Thursday, October 15, 2015

1982 - What If #36

What If #36 
December 1982
"What If The Fantastic Four Had Not Gained Their Super-Powers?" 
Writer/Artist - John Byrne 

"A Stunning Saga of an Alternate Reality!"

Byrne kicks off the issue with a two-page retelling of Lee and Kirby's Fantastic Four origin. Then as usual, Uatu steps in introduces the moment where this alternate reality formed. Instead of risking their lives against those unknown cosmic rays, the team takes the necessary time to properly prepare and not only push past the cosmic rays but make their way to another planet, Epsilon Eridani, 11 light-years away.

Their success gets them government funding and with the patent for their Star-Drive, they create a scientific institute and band together as adventures. The team, donning their Richards caps and blue/black jumpsuits, investigate the disappearance of a nuclear power plant and have their first encounter with the Mole Man and his underworld legion of monsters.

This issue has a lot of big panels and a strong Kirby vibe. Byrne pencils and inks this issue, but I wish they had been able to get Austin to ink the interiors as well as the cover. At this time, Byrne was hitting his full stride on the Fantastic Four as Writer/Penciller. Compared to his regular work, this issue just didn't have the quality. And that may simply be because he was trying to pay homage to Fantastic Four #1. Feels like there was a lot of padding to the story and that Byrne was having fun with the story's panels and layouts.

The Fantastic Four story runs 20 pages and there's a back-up featuring Nova, "What If Nova Had Not Given Up His Powers?".


  1. He was having fun with it all right, and I was having fun reading every word of it!

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this issue as well - and I would have loved it if Marvel had spun an entire alternate-universe series (or at least mini-series) featuring this de-powered FF.

  3. "Whatever the unknown, we'll meet its challenge!"

    I loved this issue. I felt Byrne demonstrated once again the amazing understanding he had of these characters, by stripping them of their superpowers and STILL making them totally recognizable and in a great story, too. On top of that, it's probably the best Challengers of the Unknown story I've ever read (although that's not saying a whole lot as I haven't read many).

    Also, I think I'm in a minority on this one, but I always preferred Byrne's art when he was inking himself. The art is just fantastic (no pun intended) in this issue. A worthy companion book to his legendary run on FF. Great spotlight, Jason!



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