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What If #25: Review

Feb 1981
Peter Gillis, Rich Buckler

Story Name:

What If Thor Fought Odin Over Jane Foster?

Review & Comments

Rating:
3.5 stars

What If #25 Review by (March 21, 2018)
This What If tale doesn't have a flaw I mentioned last issue. The results do flow from Thor's different decision (and because the Gods of old were petty egotistical squabblers). But ...

... I find another big problem with it. Thor basically gets the Avengers to fight for him by lying to them about the cause of the dispute.

Rich Buckler only does breakdowns. Dave Simons, Al Migrom and Jon D'Agostino do the finished pencils and also the inks.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

What If #25 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Image from What If #25
In Thor #136 Odin judged Jane Foster unsuitable to become an Asgardian. Thor accepted the ruling then, but the main story in this issue explores an alternate reality where he didn't.

As usual Uatu the Watcher is our guide. He shows us Thor transporting his love to Asgard and presenting her to Odin. If she is to wed his son then she must be an Asgardian goddess. The All-Father transforms her clothes into Asgardian raiment and gifts her the power of flight. Jane goes on a test flight, but partway through she is assailed by doubt and falls from the sky. Thor of course saves her.

But Odin now doubts her suitability for immortal godhood. He decrees a test - she must face the Unknown. An advisor advises against it saying that only Odin can stand against the Unknown (which does call Odin's wisdom here into question). After that comment Jane is justifiably scared when she's thrown into a darkened room with the monster. She calls out for Thor who rushes in and beats  back the foe.

Jane now says she doesn't want to be an Asgardian and Odin agrees she's unsuitable. So he sends her back to Earth with selective amnesia and arranges for a new life as nurse with Don Blake lookalike Dr Keith Kincaid. And the loss of Jane is assuaged when Thor meets the goddess Sif.

That's what happened in the main Marvel timeline.

But in this alternate reality Thor refuses to let Odin send Jane Foster away, claiming that the judgement was unfair. (Well sending her against the Unknown certainly didn't sound fair.) Odin gets angry as usual and banishes both of them to Earth, but this time Jane gets to keep her memories and Asgardian gear. They see Dr Kincaid, and Thor realises what Odin's devious plan had been,

Thor takes Jane to Avengers Mansion for help. He hasn't been back since the old order changeth-ed in Av#16 and this is the 1st time (apart from mingling in Reed and Sue's wedding in Fantastic Four Annual #3) he's met Captain America's new team of Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. But of course he knows the returnees Giant-Man, now Goliath, and Wasp. And they call in Iron Man to complete the old guard.

Thor explains why he needs their help. He says that some evil has corrupted Asgardians including Odin, and he needs their aid to fight it. (I don't know if he really believes this, but he doesn't say anything about the Jane situation.) They all agree to go with him except Quicksilver who says their job is to protect Earth not Asgard.

Meanwhile Odin's Grand Vizier (who actually wasn't a regular in the series at this point) expresses his opinion that this wasn't 1 of Odin's better moves. Odin dismisses him and the Vizier goes to Thor's palace Thrudvangar hoping to prevent things from going too disastrously wrong. This doesn't go unnoticed by the populace.

Thor, Jane and the Avengers arrive on the Rainbow Bridge. Heimdall lets them pass but warns them he foresees much death. The Vizier greets them saying he thinks Thor is in the right but wishes to avoid battle. And many Asgardian warriors have flocked to his cause.

Meanwhile (again) Odin recalls Loki from exile (in space since Journey Into Mystery #123) to lead his troops against Thor. Loki asks for Enchantress and Executioner to be his lieutenants, and Odin releases them from imprisonment and gives them their powers back (which doesn't fit in with any previous appearance that I can recall). And he gives Loki his own war-sword as proof of his authority. And Balder agrees to serve Loki out of loyalty to his liege, even when Sif begs him not to fight Thor who she has long adored from afar. (Loki of course plans to overthrow Odin once he's dealt with Thor.)

Thor's assembled Asgardians pledge to fight for the cause of true love and the honour of Jane Foster. (The Avengers aren't present here so they still seem to be ignorant of what this is really all about.) Vizier is worried that they're treating it like a game and won't fight hard against the other Asgardians. He suggests Thor use the Avengers as the front line. Thor objects that they are mortals.

So Vizier gives the Avengers Asgardian powers. Iron Man's armour is proofed against Asgardian magic. Scarlet Witch's hex-power is augmented with the Asgardian magic. Hawkeye is given a bow that never misses (which he claims of course he never needs). Goliath gets Thor's belt of strength so he can overcome his current weakness when growing too big. Cap gets an invincible sword. And Wasp's stings are enhanced to affect Asgardians.

Executioner brings a royal proclamation declaring them all outlaws. Hogun rallies the rebels to fight. And battle is joined in the countryside. (We see Hogun with the other 2 Warriors Three - Fandral and Volstagg.) Cap has a swordfight with Balder. He loses but Scarlet Witch saves him. Jane goes to Heimdall and asks him to stop the carnage, but it's beyond him.

Iron Man begins to question the 'evil' of the other side, and fights his way to an audience with Odin to plead for a truce. Odin sends him to Thor with a (literal) olive branch, but Loki can't let that happen. He meets Iron Man on the battlefield and kills him with Odin's sword. Thor finds the dying hero. With his dying breath Tony Stark mentions Odin. But he's dropped the olive branch and Thor thinks he's blaming his father. Igron (another character who hadn't actually showed up by Thor #136) shows Odin the scene on a magic screen. Odin sees the hate and anger in his son, and his heart is hardened.

