Greetings from the Odinson,
What If the Combatants of Secret Wars Never Returned from Battleworld?
Part 2 of 2
This was a question raised in What If…? #114. It’s an interesting question. What would have happened in the Marvel Universe in the 25 year gap from 1984-2009 between the end of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars and when this What If…? classic takes place. This is a story the Odinson has always wanted to see.
Be sure to check out PART 1 of this pondering where we examined who is off the board and how their absence affected the world they left behind, and who are the major players still on Earth at this time, both heroes and villains. This week, we take a look at how Marvel History may have played out differently if Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Marvel’s First Family, Your Friendly Neighborhood Web-Swinger, and the Children of the Atom never returned from Battleworld.
FIRST: Let’s address just how monumentally the landscape of the United States has changed in the absence of the Marvel U’s greatest champions.
As we learned in PART 1, most of the residents of Washington D.C. would have been transformed into reptilian creatures because Steve Rogers would not have been present to stop the Serpent Society’s coup. In the absence of the Avengers, X-Men, and Spidey, New York City would have been taken and remained under the spell of the demon sorcerer Kulan Gath who had also defeated and imprisoned Doctor Strange. And Denver, Colorado was one of the pieces used by the Beyonder to build his Battleworld, leaving a giant hole right in the center of America.
Washington D.C. – The way I see it, cold-blooded villains like Stegron and Sauron would take up residents in the country’s former capitol and create a sovereign nation of lizard and snake people and immediately secede from the United States. Until they can find a cure for those that have been transformed and not wanting to declare war on the transformed people that used to be American citizens, what’s left of the US government and the remaining heroes are forced to allow this to happen. Perhaps some of the reptilian residence embrace their new life. Also, in the shadows, rumors begin to spread of a small cult of the transformed that begin to worship and pray for the return of the one person that can lead their new cold-blooded nation to bigger and better things – Doctor Curt Connors. NOTE: The Lizard is one of the villains that was whisked away for the Beyonder’s Secret Wars.
New York City – This is a tough one because the heroes that are gone played the biggest role in stopping this madness, and with the Sorcerer Supreme incapacitated, this isn’t going to be a cake walk. Over the years, Kulan Gath has proven to be one of the, if not the, most dangerous evil wizards in history. It’s going to take a coalition of the greatest supernatural heroes ever assembled to turn the tide. Luckily, most of the characters that fit this bill like Blade, Daimon Hellstrom, Clea, Morbius, Brother Voodoo, Magik, Jack Russell, and Man-Thing, among others are still around to form such an alliance. New York City is saved.
Denver – This is definitely a blow to the morale of the nation. A big chunk of United States real estate is gone. The story of The Pitt from the New Universe comes to mind. This loss will leave many people devastated, shocked, and mindful, but ultimately rallied and determined to never allow anything like this to happen again. This can take many different forms. Some may perceive this as a mutant threat and the Sentinel Program kicks into overdrive. Secret societies like Hydra, AIM, and the Hand may seek to exploit this turning point to strengthen their cause, and their ranks. And, somewhere Tony Stark blinks his eyes as for the first time in years he experiences a moment of clarity. He stands, empowered with new purpose, and the formulation of a plan to put armor around the world begins to take shape.
SECOND: How would some of the biggest benchmarks in Marvel History play out differently in the absence of the combatants of Secret Wars?
Secret War II – According to the story laid out in What If…? #114, the Beyonder and Galactus are destroyed in a battle against each other. So, not only has the entire scenario of Secret Wars II been avoided, but the absence of the Devourer of Worlds will have a profound impact on this alternate Marvel History. More on this in a moment.
Under Siege – The Masters of Evil’s attack on Avengers Mansion is one of the most storied super villain victories in Comics History. However, with the absence of Captain America, Baron Zemo has no target for his wrath, so he has an epiphany and the Thunderbolts are assembled a decade earlier. Now, whether they walk the path of angels or devils remains to be seen.
Armor Wars – Tony Stark’s quest to recover his stolen tech plays out almost exactly like it did originally. Except this time there is no moral debate and confrontation with his friend Steve Rogers so Tony comes out on the other side even more convinced that he is right and becomes even more emboldened to effect change on the world.
