What If? #9
Issue(s): What If? #9
Technically I could include every issue of What If? in this timeline project due to the fact that Uatu the Watcher from the "real" Marvel universe appears in them. And maybe one day i will.
But for now i'm including this issue, partially because i wanted to include the first sort-of appearance of the Agents of Atlas, and partially because this issue's alternate reality is introduced by Iron Man, who has found an alternate reality in which the Avengers were formed in the 1950s, and he wants to show his friends.
He sees parallels between the 1950s Avengers and the group he's summoned. Captain America's powers are similar to 3-D Man, the Beast is similar to Gorilla Man, the Vision is a robot like the Human Robot, Thor and Venus are both deities, and... well... Iron Man and Marvel Boy both, um, shoot stuff of of their hands.
In the story itself, the group of strange heroes are assembled to foil a Masters of Evil style team of villains...
...assembled by the Yellow Claw...
...to kidnap President Eisenhower.
After they succeed, Eisenhower breaks up the team and covers up their existence because the world isn't ready to handle the implications of their existence.
This being a Roy Thomas comic, there isn't a lot in the way of characterization. As a substitute, there's the Thomas trademark of excessive in-fighting amongst the group.
There's a lot of differences between this group and the eventual Agents of Atlas. The Human Robot can talk, Marvel Boy is a straightforward swashbuckler and not a fish-out-of-water alien, Jimmy Woo is more of a liaison than an actual member of the team, and 3-D Man is a member.
Namora doesn't join the group, but she shows up briefly to lead the team to the location of the Human Robot.
There's some deliberate ambiguity to imply that the 1950s era events of this issue may have actually occurred in the "real" Marvel Universe timeline, but from what we know of the Agents of Atlas, the truth is that something similar happened but not quite the way it's shown here.
Still an interesting concept of assembling a team out of random weird series (and in some cases, single issues) that appeared in the 1950s.
Unfortunately the writing isn't very good. Neither is the art.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: I've placed the Avengers here before the beginning of the Korvac saga. All of the Avengers appearing are consistent as a subset of the current line-up at the time.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
There's a reference to "Tobor the Great", a 1958 science-fiction film, in the story itself so it can't occur any earlier than that historically.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 17, 2011 1:21 AM
Bill Black at this time was producing his own fanzines, and this was one of his few Marvel contributions. Around 1980 he started Paragon Publications,later renamed AC Comics, whose most notable original characters were Femforce. AC still reprints Golden Age and 1950s stories today.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 28, 2011 1:56 PM
I hate to go here, but to be consistent shouldn't this be "pulled out of time by the Collector" Thor and not "real-time" Thor?
Posted by: Dan H. | November 12, 2014 1:09 PM
I have this between Thor #266-267 along with a few other appearances where Thor is actually on Earth. So there shouldn't be a need for the Collector's trick.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 12, 2014 2:24 PM
I hadn't realized you put any "Thor on Earth" stories prior to the end of the Korvac saga.
His dialog in #170 really makes it sound like he hasn't visited the mansion or seen the other Avengers in quite a while, though.
Posted by: Dan H. | November 12, 2014 2:55 PM
I'm shocked, shocked to discover that Roy Thomas would do a What If story that used random little known characters from before the Silver Age.
"Unfortunately the writing isn't very good. Neither is the art." Actually, the art is terrible. The Watcher example just below that comment is simply awful, but yet, not nearly as bad as the drawing of Ike.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 1, 2015 11:43 AM
So, let me get this straight... Iron Man built a Reed Richards-style Bridge in the 70s (or, whenever, accounting for the sliding timeline), then promptly forgot about it when he couldn't weaponize it. Reed Richards built a bridge years later and became obsessed with it since he wanted to solve everything. That pretty much says all you need to know about the differences between the two characters right there.
Posted by: Darth Weevil | July 31, 2015 6:54 PM
In the panel where Jimmy Woo gets knocked into some trash cans by a biker gang, you can see magazines titled "Paragon" and "Alter Ego", which were fanzines put out by Bill Black and Roy Thomas.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 15, 2016 10:58 AM
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