Greetings from the Odinson,
What If the Combatants of Secret Wars Never Returned from Battleworld?
Part 1 of 2
This was a question addressed in What If…? #114, but was never followed up on (at least to my knowledge). The story takes place 25 years after the events of 1984’s Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, but in this timeline, the heroes never returned to Earth. Stranded on Battleworld, they were forced to forge a life there. Families were born and we are introduced to the progeny of the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes. The issue ends just when the story really gets started as the children of our heroes return to Earth.
We do not get to see what happens next, and we are only teased at how the world has changed in the absence of its greatest champions. This is a story the Odinson always wanted to see! What happened on Earth in those 25 years since Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Marvel’s First Family, Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and the Children of the Atom vanished without a trace?
Now, all this is speculation on my part, but in order to explore this idea, we must first examine who is off the board and how their absence starting in 1984-1985 affects the world they left behind; who are the major players still on Earth at this time, both heroes and villains; and how Marvel History would have played out differently.
1 – Heroes/Villains MIA and the Effects of Their Absences
The Avengers: Captain America’s absence would have played out almost exactly like The Captain storyline. With no Steve Rogers, the US Government would still have turned to their replacement John Walker to take up the mantle. Walker would still buckle under the weight of walking in a legend’s shoes. However, without Steve Rogers to intervene, Washington D.C., thanks to the Serpent Society would be lost as the entire populace would have been turned into reptilian creatures. This would in turn throw the US Government into total chaos, paving the way for the Machiavellian plans of the Red Skull.
With Thor not present for the Ragnarok n Roll campaign, his oath-brother, Beta Ray Bill, would be forced to step up and fill the void of the absent thunder god. So, in the final battle it would be Bill standing side-by-side with Odin and Loki to prevent the fire demon Surtur from destroying all creation.
I still believe the West Coast Avengers would be assembled, but obviously Hawkeye and James Rhodes would not be a part of it. In the absence of Clint Barton, most likely Mockingbird would not join either. However, I do believe the events of Absolute Vision would play out relatively the same way.
Spider-Man: Peter Parker would have never brought the Symbiote back with him, thus Venom and Carnage would never be born. The Spider-Man vs. Wolverine caper would have never happened, so Peter would not have suffered that traumatic gut shot. Peter Parker and Mary Jane would have never married. And Kraven would not have had his Last Hunt.
Hulk: Bruce Banner would never have Regressed and lost control of the Hulk and Doctor Strange would not have been forced to banish him to the mystical Crossroads. Plus, the Hulkbusters never would have been formed which ultimately led their traumatized members to fall under the thrall of the Leader. And, the small hamlet Middletown and its inhabitants would not have been vaporized by a Gamma Bomb.
The Fantastic Four: Unfortunately, the Invisible Woman would still have had her miscarriage, but without the support of her family, her possession by Malice may have proven permanent. This takes a powerful force for good and turns her to the dark side.
The X-Men: Without the Avengers, Spider-Man, and the X-Men, the mystical invasion of Kulan Gath would not have been stopped. That makes three major cities in the United States – Denver, Washington D.C., and New York City severely effected and probably lost forever because of the absence of our heroes. Without their most powerful and prominent members, could the remaining X-Men survive the coming of Nimrod? Plus, without Wolverine’s help Kitty Pryde would be possessed by the demon sorcerer Ogun. Yet another angel that would fall from grace in the absence of our heroes.
Jean Grey would still return, but Charles Xavier’s First Class would never form X-Factor. This would have a profound effect on the lives of Rusty, Skids, Boom-Boom, and all the other mutants they helped and took under their wings to mentor and protect. And the Morlocks would have been completely wiped out during the Mutant Massacre.
Plus, who possibly could have risen to the occasion to stop the despot Apocalypse when he made his big move for world domination during the Fall of the Mutants? Who would have been there in Dallas, Texas to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to stop the demonic Adversary? And, since Malice is in possession of the Invisible Woman and the core X-Men are off world, Dazzler never joins the team and Longshot remains enslaved by Mojo.
The Villains: We’ll assume the Molecule Man perished from his wounds sustained in battle against Wolverine in Secret Wars #6, so the villains were unable to escape Battleworld as well. What effect did their absence have on the world left behind? Unfortunately, the villain army was 90% henchmen types and meat-head bone-breakers. The only two whose absence could truly have an impact are Doctor Doom and Galactus.
Doctor Doom: We never get to witness some of Doctor Doom’s most diabolical schemes which played out in Fantastic Four vs. X-Men, Emperor Doom, and Triumph and Torment. And, Doom never reclaims his Kingdom of Latveria, thus Kristoff, the nine year boy that thinks he is Doom (that is a whole other convoluted tale to be told at a later date), remains in power.
Galactus: The Silver Surfer would never have been freed to roam the cosmos and would have been trapped on planet Earth forever. The Fantastic Four would not have been present to help Norrin Radd figure out how to escape Earth, thus he could not redeem himself to Galactus, prompting the cosmic titan to abolish his exile. And an unfortunate causality of this would be the death of Nova.
This is very significant for many, many reasons not the least of which is the Silver Surfer played an extremely important role in slowing down Thanos and his mad plans for universal genocide, as well as in the Infinity Gauntlet campaign itself. Plus, Norrin Radd could not have intervened and stopped the Elders of the Universe and their mad plot to destroy Galactus.
2 – Major Players Still on Earth
Heroes: Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD. The high-flying Falcon. Alpha Flight, Canada’s premiere super team. The Soviet Super Soldiers/Winter Guard, Russia’s premiere super team. Daredevil the Man without Fear. Doctor Strange the Sorcerer Supreme. The New Mutants and Xavier’s First Class minus their field general Cyclops. Cloak and Dagger the original runaways. Frank Castle the Punisher. Elektra the assassin. Power Man and Iron Fist the Heroes for Hire. Moon Knight the Fists of Khonshu. Shang Chi the Master of Kung Fu. Prince Namor the Savage Sub-Mariner. Black Panther the King of Wakanda. Captain Britain the protector of the Omniverse. Beta Ray Bill the new protector of Midgard and Asgard. And, a still in exile Silver Surfer. Also many Avengers including Hercules, Starfox, Black Knight, Wonder Man, Tigra, Black Widow, and the Vision and Scarlet Witch. Plus, a Tony Stark that is still struggling with his Demon in a Bottle.
That’s not a bad assortment of brave champions, but who are the evil doers they will have to contend with? Will these heroes be enough?
Villains: Loki the god of evil. Wilson Fisk the Kingpin of Crime. The diabolical Leader and the monstrous Abomination. The always scheming Hellfire Club. The Red Skull and the Serpent Society who have effectively destroyed the US Government in the absence of Steve Rogers. Attuma, Warlord of the Seven Seas. The Sinister Six minus their demented leader. The high-flying Wizard and the Mandarin the Master of the Ten Rings. Annihilus lord of the Negative Zone. Mephisto the lord of the underworld. And, of course, some version of Ultron will exist because it is an A.I. Not to mention Apocalypse, Mojo, Stryfe, and Mister Sinister. Plus, all the extraterrestrial threats of the universe like the Skrulls, Kree, Brood, Phalanx, and the Elders of the Universe.
We now know who is off the board and who is left on the playing field (i.e. Earth). What major villains will cause the biggest noise? Are the heroes left on Earth enough to stop them? How will time-traveling X factors and rising new neophyte heroes affect the board?
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: For past entries of the So Sayeth the Odinson blog, over a decade’s worth of comic book and pop culture articles and reviews, click HERE. Also, be sure to check out my novels The Survivors and Autumn Dawn, which were inspired by 1980s horror – HERE and HERE