Marvel Comics What If… Issue # 4 (Oct 1989)
When I was growing up, some of my favorite comics were the What If series by Marvel. The Watcher presented each story of “What If” by focusing on an event in the mainstream universe and presenting a hypothetical of what could have happened (or did in another universe). I recently picked up an issue at a garage sale, and it was perhaps one of the most interesting ones I have ever seen. “What If The Alien Costume Had Possessed Spiderman?” There will be SPOILERS in this review, so skip down to the last paragraph if you just want my rating.
The story begins with a brief list of events in the normal universe; about how Spiderman aqcuired the Black symbiote costume and eventually got rid of it, which attached itself to Eddie Brock as Venom. Well in this story, he never gets rid of it. When Peter Parker becomes more and more fatigued, he is forced to go to Curt Connors for help. The Doctor studies the symbiote and eventually puts him through a series of X-Rays and scans. This is where it all goes wrong.
Apparently the X-Rays cause the symbiote to become more like a parasite, and inseparable from the host. Night after night, Spiderman goes on a violent rampage as Venom until Venom decides it no longer needs its host. Across the country, The Avengers and Doctor Strange prepare to send the Hulk to another dimension. The rampaging beast has buried Banner’s mind deep within himself and can no longer be reasoned with. Venom/Spiderman shows up and stops it all from happening. Then the symbiote switches hosts to the HULK!?!?!
At this point I couldn’t believe it. I’d always imagined what would happen if the symbiote attached itself to someone with the Hulk’s power. Well now I know. Venom/Hulk takes off, leaving Peter Parker as an old withered man. Venom has drained his youth, and he soon dies from old age. The Avengers go on a massive search now for the Venom Hulk and it is Thor who finds him. One strike from his mighty Mjolnir hammer separates the symbiote from Banner. Bruce Banner hasn’t aged in the way that Peter Parker has, but instead is now cured of the Hulk. With the combined power of SPiderman and The Hulk, Venom begins an internal battle with the god of Thunder, as it has chosen its next host.
They go off into a cave to allow the symbiote enough time to completely bond to Thor. Meanwhile, two things are happening. Spiderman’s funeral passes, and Reed Richards is devising a plan to separate the alien without harming the host. The seemingly impossible task proves to be not so difficult with the mind of Mr. Fantastic at work. The inhuman known as Blackbolt displays the true power of his voice, and not only crumbles the entire historical site of Mount Rushmore, but knocks the symbiote off of Thor and renders it unconscious.
After all of that you would think they would just kill the alien, but instead they decide to imprison it in another dimension. That never happens. Blackcat shows up and does what should be done. She uses technology invented by Reed Richards to kill Venom once and for all. Keep in mind that this story takes place back when Peter Parker and Black Cat are dating, so she has close emotional ties to the villain. The downside to all of this is that in order to use the technology Reed invented, she had to steal the notes on it. A brief agreement with The Kingpin (for him to reconstruct the device) leaves her with the return promise of a life of crime for the Kingpin.
It is a tragic ending that works well for the story. I only wish that there would have been a little more hints as to what was going to happen after all of these events. It is not a mainstream universe story, so I can’t give it as high of a rating as I normally would, but for its creativity I rate it as a good 5 out of 10.