Published August 10, 2021

The Wildest ‘What If?’ Stories

Jump into these six zany scenarios from the ‘What If?’ comics universe on Marvel Unlimited!

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Everyone who has ever read a comic book has asked this question at least once: “What if the story happened differently?”

In the world of Marvel Comics, this query was answered with the creation of the “What If?” universe. Across a few anthology series, What If? comics explored an alternate version of key events that reimagined Marvel history, if not turned it on its head. The first WHAT IF? series debuted in 1977, so it is safe to say there are a plethora of issues filled with hypothetical tales. Some more surprising than others! Let’s take a look at some of the wildest What If? stories to hit the page, all available to read now on Marvel Unlimited!


Dazzler as Galactus' herald in WHAT IF? (1977) #33.
WHAT IF? (1977) #33

When you think of the mutant Dazzler, you think of her singing tunes and kicking butt with the X-Men. But in this “What If?” issue, Dazzler was taken from the dance floor and forced to be Galactus’ new herald! During her tenure, she surveyed unpopulated planets for Galactus to eat, making him a “vegetarian.” Galactus began to have a change of heart about destroying everything in his path… until Dazzler was attacked by an armada. He pulverized them without a second thought and later released Dazzler from his servitude. She was excited to return to Earth, but there was a slight problem. Centuries had passed since Dazzler was last home, and every living thing on Earth had turned to dust. So, with no one left on Earth to be her captive audience, the lightshow diva reluctantly flew back to her planet-eating boss.


Thanos leads the Avengers with Captain America's shield in WHAT IF? INFINITY- THANOS (2015) #1.

Thanos as an Avenger?! It’s more likely than you think. During this version of 2013’s INFINITY event, Thanos requested to join the Avengers to fight the Builders and save Earth. Captain America didn’t completely trust the power-mad Titan (given their history), but the rest of the Avengers, like Thor and Captain Marvel, were surprisingly chill about their former enemy being on the team. It was later revealed that the true reason Thanos wanted to partner with the Avengers was to kill his son, Thane. No “Father of the Year” award for Thanos! Captain America overheard Thanos’ plan and tried to stop him, but it wasn’t enough. Thanos, ever the villain, relayed to Thor that Captain America “died a hero’s death killing the last of the Builder Command.” Give the man an Oscar™. With Cap gone, Thanos became the new leader of the Avengers.


Aunt May as Spider-May in WHAT IF? (1977) #23.
WHAT IF? (1977) #23

Ever wanted to find out what would happen if Peter Parker’s beloved Aunt May became the Amazing Spider-May? Well, WHAT IF? (1977) #23 is just for you! Noticing that her nephew Peter left his lunch at home, Aunt May traveled to his fieldtrip site, which was the lab that contained that radioactive spider. It bit Aunt May instead, and she handled her newfound super-strength remarkably well! In lieu of web-shooters, she used sewing thread to get around the city. But thread wasn’t the only thing in her arsenal. Aunt May utilized baking dough to stop the villain Leap-Frog in his tracks. What a resourceful woman! At the end of the story, she chose to balance her new life as a crimefighter, and of course, take care of her sweet, sensitive Peter.


Jean Grey falls for Angel instead in WHAT IF? (1989) #60.
WHAT IF? (1989) #60

Scott Summers, AKA the optic-blasting Cyclops, and psychic Jean Grey are one of the most popular couples in X-Men history. In this scenario, however, Jean didn’t fall in love with Cyclops (or Wolverine, which was also a story in this same issue), but with Warren Worthington III, also known as Angel! Cyclops dived deeper into his role as the leader of the X-Men, consumed by his obsession to stop the Brotherhood of Mutants. During a mission, Cyclops was almost caught in an explosion, but Angel saved him, which Cyclops was salty about. So sorry that your teammate cares about you, Scott.

When Cyclops went to give his mission report to Professor Xavier, (who lost his powers in a previous mission), Xavier revealed that he saw everything that happened. He used his absence from the team to test Cyclops, and Cyke was not happy about this revelation. Due to this reaction, and combined with Scott’s bitter behavior, Xavier chose Beast as the team leader. The story unexpectedly ended with Cyclops quitting the X-Men and joining the Brotherhood out of spite.


The Fantastic Four reimagined as the original Marvel Bullpen in WHAT IF? (1977) #11.
WHAT IF? (1977) #11

In this peculiar tale, four members of the original Marvel Bullpen were turned into real-life versions of the Fantastic Four: Stan Lee as Mister Fantastic, Sol Brodsky as the Human Torch, Jack Kirby as the Thing, and Flo Steinberg as the Invisible Girl. One day, a strange package was delivered to the Marvel Comics office. It contained a box that emitted cosmic rays, and affected everyone present in the room! Since that day, the Fantastic Four had been searching for the ones responsible for their transformations, the “S” People. It was also in this story that a real version of Namor existed, and just like in the comics, he didn’t really like them. His animosity towards the Bullpen FF changed when it was revealed that the “S” People—the Skrulls—infiltrated his kingdom. The Skrulls planned to affect more people with cosmic rays, but Namor and the Thing halted their devious deeds.


Black Bolt as a rock star in WHAT IF? (1977) #34.
WHAT IF? (1977) #34

Lastly, in this WHAT IF? issue, every single page is filled panel-to-panel with wacky situations. “What If Black Bolt Were a Rock Star?” ended as well as you think it does. “What If Aunt May Became a Super Hero?” continued where issue #23 left off, and imagined Peter Parker’s aunt as more Super Heroes, such as the Invincible Golden Oldie, the Astonishing Ant-Aunt, and Auntie Freeze. “What If Ghost Rider Owned a Fast Food Franchise?” showed that the Spirit of Vengeance probably isn’t the best person to work in food services. The unintentionally scariest story, hands-down, was when the Watcher, our all-seeing narrator, was changed into a comedian in “What If the Watcher Were a Stand-Up Comedian?” Not even Uatu is safe from the powerful words “What If?”! It is a delight to see these characters go wild, but there was one person who might disagree. In “What Will Happen When Stan Lee Reads This Issue?”, Lee responded to the creators responsible that “You’re all fired! ‘Nuff said.” But a little chaos every once in a while does the Marvel Universe good!


Read these wild “What If?” issues and more on Marvel Unlimited now! And don’t forget to check out Marvel Studios’ What If…?, streaming exclusively on Disney+!

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Favorite What If? Stories
Favorite What If? Stories
What if pivotal events in Marvel history were altered – or flipped on their heads? Join ever-present cosmic entity the Watcher as we ask ‘What If?’ to the scenarios that re-imagine the storylines you know and love!


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