The original What If… series started in 1977 and asked what would happen in certain events or characters changed in the Marvel Universe. For instance "What if… Spider-Man Joined the Fantastic Four" (which he eventually did), or "What If… Jane Foster Had Found the Hammer of Thor?" (well, she didn't originally find it but…), or "What If The Fantastic Four Were the Original Marvel Bullpen?" (sometime similar may still happen someday). The concept is brought back every once in a while, usually in short doses, more recently themed on character or specific events.
This October sees the return of What If? for six issues, each one featuring a different character (or team): Spider-Man, Magik, Ghost Rider, Thor, the X-Men, and the Punisher. For some of these the question is more clear than others. Read Marvel's descriptions below…
What If? Spider-Man #1
What If? Spider-Man cover by Patch Zircher
Written by Gerry Conway with art by Diego Olortegui and a cover by Patch Zircher, the questions are asked...what if Peter Parker wasn't the one bitten by the radioactive spider? What if the person who got bit was someone who didn't live by the mantra of "with great power comes great responsibility"? What if that person was an egotistical bully who was only interested in taking care of himself?
What if...Flash Thompson became Spider-Man? Find out on October 3.
What If? Magik #1
What If? Magik #1 cover by Jeff Dekal
Brought to life by writer Leah Williams, artist Filipe Andrade, and with a cover by Jeff Dekal, Illyana Rasputin enters a new reality on October 31.
Before she was Magik, Illyana was just a kid whom Limbo chewed up and spit out seven years older. So it's no surprise that, at 15, she wants nothing to do with the X-Men...nothing to do with the New Mutants...and nothing to do with her own powers. It's not even surprising that she runs away...but where—and who—she ends up? Well, that's something you've never seen before.
"Illyana Rasputin deserves better," explains book editor Annalise Bissa. "As much as we all love a character who's been aged up, down, grown up under the thumb of demons, watched her parents die, died herself, come back, been evil, been good again, had more power changes than you can shake a stick at...any X-Fan might start to wonder who Magik would be in a world where her mutation isn't ruled by these crazy ups and downs—where she has the chance to embrace her power early and grow from there, this is the book for you. If you like Magik, magic, or any other word for all things mystical and mysterious and maybe a little bit murderous, read WHAT IF? MAGIK #1."
What If? Ghost Rider #1
What If? Ghost Rider #1 cover by Aleksi Briclot
On October 17, writer Sebastian Griner, artist Caspar Wijngaard, and cover artist Aleksi Briclot, present WHAT IF? GHOST RIDER #1.
You've only heard whispers of this real-world/Marvel Universe crossover until now, when moral decline and budgetary shortfalls have combined to lower our lawyers' resistance! Sebastian Girner and Caspar Wijngaard recklessly bring you the tale of the first and only true Nordic black metal band to visit the Marvel Universe through the insanity of likeness release waivers! What role does Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes play, and will your mind survive the brutality!?
Editor Kathleen Wisneski says, "Before you read this comic, you're going to need THREE things, friends. ONE: an extra pair of pants. TWO: some kind of eyeball apparatus designed to keep your eyeballs INSIDE your head. THREE: your mom on speed-dial. We are serving you pants-off and eyeballs-out levels of horror and shock, and if ANYONE has a chance to call you back from the ledge of insanity that this comic will lift you to, then ABANDON you upon, it's your momma. If she's read it first, you can hold hands on your way DOWN INTO THE ABYSS!" Oh boy.
What If? Thor #1
What If? Thor #1 cover by Marco Checchetto
Written by Ethan Sacks with art by Michele Bandini and a cover by Marco Checchetto, the Odinson experiences a new reality on October 24.
When young Thor's father falls to the King of Giants, his life is forever changed. He's ripped from Asgard to be raised in a world of persistent winter, learning the brutal way of life in Jotenheim. But how does the runt of the giants, Loki, feel about his new stepbrother? Find out in WHAT IF? THOR #1.
What If? X-Men #1
What If? X-Men #1 cover by Rahzzah
On October 3, writer Bryan Edward Hill, artists Neil Edwards and Giannis Milonogiannis, and cover artist Rahzzah bring you WHAT IF? X-MEN #1.
From the publisher that gave you OLD MAN LOGAN and HOUSE OF M...witness the X-Men as you never imagined!
Welcome to the EXE/scape, a digital wonderland of business and pleasure accessible to anyone with the social (or monetary) capital for the bio-mods needed to log in... Or you can bypass all of that by being born carrying an .EXE/gene! But circumventing the login regulations is exactly what got the likes of Charles Xavier and his .EXE/men banned and driven underground in the first place... Free-roamers u/Domino and u/Cable have taken every dirty job there is on the 'scape, but when a simple data scrubbing job turns bad, the life of bio-mod magnate Erik Lehnsherr hangs in the balance, and with it, their very society...
Editor Chris Robinson keeps the pitch short and sweet: "The most life-changing comic since VENOM #1. Speculators take note." Boom.
What If? Punisher #1
What If? Punisher #1 cover by Christopher Stevens
Written by Carl Potts with art by Juanan Ramirez and a cover by Christopher Stevens, WHAT IF? THE PUNISHER #1 hits on October 10.
When Peter Parker's Uncle Ben is ruthlessly killed by a burglar that Peter let escape, he vows to never let the same fate befall another innocent bystander. From then on, he stands as a figure of cold retribution. Criminals beware – the guilty caught in this spider's web will be punished. But will Parker stand triumphant...or shattered by this twist of fate?
The friendly neighborhood takes a different turn in this WHAT IF? adventure, positing a very different sense of responsibility for the man who will be known as the Punisher, as his battles against villains like the Green Goblin take a new path!
"WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT...PUNISHMENT?! PUNISHER and SPIDER-MAN are two very, very different characters, but could they be two sides of the same coin?" asks editor Mark Basso. "They're fueled by different philosophies and use different methods, but how many kicks to the other side does it take to turn a Peter Parker into THE PUNISHER!? Everything you think you think you know (not a typo!) about your favorite heroes and anti-heroes will change after you read this book!"
What If you dipped into your wallet to buy these in October? Will the world ever know?!