What If? -Two great words used by writers since writing.
In 1977 Marvel released said words as the title for their new series. The fist issue was a BIG question that had been on folks minds :’What if Spider-Man had joined the Fantastic Four?
[Quick aside- the REAL Marvel Universe BEGAN with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four, dubbed ‘The Worlds Greatest Comic Magazine’ at thr time, by said creators. Iron Man didn’t even have his own title until SIX YEARS after his first appearance!]
So the answer to that FIRST What If? Question was: Great! it would have been GREAT if Spidey had joined. The writers then figured if they were going to second guess other stories, they had better have tragic endings, so the original stories are validated.
That might not be true, but it HAD to have been discussed in the writer’s room when getting stories together.
That first run of What If? ran for 47 issues, and spawned 12 plus more VOLUMES of stories.
[One more quick aside; the Distinguished Competition had run such stories before, in the regular titles, calling them ‘imaginary stories’, forgetting the fact that they were ALL imaginary, and ran as far back as 1946!! (Captain Marvel Adventures Vol 1 66).
So, What If? stories allow for expanded Universes, broken timelines, all that good stuff writers fill their little notebooks with. I feel that this is where you get REALLY good writing, because some of these stories had been peculating in the writers minds for years. (“If Iron Man gave up, I’ll bet THIS is what would happen). Heck, for ANY of us that have read the comics, we’ve ALL asked the question to ourselves and made up our own endings! Whenever I see a title solicited for a What If?, all I need is the title/premise, and my mind is off to the races!!!
I thought I’d share some of my favorite titles from the What If? run, for the TITLE, not necessarily the content.