Friday, September 08, 2006

What if... Minion had not killed Death's Head? (Marvel comics)
What if...? #54 When: October, 1993
Why: Simon Furman How: Geoff Senior

The story so far...
History is told by those who survive it, but within the cosmos exist an ancient alien race known as The Watchers. It is their duty to spend the eons witnessing and noting history, swarn to watch, but never to act.

Uatu, Earth's Watcher, is privvy to countless realities where each imaginable alternative is played out in vivid detail.

In our reality the cybernetic creature Minion killed Death's Head, and in doing so assimilated his personality, which eventually assumed dominance over the Minion host body.
In another world, however, a split second skips. A finger hits a teleportation switch. And Minion, unappeased, moves on to the next name on his list: #106 - Reed Richards.

Recommended reading:
Marvel Adventures #12: The Fantastic Four did battle with their sinister counterparts, the Frightful Four.
Civil War #3: Captain America leas his Secret Avengers into overwhelming odds, in much the same circumstances over in Civil War.
Neither Death's Head nor Charnal have been featured on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Thing 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Charnal 5 (Professor)
Speed: Sub-Mariner 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Charnal 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Captain America 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Captain America 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Human Torch 7 (Solar Power)

If you're looking at the stats there, you might be wondering if I've mixed something up. Well, honestly, Death's Head versus Charnal is something of a misnomer, because Death's Head has jumped back through the time stream to assemble an awesome force of heroic muscle.

Individually they are some of the most prominent heroes in the Marvel Unvierse, but together they are one of the most unlikely collections of chartered Avengers one has ever seen. Not only that - like any group who lose one of their own, they're none to pleased about the death of Reed Richards.

Bruce Banner hogged a lot of the press, but if there's something we've learned in the past, it's that you do not want to make Susan Storm angry!
You would most certainly not like her when she's angry, BDSM masochists withstanding.

Couple that with two old-time heavy hitters in the Sub-Mariner and Captain America; three of Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four; and two promising contemporary young guns in Cage and War Machine... What villain would be insane enough to go up against them?

This is an alternate reality story, based upon the British UK future comics, whose canonical status is debatable. So, there are a few inherent difficulties that arise here.
It's hard to say whether the insane-enough villain here is Minion, Charnal or something all together different. Apparently Charnal was the prophecized evolution of the original Death's Head's body, mystically enfused with Baron Von Strucker's mind. In our universe Death's Head seized control of Minion's body, and became Death's Head II, and helped defeat the menace of Charnal.

In this world Charnal is instead Minion; post-the death and assimilation of Reed Richards, and again enfused mystically with the evil of Baron Strucker. By no means the true Charnal, but still quite scary none the less...

It's a tough call to say who should win here.
A collection as impressive as the heroes gathered to face Charnal is always difficult to bet against, but that's without taking into account the sheer power at the disposal of Minion. His character is such that he adapts to compensate for weakness, and so the same trick is said to never work twice.
With a guy like that, it's everything or nothing.

Given the circumstances, you'd be mad to go against the heroes, but this one will by no means be a gimme! Also... I'm sweltering hot because the air conditioning can't be repaired until Thursday, so... Cut me some slack.

Average: Charnal 31 (+6.87)
Overall: Death's Head 193 (+162)
The Pick: Death's Head

What went down...
We join the battle right in the thick of things, as Captain America leads the troops in to an intelligence gathering exercise. I have to say two things straight off the bat:
- This story is not for the incredibly squeamish, or sentimental.
- This is actually one of the few stories in recent years that writes superhero Captain America like a competent, vocal military strategist. Go Cap!

So, anyway... War Machine dumps both barrels on Charnal, as Thing literally punches through his torso, producing a rather fetching salmon pink splatter. So it's still alright for the kiddies.
The veterans are in the mix too. Cap deflecting energy blasts from the creature's fist with his shield, while the Sub-Mariner comes around the back for a swooping attack.

Charnal is able t oswat the Thing away, sending him careening into an abandoned building, but the Sub-Mariner arrives in time for a WW2 double team, nailing Charnal from behind while Cap takes the jaw with a mighty toss of his shield!

War Machine dives in for crums, unloading everything available at point blank range - but Charnal proves just how tough he is by not only taking it, but also slicing through the War Machine armor with his axe-like fist!

The team continue their coordinated assault with the Human Torch coming in for a nova attack, while Luke Cage, resisting the heat thanks to his super durable skin, ties Charnal up in a full nelson so Sue Storm can make her move.
The woman scorned uses her invisible force fields to pop Charnal from the inside, creating various bursting cavaties of salmony goodness.

Cap swoops in, ever aware of the entire battle, scooping Sue Storm in his stride, as Thing comes back -- PISSED!
Thing brings the entire house down - literally - right on top of Charnal, ad the gang viewing from afar start the cheers. Prematurely, of course. What kind of an unstoppable killing machine would Charnal be if he went down that easy?

