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Top Five Wolverine “What If…?” Deaths

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Here is an archive of all the past top five lists I’ve done over the years.

Everyone knows that Marvel’s What If…? comics are filled to the brim with death. It seems like whatever decision the heroes didn’t make would have led to their deaths at every turn. Like, if Wolverine had a bagel instead of cereal for breakfast one day, the “What if…Wolverine had cereal?” story would have ended with all of the X-Men somehow dead. So let’s celebrate that odd trend by spotlighting the top five Wolverine “What If…?” deaths.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

What If…Stryfe and Apocalypse Had Killed the X-Men? (What If…? #69)

Mariano Nicieza, Justiniano and Roy Richardson delivered this alternate take on how X-Cutinoner’s Song could have ended, with Wolverine in messed up shape…

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What If…Phoenix Had Lived? (What If…? Vol.1 #27)

How could THAT ever happen? Heh. Anyhow, Phoenix lives and things are going well until she just snaps one day and basically wipes out the X-Men. This isn’t higher because Wolverine’s death (courtesy of writer Jo Duffy and artists Jerry Bingham and John Stuart) really isn’t all that interesting…

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What If…Danger Had Become the Bride of Ultron (What If…? Astonishing X-Men #1)

Matteo Caselli and Mike Getty drew this short story where the personified Danger Room, Danger, becomes the Bride of Ultron, and turns on the X-Men, including wiping out Wolverine…

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What If…Marvel’s Heroes Had Lost Atlantis Attacks? (What If…? Vol.2 #25)

Jim Valentino, Rik Levins and Ralph Cabrera had the Brides of Set remain in control of Set, and the powerful female heroes took on all comers, with Scarlet Witch having a clever way of handling Wolverine and Aquarian…

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What if…Phoenix Had Fallen for Wolverine? (What If…? #60)

This Kurt Busiek/Ron Randall/Art Nichols bit is very clever. The idea is that Phoenix falls for Wolverine, but when we get to the big fight on the Blue Area of the Moon, Wolverine can’t come her down enough, so instead of sacrificing itself, the Phoenix decides to destroy the universe…

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Go to the next page for #5-3!

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36 Comments

That panel of Kitty’s head bouncing in #3 made me laugh more than it should have.

The “What If…Marvel’s Heroes Had Lost Atlantis Attacks?” bit have the wrong pictures.

Otherwise, great column!

you’ve got the pages for what if Phoenix loved Wolverine twice and no Atlantis Attacks pages

These particular “What If”:s were really quite good. Even if most characters died.

“What If” did several issues in a row following up on previous stories, and I’m pretty sure one of them was Wolverine, Lord of the Vampires. [Technically, they were set on different but similar alternate universes, because obviously the story required Wolverine to still be alive.] The sequel stories were building to something where Uatu wound up more involved with the story.

““What If” did several issues in a row following up on previous stories, and I’m pretty sure one of them was Wolverine, Lord of the Vampires.”

I think that answers my question – I remember What If Atlantis Attacks being #1 of volume 2, so that’d be why it’s listed as a later issue here.

@sean: I think the Inferno story followed up on the Lord of Vampires.

The best is Days of Future Past, hands down, even if it’s not titled a “What if?” Would deserve a honorable mention at least. It was the first such death, it was totally unexpected, really highlighted how cheap a mutant’s life had become and no clear way out was offered.
I also liked many Exiles issues (again, not titled “What if?”). Among them:
– Wolverine’s wife is Sasquatch and she is forced to kill him when he reverts to a Weapon X berseker
– Wolverine is the evil head of Hydra (and consort to Sue Storm) and he is slain in a duel with Shadowcat (I won’t spoil any more)
– The Exiles are teleported to the Shiar ship right before the duel with the Imperial Guard. They are supposed to operate in secrecy but realize Wolverine will spot them with his heightened senses, so they try to cover their scents with some goo. Naturally, Wolverine just follows the scent of the goo and after an epic duel he is hurt and miss the fight with the Imperial Guard. Instead of listening to Cyclops, Phoenix kills him and is about to destroy the universe when a recovered Wolverine shows up, has Angel bring him in close and kills Phoenix, himself also dying while saving the universe.

