Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What if?

Marvel has, over the years, produced a couple or three series revolving around the concept of “What if...?” That is to say, they take a specific story line, and then pick a critical point in said story, and extrapolate a new ending based upon changing a single element (i.e.; Captain America survived WWII, the irradiated spider bit someone other than Peter Parker, the Fantastic Four had different powers, etc.). These stories range from excellent to, well highly implausibly and sometimes (believe it or not) simply incredibly poorly conceived and badly written.

Initially these stories generally dealt with seminal events in Marvel's rich history, as the series progressed, it would be safe to say that the stories became less-and-less "critical" events and more-and-more circled around recent marketing events (“What if...last year's company-wide crossover ended differently?”) making the series less-and-less readable, eventually leading to its cancellation.

Over the past couple of years, Marvel has revived the title, but as a series of disconnected one-shots, again revolving around recent storylines. Hence the topic of this Blog. I picked up a couple of the most recent “What If...” comics, only to learn that I probably would have been better off if I hadn’t. Dark Reign and Grim Hunt were the ones I acquired, and while Dark Reign wasn’t so bad, the Grim Hunt issue was terrible. In the first instance the story dealt with the repercussions of Clint Barton (Hawkeye/Ronin/Giant Man) actually having carried out his threat to kill Norman Osborn during the height of Dark Reign, and the second dealt with Spidey snapping during Grim Hunt and killing Kraven.

As stated the premise of the series is to explore alternative story line possibilities based on the altering of a single element they work best when they show the ripple effect of that change (think The Butterfly Effect), however very often to make a story work, more than one unrelated event has been changed (in the Grim Hunt variation for some reason Luke Cage has offices on the Raft). Still that's not the only problem with the story. Yes Spidey was run through a gauntlet by the Kravenoffs during Grim Hunt, but I’m still not sold that he would have either actually killed Kraven or done all of the other things he did in this version.

Change an event, sure. So twist and corrupt a character so that they act totally our of character to make the new story line work? I think not. No, This Spidey story simply doesn’t work for me. Sorry guys, better luck next time out.

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