What If... Wonder Man Had Not Died?

Despite what it says on the cover, this is a Wonder Man story, but since the Vision was imprinted with the dead Wonder Man's mental engrams, it also becomes a Vision story. And a superbly well thought out one from writer-artist Jim Valentino it is too. He takes us through many years of the Avengers and how his change affected the team and characters involved, and ends in a way that's natural for a comic series. It's all well and good in a What If to say that if the alien costume possessed Spider-Man, Spidey would die, but we know that would never happen to a major character. Valentino takes a road that could have been the Avengers' writers at the time.

What If vol.2 #5 (November 1989)
Based on: Avengers #9
The true history: Stark rival Simon Williams is enrolled by Baron Zemo, turned into the ion-powered Wonder Man and sent to infiltrate the Avengers. Once Zemo's Masters of Evil have defeated the Avengers with his help, Wonder Man has a change of heart and tries to help Thor, at which point Zemo shoots him. The Avengers still win the day, but Hank Pym is unable to save Wonder Man's life and at least makes a copy of his brain patterns for posterity. Those brain patterns are eventually used by Ultron to animate the Vision, explaining why the synthezoid would betray its "father" and join the Avengers.
Turning point: What if Wonder Man had chosen to betray Zemo earlier?
Story type: Hockey Trade
Watcher's mood: Man-Thingesque
Altered history: This time around, Wonder Man realizes what he's doing is wrong and quickly reveals Zemo's treacherous plan to the Avengers. Hank Pym starts working right away on a way to free Wonder Man from Zemo's serum and he's able to fight the Masters of Evil at the Avengers' side, joining instead of dying at the end of the adventure. By Avengers #13, he's become the reason why Giant-Man wants to quit the team, as the team's still strong without him. Still, Thor, Iron Man and the Wasp all bow out as they originally did, and Cap recruits Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to join. Except now, Wonder Man's also on the team.
This is a natural match when you consider that the Scarlet Witch married the Vision in our continuity, and the Vision is "adapted" from Simon Williams. Of course, Quicksilver rages with jealousy, especially once Wonder Man is made leader. Wonder Man's presence on the team for all those years causes many differences. Doctor Doom doesn't use the Avengers as bait for the FF in Avengers #25 because they could be too much trouble. The Swordsman refuses to infiltrate the Avengers on behalf of the Mandarin and is killed for his trouble, aborting the Celestial Madonna storyline entirely. Hank Pym and the Wasp rejoin the team, but Hank acts as resident scientist and doesn't try to power himself up into Goliath or Yellowjacket. Because of this, he and Janet have a much happier marriage. Hercules never joins the team. Eventually, Wanda falls for Wonder Man completely and Quicksilver runs right back into his father's arms, taking on the identity of the Grim Reaper (instead of Wonder Man's brother doing so, as he wasn't traumatized by his brother's death) and helping Magneto fight the Avengers and X-Men.
In one such battle, the Scarlet Witch is almost killed and Quicksilver breaks off to save her, dying in her stead, crushed by a big metal box.
Wanda kills Magneto (improbable that such a big bad would be killed? That's HER POWER, kids!) and Wonder Man fills the void of her lost family by asking her to marry him. She says yes.
Around that time, Hank Pym invented Ultron and Ultron evolved itself to the point where it wanted to create life just like its father did. Cue the Vision (so we're at Avengers #57, if you're wondering). Without any brain patterns on tap, Ultron simply uploads himself into the Vision, once again "evolving" to a more powerful form.
Ultron/Vision fights the Avengers, including returning alumns Thor, Iron Man and Captain America and defeats them all, punching a hole in Wonder Man's chest.
It's up to Hank Pym, taking on the mantle of Ant-Man again and shrinking down to rip some wires out inside the Vision's brain to save the day.
As Wonder Man lay dying, the only way to save him was to upload his brain patterns into the defunct Vision body, and so it goes that one world's continuity merged back with ours (give or take a mutant or two). In time Wanda came to accept her husband's new look and everything.
Books canceled as a result: None.
These things happen: Wonder Man did die in our continuity, but got better in Avengers #131. In fact, Quicksilver and Magneto have had onscreen deaths as well, none of which have taken. As for the Vision, he HAS tried to destroy the Avengers, such as in the 80s when he became the Internet for a while.

Next week: What if the X-Men Had Lost Inferno?
My guess: Professor X sends Wolverine to the book store to complete their set of the Divine Comedy.


Austin Gorton said...

As for the Vision, he HAS tried to destroy the Avengers, such as in the 80s when he became the Internet for a while.

I think that's the most hilariously apt description of that storyline I've ever heard.

Professor X sends Wolverine to the book store to complete their set of the Divine Comedy.

Seriously, some weeks I think I look forward to your 'next week' blurbs more than anything, and this one is a great example of why.

Siskoid said...

In the first instance, I think I stole it from someone.

In the second, well, they can't all be winners, but I try my best. Thanks.


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