I'd recommend the fish of the day. It's quite fresh... FOR INVISIBLE WOMAN! HAH!Business really starts to pick up, as Charnal emerges from the rubble, acknowledging that the motley crew had succeeded..., "IN GETTING MY ATTENTION!"

Cap declares his intentions to take Charnal's head, but it's now that things start to go wrong.
Charnal catches the shield and manages to swing through it, tossing it in the general direction of Namor - decapitating him!*

It's now that Charnal's rampage really begins to pick up.
As the Human Torch swoops in for another attack, Charnal swings his head with eyes glowing, and asks the haunting question, "I wonder, Torch. Would you be so fond of that flame... If you could FEEL it?"
Then, like a moth to a flame, Johnny Storm is extinguished... Reduced to little more than a pile of smoldering ash.

It's War Machine's turn to take none to kindly to events, this time.
He topples Charnal with a hammering blow that is drawn so superbly, you actually feel the shock. It is a blow that no mere mortal could hope to survive, but Charnal is so much more, and so Rhodey suffers a similar fate.
Lifting his malformed axe-like hand, Charnal strikes forward, penetrating the eye slats of the War Machine's helmet.

I spy with my little e... OH SNAP!Another hero falls to his knees.

Then comes an ambush all too late from friends too angry to feel sad.
First Thing from the left, then Cage from the right. Then together, in unison, they strike a devestating blow to the gut of the beast, and tie up his arms. They mean to end it.

Sue Storm swoops for her attack once more, this time unrelenting -- but it is too little too late. Charnal scoffs her as he turns her powers against her friends -- her family, and then burns her to a crisp like he did her brother.

Thing has no innards! Ewww!Captain America - ever the bad ass - stands alone, prepared to fight the creature that is enfused with the mind of his old nemesis, Baron Von Strucker. He will fail.

Death's Head suits up with a gun that would make even Rob Lifeld blush, and fires into the field toward Charnal, and the lifeless corpse in his arm that wears the garb of Captain America.

Sarah Connor, yes?...FADOOM!
Death's Head follows it up with rapid fire succession, and walks onto the plane to face his smiling enemy. The creature who was destined to kill him in another time and place.

Death's Head extends a wrist mounted energy blade, and runs into battle firing.
He stabs deep into Charnal's chest, and follows it up with a gashing uppercut with his facial tusks.
Charnal continues to boast his superiority, putting serious distance between them with a devestating left.

The two mecha-creatures exchange barrage after barrage of fire, and Charnal finally starts to feel it.
Death's Head walks toward his enemy coldly, taking all the hits Charnal can dish out, before walking straight into a right hook, all the while challenging Charnal to finally tap into one of the 105 brilliant minds he's assimilated.

At close quarters, Death's Head drives a synaptic scrambler into Minion's mighty back. The disruption is brief, but provokes Charnal to tap into the most brilliant minds in the known-world.

Drawing upon their wisdom, Charnal sets out to inflict maximum pain on his counterpart, and with the killing blow in sight, an unlikely moment of hesitation... A moment Death's head capitalizes on - decapitating the AIM cyber beast.

When the embers settle and the smoke clears, Death's Head is left standing. Victorious in a future much brighter than our own. In a future where Mr. Fantastic has died, but had one final moment to live up to the moniker.

The hammer...
Well, it's about time for another first. While Death's Head leads his troops to an epic victory, his entire strategy was built on sacrificing his allies. Way to play the assist, guys!

Whoof! Well, that was a long one, so I certainly won't keep you too long.

Despite it taking me well over a week to actually get around to completing this update, I was actually really excited about it.
What if... has easily been one of my favourite titles for most of my comic reading life. Regardless of the insane fun that can be had peering in on alternate outcomes to critical events -- you're also guaranteed a varied and star studded read every month!

It was easily one of the most disappointing days in Marvel history when the second volume was finally cancelled in the late nineties. Way to go nineties, you soiled the legacy!

Sadly some of the more recent What if work has been more concept driven, and probably hasn't quite come up to par. As much as I love it as a fifth-week event, it jus hasn't been the same, and it seems abundantly clear that there's a narrow sighted approach to the concept.

This is a book that is essentially dedicated to alternate realities, which could potentially open up to be versatile enough to include all manner of stories -- like the recent Age of Apocalypse flashbacks, Exiles, Mutant X, the What If stories we have seen recently, and all manner of additionals.
It might even make a really great anthology series! Short stories, original concepts, a return to existing concepts. Lots that could be done there on a regular basis!

Anyway, I'm rambling, and this has been a long enough post as it is.
You'll notice categories at the bottom of each post. I upgraded to Beta, so hopefully this will aid any navigational needs, and generally enhance the blog.

I doubt I'll be doing daily posts in December, as I'm still trying to catch up. I know you're crushed.

The Fight: 6.5 The Issue: 5

NEXT: The Flash and Nightwing against the menace of Gorilla Grodd!


John Terry said...
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John Terry said...
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John Terry said...
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John Terry said...
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John Terry said...

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