What If Vol.1 #46 (August 1984)
Based on: Amazing Fantasy #15
The true history: Showboat Spider-Man doesn't stop a criminal when he has the chance and that criminal winds up breaking into his house. Uncle Ben has back pains keeping him awake and he surprises the burglar, getting shot in the process. Spider-Man brings the killer to justice and embarks on a life of crime-fighting in his uncle's honor.
Turning point: What if Uncle Ben didn't have back pains that night?
Story type: Deviated origin
Watcher's mood: Spider-sensing
Altered history: In this version of events, Uncle Ben sleeps soundly and it's Aunt May who gets woken up. She goes downstairs and surprises the burglar and get show for her troubles. Uncle Ben rushes downstairs, but it's too late. Get your hankies out.
As in our reality, Peter Parker finds out, rushes after the crook, realizes it's all his fault, and becomes a crime-fighter. The only difference is that he lives with Ben Parker who is a lot wiser than poor, clueless Aunt May. "Oh, will you change the tablecloth, Peter?"
Though Ben rumbles Peter, he agrees that Spider-Man is a good thing. He feels just as guilty for May's death, having slept through it and all, and helps Pete get through the hard days ahead. Knowing the secret, he can't help but be outraged by J.Jonah Jameson's slanderous Daily Bugle articles. He goes to the Bugle to confront our favorite blowhard and winds up doing the unthinkable.
His appeal to Jameson's morality doesn't quite work. While JJJ doesn't reveal Spidey's identity to the world, he decides to manipulate the Parkers, more or less holding the secret over their heads and using Spider-Man to boost his sales. Peter has to feed him more than photos, and JJJ even sends him on particular missions, often with Uncle Ben's approbation. Eventually, Peter gets sick of being told what to do by a couple of old men and becomes a bum for a while.
Until he's called back into service by a threat from Jameson. So Pete is less than willing to play ball when the Green Goblin kidnaps JJJ, especially since Jonah's astronaut son just got his first batch of powers and is off to save his dad in a hospital skirt. Pete doesn't know that the Goblin wants to extract Spider-Man's identity from JJJ (it's what happens when you let seedier elements deliver threatening messages), so it's all the more poignant when he realizes he's "doing it again".
You know the drill. With great power, blah blah blah. Spider-Man saves JJJ from both the Goblin and his hulking-out son, and tells him he owes him one. The next day's front page doesn't give any credit to Spider-Man for editor's rescue, which could ambiguously be seen as a release from servitude. Pete and his Uncle Ben vow to keep fighting the good fight, together.
Books canceled as a result: None. It would be interesting to see how Peter's life would have gone with a strong patriarch in the family. Might not have had to sell his
These things happen: Uncle Ben is one of those sacred cows who cannot be brought back from the dead. But I thought the same about Barry Allen, so... There's actually a storyline in the 1994 Spider-Man animated series featuring a timeline where Uncle Ben didn't die and Peter became a successful industrialist. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man had a parallel Uncle Ben visit Peter. Ben is alive in the House of M reality. And in Amazing #500, Pete gets five mystical minutes with his uncle.
Next week: What if Loki Had Found the Hammer of Thor?
My guess: He could finally have built that lovely summer house in Midgard.