What The?!?: Marvel Archives More What If…

I joined Marvel Unlimited years ago, and it is a fantastic place to stay—read ALL the issues of Strange Tales that started in 1951, where it is hard and expensive to track down those issues. And, even if I had those comics, I am certainly not going to read them out of fear of ruining the comic book. The service has been around since 2007 and, by far, has the most comic books archived.

Still… there are, oddly, holes in the series. For example, most of the original run of Alpha Flight is not in the service after the Byrne run. I give Marvel credit— when they release a new collection, if it isn’t archived on the service, they rip it out of the trades and put it on the service.

Still… there’s no system of what gets added, and often, you don’t know it’s been added if you don’t pay attention. On the flip side, you often get some nice surprises, as when they added over a dozen of the SECOND run of Marvel What If…

Newer fans don’t quite get the coolness of the original run, which ran for 110+ issues going from 1977 through 1984. And the second series, which ran 115 issues from 1989-1998. Neither series is complete—on Marvel Unlimited, but I’ll take what I can get!

The very first issue was“What If Spider-Man Joined the Fantastic Four?” Modern fans know he has, at one time or another, joined the team. Back then, to see the cover of the Fantastic FIVE—of course, this ten-year-old was in!

Throughout the first series, things that seem passe now were NEW back then. From the first series, you had some fantastic reads:

What If…

The Hulk Had the Brain of Bruce Banner?

Jane Foster Had Found the Hammer of Thor?

Gwen Spider-Man Had Rescued Gwqen Stacy?

Elektra had Lived?

Newer fans may frown upon delving decades into the past to read these gems, but you should like the time to read them. There are fantastic reads from every comic age—if read within the context of times. Yes, they are different than comic books today (for example, thought balloons and captions), BUT these done-in-one do hold up after all these years!

By the end of the first run, Marvel had pretty much run out of ideas. Remember, Marvel Comics had only been around for about fifteen years when the first series came out. There were only so many possibilities to mine.

By the start of the second series, comics had evolved and changed a bit. There were new variations of recent events that fans could enjoy. Some of those new comics added recently to the service featured What If…

Captain Marvel Had Lived? (He did in a landmark graphic novel!)

The Fantastic Four Had Lost the Trial of Galactus? (from John Byrne’s iconic run on the series)

Daredevil Killed the Kingpin (taken from the “Born Again” Daredevil arc)

Doing a little research, I discovered Marvel recently released What If?: Into The Multiverse Omnibus Vol. 1 What If? (1989-1998)  It Collects What If? (1988) #1, What If? (1989) #1-39, Quasar (1989) #30.

And, again, it is where fans can have it both ways. Those who loved the series can get the physical copy for around $100, but the digital edition currently runs for $40.00. Or, like myself, I just read it on Marvel Unlimited.

Whatever YOUR preference—digital or physical, this done-in-one makes for Fantastic Picks! Those aren’t words, folks! I’ve found myself not only reading those new additions but deep-diving into those other issues that have been on the service for years! Read! You won’t be disappointed!

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