I completely adored volume one of What If but never could get into any of the subsequent series. Aside from the off-putting art, they usually seemed to be too closely dependent on event storylines that I never cared about in the first place.

@Inner Circle:
“I think the Inferno story followed up on the Lord of Vampires.”
I remember it springing straight out of Inferno, and not anything to do with other What If? stories.

Inner Circle- “The best is Days of Future Past, hands down, even if it’s not titled a “What if?” Would deserve a honorable mention at least. It was the first such death, it was totally unexpected, really highlighted how cheap a mutant’s life had become and no clear way out was offered.”

Totally unexpected- except for the fact that it was shown on the cover. (Yeah, I know cover scenes aren’t always faithful to the story, but in this case, it did kind of spoil the surprise.)

buttler- “I completely adored volume one of What If but never could get into any of the subsequent series. Aside from the off-putting art, they usually seemed to be too closely dependent on event storylines that I never cared about in the first place.”

I agree completely.

What a fun idea! That Inferno issue horrified an uncle of mine so bad that it caused a rift in the family because my mom let me read it. Looking back, it DID have Wolvie eating a baby, so it could have been a bit much for a 7 or 8 year old.

My favorite was the Evolutionary War one, where Wolverine merges with every hero and they kill Death and Eternity and he cries and then dies. Because killing reality is sad.

Can this be an ongoing thing? Top five (character) deaths in What If…? I’m sure we could get a whole Spider-Man column out of these too.

A bonus would be to do the top five What If…? issues with a happy ending. Can’t be many of those.

Ferb Morgendorffer

March 13, 2016 at 2:21 pm

For a top five happy endings, Inferno would actually deserve an honorable mention – yes it’s super-bleak but does end on a upbeat note with Phoenix cleansing the Earth of demons, the Tribunal basically saying “Good job kid but no more human hosts, okay?”, and Strange & Rachel delivering Alicia’s baby (this was pre-Skrull reveal, obviously)

I think you’d have to use a pretty broad definition of “happy ending”, if you wanted enough of them for a “top five” to make sense. Even then, you’d probably get some arguments about which stories had happy endings.For example, what about the end of the story in the first issue, which was happy for Namor but sad for Reed? (Yeah, I know there was a sequel later…)

That is solid Tom Morgan work right there. His work always gave me the vibe that he was really really into it.

geez even in the what if universe the x-men wind up getting the shaft including wolverine winding up taking a dirt nap plus it should be noted that the what if hulk killed wolverine also had the advesary show up and take advantage of wolverine being off the playing field. now. not to mention kitty pride sure seems to wind up wolverines big punching bag in these stories.

The stories you guys are talking about are the 5 issue (35-39) Timequake storyline (the title of which Vonnegut obviously stole ;) ), and the Wolverine cover is here:

http://www.comics.org/issue/51260/cover/4/

That was one of the first What If issues I ever had, and it is pretty neat, from what I remember. I had no idea what was going on with the set up, but it’s pretty damn cool. Vampire Wolverine looks kick ass drawn by Mark Pacella.

‘What if the Fantastic Four’s second child had lived?’ had two stories – one had a happy ending.

One What If that a young Travis enjoyed greatly was the one about Spider-Man keeping the cosmic powers, and early on, when he’s got the cosmic powers, he transforms MJ’s outfit into a Spider-outfit, saying that he’s feeling “kinky”. I think there was a happy ending there.

…wait, that’s not what you guys meant.

Actually, I think that one does end fairly happily, overall.

@Travis Pelkie
“That panel of Kitty’s head bouncing in #3 made me laugh more than it should have.”

That, and the SSSSSSLICE! sound effect that precedes it, make for one of the more hilarious death scenes I’ve seen.

