Both Marvel and DC ran with this idea. DC had "Elseworlds" (Coming soon to Longbox Junk) and Marvel had "What If. . .?". Personally, I like Elseworlds better, but since I have a small handful of random What If. . .? floating around my collection, then Why Not?
WHAT IF. . .?
ISSUE 2 (VOL 2)
WHAT IF DAREDEVIL KILLED THE KINGPIN?
SCRIPT: Danny Fingeroth
PENCILS: Greg Capullo
COVER: Keith Pollard
I found this to be a fantastic issue! The story was engaging and well-written and the early work of future New 52 Batman superstar artist Greg Capullo on art was superb and really helped elevate this story. All that an an awesome cover make this issue a winner in just about every way.
ISSUE 32 (VOL 2)
WHAT IF PHOENIX HAD LIVED?
SCRIPT: George Carragone
PENCILS: Rodney Ramos
COVER: Rodney Ramos
Later, she's attacked by Mastermind and killed, but is resurrected by The Phoenix Force. . .revealing the truth that Jean Grey did not become Phoenix, but Phoenix became Jean Grey. Driven slightly insane by the knowledge, Phoenix finds where she hid the body of the real Jean Grey and murders her in cold blood. . .
Overall, this was a pretty good issue. A lot of reliance on convoluted X-Men continuity bogged it down a bit, as quite a few pages were completely devoted to exposition. Still, the story was well-written. The art was a bit inconsistent, with the first half being well done and the back half of the book looking a bit rushed and unfinished. The cover was deceptive in the classic Marvel newsstand "Clickbait" way, but was probably the best part of the book.
All in all, a decent issue. Not great, but not bad either.
ISSUE 43 (VOL 2)
WHAT IF WOLVERINE HAD MARRIED MARIKO?
SCRIPT: Ron Marz
PENCILS: Scott Clark
COVER: Scott Clark
All out war ensues between Wolverine and The Kingpin until it all comes down to a challenge of personal combat between them. Family betrayal and revenge result in the deaths of Mariko, Silver Samurai, and Kingpin, with Wolverine returning to the X-Men at the end of it all. . .
Overall, I found this issue to be pretty much average. Nothing really stood out as above average except an occasional nice panel of art. The story was predictable and the art was mostly bland. This issue demonstrates the throwaway nature of the What If? stories perfectly.
ISSUE 51 (VOL 2)
WHAT IF PUNISHER BECAME CAPTAIN AMERICA?
SCRIPT: Simon Furman
PENCILS: Paris Cullins
COVER: Art Nichols
When Captain America is blinded and almost killed, the government searches for a new Captain, but their first choice, Marine Frank Castle, refuses until his family is gunned down by criminals in front of him.
Overall, this issue was pretty good. Not great, but the story was well-written and interesting. The art was a little too bright and cartoony for the dark subject matter, but it wasn't bad, just the wrong choice of artist for the story.
ISSUE 64 (VOL 2)
WHAT IF IRON MAN WENT PUBLIC?
SCRIPT: Simon Furman
PENCILS: Geoff Senior
COVER: Geoff Senior
Instead of keeping the Iron Man technology to himself and becoming a super hero, Tony Stark decides he can benefit the world and save more lives by going public with it.
Overall, I found this to be a great issue. Double-Sized at 48 pages with very few ads, they packed a LOT of story into this book for the money!
The writing was engaging, the story was interesting, and the art was very nice. This could have easily been a stand-alone prestige format book back in the day.
WHAT IF. . .? CAPTAIN AMERICA: FALLEN SON
SCRIPT: Marc Sumerak
PENCILS: Trevor Goring
COVER: Ed McGuinness
Tony Stark's Iron Man technology gets into the wrong hands, the national Superhero Initiative comes under the control of politicians and is gutted, The New Avengers are beaten and imprisoned, and instead of a Secret War, the Skrull take advantage of the situation and move in for a full invasion of Earth. . .
Overall, this one shot was pretty good. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad. . .just pretty good.
The story is told mainly through short glimpses of what happens after Iron Man's death. These vignettes are only a page or two long each, so the story jumps around a bit too much.
The art is hit and miss. It's good at the beginning, but as the book goes on, it gets sketchy and some panels look really rushed and unfinished. The cover is VERY nice, though.
All in all, this seems a bit rushed, and doesn't have much impact out of context from the larger story it was part of. It doesn't stand alone very well at all.
WHAT IF. . .? CIVIL WAR
SCRIPTS: Christos Gage & Kevin Grevioux
PENCILS: Gustavo & Harvey Tolibao
COVER: Marc Silvestri
Main Story: What If Captain America Led All The Heroes Against Registration
(AKA a very long and sort of awkward title)
Second Story: What If Iron Man Lost The Civil War?
Overall, this was a good one shot. I liked the art and story better on the second entry, but there was nothing really bad about the first (longer) story. . .just that the overly-exaggerated art wasn't to my liking and the story was a bit more muddled.
The main problem with this one shot is that it doesn't really stand alone. Outside of the context of the larger story of Civil War it doesn't make much sense. That doesn't make it bad in general. . .it just makes it a bad one shot for future readers who might not know much about Civil War.
WHAT IF. . .? WOLVERINE
SCRIPT: Daniel Way
PENCILS: Dave Lanphear
COVER: Tony Harris
In this one shot, you get the answer to questions you never knew you had!
Overall, this "Wolverine as Punisher" story was interesting, but a bit flawed in execution. It feels rushed and more than a bit contrived. The art is pretty good on average, but definitely hit or miss. . .some places it's very nice. . .in others it's borderline bad.
All in all, I'd have to say that this is less of a "What If. . .?" story and more resembles DC's "Elseworlds", as it doesn't show the results of going down a different path, but is a complete re-imagining of an existing character in a different setting.
All in all, after a bit of a closer look at What If. . .? I think I'm going to keep my eye out in the back issue bins for some more. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Up next. . .
ONE SHOTS! I love the one shots!
Aliens, Ruse, Batman, Captain America, The Goon, Hellboy, Punisher, Red Sonja, Boba Fett, Dracula, X-Files, and. . .Saddam Hussein?
Be there or be square!