What If? Classic: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 by Roy Thomas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Full disclosure: I read the 12 issues this contains on the Marvel Unlimited app, not the actual book.
What if way back in the ‘70s Marvel Comics started a title that explored alternate versions of if it’s stories? And then 4 decades later the company was now owned by Disney who was planning on bringing this idea back as an animated TV series on its new streaming service to capitalize on their string of blockbuster movies?
So we’ve got a set of stories where the Watcher is used as an on-going framing device to show us ‘alternate worlds’ in which changes to the events of Marvel comics play out differently. I remember seeing this advertised a lot as a kid, but never really ran across too many of the actual issues. And frankly I found this a bit disappointing. It’s not terrible stuff, but it seems awfully limited at times.
That’s because most of these are set-ups that go back to the origins of the characters, and then they played those scenarios out in terms of some events in those early issues instead of taking a bigger view of how that would impact the whole Marvel universe. The most interesting ones for me were when Captain America doesn’t become a Popsicle at the end of World War II and when Jane Foster found the hammer of Thor instead of Don Blake. Those are the two that take a long view as to the implications instead of just looking at a few issues after the change is made.
The wackiest one is about what if the original Marvel bullpen had gained the powers of the Fantastic Four. So you’ve got real life Marvel employees Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky, and Flo Steinberg becoming superheroes. It’s silly and stupid, but it was also Jack Kirby writing and drawing a book that sorta looks like the old FF for the first time in years so it’s worth a look as a curiosity.
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