Today we’re going to do something different. Today we’re going to look at comics! More specifically, Marvel’s What If…? #54: What If Death’s Head I Had Lived?
Just your average, everyday 90's comic.
Marvel’s What If…? series was a line of comics they created back in the day to allow their authors a venue to explore alternative realities and outcomes to various events in the primary Marvel continuity. These stories ranged in topic from interesting and clever subjects like:
What If…? Kraven the Hunter had killed Spider-Man? and What If…? The Punisher’s family hadn’t been killed?
While every once in awhile, a random story would come along like, What If…? Wolverine was the lord of the vampires?
As if I didn't have enough reasons to dislike the X-Men.
In any case, I was not much of a comic fan as a child, much less a fan of the What If…? series. Despite the fact that I didn’t read many comics, for some reason I was always in the know in regards to whatever the big story of the moment was. I can’t really explain how it worked out, but by the time I finally got full on into comics as an adult, I was surprised to discover that I really hadn’t missed much.
Anyway, let’s flip open this bad boy and see what’s bad-ass adventures are in store for us…
Power mullet, snake skin boots, denim... everything... This guy's gotta' be the pimpest man alive.
Okay, how about we skip that page, ‘k?
Our story opens in a rainy alley in Manhattan, 2020. A woman in a trench coat is walking along, when suddenly she looks over her shoulder and…
Typical greeting gesture in New York 2020.
The man she’s pointing the gun at is, as he states, Spratt, Death’s Head’s assistant and partner. Not that kind of partner, perv. Following this, Spratt struggles to find the right words to convince the woman that he truly is affiliated with Death’s Head.
Fortunately, Death’s Head shows up to do that for him:
Death's Head: Boy Scout Representative since 1988
Following this, Death’s Head reveals to us that the woman is Dr. Necker, and they apparently have history with one another. Dr. Necker designed a cyborg for an organization named A.I.M., (Advanced Idea Mechanics) and it just so happens that this particular cyborg went ape-shit one day and decided to take it out on ol’ Death’s Head…
MY GOD! MY GOD! SOMEBODY STOP THE DAMN MATCH! AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, HE IS BROKEN IN HALF!
Of course, that’s what happened in the primary Marvel continuity. In the What If…? universe, Death’s Head teleports to safety just in time to avoid being decapitated.
In traditional What If…? fashion, the story cuts away for a couple of pages to allow Uatu the Watcher and his epic forehead to tell us what happened as a result of Death’s Heads, well… death.
Hate to say it, but I think I'm gonna' have to give this one to J-Gar...
You see, Minion, the cyborg that skull-fucked Death’s Head in primary continuity, has a special ability that allows him to assimilate the abilities and minds of anyone he kills.
In the primary continuity, Death’s Head was able to use his final moments to take control of Minion’s mind and become the hero Death’s Head II.
Unfortunately, since this never happened in the What If…? universe, Minion, having been robbed of his 105th target for assimilation, decided to skip Death’s Head for the time being and move on to #106: Reed Richards.
Yeah, that's the douche.
Minion pwns Mr. Fantastic within 4 panels. How ironic.
Pwn Count: 1
Yeah, I hate Mr. Fantastic too, but he’s actually kind of important to the story. Just keep that in the back of your mind for now.
With that, we are treated to a bizarre sequence in which Minion is possessed by the magical essence of a character named Baron Strucker V. Baron Strucker V apparently has some sort of hatred for A.I.M., and later goes on to become the spiritual conduit for a demon named Charnal, however a search for him on the Marvel wikia reveals… absolutely nothing. My only guess is that he was a throwaway character who was either too dull to keep around, or… no, I’m pretty sure I’m right on that one.
Anyway, Minion/Strucker goes ape-shit like most possessed super cyborgs do, and decides to bum rush A.I.M. headquarters New York at…
And in a school zone at that! Bastard!
Minion/Strucker cleans house, culminating with him declaring all A.I.M. installations shit out of luck. Oh yeah, then he squishes Mr. Twenty-Six Miles Per Hour up there’s head.
Meanwhile, back in Manhattan 2020, (Minion is rampaging in the present, er, I mean 1992) Death’s Head is kicking back, shooting the shit with Dr. Necker while Spratt counts up the money she has brought to convince them to help her kill Minion.
