The Best Comic Book Series Ever

     I always liked the Marvel stable of heroes and superheroes over  anything DC put out.  (The exception to that being Sgt. Rock, a DC character in charge of a n army company in WWII.)  For the most part, I preferred Spider-man and The Incredible Hulk over Superman and the rest of the seemingly flawless cadre over at DC.  Why?  Because even at the tender age of 10 I had become a cynic.  I knew that real people had character defects and problems in their lives.  And the worst thing Superman had to deal with was someone discovering his secret identity.  (Although how anyone could be fooled just because a guy wore glasses in his alter identity was beyond me, even then...)

     So I naturally gravitated to the Marvel heroes because they seemed more real.  And, it seems, a certain title might have had a more profound effect on me than I realized.  I was flipping through blogs yesterday and found an entry which just said something to the effect of "Greatest Comic Ever?" and a cover of an issue of "The Silver Surfer".  I immediately remembered one of my favorites, the "What If...?" series put out by Marvel.  I was in the process of responding when an unfortunate power outtage made me lose the connection (so I can't find the original blogger's entry...)

     By 1989, when I first came across books by Harry Turtledove and other alternate history writers, I thought I had happened on a new and fascinating medium.  But yesterday's events triggered a memory in my deep past.  I used to love "What If..?"  The concept here is a main character, called the Watcher, who can see not only into our universe, but into many other alternate universes as well.  Each issue took the reality we know of a superhero and told a story as if some important event in the character's life had been different, which is exactly how alternate history novels are written.  The first series ran from 1977-1984.  It has been revived a couple of times since then, but the fondly remembered ones are from that era.

     Here we found such titles as "What If Spider-man Had Joined the Fantastic Four?",  "What If the Fantastic Four had Different Powers?", and my personal favorite "What if Conan the Barbarian Walked the Earth Today?"  In this one, a critical event in Conan's life changes and he is transported through time to modern-day (1977) Manhattan (in the process probably causing the 1977 blackout...)  He makes out with a well-endowed lady cabdriver and discovers that the Guggenheim Museum is an inverted clone of the ancient temple where he fell through the time warp.

At 48, I still like comics, but this is the only one i would actively try to get the entire run of (if I ever became rich enough to buy them... Some of them run as much as $32)

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