Brian, if you take this and Colossus’ PLUNGE!, you’ve got 2/5ths of a “Top 5 inappropriate sound effects during sombre scenes” list. I’d read that, but I admittedly have a weird sense of humour …

I would love to see these stories in a trade. Maybe the titled could be “The Many Deaths of Wolverine.” Really I am surprised there isn’t a lot of What If stories in trade.

@Alaric Shapli: Touché. I acrually read it in a collection and didn’t even see the original cover until much later. (And I thought it was a horrible idea.)

In “what if Wolverine fought Conan”, Phoenix destroyed the universe along with Conan, but Wolverine lived in Conan’s world and found a new job polishing Red Sonja’s chainmail bikini from the inside, so from a wolverinish point of view it was a really happy ending…

That panel of Kitty’s head bouncing in #3 made me laugh more than it should have.

What gets me is Punisher successfully beheading her with a single one-handed swing of a knife that looks barely large enough to span her whole neck.

I remember What If…? Vol.1 #30 being criticized at the time. The reason was that in order for the plot to work, Magneto would have abandoned the Alpha project in favor of planting a mole in the X-Men.

That was the fanboy complaint of the day. Make of them what you will.

Interesting how some of the earlier ones reflect the time before Wolverine’s healing factor was amped up to ridiculous levels. These days, if Magneto forced Wolverine to stab himself in the throat with his claws, Logan would regard it as a minor inconvenience at worst…

Can this be an ongoing thing? Top five (character) deaths in What If…?

Can? Was there every any doubt that it would? ;)

Le Messor, issue 1 of the 2nd series was about the Evolutionary War. What If 25 was the first comic I ever bought. I had just seen the Marvel trading cards from a friend of mine and there was an Atlantis Attacks card. I saw the What If issue at 7-11 and had to have it. Now here I am 25 years later with way too many comics.

Thanks, chuckart!

I like “What If…”, but I like less those who are basically “What if in the Marvel Universe main characters died as easily as extras.” :-)

(please remove the previous moderated version for obvious reasons)

Boy, this list is bookended with some rough art. That Hulk! And what the hell is even going on in those Wolverine/Kitty fight panels? (Come to think of it, intangibility is a pretty great power to have to go against Wolverine. You phase out, he can’t do anything to you, phase in, hit, phase out again.) Makes that Budiansky art look really good. And Ron Lim never needs any help looking good.

Though is #4 kind of a cheat? Isn’t he already dead by the time that scene takes place? His death is being made undead, no?

Kneel Before Bob

March 15, 2016 at 10:03 pm

This list includes two of my most favorite What If? stories ever, so I completely and utterly approve of it. What If Wolverine was Lord of the Vampires and What If the X-Men Lost Inferno were two of the very first What Ifs I managed to read when I was a kid and they’re still fun for me now. I still love What If Professor X Had Become the Juggernaut too. They had the core of what made a really great What If story: one simple change creating a totally different twist on a bit of Marvel history. Wolverine as the new Dracula? What a neat idea!

“with Scarlet Witch having a clever way of handling Wolverine and Aquarian”

It seems way too arbitrary and gimmicky to be considered clever. But that is an issue with What Ifs, where suddenly characters’ abilities are no longer bound by story constraints.

It also appears to be one of the most invulnerable portrayals ever of adamatium. Wolverine’s skeleton survived, seemingly undamaged, ground zero of a matter-antimatter explosion. More than that, it may have survived unscathed direct contact with its opposing element. (If Scarlet Witch didn’t convert the adamantium, then it survived direct contact with Wolverine’s antimatter molecules. If she did convert the adamantium, then it survived contact with matter after Wolverine’s body was destroyed, unless it immediately reverted back to matter at that point.)

WTH is Marvel Girl doing in that panel in the “Phoenix luvs Wolverine” post? Looks like something Greg Land would draw.

Thanks for reminding me of those Exiles stories, Inner Circle. Those were good.

Also, I think you where you said “..leaving just Doctor Strange, Kitty Pryde and Shadowcat to stem…”, you maybe meant Rachel Summers? Did she ever go by Shadowcat?

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