What If... There Were No Fantastic Four?

At first, it seems like this story isn't playing very fair with us, setting the origins of every single Marvel hero in the same week, but then I realized what writer Roger Stern was doing. By effectively removing Marvel's first superhero series from continuity, he prevents the entire Marvel Age from occurring. It doesn't really work as a timeline, but it's conceptually perfect. What we get is a Marvel Comics that's still exclusively doing monster stories (which the Thing's journey becomes). Rather interesting!What If Vol.1 #31 (February 1982)
Based on: Fantastic Four #1
The true history: Four people go up into orbit in an unprotected ship and get hit with cosmic rays. When they come back down, they have super-powers, so they band together as the Fantastic Four.
Turning point: What if Ben Grimm was unhinged by his transformation?
Story type: Deviated origin
Watcher's mood: Acne problems
Altered history: In this reality, the Thing refuses to join the FF and instead goes a little coo-coo for CocoPuffs. He's a freak! A monster! They all are! He starts a rampage across the country while the other three lay low and prepare to stop him. When he hits New York, he briefly meets Alicia Masters (oh the potential!) and then starts interfering with everyone's secret origin. He throws a truck and scares Peter Parker away from the science exhibit...
He causes a traffic jam that makes Don Blake miss his plane to Scandinavia. Thor remains legend.
The government pulls Tony Stark away from his trip to Vietnam and Bruce Banner from his gamma bomb tests to work on a weapon that can stop the Thing.
They'll never get shrapnelled/irradiated now! And that's the Baxter Building Ben's climbed up on. It gets destroyed in the battle. Thunderbolt Ross gives the Fantastic Three a few minutes to reason with Ben, but it doesn't work. And neither does the Stark-Banner cannon.
It just makes the Thing stronger, but somehow depowers the rest of the would-be FF. Ross is so angry, he promises that none of them will ever work for the government again. No Iron Man armor! No gamma bomb! No rocket back into space! It's hard to become a superhero when you don't have DoD funding.
Books canceled as a result: Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor and Incredible Hulk are all out, which by extension means we lose Avengers, Sub-Mariner and Captain America. The Watcher does make reference to Dr. Doom and the Skrulls still menacing Earth, but perhaps this time other heroes rise up. Looks like Marvel Universe would have surrendered to X-Mania 15+ years early. And Ant-Man. He's still around.
These things happen: The FF dropped to three a number of time, but it didn't put the group in serious jeopardy. They just recruited other people. Most famously, the Thing was replaced by She-Hulk for a long stretch.

Next week: What If the Avengers Had Become Pawns of Korvac?
My guess: Everybody dies (when in doubt...).


F. Douglas Wall said...

In the US, it's the Defense Department, not the Ministry.

De said...

Would Thor really be derailed? Wouldn't Don Blake just take his trip another time?

Siskoid said...

Not according to the Watcher!

Anonymous said...

Man, when Stark and Richars join brains, it's ever a disaster. Remember how started World War HUlk?

So at the end the Thing smashes?


Anonymous said...

Don't worry Earth from this issue, you still have Squirrel Girl.

-Mike Loughlin

chiasaur11 said...

And hey, some other folks are worthy of Thor's hammer. Now, we've seen in What If before that sending Jane Foster over would work, but this is a more Marvel Monsters world.


Interestingly, Marvel Monster era means Earth is Rick's, at least as regards everyone going.

Thought! No Thor means the first really worthy guy to show on Earth?

Probably Beta Ray Bill. Huzzah for horseface Thor!

Anonymous said...

Rumors are flying fast and furious that Marvel is about to kill off one of the FF members. If true, the big question is which one? My bet is that Susan Storm will meet her doom!

Siskoid said...

Yeah, I heard about them going Fantastic Three again.

Marvel writers only ever crib from issues of What If. "Hey! This has never been done... for real!"

References: Spider-Clone et al.


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