Characters Appearing: Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing
Marvel Two-In-One #100
Issue(s): Marvel Two-In-One #100
Reed Richard's theory at the time of that issue was that when the Thing traveled backwards in time, he created an alternate reality in which he cured that reality's Ben Grimm. The point was that time travel could never be used to affect your own timeline. And that remains true, but Reed has revised his theory, now stating that the timeline the Thing had traveled to wasn't created when he time-traveled. It always existed, and the process of time travel only allowed the Thing to visit it.
I'm all for rules around time-travel that don't allow characters to muck about with continuity, but suggesting that it's nothing more than alternate dimension travel kind of misses the point. In any event, it's just a theory of Reed's and Marvel will eventually start to ignore it.
The Thing decides to head back to that timeline and see what became of the Ben Grimm he cured. He finds an earth that has been ravaged by Galactus.
At first it's assumed that it was because the Fantastic Four as we know it no longer existed since Ben wasn't the Thing...
...but it turns out to be an entirely different set of events altogether, with the Silver Surfer never arriving and turning against Galactus, for example. In the post-apocalyptic world, the Red Skull rules, having awoken in a world where Captain America was never revived from being frozen during WWII.
It's a fun story, similar to a What If?, but there's not really a larger point to it other than to establish the new metaphysics of time travel.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this between Fantastic Four #250-251, and after Marvel Team-Up annual #5, although it's really context free. What is important is that Marvel Two-In-One #96 and beyond take place after Marvel Two-In-One annual #7, and that issue has a number of dependencies due to all the guest stars.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
John Byrne seemed to have had this as a pet idea - that without everything happening as it did, that when Galactus visits the Silver Surfer will never encounter Alicia Masters, never turn against Galactus, and thus doom the Earth.
That idea was originally to be used in a What If between Claremont and Byrne where Xavier was killed by Lucifer and Magneto formed the X-Men (the original team plus Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch). He then defeats all other heroes and established mutant supremacy. Then Galactus visits and we're back to this.
Byrne probably liked the idea so much that when he had a chance to use it, he did.
Posted by: Chris | July 4, 2013 5:23 PM
Fnord, this seems like the right place to ask, since this issue seems like an issue of What If: Do you collect What If? And if you do, where do you keep them? Since this website documents how you organize your comics do you have a non-continuity / imaginary story box?
I won't ask if it'll ever be part of the website, because it's gonna take so long for you to catch up to real time, I can't imagine you would ever cover imaginary time.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 7, 2015 6:00 PM
I have covered a couple of What Ifs on the site and i'll be covering at least one more story (Timequake). I do have a box for alternate universe stuff and that's where i keep the rest of my What Ifs. I never really collected What If regularly but i have some scattered issues. I've said that one day i might come back and add the rest on the grounds that the Watcher appears in them. But as you say it's not a priority since i've got so much else to do. :-)
Posted by: fnord12 | May 7, 2015 6:56 PM
I don't think I ever knew anyone who consistently collected What If. I wonder if their sales were always all over the place, depending on what storyline they did. Although, certainly in the second volume, you could pretty much be sure that most of the people involved were going to die. It was like every issue was Squadron Supreme #12.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 7, 2015 10:29 PM
I never heard of this story, fnord, so I was excited when I came across it here to see what had happened in the alternate timeline from MTiO 50. It's a disappointment to see it's just another alternate reality story. I agree with Reed that it would seem unreasonable that a time machine, no matter how powerful, could create an entire new universe (a clear violation of the law of conservation of mass/energy), but if you accept the many-worlds theory (as Marvel does) then there's no reason not to suppose that the time machine simply sends the user to an alternate universe that was already coming into being at that point in space-time.
This seems like another case of Byrne using a story to argue with a colleague, in this case Gruenwald instead of Claremont. The one good thing here is it explains why Byrne had Reed's father get shunted into an alternate timeline in Fantastic Four 272 when he used his own time machine. Otherwise, that detail didn't make a lot of sense. As you note, fnord, no other writer has followed Byrne's lead, since it pretty much sucks all the head-scratching joy out of time travel.
Posted by: Andrew | January 25, 2017 7:22 AM
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