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What If? was a series that supposed what could have happened to Marvel characters had things gone differently. Things like “What If Spider-Man Joined the FF?” or “What If Jane Foster Had Found Thor’s Hammer?”
Arguably the coolest issue of the series was “What If The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become the FF?” featuring art by Jack Kirby with an FF team comprised of Stan Lee (Mister Fantastic), Jack Kirby (Thing), Flo Steinberg (Invisible Girl) and Sol Brodsky (Human Torch). If that isn’t awesome I don’t know what is.
Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle daredevil sells his soul to Mephisto to save the life of his father. When confronted by evil blaze would transform into a flaming skulled hero who rides a blazing motorcycle.
“I had made up a character as a villain in Daredevil—a very lackluster character—called Stunt-Master… a motorcyclist. Anyway, when Gary Friedrich started writing Daredevil, he said, “Instead of Stunt-Master, I’d like to make the villain a really weird motorcycle-riding character called Ghost Rider.” He didn’t describe him. I said, “Yeah, Gary, there’s only one thing wrong with it,” and he kind of looked at me weird, because we were old friends from Missouri, and I said, “That’s too good an idea to be just a villain in Daredevil. He should start out right away in his own book.” When Gary wasn’t there the day we were going to design it, Mike Ploog, who was going to be the artist, and I designed the character. I had this idea for the skull-head, something like Elvis’ 1968 Special jumpsuit, and so forth, and Ploog put the fire on the head, just because he thought it looked nice. Gary liked it, so they went off and did it.” – Roy Thomas
The Champions was a flop but that doesn’t mean squat to me. Similar to The Defenders it was a mismatch of characters that were either underused or not part of a team. The tram was Hercules, Angel, Iceman, Ghost Rider, and Black Widow.
The biggest problems the series had were inconsistent creatives teams and no strong narrative for the characters because of it. It only lasted 17 issues and had 12 different creative teams during that time.
Team Up Books
Team Up books were all the rage in the 1970s. Spider-Man got one (Marvel Team-Up), Thing got (Marvel Two In One), hell even Doctor Doom got one (Super-Villain Team-Up).
There were some cool stories in these series but the most iconic would have to Project Pegasus in Marvel Two In One.
Project Pegasus was an R&D base that was also a prison for supervillains. The Thing decides to basically be a security guard there for a while. Quasar works there. Black Goliath works there.
Thing and the heroes go on to fight Deathlok, Nuklo, and of course Thundra. She is working as a pro-wrestler for a black, midget pimp. It’s the 70s so this makes perfect sense.
To Be Continued…