A Look Back at What If #13 (1990)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and X-Men fans. I’m about to review an issue of Marvel Comics’ What If monthly series which was published 1990 and was related to the X-Men as the central figure of the comic book is Charles Xavier (AKA Professor X).

To put things in perspective, Charles Xavier is forever known as the founder and leader of the X-Men. Within the Marvel Comics universe, he is one of the most powerful telepaths as well as a genius in science and genetics. He is a paraplegic who can do quite a lot and make an impact on the delicate relationship between his fellow mutants and the humans. In the movies, Xavier was portrayed by Patrick Stewart (first performance as Xavier in X-Men) and James McAvoy (first performance as Xavier in X-Men: First Class). Given his legacy of helping mutants gain rights through peaceful means, Charles Xavier has been compared with Martin Luther King, Jr. Going back to the comics, Xavier has a step brother named Cain Marko who became the X-Men villain Juggernaut.

With the background lesson done, we can now take a look back at What If #13, published by Marvel Comics in 1990 with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Vince Mielcarek.

The cover drawn by Jim Lee.

Early story

The story begins in New York in the so-called near future. Graffiti artists attempt to run away from a team of mutants riding a floating vehicle. As Thunderbird is about to hit one of the humans, Cyclops stops him. Suddenly the mutants receive a telepathic message from their big boss who turns out to be Charles Xavier the Juggernaut.

Xavier is leading the effort against a group of humans who have been conspiring against them. Xavier declares, “They must be stopped—for the good of mutantkind!”

The X-Men in this particular story are fascist storm troopers policing a wretched, helpless humanity…


Xavier-Juggernaut with the X-Men and the invading Fantastic Four.

I can start by say that this comic book written by Kurt Busiek has one of the most compelling what-if scenarios that reflect not only its concept (of Charles Xavier becoming Juggernaut) but also the Marvel Comics universe as we know it. As dedicated X-Men fans know, Cain Marko was the one who touched the ruby in the cave which made him the mainstream Juggernaut. In here, the scenario was altered to make Charles Xavier become Juggernaut and the radical changes did not end there. Without spoiling the great stuff, I can say that this is one great exploration of an alternate version of events that affect not only the X-Men and their villains but also the many other superheroes of the Marvel universe as Xavier-Juggernaut went all-out with his dedication to mutantkind. I can say that in this story, symbolically speaking, Xavier easily outclasses the extreme Magneto on prioritizing mutants over humans.

Comic book concept aside, Kurt Busiek’s writing here is really excellent. Not only did he capture the traits of Xavier as he turned him into the alternate Juggernaut, Busiek also emphasized the many twisted events in the Marvel shared universe with sufficient details. The details implemented made the scenarios really believable. His script for this comic book was brought to life by Vince Mielcarek who did a good job making the characters recognizable (note: there were a lot of superheroes and villains here), showcasing the wide scope of changes made on people and places (in relation to Xavier-Juggernaut’s actions) and there was good pacing with the visuals.


Charles Xavier as you’ve never seen him before.

What If #13 (1990) is great to read and it is a must-have with its story alone. Apart from showing the concept’s deep impact on the Marvel Comics universe, I also enjoyed the way Kurt Busiek blurred the boundaries that separated good and evil. If you are an X-Men and you want to see something different with the mutants – especially Professor X – then you you will find a lot to enjoy here. This is a great alternate superhero story and definitely more people should be aware of this.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #13 (1990), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, What If #13 (1990) is highly recommended!


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