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Saturday, July 5, 2008

What If…? Alternate Origins

The Defenders never starred in their own issue of What If?, but #37 featured parallel tales about two members of the team.

In his classic origin story, Norrin Radd persuaded Galactus to spare his homeworld of Zenn-La. In exchange, he became the Silver Surfer, commissioned to locate other planets for Galactus to devour. After meeting the Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer begged Galactus to spare Earth as well (Fantastic Four #48-50).

"What if Galactus Had Turned the Silver Surfer Back into Norrin Radd?" In this alternate reality, Galactus responded by returning the philosophical Surfer to his original, human-like self. With space-travel technology from Mr. Fantastic, Norrin Radd then returned home only to find a tragic twist of fate. His long lost love, Shalla-Bal, had become the new herald of Galactus in a renewed agreement to preserve Zenn-La. Galactus removed all memories of her former life so she would not challenge him, as the Surfer had. Out of erroneous respect, Galactus also restored powers to Norrin Radd, but with a catch. The Silver Surfer was now trapped on Zenn-La, unable to embark into space or reunite with his true love as she roamed the cosmos.

Of the original X-Men, Beast was the first to break from the team and attempt to lead a normal life. Accepting a post as a biochemist with the Brand Corporation, Hank McCoy developed a formula to augment mutations. The result boosted Hank's abilities but left him covered in fur (Amazing Adventures #11). After a half-crazed period of adjustment, Beast continued fighting crime (usually sporting only blue shorts, like Thing of the Fantastic Four).

"What if--the Beast Had Truly Become a Beast?" In this alternate reality, Beast did not regain his composure after the accentuated mutation, attacking his friends in the X-Men while seeking their help. Though still reasonably intelligent, Beast's brutal instincts made him ill-fit for society. Comparing their friend to a wild animal that should not be caged, the X-Men brought Beast to the Savage Land to assist the jungle hero Ka-Zar.
What If ? Vol. 1, No. 37. February 1983. "What if--the Beast Had Truly Become a Beast?" Alan Weiss (scripter/penciler), Jim Sherman (inker/colorist). "What if Galactus Had Turned the Silver Surfer Back into Norrin Radd?" David Anthony Kraft (scripter), Mike Vosburg (penciler), Steve Mitchell (inker), Diana Albers (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist), Mike Gruenwald (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief).

2 comments:

Brian Reaves said...

I loved the "What If?" stories during the first three incarnations. The last few issues Marvel has put out of the series really haven't been in the same fun vein the others were. There's not really that clear-cut theme of "What If" we started with, but it has more of an "Elseworlds" feel.

My favorite of those old-school What Ifs is "What If the Punisher Killed Spider-Man". Everybody's out to get him in that one!

Rick said...

Sounds like a good book. Wish I would have bought it.

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