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!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

A Look Back at What If #47 (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 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.

Back in 2021, I reviewed What If #46 (1993) which told a compelling story about division between the mutants, the clash of beliefs between Professor X and Cable, and how terrorism affects everyone. The comic book was also a mesmerizing portrayal of how the X-Men would have organized themselves without Charles Xavier, Jean Grey and Cyclops.

Considering all the chaos that happened in What If #46 (1993), the time was just right for Magneto – the X-Men’s most dangerous enemy of all time – to come in and make an impact not only on mutants but on the world.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #47, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Tod Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Magneto leading a huge legion of mutants to take overwhelm the remaining resistance – including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, the Avengers and the dedicated American soldiers – in Washington, D.C.

A fierce battle then took place with both sides hitting each other hard. After noticing Magneto’s lack of presence during the battle, Captain America then realizes that the long-time enemy of the X-Men took advantage of the fighting to penetrate the U.S. Capitol’s bomb shelters and got the nation’s leaders hostage. After easing some of his fellow heroes, Captain America decides not to escalate the fight against Magneto in consideration of the lives of America’s top officials…

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A recap of the events in issue #46.

To begin with, I can say that this story is a well-planned follow-up to the events of issue #46. While Magneto’s presence has been magnified a lot here, there are still strong story connections to the previous issue.

With regards to what was emphasized on the front cover of the comic book, this story explores what would happen if Magneto took power to control the entire United States while leading a group of mutants with a platform focused on crushing anti-mutant racism even though it includes pushing the non-mutant people (which is the great majority of America’s people) as well as the dissenting mutants out of the way.

For one thing, this superhero fantasy concept is actually socially relevant with today’s geopolitics and the way America has turned out under the fake leadership of Joe Biden (who is NOT leading as US President but only following the modern-day American Communists and reckless SJWs dictating him to do their evil bidding. Biden also arrogantly denies reality when it goes against the desires of his administration and his Satanic Democrats) It should be noted that the US President visualized in this comic book eerily looks like Joe Biden complete with that absent-minded facial expression.

Next, a clear theme in this What If story is absolute power and why groups who crave for it would sacrifice so much and hurt others just to acquire it. Magneto, who carries deep hatred towards people he perceives to be obstacles or opposition for his quest of uplifting mutants, takes advantage of mutants who have lost hope and are depending on someone to lead them. Indeed, the long-time X-Men nemesis gains power to control America but finds himself facing a new force of opposition which leads the nation into a drastic series of change that clearly do not alight with his vision of a better future for mutants.

Still on the theme of absolute power, the US government in this story was portrayed to have developed technologies designed to overwhelm its citizens, as well as the means to establish infrastructure and protocols to transform America into an automated dictatorial state that enslaves its citizens and violate their rights without restraint. Once again, this aspect of the story makes it socially relevant.  

Considering the epic concept and the dark turn of events the creative team prepared, this comic book does not have a clear good-versus-evil approach but rather it emphasizes chaos that comes with the pursuit and abuse of absolute power over the nation. You will see key elements from the classic X-Men storyline Days of Future Past here in relation to America’s deformation.

Conclusion

Wow! The US President in this comic book eerily looks so much like Joe Biden whose leadership led America into a lot of problems and hardship. Sky high inflation is just one of the problems that happened under Biden.

What If #47 (1993) is truly a very captivating read mainly because of its core concept which goes way beyond the scenario of Magneto taking control of America. Considering its portrayal of America and the exploration of dark themes about people getting overwhelmed by power abusers, the story is a warning about the fall of America told in superhero fantasy form. Considering the intense social degradation that rocked America the past few years (note: riots by the Black Lives Matter terrorists, SJWs disturbing the peace, Democrats allowing more illegal immigrants into the country, socialists in colleges continuing to brainwash students and more), this story is very socially relevant. It will keep you thinking and reflecting deeply, even if you strongly desire whatever superhero entertainment you seek in this comic book.

Overall, What If #47 (1993) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

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…

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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.

+++++

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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at What If #46 (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, X-Men fans, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! It’s time to revisit the What If monthly series of comic books of Marvel Comics that lasted from 1989 until 1998. The old comic book I’m about to review involves the X-Men, Cable and more.

Before starting with this newest retro comic book review, I should state that I was never a fan of Cable even though I read lots of X-Men-related comic books that included him. When I think of Cable, I immediately think of the New Mutants and X-Force comic book series.

You must be wondering what has Cable and the X-Men have to do with the old What If issue I’m focusing on. We can all find out in this look back at What If #46, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Tod Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a tavern in New York’s famous Central Park. Inside, Charles Xavier, Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey have a discussion about mutant matters until a small saucer-shaped device flies inside and disrupts everything with its sonic frequency. Suddenly a second flying saucer comes in, touches Scott’s shoe and explodes powerfully killing him, Jean and Xavier. Others got injured by the explosion and the tavern ends up burning.