You see, Death’s Head is a bounty hunter. In his original 1988 appearance he was nothing more than a one-shot villain for the Marvel Transformers comic. Following that however, the writers wisely set about creating a back story for him as an amoral bounty hunter robot, kind of like Star Wars’ IG-88.
After poking fun at Necker for her MASSIVE fuck up in creating Minion to destroy the very evil he has recently started down the road to become, (Charnal) Death’s Head agrees to take on the job… in the pimpest way possible.
No caption necessary.
With that, Death’s Head zips back in time to recruit allies to aid him in battle against Minion. Allies that are as random as they are SUPER.
I appreciate War Machine's honesty in this panel.
I understand Luke Cage being on board, he was a mercenary like Death’s Head at one point in time. The Fantastic Four, excuse me, Three, make sense on account of Mr. Fantastic being offed. Captain America is the ultimate boy scout, use the word “noble cause” around him and he’ll do anything (so sayeth Death’s Head).
Namor and War Machine however, don’t really make a whole lot of sense to me. I know that Namor was an opponent of the Fantastic Four early on in his career, and that he has since reformed and become a hero of sorts, but I don’t really know of any reason why he would want to avenge Reed Richards’ death. I always thought he didn’t give a shit unless the oceans were in danger.
And War Machine, well… I guess he’s just in it ’cause Captain America’s got him by his nuts.
After a bit of superhero banter amongst themselves, the super crew sets out to take on Minion. Our first glimpse of the epic battle that ensues is, well, an epic one.
And now a word from our sponsors...
Naw, just kidding. Here we are
Is it me, or did The Thing's hand just turn into strawberry jam?
The battle rages, on, with panels sizes routinely reaching ludicrous proportions. At one point The Thing is bitch-slapped like through a building, yelling “GNNN!” in the process. All the while Captain America barks out obvious orders to the team like:
“Keep at him! Don’t give him a moment!”
While I don’t disagree that these are useful commands to use in battle, I can’t help but feel that Cap is playing out his strategy like he’s playing an old school RTS or something. You’ve got 6 guys Cap, ain’t no way you’re gonna’ be able to pull off a Zerg rush with that. Don’t even bother with a mass Carrier attack either, that’s just straight up noob.
Like lambs to the mother fucking slaughter Cap...
Somewhere amid all this chaos, Namor makes his only contribution to the battle.
What football looks like in the Marvel universe.
That’s right, a goddamn shoulder tackle. The Atlantean king, a man blessed with superhuman strength, the ability to breath under water, and fly at will, can manage nothing more than a shoulder tackle?
Oh well, moving on.
War Machine gets bitch-slapped next, only this time Minion takes the time to convert his arm into a crazy T-1000 blade just before doing it. In response, the Human Torch sets Minion on fire, whereupon Luke Cage steps up to put the big lug in an arm lock.
At this point, Cage calls out to Sue Storm, saying: “He’s all yours!”
He’s all yours? What the fuck is the Invisible Woman going to do to someone that just bitch slapped a third of the super team into the stratosphere?
She’s going to do perhaps the coolest thing you’ll see in this comic, that’s what.
Yeeouch! Hot chili!
Holy fucking shit! I don’t know what the hell just happened, but it was pretty fucking cool!
Being as this is a comic book, Sue is kind enough to provide us with the exposition necessary understand what the fuck she just did.
Turns out she used her invisibility powers to expand an invisible force bubble inside Minion, essentially causing him to “pop like a cork.”
I have no love for the Fantastic Four, but I think Sue Storm just got some brownie points in my book.
Despite this, Minion is pretty much as far from defeat as one can get. In fact, The Thing follows up the “pop like a cork” incident with his own “bringing down the house” incident.
Haha, Captain America has puns.
In case you’ve been wondering what Death’s Head has been up to during all of this, the answer is: standing on top of a building well out of harm’s way.
Don’t worry, he’s got a plan, I swear!
Anyway, this marks the turning point of the battle. Remember how I said Minion had the ability to assimilate abilities by killing people? Well, he can also kind of do the same thing with whatever you hit him with.
