the FF and destroyed the X-Men and any other super hero. Bruce Banner was a man who realized that the Oni was dying – but that they could be rescued – saved by a dose of Gamma Radiation. As he was working on the solution, Betty Ross, recognized by her name, was killed because Thunderbolt was the Oni’s enemy. When she was killed Bruce decided to destry the Oni himself with one last Gamma Bomb. The bomb was designed to kill the freaks – but at the test site Nick Fury showed up.
Banner - his fate seems to be sealed
Nick Fury, who had been trying to stop the Oni, was meddling with the bomb. Banner runs out to the site and throws Fury into the blast bunker to save his life – but he was too late to save himself. He is caught in the blast and becomes the Hulk himself. But now there is a soilder strong enough to take on the Oni – and Bruce leads the fight against the Oni with the heroes he breaks free. He is a tortured soul – he is getting revenge on the people that took his beloved Betty away – but he is forced to fight in the skin that his enemies wear.
Heroes fighting together!
Over all, not a bad issue – but the art is pretty atrocious and the story is quick. Grade: C
What If... General Ross Had Become the Hulk? He's actually grey in the book - even though he doesn't look that way on the cover...
One of the things I LOVE about this series is being able to see the characters you’ve become so familiar with in a new light – doing things they would normally not do – doing something totally out of character. This is one of my favorite What If… stories – written by a Hulk scribe you might have heard of – a chap named Peter David.
And this issue begins pretty much the same as Hulk #1 – Banner and Igor are readying the Gammabomb for testing – when all of a sudden they see a teenage boy driving out onto the test site. As Banner is about to leave Thunderbolt stops him and says that HE will get the boy instead. As Ross drives out to the test site and with Igor needing to find Banner’s formula he resorts to more drastic measures and gasses the remaining scientists. When Ross arrives he pulls a gun on Jones and tells him he’s arrested – but then the G-Bomb starts the countdown and Ross tells Jones to get to the trench – Jones makes it, Ross doesn’t – but unlike normal continuity where Jones is taken to the infirmary – this time Ross immediately Hulks out and falls on Jones, squishing and killing him.
Ross is dancing, dancing!
Talbot arrives and wakes Banner up. He he tells him that the bomb was never halted and had been detonated. We see Betty at home and suddenly Ross comes busting through the wall. Ross’ Hulk can think – but he can’t verbalize anything – he just grunts yells. Betty is terrified – and Ross sees why when he looks into the mirror. He flees the house and jumps off. Banner and Talbot find Jones’ squished corpse. Meanwhile, Igor is driving Ross’ jeep away from the base to get away – but Ross recognizes his jeep and lands in front of it. The jeeps crashes into him – Ross realizes it was Igor who is to blame for his condition and throws the jeep and it blows up – which makes Ross very happy. He screams in triumph – and that’s when the army shows up and tries to take Ross down. Much like the Hulk, when cornered, Ross begins to tear apart the army’s defense – kicking and throwing tanks – destroying everything is sight. Ross finally jumps away, back to his house, and suddenly sees that one of the tanks he threw has landed on his house. The house that Betty was in – and was in when the tank landed. Ross drops to his knees and breaks down realizing he has killed his own daughter. Bruce is there and he tells Ross that Betty is in fact dead – and the time for words is over. As Ross cries Bruce raises a gun to the back of Ross’ head and pulls the trigger.
Bruce shoots Ross - like I have wanted to do SO many times!
A very violent and amazing issue – it’s such a great issue that makes you look at each character differently. I freakin’ loved it! Read this issue of you can – it’s pretty easy to come by. Issue: A
What If? #45
What if the Hulk went berserk? Doesn’t the Hulk go berserk on a regular basis? That’s like asking “What is Spiderman used sarcasm?” That’s like asking “What if Wolverine had no memory of his origin?” That’s like asking “What if Power Girl had huuuugge boobs?” Hulk goes berserk – that’s what he does!
