A Look Back at What If #51 (1993)

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 culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit Marvel Comics’ What If monthly series through the 51st issue. Its subject matter was about the Punisher becoming Captain America.

For the newcomers reading this, the Punisher in comics started when Vietnam War veteran Frank Castle lost his family to a gang of criminals who attacked them. Being the only survivor, Castle became obsessed with punishing others by means of assassination and waging a personal war against criminals. Captain America, meanwhile, was serving his country along with his teammates in the Avengers. The story in this reviewed issue of What If diverges from the events told in Captain America #212.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #51, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Simon Furman and drawn by Paris Cullins.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a military hospital deep beneath the Pentagon. Steve Rogers/Captain America was still recovering from his previous mission (told in Captain America #212) when Nick Fury and Falcon arrive. Steve tells Fury that there must be a Captain America again with someone strong to wear the flag.

Shortly after, top secret discussions about replacing Steve Rogers commence with a select committee at work and some representatives present. Due to the lack of real access to the original super soldier serum that enhanced Steve Rogers into becoming Captain America, it was announced that decorated Vietnam War hero Frank Castle was their pick to replace Rogers. Nick Fury expresses his reservation.

At a military camp, Frank Castle refuses to become Captain America expressing that he has served his country already through military operations and he barely has any time left for his wife, son and daughter. As far as he is concerned, his war is over…

Quality

The Punisher as the new Captain America!

On face value, the concept about the Punisher becoming the new Captain America is intriguing and that alone could lead to different outcomes. The story written by Simon Furman clearly shows what kind of Captain America Frank Castle would be. While he does not have the super human abilities of Steve Rogers, Castle’s intense drive to punish others makes his Captain America an effective weapon against not only America’s enemies but also the opposition that the Avengers themselves face. Of course, Castle’s obsession on punishing the opposition is not limited to his role as America’s iconic instrument as he still has a personal desire on bringing down America’s criminals.

The story tackles some of the ethics behind the role and symbolism that comes with being Captain America, and it shows certain elements that Frank Castle lacks when it comes to living up to his higher role. This comic book also serves as a reminder about how valuable it is for Americans, whether fictional or factual, to serve their nation and love it. In today’s era of unrelenting socialism, Communism, Marxism, Critical Race Theory (CRT), unrestrained political correctness, widespread diversity delusions and Leftist activism damaging America which in turn has Joe Biden as a President prioritizing socialism and illegal immigrants over his fellow Americans, this comic book carries a lot of weight about what it means to be an American who is ready to serve and love America. Its meaning will easily offend the social justice warriors (SJWs) in America.

Without spoiling the plot, I can say that the final encounter and conclusion were powerful and sentimental in a good way.

Conclusion

Frank Castle the pick to replace Steve Rogers as Captain America.

What If #51 (1993) could have been another issue that ended disappointingly. It is actually an engaging read and provides readers deep insight about what a Frank Castle Captain America would be like within the Marvel Comics universe of the 1990s. It’s got a good amount of action, several moments of intrigue and it shows a different type of Punisher (note: check out my other retro reviews involving the Punisher by clicking here, here and here) while still retaining some of his classic character background elements. The visuals and art style in this comic book could have been better.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #51 (1993) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $60 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $180.

Overall, What If #51 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

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A Look Back at What If #72 (1995)

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.

Spider-Man is not just the icon of Marvel Comics co-created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. He is an icon of American culture! From comic books to video games, toys, movies, TV shows and merchandise, Spider-Man’s legacy will always be visible to the public. The fandom of the icon is also undeniable. As if that was not enough, a futuristic, sci-fi version of the superhero was realized in 1992 when Marvel Comics launched its 2099 comic book universe with Spider-Man 2099.

Not even Stan Lee himself anticipated how famous Spider-Man would become.

“”It’s so indescribably thrilling to realize that so many people really care about a character I dreamed up and wrote so many years ago. Although it’s probably lucky I didn’t know how big Spidey would become in later years—because, if I suspected that, I’d have been too nervous to write the stories, worrying if they’re good enough for posterity to judge,” Lee stated.

Considering his relevance and attraction to the public, Spider-Man unsurprisingly got featured in issues of the What If monthly series. What I’m about to review is a comic book that explores what would it be had Spider-Man became a murderer.

You read it right!

Anyway, here is a look back at What If #72, published by Marvel Comics in 1995 with a story written by Simon Furman and illustrated by Craig Brasfield.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Peter Parker/Spider-Man alone in a dark prison cell. A flashback begins set inside a particular warehouse showing how he (dressed as Spider-Man) savagely beat up a man whom he believed was responsible for the death of his beloved Uncle Ben. By looking at the man’s face, Spider-Man noticed that the guy he just beat up was the fugitive (a burglar) who ran past him…the one man whom he could have stopped when he had the chance. Spider-Man realizes that he just killed the man and starts regretting it.

Suddenly a loud voice from outside the warehouse startled him. It turns out New York’s police officers are located outside and they know he is in the warehouse. They called Spider-Man to surrender. He thought about doing the right thing to surrender but eventually decides to escape and go home.

The next morning, Peter Parker is at home with Aunt May. The guilt of killing a man is bothering him personally and he knows how much his aunt depends on him. He knows that she is already struggling to make ends meet for them both. Aunt May notices Peter looking bad from a lack of sleep.

Then Peter goes to school feeling very burdened with guilt…

Quality

11
Peter Parker bothered by guilt…

I can clearly that this is a very well-written story crafted by Simon Furman. Not only did Furman really strongly focused on the very theme of this comic book, he went the extra mile exploring a darker side of Spider-Man brought out by the burden of guilt. I also enjoyed the scenes crafted showing Spider-Man to not only act different but also become more unsure of himself and even becoming afraid to use his super powers. Worth mentioning is how Peter Parker handles his relationship with Aunt May while carrying the guilt deep inside.

The comic book is not a 100% pure character exploration. There is still a good amount of superhero spectacle here and there to keep you entertained. There are also a few other classic Spider-Man characters that fans will enjoy such as Flash Thompson, Dr. Connors/The Lizard and Sandman. Furman cleverly created nice encounters between Spider-Man and the two mentioned villains which also added further to the hero’s development.

Visually, What If #72 is nice to look at thanks to Craig Brasfield’s work. He proved to be good in drawing Spider-Man although I find his art on the Lizard better and more detailed to look at. When it comes to superhero action, Brasfield delivered the goods.

Conclusion

8
With the guilt bothering him, Peter Parker is unsure of doing something in a bad situation.

What If #72 is quite compelling to read. It explores how Spider-Man would act while carrying the guilt of accidentally killing someone. That being said, I should say that this comic book achieved its goal of emphasizing its concept – what if Spider-Man became a murderer? – but it ended on a whimper. Remember how the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall literally broke rules and traditions of James Bond storytelling only to revert back before the movie ended? That’s how I look at this comic book. It went deep with its concept but not all the way. How exactly did it end? You should read the comic book to find out.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #72, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $17 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is priced at $51.

Overall, What If #72 (1995) 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