A Look Back at What If #17 (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, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the reimagined tales emphasized in the What If monthly series.

Several years ago, I bought myself a trade paperback collection of the 1987 Spider-Man storyline Kraven’s Last Hunt written by J. M. DeMatteis and drawn by Mike Zeck. That particular storyline was very notable not just for its dark approach to storytelling and visualization, but it also explores what would happen had Spider-Man been defeated and someone very obsessed took his place and go on a rampage disguised as Spider-Man. The storyline also explored how Kraven perceived Spider-Man without ever knowing the defining traits of the man behind the mask – Peter Parker. Eventually, Marvel Comic went on to revisit Kraven’s Last Hunt and explored what would happen had Kraven actually killed Spider-Man through their What If? monthly comic book series.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #17, published in 1990 by Marvel Comics with a story written and drawn by Richard Howell.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher revisiting key moments from the Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline. History then takes a turn towards the unexplored when Kraven, armed with a gun, shoots and kills Spider-Man. As the dead webslinger lies in a coffin, Kraven celebrates his victory with a lot of passion believing that he struck back at what he perceives to be the meaninglessness of the world. Kraven is quite mad as he equates spiders with Spider-Man as well as the decline of civilization.

After fearlessly and grotesquely eating spiders, Kraven wears a black body tight costume that looks almost the same as that of Spider-Man’s. While he is victorious, Kraven is not satisfied and he becomes obsessed by becoming Spider-Man and prove himself superior to him. He then moves into the city whose people are familiar with Spider-Man and also are unprepared with who is coming to them.

In an apartment, Spider-Man’s wife Mary Jane Parker is alone and worried. As she does not know that her beloved Peter Parker has been killed, she cannot help but agonize over the strain of his double-life as a civilian and as a superhero. Determined to find Peter, she walks out during the rainy night and is spotted by two men focused on her.

Suddenly the new Spider-Man (Kraven) appears and in an apparent effort to help Mary Jane, he grabs one of the men and brutally pushes the man’s head on to a nearby wall. As Kraven does not recognize Mary Jane, the wife realizes that the Spider-Man she just saw is definitely not her husband. This only makes her wonder again where he is and what happened to him. She then starts calling others for help…

Quality

In addition to being ruthless, Kraven disguised as Spider-Man resembles Venom.

I’ll start with the visuals. This comic book took a serious effort to come close to capturing the look and visual tone of the Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline which I enjoyed. Richard Howell visualized the characters, the situations and details properly and there was not a single moment when the visuals overwhelmed the narrative. Howell’s artistic take on the characters is simplistic but they remain recognizable which is a plus. The superhero spectacle was presented with a clear and clean approach, and there were a few key moments of action that got highlighted with some dynamism.

As for the story itself, what I found surprising and also pleasant here was the presentation of Mary Jane Parker as the main character instead of Kraven. This makes sense as Kraven himself was the major attraction of the Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline while Spider-Man was out of commission. In the context of this What If story, it only made sense to have Mary Jane as the central figure. Going back to Kraven, Howell captured the essence of the character well when compared to his version in Kraven’s Last Hunt.

In terms of plotting, telling the story through the viewpoint and actions of the superhero’s concerned wife really works well. Without spoiling the plot, you will see Mary Jane get involved with three notable superheroes – including the iconic Captain America – and even with other notable Spider-Man supporting characters such as Flash Thompson and the irresponsible print media figure J. Jonah Jameson. Interactions aside, the plot works sufficiently as a couple of series of events take place before the big confrontation with Kraven (as the new Spider-Man). By the end of it all, I can say that the story is entertaining, engaging and intriguing to read.

Conclusion

Mary Jane Parker goes out in pursuit of her husband Peter Parker/Spider-Man who happens to be dead already at this particular point of the story.

I can say that What If #17 (1990) is pretty captivating read and it is a worthy literary companion to Kraven’s Last Hunt. Of course, to really enjoy this alternative tale cleverly told by Howell, you must read Kraven’s Last Hunt first. Otherwise, you would not feel the impact of this comic book very much. I also liked how the death of Spider-Man (note: Spider-Man got killed in another What If tale that itself is worth reading) impacts Mary Jane, how it impacts the superheroes who know him, and most notably how it impacts the fragile relationship between society and superheroes. Lastly, this comic book has one of the more significant portrayals of Spider-Man’s most beloved woman. This is indeed a great story.

Overall, What If #17 (1990) is highly recommended!

+++++

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A Look Back at Dazzler #3 (1981)

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 collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! After a very fine start, things really went downhill with the story and presentation in Dazzler #2. That comic book had Dazzler (then a hot new property for Marvel Comics) completely overshadowed by the big mix of established Marvel superheroes fighting opposition elements. To say the least, Dazzler #2 was a major letdown, a very big disappointment and anyone who loves Dazzler should avoided it.

Will we see Dazzler presented much better in the next issue? We can find out in this look back at Dazzler #3, released in 1981 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr., and A. Kupperberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dazzler (not wearing her face paint) participating scientific test conducted by Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic at his team’s headquarters in New York. Dazzler has been converting every nearby sound into radiance and she’s beginning to sense her limitations. The test was done to determine Alison Blaire’s mutant capabilities. Also present were Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm and Sue Richards. Johnny reads a newspaper report about the United Nations’ plan to display the crown jewels that once belonged to their deadliest enemy Dr. Doom.

Afterwards, Dazzler meets her boss at his office and learns that she will be one of the openers at the benefit concert of UNICEF which is supposed to help her with her music career. The next morning, she decides to visit her old home where her father lives in. Over at the Bavarian Alps, Dr. Doom gets informed that among the jewels set to be displayed at the Unite Nations is the Merline stone. This compels him to make a move…

Quality

Dazzler versus Dr. Doom!

When compared to the disaster of issue #2, this comic book’s story is indeed an improvement as it has the expected superhero storytelling formula intact. The good news here is that the character development on Dazzler has returned and there is once again the strong emphasis on her relevance with the people of New York with regards to her being both a superhero and a musician.

The story moved at a moderate pace and it is clear that the creative team took the necessary steps to gradually build up the plot leading to the inevitable encounter between Dazzler and the Fantastic Four’s most definitive enemy (and Marvel Comics’ iconic villain). Take note, however, that the Dazzler-Dr. Doom conflict here is only the beginning.

As this story is more focused on Dazzler, you will get to see an early look at her tainted relationship with her father who desired her to become a lawyer like him, plus there is some focus on the behind-the-scenes development in one of the big events involving her. When it comes to spectacle, there is a right amount of it here which makes this comic book more fun to read than the previous issue.

Conclusion

A look at the business side of the music industry that Alison Blaire/Dazzler is involved with.

Dazzler #3 (1981) is indeed fun to read and the creators succeeded in developing Alison Blaire more while delivering the good stuff. While the match-up between her and Dr. Doom looks awkward from the surface, the strong writing justified it and all along Dazzler never looked like she was out of place being with Marvel’s iconic supervillain.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #3 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, Dazzler #3 (1981) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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…

Quality

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.

Conclusion

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!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com