Outside the tavern, Cable is seen running away and someone points at him as someone who must be responsible for the bombing. As it turns out, the deliberate killing of Xavier, Cyclops and Jean Grey was the result of a division between Cable’s New Mutants and the X-Men in connection to the recent return of Xavier from deep space.

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A brawl between the mutants.

I’ll start with the story Kurt Busiek came up with. This one explores an alternate time in which Charles Xavier returned to Earth (after escaping from the Skrulls in deep space) only to find the X-Men in disarray which compelled him to restore things the way they were. This is not to be confused with his return in the canon storyline of the Muir Island Saga.  

That being said, Busiek explored what would it be like had Xavier tried to resolve mutant matters not only with the team of mutants he founded but also with other teams such as the New Mutants (already led by Cable), X-Factor (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast and Archangel) plus several other mutants. I really liked the way the mutants reacted to Xavier given his long absence from Earth, how his dream matters and turned out irrelevant to them as individual mutants, and if he still has what it takes to lead them. In some ways, Xavier looked like a politician trying to convince his constituents that his vision is still the best for them and their interests.

What really made the story running was the start of the division between the mutants when Cable rejects Xavier and points out that the X-Men founder’s devotion to appeasement is dooming mutants. All of these led to the shock opening scene and in terms of writing quality, it was all justified.

The scenes that happened AFTER the burial of Xavier, Cyclops and Jean Grey literally raised the stakes for the rest of the comic book. I don’t want to spoil further plot details but I can assure you all that Kurt Busiek’s script is very sold and there is so much to enjoy here especially if you are knowledgeable enough about the X-Men and the other parts of the Marvel Comics universe (note: the Avengers, Stryfe, Freedom Force and Fantastic Four also appeared).

Visually, the work of Tod Smith looks a bit rushed. His art here is not bad but I felt it could have been better had there been more time to polish his work. In fairness to Smith, his drawings on most of the characters still made them recognizable and he showed pacing with regards to the panels and angles used. I should say he does a decent job showing multiple characters fighting each other simultaneously.

Conclusion

If you were a mutant, would you follow Charles Xavier or Cable?

If you ask me, What If #46 (1993) is pretty entertaining and engaging to read thanks to the strong writing as well as the daring exploration of how the comic’s main story impacts others within the Marvel Comics universe. It has drama, action, intrigue and most notably it explores a new concept about how the X-Men would turn out after the death of their founder. It also raises questions on whether or not the X-Men are doomed without Charles Xavier’s presence.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #46 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $40 while the near-mint newsstand edition costs $120.

Overall, What If #46 (1993) 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 #20 (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, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Before starting this newest retro comic book review, I should state that I really like Marvel’s way of exploring the unexplored scenarios related to the stories they published. Back in the 1980s, Marvel made its decision to have their icon Spider-Man – in his civilian form as Peter Parker – get married with Mary Jane Watson. Unsurprisingly, such an event added a whole lot of new elements into the life of the literary Spider-Man with regards to his struggle on balancing his life between superhero acts, domestic living and being attentive to his wife. If you really want to read about the wedding, I suggest searching for a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987).

Imagine what would have happened had Spider-Man not married Mary Jane? That very scenario was explored in an issue of the What If monthly series (Volume 2) back in the early 1990s. We can find out more together in this look back at What If #20, published by Marvel Comics in 1990 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by Jim Valentino.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher narrating key events in the life of Spider-Man. It is recalled how much pain Spider-Man endured when his beloved Gwen Stacy died during his conflict with the Green Goblin. Subsequently Peter Parker resumed his relationship with Mary Jane. When Mary Jane became absent, he got involved with Felicia Hardy/Black Cat who turned out to be too wild and reckless for him. Eventually, Peter married Mary Jane.

By pointing out that there are other realities, the Watcher then begins to explore another scenario in which Spider-Man realizes is far from being all right with him. During the wedding ceremony, Peter turns down Mary Jane which shocks the guests who were present. He tells her privately that even though he loves her, she will be in danger all the time as a wife. She walks away from him, still wearing her wedding dress.

Some hours later, Spider-Man swings around New York and strikes the criminals really hard…

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Spider-Man and Black Cat take on Venom!

To be clear, this comic book shows a Spider-Man who not only rejected marriage, but is also a tortured soul whose inner pain started even before the failed wedding ceremony. Silver Sable, who is often focused on missions, notices Spider-Man being too angry and careless with his performance with them taking on the bad guys. The old and frail Aunt May is deeply worried over Peter and hopes he would not harden his heart to the possibility of loving someone.

