Comics : Wha... Huh?

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This review was first published on: 2005.

Background...

This is a humor one-shot that spoofs the Marvel comic, "What If?". Several stories are included in this volume ranging from a single panel/page to several pages. The object is to poke sly fun at the entire concept, as well as the Marvel Universe itself.

A series of non-sequential imaginary stories and alternate twists of on-going storylines or previously established histories, has long been a staple of serialized speculative fiction (or as John Byrne so eloquently once pointed out, "they're all imaginary stories)". In the past, humorous versions of these stories have appeared as one-off issues in Marvel's "What If?" title or in the on-going "What The?" humor series. Spinning it into a new title gives Marvel the opportunity to sell us another #1 issue.

In Detail...

"(Various short story titles)"
Wha... Huh?
Oct 2005 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Editor:  C.B. Cebulski
Writer:  Brian Bendis, Brian K. Vaughan, Ed Brubaker, Marc Andreyko, Mark Millar, Mark Waid, Nick, Stan Lee, Thompson, Tom Peyer
Illustrator:  Jim Mahfood
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Review

Built around the "What If?" premise, these stories ask us nonsensical questions along the lines of "Mark Millar asks: What if the Avengers all had beards?" Brian Bendis asks: What if M.O.D.O.K. had an itch?" "What if DC let us do Batman/Daredevil?" (A single panel gag with an image of Hell having frozen over), and more of the same for a total of some 30 stories (ranging from a single panel to a couple of pages). Wisely, like good Saturday Night sketches, they are not played longer than the gag itself can last (a lesson not learned by many former SNL players when they attempted to stretch funny bits into feature-length films). Unfortunately, while some of the gags themselves are noteworthy, the funny bits are simply lost due to the sub- standard quality of the art, which looks like it was inked with a Q-Tip.

In General...

Interestingly enough, the best gag is a running feature (three single pages sans artwork) of what Internet forum posts might have looked like if the Internet had been around in 1965, '75, and '85. (with posts like "Who the hell does Jack Kirby think he is? Why can't he let someone else draw a damn comic book? Who died and made him king?" written in '65.) The gag works so well as we now (rightly) revere Kirby as King, but you just know that - given the snarky posts that are thrown up, if the Internet been around at the time - something like this would have been posted.

Unfortunately, while these three pages are by far, the funiest, they are really the only life in an otherwise excruciatingly tedious waste of our time and our money.

Overall Rating...

While the premise of the issue (all humor, all the time) is certainly laudable - especially in this day and age when most comics stories are asking their readers to take themselves totally seriously - the execution leaves much to be desired. The cartoonist, Jim Mahfood, art is so muddy that it actually obscures any potential humor that could have been (should have been) found in this issue. As stated, the funniest bits are the text features that involve no artwork.

Footnote...

I used to think that a level of quality and proficiency needed to be achieved before an artist was granted his own Marvel Comic. I've never seen Mahfood's work prior to this, and hopefully, I won't see it again until he learns how to draw much better.