Welcome back to Strange Times & Places, where we’re a bit bummed about the sad, strange saga that Stan Lee’s golden years are turning into. To that end, we’re looking back to a simpler time and a happier reality – What If? #11, What If the Fantastic Four Were the Original Marvel Bullpen?!
How’s It Different?
Well…real people have superpowers and coexist with the characters they write. Doesn’t get much more imaginary than that.
What’s The Story?
A mysterious package is sent to the Marvel Bullpen by a loony fan. When opened, that package bathes them in artificially generated cosmic rays that change their bodies and give them superhuman abilities: “Smilin’” Stan Lee becomes the elastic genius Mr. Fantastic, “Fabulous” Flo Steinberg becomes the uncanny Invisible Woman, Sol “Who’s He?” Brodsky gains the powers of the high flying Human Torch, and “Jolly” Jack Kirby gains the rocky exterior of The Thing! They begin adventuring to solve the mystery of who sent them the box, and fund their activities by producing a heavily fictionalized comic book version of their adventures.
Best of Differences
- Namor the Sub-Mariner appears in the story, teaming up with the FF as they close in on their mysterious malefactor. He doesn’t get along with Jack Kirby any better than he does Ben Grimm.
- The story is scripted and drawn by Jack Kirby, and he’s remarkably fair towards Stan Lee here. Stan’s portrayed as a bit of a huckster and hard to work with, but also living up to his counterpart Redd Richards’ in the invention department. Considering Kirby had created a very unflattering parody of Stan in Mr. Miracle a few years prior, a fair hand here is appreciated.
- The source of the cosmic ray devices turn out to be a Skrull scientist performing random experiments in altering humans in what is actually a far better explanation than this bit of fun needed.
- There’s a world in the Marvel Multiverse where Stan, Jack, Flo, and Sol are forever young (well, middle aged), fighting alongside their creations, and the forces of good always win in the end.
Come Back Next Week for a Brand New 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend!