What If... the Avengers Lost the Evolutionary War?

A new era begins, but not one I can promise to follow through to the end. What If's second volume is definitely a product of the 90s' dark age, despite starting a little earlier. Wolverine appears a heck of a lot, largely forgotten crossover events dominate over origin stories, and the art... ewwwww. More than anything, the latter acts as a deterrent. Though still longer than your average issue, volume 2's stories aren't quite double-sized, and the mag is now monthly. Perhaps a drop in quality and relevance was bound to happen. The new experiment starts off with a really extreme story that effectively puts an end to the Marvel Universe. The father of What If, Roy Thomas, scripts what is possibly the dullest high-concept story of all time, all based on an at the time recent crossover event. For good or ill, here we go again...

What If vol.2 #1 (July 1989)
Based on: Avengers Annual #9
The true history: The High Evolutionary wants to become a god to rival the Beyonders by forcing humanity to evolve. He builds a gene bomb that is prevented from exploding by a makeshift team of reserve Avengers who hyper-evolve Hercules so he can fight the Evolutionary. The two (apparently) destroy each other and the Avengers are free to disarm the bomb.
Turning point: What if the High Evolutionary had won a battle against a hyper-evolved Hercules?
Story type: Everybody dies
Watcher's mood: Nostalgic for greatest hits
Altered history: In this universe, The High Evolutionary manages to destroy Hercules before that destruction becomes mutual. It explodes taking the Beast, Falcon and the female Yellowjacket with it. Only Steve Rogers survives to witness the bomb's fallout spreading over the Earth. In a matter of moments, everyone is changed. Super-powered individuals - mutants and mutates alike - start glowing in the dark and see their powers enhanced. Regular humans all grow big brains.
It's an end to war, prejudice and crime. Hard to see what's left to do for the super-heroes. The human ones basically join the communist hive mind, while the others (and their super-powered foes) have a big meet to discuss it. I don't want to quibble with the super-evolved, but they decide to nominate Wolverine as their leader.
Why? I can't tell you. It doesn't make sense unless they were going purely by who makes the most money at the comic book shop, and it's never really explained. And then they all start singing the Pixies' Stormy Weather.

The implication is that the High Evolutionary has programmed something into everyone's genetics, but that doesn't explain why Wolverine has to lead, especially give than Logan's next move is to create a sort of Uni-Mind with the superpowered populace of Earth and to head into space. Meanwhile, all the magical heroes disappear in a big battle with the magical villains, and Thor goes back to Asgard where the gods will mind their own business. Out in space, Wolverine's cosmic A-Team picks up the Inhumans and the Eternals' Uni-Mind and follows up by destroying the combined Shi'ar, Kree and Skrull fleets, all the while going "we mean you no harm". Years pass on Earth, and finally the exiled Daredevil - who had been overloaded with stimuli when his powers increased - comes out to pay his respects to now dead heroes.
Yep, Daredevil so isolated himself, even AGING couldn't catch up to him. (What the hell is going on with Roy?) And his senses are now so well-honed, he can hear thoughts! The only other superhero on earth is the Vision, who didn't ascend like his wife did. In space, Wolverine's space platoon kills Nova and Galactus, and pushes the Silver Surfer out of the universe.
On Earth, time seems to pass more quickly, and there, Daredevil finally dies of old age, so the Vision commits suicide (emo robots, what can I say). As for Wolvie's Uni-Guys, they merge with Death and then Eternity, creating... Deathternity! "We're shatterin' the universe!" quoth Wolverine.
The human race has kept evolving, but is still found wanting by the returning Celestials. No matter, they're powerful enough to destroy them. They then join hands/minds and become a single entity called... Earth. The living planet is ready to ride out the storm as Deathternity rejects the High Evolutionary's bid for godhood. And hey, to his credit, he realizes his creation has far outpaced him. Deathternity blows a hole in the universe and goes on to cause a new big bang, creating another universe outside ours.
The entity then splits back into Death and Eternity, though there's no sign of the former superhumans that originally merged with them. Without the two entities, our universe ceases to have meaning. It collapses in on itself awaiting its own rebirth. "Earth" will be the new Galactus, the one living being to survive the end and the new beginning. Wow. And by "wow", I mean "yawn".
Books canceled as a result: All of them. It's Marvel's exist strategy, leaving Disney nothing.
These things happen: Evolution could never be so boring.

Next week: What if Daredevil Killed the Kingpin?
My guess: We'd have to dig a mighty big hole.


Nik said...

Yeah... the giant headed evolved people and Wolverine as the apex of humanity was where I gave up on this one. The High Evolutionary is one of those characters that everytime he appears I start to fall asleep zzzzzzzzzzzz

Prime Director said...


Wow. Am I the only one who tastes bile?

Siskoid said...

I'm responsible for the porte-manteau. That one can't be blamed on Roy ;).

Jon H said...

The entire universe is a small price to pay for getting rid of Wolverine.

Siskoid said...


Anonymous said...

You ain't kidding about the poor art quality. I bought a copy of #1 ("What if ... Iron Man were a traitor?") just because the art was so hilariously bad. Ditko may have been hot stuff when he designed Spider-Man and Mr. A, but by the mid 80s it was pretty substandard.

chiasaur11 said...

So, what happened to Machine Man?

Is it reasonable to assume he took one look outside and went back to the booze?

Teebore said...

"Earth" will be the new Galactus, the one living being to survive the end and the new beginning. Wow. And by "wow", I mean "yawn".

Yeah, but when I was 13, I bet it would have blown my mind.

But then, I was a pretty dumb 13 year old..

Siskoid said...

The concepts are mind-blowing. The execution is mind-numbing.

Teebore said...

The execution is mind-numbing.

Can we call that the "Al Milgrom Effect"?

Siskoid said...

Milgrom is guiltless here, is that a reaction to his work elsewhere?

Teebore said...

Yeah, I (incorrectly, I've learned) recalled Milgrom was the artist on this one. So he's not to blame in this case.

But he did ruin plenty a good story otherwise, so I suppose my comment still applies...

Anonymous said...

Elitist Jerks. You guys are the reason people leave or don't get into comics. I know of a whole store of dudes like you and every time it was the same angry nerds complaining about how much the comics suck and ridiculing the people who don't buy what they like. Luckily I found a better store to go to.

Siskoid said...

All articles written as entertainment, with tongue firmly in cheek. I have never been an angry nerd, in a comics store or anywhere.

So when I blow things out of all proportion, it's for comic effect. Sorry it didn't work for you. You might want to check your own hyperbolic gauge though.


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