The basis of this story replaces the regular origin of the Hulk with the scenario where Bruce is just a little too late in saving Rick Jones. The Gamma-Bomb goes off a second earlier and BOTH Bruce and Rick are caught in the blast. This, for some reason, makes Bruce still turn into the Hulk – but now Rick and the Hulk are psychically linked. Rick is fine, mind you, no Hulk-outs – just linked to the Hulk. So the Hulk knows when Rick is hurt – and the army does hurt him. First they give him a shot – which he cried like a baby about – and then they electrocuted him to lure the Hulk back to the Army Base. Well, it worked, the Hulk did come back – but only after they electrocuted Rick… to death. Thunderbolt Ross feels bad – but Talbot is there to tell him that Jones was a casualty. (What a softy)
Without Rick in Hulk’s head all of a sudden the Hulk goes on a destruction bender! He begins to throw missiles at the helicopters – and Ross decides that they need some outside help. That means the FF comes in to help. The Human Torch tries to take him out – but Hulk literally blows him out. Like a candle. It’s kind of awesome. Hulk takes the FF on – but then when the Thing battles with the Hulk they land near a ICBM silo. The missile goes off and out of the fire comes Bruce and Ben – IN HUMAN FORM! – But Bruce becomes the Hulk suddenly and snaps Ben’s neck. The Human Torch comes blazing in – only to have the Hulk swat him away like a fly, killing him. Iron Man and Thor come to help out. Hulk destroy the circuits that keep Tony’s heart beating – and he dies. Man, this is horrific! Thor comes in to save the day. They tussle for just a bit before Thor snaps the Hulk’s neck. As the Hulk turns back into Banner, Thor gives him a honorable death and burns him up with lightning. Ross tells Talbot that they have much to atone for.
It’s a pretty decent issue – but let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room – Thor snapping Hulk’s neck? WTF? While I am glad that they used Thor to beat him – because let’s be honest here – if someone is going to beat the Hulk it should be a god. But man, it just seemed too easy! Ridonkulous! Ricockulous even! Issue: C
What If?... The Newer Fantastic Four
What If…? The series that can tell the stories without the pesky problems of continuity and such. And this story takes place during one of the greatest Marvel events ever! The Infinity Gauntlet! Thanos has just wiped out half of the living beings in the universe to impress Death. As Kang is on Earth fighting the heroes he disappears – more than that – he dies, along with Ghost Rider and a few other heroes. That explains why Iron Man is part of the new FF rather than Ghost Rider. Before I go on – everyone knows of the storyline where Spiderman, Hulk, Ghost Rider and Wolverine took over the FF, right? If not, go check out some back issues because it’s a great story. Anyways, is this reality Dr. Strange and Warlock and the Surfer show up to the Baxter Building to explain the situation. The new FF laugh off the idea of Thanos being so powerful. Suddenly, they find themselves face to face with him. They threaten and talk big all while Thanos explains why he did what he did. Real quick, Thanos? he wouldn’t have even bothered with these heroes. They would be like flies that he’d swat off. The fact that they even are allowed to talk to him was a stretch of this story. But hey! We go on…
Thanos struts his stuff once again, killing off half of the entire Milky Way. He also separated Banner and the Hulk – one of the best lines is where the Hulk says “Big Deal, I had a tape worm” Great stuff! Wolverine notices the interaction that Mephisto has with Thanos just as Thanos sends the heroes back to their homes. The FF argue with Warlock and company as to what the best next move is. The FF decides to use Reed’s technology, with the aide of Bruce Banner, to build a portal back to where Thanos is. They get back just in time to see the Celestials ready to take on Thanos. Wolverine steps up to talk to Thanos. As the heroes all attack Wolverine talks Thanos into getting rid of Mephisto. None of the heroes attacks even come close to helping – but Iron Man has Hulk take Galactus’ armor and put it through the portal. Bruce and Tony make it so that it becomes a HUGE Iron Man that successfully lands one blow to Thanos. But just one. Wolverine meanwhile tricks Thanos into wanting to touch Mistress Death. Just as Thanos is about to – Wolverine hacks his whole arm off and takes the Infinity Gaunlet while Hulk knocks him out. Handing the Gaunlet off to Spiderman who reverses all of the bad that Thanos had done. And Thanos ends up just as he did in regular Marvel continuity.
Overall, it’s a fun story. If you don’t take a lot of the stuff in it as true to the Marvel universe then the story is a really fun read – worth picking up! B-