What If... Spider-Man Had Never Become a Crimefighter?

Actually titled What if Spider-Man had stopped the burglar who killed his uncle?, Peter Gillis delivers an interesting story, the first of two with this basic premise (the other is in #46). Yes, there's a sort of reset button at the end, but not before things are changed for the Marvel Universe without everyone having to die. So I'm gonna have to call that a winning What If? story.

What If Vol.1 #19 (February 1980)
Based on: Amazing Fantasy #15
The true history: While Spider-Man is working as an entertainer, he neglects to stop a burglar who goes on to kill his Uncle Ben. Learning that with great power comes great responsibility the hard way, Spidey embarks on a life of crimefighting.
Turning point: What if Spider-Man stopped the burglar?
Story type: Deviated origin.
Watcher's mood: Creepy Kingpin.
Altered history: This time, Peter Parker does stop the burglar, but being in a showbiz mindset, he does it to get publicity. It works, and soon he's on his way to Hollywood, though I don't think things worked the same way in the 60s...
Soon he's shilling for deodorant and hosting the Tonight Show, but the real money's in producing! So he goes around to every other superhero and has them sign a contract to handle their PR.
The FF, Avengers and X-Men all sign, and Spidey buys up Marvel Comics to make sure they sell these heroes to the world. Oh, and more Spider-Man comics.
Uncle Ben and Aunt May aren't on board though. Deeply disappointed about how he's using his powers irresponsibly. Puberty hits badly and he storms out of the house... forever! Uncle Ben's not cool, and neither is JJJ who's been going after Spider-Man in the media, especially once a REAL hero like his son dies on a space mission. Spidey threatens him a couple times, especially after he reveals his identity in the Bugle, but you can't keep a cranky publisher down. Next on Spidey's list is Daredevil, who needs both a little PR and a makeover.
Yes, in this reality, DD's red costume is Spider-Man's idea (though Murdock gets rid of the cape and pitchfork pretty quickly). Signing a known vigilante gives Jameson the opening he needs to trash Spider-Man some more, and Spidey retaliates by following the Bugle's Frederick Foswell to the Enforcers' hideout and finding out he's the Big Man. Accused of allowing a crime syndicate to operate in the Bugle offices, Jameson is discredited and put on the street. From prison, Foswell gives JJJ the means to get revenge (apparently, the number of almost every super-villain in those early issues of Amazing). Peter Parker is soon attacked at a promotional event by one of Mysterio's creations, but Daredevil saves his life. So of course, the douche that Peter has become wants a rewrite of his next movie, one that includes a role for DD.
Ah yes, now he's getting it. That's the Hollywood I know! The writers are actually the villains though and a fight ensues, one in which Spidey doesn't lift a finger and Daredevil gets killed.
That wasn't an expression. He's really dead! (Wait, it says "nearly" later, so maybe he's alive.) Spidey goes ballistic and defeats each villain in turn, unmasking JJJ as the leader at the end - the man he destroyed. He knows it. And so he learns a big lesson about great power and great responsibility.
Books canceled as a result: Spectacular Spider-Man starts sooner, but it's Daredevil that's canceled (perhaps only nearly). I think the public is real loser here.
These things happen: In Booster Gold, they do! Ok, so Spider-Man never really DIDN'T become a crimefighter, but he did quit a few times, like in the landmark issue #50, or while a clone was doing his job, or, like, you know, to use his powers for dirty dancing.
Next week: What if the Avengers fought the Kree-Skrull War without Rick Jones?
My guess: No noticeable effect?


snell said...

You know a What If? I always wanted to see? What if the burgler had killed Aunt May, and Uncle Ben had survived...

chiasaur11 said...

They did that one too, twice.

So, I suppose "Stay Tuned" is an appropriate response.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least we see Parker with a real 70's hairstyle!

Spiderman without his guilt is a real jerk.


Siskoid said...

Snell: That's exactly what's in #46.

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