The thing about this story is that the writing done by Danny Fingeroth is pretty good as he captured Spider-Man’s essence while successfully steering him pretty close to the edge, almost blurring the boundary the separates the good and evil in him. The story moved with a nice pace and there is a good amount of suspense that will keep you wondering if Spider-Man can climb out of the deep hole of darkness he’s in.

More on the plot, I also enjoyed this comic book’s connection with Kraven’s Last Hunt and the early encounter with Venom. If there is any weak point with this story, it is the fact that it served as build-up of something set to happen in the next issue.

When it comes to the art, Jim Valentino did a good job bringing the script to life and that includes framing the character development scenes and the spectacle scenes in interesting ways. I personally enjoyed his take on Venom and Kraven.

Conclusion

Without Mary Jane as a wife, Spider-Man went on to fight the bad guys more intensely.

What If #20 (1990) is indeed a solid, alternate story about Spider-Man. It was gripping right from the start but it lacked a solid conclusion as its last few pages started to build up anticipation for the following issue. In short, this is not a standalone story and to fully enjoy what it started, you have to read What If #21. Still, I love the way Spider-Man is portrayed here and there are some characters involved that long-time fans will enjoy.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #20 (1990), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $53 while the respective near-mint copies of the newsstand edition and the signed edition both cost $105.

Overall, What If #20 (1990) 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…

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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

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

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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

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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.


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A Look Back at What If #58 (1994)

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.

In early 1994, I was still in high-school. There was a time when I passed by a local comic book store that showed a new What If? comic book displayed among the many new titles. That particular comic book caught my attention because of its key question: What if the Punisher had killed Spider-Man?

That comic book was What If #58 published by Marvel Comics with a story by Chuck Dixon and art by Gordon Purcell. Check out the cover below.

Cover
The cover of this comic book took a lot of inspiration from that of Amazing Spider-Man #129.

To put things in perspective, Spider-Man and Punisher are both heroes in the universe of Marvel Comics but with very drastic differences between them. Spider-Man/Peter Parker fights crooks and other types of bad guys while maintaining a lawfully good nature even as he struggles to live a normal, personal life. Punisher, who is privately Frank Castle, is a killer who is driven to fight criminals beyond the boundaries of the law. The Punisher resorts to extreme forms of violence and guns are his main weapons. Due to the tragic loss of his wife and children, Punisher lives to wage a one-man war against criminals which only reflects the huge loss of his humanity.

Spider-Man and the Punisher first encountered each other in Amazing Spider-Man #129. Through the years, the two would face-off again and again. In the mid-1980s, the Punisher went on to rise in high popularity with comic book readers as Marvel Comics published three regular series: The Punisher, The Punisher War Journal and The Punisher War Zone.

That being said, we take a look back at What If #58.

Early story

Without involving Marvel’s galactic Watcher, the comic book begins with the Punisher aiming his gun at a man seated behind his desk. It turns out Punisher is waiting for the police to arrive at the place they are in.

From this point, the story is told in flashback with Punisher narrating. He is with the Jackal on the roof top of a building in New York City. Even as the Jackal pushes him to shoot a certain target already, the Punisher decides not to do it. He stressed he wants to study the target.

“It seemed right. Taking down a high profile outlaw like Spider-Man looked like the right way to go,” Punisher thought. “And Jackal promised unlimited funding of my war on crime if I succeeded.”

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Punisher doing research.

Gradually, the Punisher prepares himself to kill Spider-Man…

Quality

Let me start with the concept of this comic book. Exploring what would happen had the Punisher actually killed Spider-Man (note: this is so obvious from the cover) is a bold and clever story to tell. To put things in perspective, the Punisher’s attempt to kill Marvel’s iconic superhero happened way back in Amazing Spider-Man #129 which was published way back in 1974. Very clearly, Punisher failed and Spider-Man went on to live and fight for good.

When it comes to storytelling, Chuck Dixon delivered a strong script and carefully crafted a standalone story that looks at the Punisher’s first-ever attempt to shoot Spider-Man but the narrative was more on the vigilante’s point-of-view. The dialogue was solid and the narration gives readers a good look at the personality of Frank Castle. I also liked the way the story was paced.

What also makes this comic book really good is that it shows in convincing fashion what else would have happened after the successful assassination of Spider-Man. Without spoiling the surprise, you can ask yourself how would Punisher react once he learned who Spider-Man really was, how would the many people who personally knew Spider-Man (whether good or evil) would react and what the state of crime in New York would be like.

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The Punisher anticipating Spider-Man outside The Daily Bugle.