Mutant Massacre – In the absence of Professor X, Jean Grey, along with Angel, Beast and Ice Man, take up their mentor’s post and become the headmasters of Xavier’s School for the Gifted. This has a domino effect on the major mutant stories of this time period. Since X-Factor is not a thing, the mutant heroes are not present in the sewers when the culling begins and the Morlocks are completely wiped out. Angel does not lose his wings. Excalibur is never formed. And, the New Mutants graduate and become the new X-Men.
Fall of the Mutants – In Dallas, Forge must repeat the mistake he made during the Vietnam War but this time use the souls of the willing in order to cast the spell that can defeat the evil Adversary. Since the X-Men who sacrificed themselves originally are not present, Forge will be forced to coax others for the task. Mystique’s Freedom Force make the sacrifice. After this act, his conscience broken, Forge wanders away into the hinterlands, never to be seen again. Jean Grey takes command. As a natural leader and bolstered by numbers, the All-New X-Men are able to defeat Ani-Mator with no casualties and thwart Apocalypse and his big play to take Manhattan, especially since Warren is not one of his Horsemen. And with En Sabah Nur’s defeat, the Age of Apocalypse is avoided.
Acts of Vengeance – Without the presence of his hated brother, Loki is not inspired to assemble the super villain cabal. In fact, with no Thor upon which to focus his ire, the god of Mischief’s devious intentions refocus onto the denizens of Midgard. This brings him into constant conflict with Earth’s supernatural protector, Doctor Strange. Loki becomes one of the good doctor’s main antagonists.
Inferno – Even though Madelyne Pryor is still seduced by the demon N’astirh and becomes a pawn in the games of Mister Sinister, under Jean Grey’s command, her X-Men are joined by Rachel Summers, Psyloche (who never enters the Siege Perilous and thus never becomes Lady Mandarin), Captain Britain and Meggan, Havok, and Polaris (who is never possessed by Malice, because the evil mutant is preoccupied), and with overwhelming numbers they are able to stop the demonic invasion, save Scott and Madelyne’s infant son, and Magik avoids becoming the Darkchilde.
Infinity Gauntlet – In this scenario, Galactus was destroyed in battle with the Beyonder. So, the Elders of the Universe never try to destroy Galactus themselves. Because this never happens, Lady Death is never slighted into going back on her word to never allow an Elder to die (a vow she made during The Contest campaign). Thus, she never feels that the balance of life and death is upset, and in turn, never resurrects the Mad Titan to go on his dark Quest.
The Domino Effect – All these major events and scenarios playing out in subtle and sometimes completely different ways has ripple effects on the timeline. Juggernaut is taken out by Nimrod. Under the protection of an army of X-Men at this point, Cable is never infected with the Techno-Virus and sent to the future, thus he never travels back in time to turn the New Mutants into X-Force. Instead, he is raised lovingly by Jean and grows to become the powerful teenage mutant hero he was always meant to be, a hero known as X-Man.
There is no Magneto to pull the Adamantium from Wolverine’s body so Charles never lobotomizes his friend. Since there is no Professor X on Earth, the X-Men are never betrayed, Bishop never travels back in time, and Onslaught is never born. Thus, the Heroes Reborn situation is avoided all together.
Franklin Richards is adopted by the Powers Family. Neophyte heroes like the New Warriors, Quasar, Darkhawk, and Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch are forced to grow up faster to fill the void left by our missing heroes. Even the Silver Surfer takes a more active role in earthbound heroics. It will be interesting to see the roads wild cards like Deadpool and Gambit take in this new state of affairs. It seems like the fates of these two professional rogues and antiheroes could go either way. Plus, with the Invisible Woman still under the thrall of Malice and Kitty Pryde possessed by the demonic assassin Ogun, the black hats have added two powerful players to the dark side of things.
What If…? #114 sets up a Marvel Universe where the heroes and villains of the original Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars never returned home. What it doesn’t tell us is what happened back on Earth in that 25 year gap. The last image we see when the children of those missing heroes return to Earth is a Days of Future Past like landscape.
What If…? #105 introduced us to Spider-Girl and that lead to an entirely new ongoing series which opened the door for the MC2 Universe. With the limited space I have here, I have barely scratched the surface of all the wonderful stories that could be told. With the juicy premise set up in What If…? #114, the House of Ideas is just sitting on a gold mine of stories that could show us not only what happens next after that cliffhanger ending, but also what exactly happened on Earth in the 25 years between Secret Wars #12 and What If…? #114.
I for one, want to see THAT story.
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