Big, raging, heavy metal-ish, stupidly over-powered super-villains were a mainstay of early 90’s comics, and Minion is no exception. If you need another example, just look at DC’s Doomsday. (that one guy that killed Superman, coincidentally within the same year that this comic was written)
Anyway, the first beat in Minion’s big comeback comes in the form of removing Namor’s head from his shoulders, with a little help from Captain America…
TK! Team Kill! Haxxorz! Oh yeah, Pwn Count: 2
Followed by using his powers to cause the Human Torch to self-pwn by turning his own flame against him…
Man package conveniently blocked by flames. Pwn Count: 3
Then, within the same page he does this to War Machine…
That's what you get for putting eye holes in your billion dollar power armor, asshole. Pwn Count: 4
Finally, we’re treated to a whole page in which no one is pwned.
Turns out Cage and The Thing didn’t appreciate Minion’s mass pwning of their friends and family, so they go Thunderdome on his ass and smack him around for a bit, then team-up to hold him in place so Sue can have another go at popping him like a cork.
Unfortunately, Minion’s powers are broken as fuck, so there’s no way he’s gonna’ let that happen.
BITCH, HAVEN'T YOU SEEN MY MOVIES!? Pwn Count: 6
With that, Sue wusses out and gets all emotional instead of POPPING HIM LIKE A CORK right then and there.
With that, Minion talks shit to her about pwning her husband, and then proceeds to pwn her, OFF PANEL.
Uh... Pwn Count: 7?
*Sigh* I guess we can’t witness every instance of pwnage.
Following this, Minion squares of with Captain America, referring to him as his “old enemy,” implying they have some sort of history together.
… At this point I honestly don’t care.
Anyway, Minion defeats Captain America OFF PANEL, (urrgh!) just as Dr. Necker is getting ready to jump Death’s Head’s bones over how ruthless he is, letting the super team get pwned just so he can face a somewhat winded Minion.
And wouldn’t you know it, Death’s Head’s opening move against Minion provides us with a panel of Captain America’s post mortem pwnage.
It's okay, just pretend he was alive BEFORE the missile hit. Pwn Count: 8
Being as Minion is a “Cheap-As-Fuck” type Pokémon, the missile attack is not very effective…
An epic, one-on-one battle of sorts plays out, with Death’s Head employing a varied arsenal of tech-heavy weaponry to counter Minion’s infinite super combo gauge.
Okay, well maybe not ALL of it is "tech-heavy."
At this point in the fight however, as one would expect when tangling with a tick-throw pro like Minion, Death’s Head starts to fall behind a bit.
Despite this, he keeps his wits about him and proceeds to taunt Minion, accusing him of corner-trapping and such.
Seriously though, Death’s Head mocks Minion for his using his broken-ass powers as a crutch in battle, claiming that he is an idiot for not employing the use of any of the 105 intellects he has assimilated.
Minion responds to this in pretty much the most childish and idiotic way possible.
...And you're 100% sure that isn't exactly what he wants?
With this, Minion starts “Zzzat”-ing Death’s Head using some sort of telekinesis.
I don’t know, it’s not really explained…
Anyway, SOMETHING happens, and Death’s Head lops off Minion’s head!
You see? THIS is what happens when you turn Final Smash Balls on in Final Destination!
What the fuck just happened!?
Death’s Head exposits to us that, when Minion accessed Reed Richards’ mental powers, (I told you to keep him in mind!) Richards somehow momentarily took control of Minion FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE.
My only guess is that Minion’s powers work kind of like Goku’s in Dragonball. His powers are a manifestation of focus and will, so if he is caught completely off-guard, his powers do nothing to soften the blow.
Don’t believe me? Go look up that one episode of Dragonball Z where Krillin chucks a rock at Goku when he’s asleep. Yeah, that’s right, fuck you.
Anyway, the issue ends with Death’s Head being tempted by the prospect of dropping his “Freelance Peacekeeping Agent” title in favor of the more honorable “superhero.”
Uatu plays us out, asking us to decide which reality had the more beneficial result. (Protip: Not the one this comic takes place in)
With that I leave you of this image of Nightcrawler getting ready to put his sausage in Meggan and Shadowcat’s mouths.
Filed under: Comics, Games, Uncategorized, 4, 88, America, Cage, Captain, Carrier, Charnal, Comics, Craft, Death's, Doomsday, Dragonball, Fantastic, Fighter, Games, Goku, Head, Human, I, IG, II, Invisible, Krillin, Luke, Machine, Marvel, Minion, Mr, Namor, PC, Protoss, RTS, Rush, Star, Street, Superman, Thing, Torch, Uatu, video, war, Wars, Watcher, Woman, Z, Zerg