As for the art, Gordon Purcell did a decent job. He captured what was back then modern day 1990s look of the Punisher (completely rejecting the way the character looked in Amazing Spider-Man #129) and he knew how to present him from different angles regardless of what action was taken. On drawing Spider-Man, Purcell proved to be good. I noticed in some parts of the comic book, he tried hard to make Spidey look dynamic while traveling high above the streets of the city. The big money shot (in terms of illustration) for me was the moment Spider-Man got killed.

Conclusion

Overall, What If #58 is a good and fun comic book to read. Historically, this was released at a time when Spider-Man and the Punisher were both wildly popular. The decision to tell an alternate reality off Amazing Spider-Man #129 was inevitable and ultimately was nicely pulled off.

If you are thinking about acquiring What If #58, as of this writing MileHighComics.com shows that a near-mint copy of the regular edition is at $26 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is at $77.

What If #58 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 #9 (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.

Long before the renaissance of Hollywood-produced superhero movies even started, the X-Men established itself as one of the most popular franchises of Marvel Comics. What some readers do not know was that while the X-Men indeed started in 1963 under Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Marvel’s mutants actually started getting successful in the mid-1970s with the 2nd X-Men team (Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Sunfire, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Banshee and Thunderbird) handled by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum.

That new team literally made a splash with readers with the release of Giant-size X-Men #1 in 1975. That comic book, which is very valuable now, saw Charles Xavier recruiting new mutants to form a new team with Cyclops being the only pioneer remaining. Subsequently the X-Men monthly series of that era saw lots of stories of this particular team solving problems and fighting evil. Along the way, Chris Claremont got hired as the new writer and then the rest was history.

In this retro comic book review, we will take an interesting look at what would have happened had the 2nd team of the X-Men died on their first mission.

This is What If #9 written by Roy Thomas, drawn by Rich Buckler and published by Marvel Comics in 1990.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The comic book begins with the Watcher of Marvel’s universe explaining what actually happened during the X-Men’s mission in Giant-size X-Men #1. Then he offers an alternate version of the events asking “What if…the new X-Men had died on their very first mission?”

The new reality begins in Scotland where Moira McTaggert receives a telegram from the United States. The message read that her friend Charles Xavier is ill which compels her to leave immediately. Before leaving, a little girl named Rahne comes to Moira followed by Craig who asserts his authority on her. Subsequently Moira and Rahne arrive at Salem Center, New York, greeted by Hank McCoy/Beast who confirmed that he was the one who sent the telegram to her.

Moira finally meets Xavier who expressed surprise to see her. As it turned out, Xavier had isolated himself in a room using Cerebro. After separating from Xavier, Beast explains to Moira what happened previously to Cyclops, Jean Grey, Havoc, Polaris and Ice Man on a far away island (read Giant-size X-Men #1). Cyclops was fortunate enough to survive and return to Xavier who was compelled to use Cerebro to trace mutants around the world (note: the 2nd X-Men team).

2
When trouble hits the world…

This leads to events told in Giant-size X-Men #1 but something drastic happened…

Quality

Storytelling is easily the strongest and most defining element of this comic book, especially if you are fortunate enough to read what happened in Giant-size X-Men #1 from 1975. The alternate plot by Roy Thomas is pretty intriguing and highly dramatic, and yet it still manages to add some spectacle to maintain balance.

What If #9 strongly delivered on what it promised what would have happened had the 2nd X-Men team died on their first mission complete with the narrative shifting dramatically through the eyes of Moira McTaggert, Xavier and Beast.

In terms of characterization, I really enjoyed the dramatization of the close friendship between Xavier and McTaggert. Having read lots of X-Men comic books through the decades, I should say that McTaggert was often limited to supporting roles or guest appearances. As seen in this comic book, she and Xavier made a solid pair of mentors. Lastly, the portrayal of Xavier being somewhat broken and regretful is wonderfully executed. Adding to that, the portrayal of McTaggert as a strong provider of direction and support for a fragile Xavier is memorable.

When it comes to the visuals, Rich Buckler scored nicely. The characters are all recognizable (with Beast looking a bit more visceral than how he actually appeared in the 1970s to 1980s) and their facial expressions were nice to see. Buckler also proved to be good with visualizing the action and the suspenseful parts.

Conclusion

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Very nice artistic presentation by Rich Buckler. Readers of 1975’s Giant-size X-Men #1 will be able to relate with this.

Overall, What If #9 is a great comic book to read. It is the closest thing you can get when it comes to seeing Marvel’s mutants led by Xavier with McTaggert working behind the scenes together. Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler really scored a homerun with this non-canon X-Men story!

For the comic collectors reading this, based on the rates at MileHighComics.com as of this writing, a near-mint copy of this comic book’s regular version is $24 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is priced at $51.

What If #9 (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