What If... Ghost Rider, Spider-Woman and Captain Marvel were villains?

Steven Grant's three stories are thematically linked in more ways that one. In each, the nominal protagonist never gets to become a proper hero. But more than that, while the three characters may have been big in the 70s, none of them had origins I could readily recall, and Grant doesn't tell you what's changed exactly. The reader is supposed to know these tales well already. And maybe 70s readers did, I don't know. So thanks Wikipedia! The series has been idling in non-classic territory for a while now, and I can't wait to see A-listers once again feature in its pages. So three stories:
(a) What if Ghost Rider had remained a villain?
(b) What if Spider-Woman had remained a villain?
(c) What if Captain Marvel had remained a villain?

What If Vol.1 #17 (October 1979)
Based on: (a) Marvel Spotlight #5, (b) Marvel Spotlight #32, (c) Marvel Super-Heroes #12-13
The true history: (a) To save his stepfather Crash Simpson from cancer, satanist Johnny Blaze makes a deal with Satan. Crash is cured but is soon killed in a motorcycle accident. Satan attempts to collect Johnny's soul, turning him into a demon servant, but Johnny's girl Roxanne casts a spell based on true love, preventing him from doing so. (b) Hydra makes Jessica Drew believe she's an evolved spider and ropes her into working for them as Arachne against SHIELD. Nick Fury gets her to see the truth and she quits Hydra and changes her code name. (c) Mar-Vell's superior Yon-Rogg sends him to Earth alone and has him batte various threats, turning him into a traitor to the Kree so he can get his girl Una. Events conspire to send him back to the only place where he still has a home.
Turning point: (a) What if Crash Simpson didn't die in a motorcycle accident? (b) What if the Contessa came in at the wrong time, and a startled Arachne killed Nick Fury by accident? (c) What if Ronan discovered Yon-Rogg's little scheme?
Story type: Phoenix Forced.
Watcher's mood: Buff basketball player.
Altered history: (a) Now before anyone takes exception to my calling Johnny Blaze a satanist:
I've included the previous panel as well, because there's all kind of wrong in those captions (at least before you get to the end of the sentence). Anywho... Crash makes his big jump and survives, but Satan won't be denied and apparently activates the Ghost Rider's powers at a key moment, flash-frying Crash. Guilt-ridden, Johnny bikes away. Roxanne catches up to him looking for revenge for her father's death, so he does the only sensible thing - he SHREDS HER BODY INTO THIN LANYARDS!
He might still have become a tortured anti-hero, but Son of Satan catches up to him (it's a 70s orgy!) and sucks the power right out of his bones. And that is that.
(b) While Arachne is fighting Nick Fury, the Contessa walks in and the unthinkable happens.
Nick Fury is killed because Jessica Drew is the Lucille Ball of the Hydra set. Deadly slapstick. In this reality, she needs her master Otto Vermis to tell her who she really is, but that has to wait when SHIELD captures her and puts her on trial. The Marvel universe doesn't think forcing the accused to wear their supervillain costumes in court is "inflammatory".
Jessica thinks she could escape at any time and when Vermis walks in as a surprise witness to reveal she's just a spider bitten by a radioactive human (or whatever the cover story is), she goes berzerk and runs to find the truth. Spider-Woman is from then on a fugitive, though not one that's especially villainous.

(c) As before, Mar-Vell is on Earth when he has to fight the Kree Sentry. But in orbit, Ronan the Accuser has somehow gotten wind of Yon-Rogg's petty scheme are quite rightly calls him on it.
Yon-Rogg takes a runner for Earth, arriving just after Mar-Vell has successfully defeated the Sentry with Carol Danvers' help. Mar-Vell easily puts him out and is rewarded by the Kree by being made Colonel (and "Colonel Marvel" is not gonna screw the owners of the Shazam franchise any).
Loyal to the Kree Empire, one can only imagine that he'll fight on their side if push ever comes to shove.
Books canceled as a result: (a) Ghost Rider, of course, though the 90s could have brought the concept back, if only to give Wolverine and the Punisher the occasional break. (b) Say goodbye to post-1977 SHIELD comics, including Secret Warriors, though there's no reason to cancel Spider-Woman over this. (c) There likely aren't a Captain Marvel books (at least, not published by Marvel) or Ms. Marvel, for that matter.
These things happen: (a) Johnny Blaze has his roots in a lame Daredevil villain called Stunt-Master that never saw the light of day, but he himself never went bad. (b) Neither did Jessica Drew, but we all remember the Skrull Queen thing. (c) Nope.

Next week: What if Dr. Strange were a disciple of Dormammu?
My guess: He'd be real jealous of the Human Torch.


Anonymous said...

Alan Grant still had to learn a lot, back in the 79s...

Who is Lucille Ball?

Siskoid said...

That's Steven, not Alan Grant.

And Lucille Ball... I Love Lucy?


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