Goliath fights Executioner, and Loki is happy to see the whole battle continuing with nobody winning - so more carnage. He gives Igron the Glove of the Lamia and sends him to Odin with a cunning plan. When Igron claps Odin's shoulder much of the Odin Power is transferred to Loki. He then engages his half-brother Thor in 1-on-1 combat, on equal terms for the 1st time. He has Thor at his mercy when Wasp hits him with a full power sting. But the Asgardian enhancement means she *kills* Loki.

Thor blames Odin for this too. He swears vengeance for Loki and Iron Man and smashes his way into the Palace Imperial. Odin sends an Odin-Bolt to remove his godhood and immortality, but with much of his power stolen it doesn't work. Thor's forces reach the throne room but Odin grasps the hilt of the Over Sword. (JiM#117 revealed that to unsheath this sword will bring on Ragnarok, the end of the Gods.)

Neither Thor nor Odin will back down, until the Vizier and Jane Foster bring them to their senses. At last they talk. Odin says that all the times he seemed to be cruel to Thor it was to forge him into the best of the Asgardians. This included sending him to Earth as mortal Don Blake. But this backfired because Thor came to love the mortals, especially Jane. And Odin got jealous.

Although father and son are now reconciled, Thor says he can no longer pay allegiance to Odin. He takes Jane and his followers and builds a separate court elsewhere in Asgard. And they henceforth live apart in mutual misery.



In a backup story the Watcher tells the 3nd in a sequence called Untold Tales Of The Marvel Universe. Unlike most stories in What If? these are not from alternate timelines, they are from the history of the main timeline.

The First Uni-Mind

Writer Mark Gruenwald. Penciller Ron Wilson. Inker Alan Kupperberg. Letterer Jack Morelli. Colourist Nel Yomtov.

Last issue ended with an explosion in the polar city Titanos. No-one was harmed, but in fact the inhabitants feel envigorated. 2 brothers Alars and Zuras rush to the site of the explosion - their father Chronos' laboratory. They are greeted by a manifestation of his face which explains last issues plot:- The war between Chronos and his brother Uranos which divided the people and ended with the banishment of the losing side. How he sought and found the cosmic essence of life in order to grant his people immortality. The explosion of that force which destroyed his body but enhanced his consciousness so that his disembodied form is now immortal

Chronos is going off to explore the universe (and become one with it). But 1st he tells his sons that the cosmic radiation has made all his people immortal too, in body. He implores the brothers not to fall out like he and Uranos did. And bids them farewell.

Alars and Zuras bring the news to the people of Titanos, and rename them the Eternals. But now they must choose a ruler to replace Chronos. Like most of the foreign countries invented in democratic American comics this is an hereditary kingdom, so the king must be 1 of the brothers. But the populace can democratically choose which 1.

The Eternals levitate into the air and fly in a ritual circle around the sons of Chronos. But then the ritual takes a surprising new turn. Alars and Zuras are converted into living cosmic fire. The other Eternals fly in to join them. And out of the ball of energy emerges a giant brain - the combined intelligence of the Eternals which will be called the Uni-Mind.

In this state they reach a collective decision. And then the Uni-Mind dissolves back into the individual Eternals. Alars speaks the decision they all know they have made - that Zuras will be their leader.

But Alars also says that his and Zuras' ideas for the future are radically different. Rather than risk the civil discord Chronos warned against he chooses to leave - and flies off into space.


This issue and last are a retelling of much of Jim Starlin's origin of the inhabitants of Titan in Captain Marvel #29. 1 main difference is changing the Greek Titans and Gods into Eternals with similar names. The other big difference is that it ends with Alars heading into space and doesn't say that he went to Titan, founded a civilisation there, took the name Mentor and was father to Thanos and Eros. But authorities such as the Marvel Universe Handbooks and online sources Marvel Wiki, Marvel Chronology Project and comicbookdb.com agree that he is that man.

The next 3 chapters in this series (written like this 1 by Mark Gruenwald doing what he did best) instead take a step back and follow what happened to the banished Uranos and his followers from last issue. They manage to land on Uranus where they find a dome left behind by the Kree with a Sentry robot on guard. They destroy the Sentry, liberate loads of advance weapons and build a spaceship to go back to Earth and defeat Chronos and co, leaving 4 dissenters behind on Uranus.

But the Kree have detected the death of the Sentry and send an armada to deal with what they assume is their old enemy the Skrulls. Seeing only this single ship heading away from Uranus they blast it to pieces and take 1 of the bodies for study. Comparing his DNA with samples they'd previously collected from Earthly man-apes they discover that he is a greatly evolved version of those creatures. This spurs them to go to Earth and create the Inhumans (designed to be used a supersoldiers in Kree wars).

Meanwhile Uranos and the others survive space and land on a moon of Saturn which they name Titan in memory of Titanos. They create a civilisation there. But this is not the civilisation of Alars/Mentor. The authorities append the rest of Starlin's story to the events of this issue. Starlin said that after exploring the universe Alars came back to the Solar System and found the ruins of a previous civilisation on Titan which had wiped itself out in war. *That* obviously was the legacy of Uranos.

But what of the Eternals left on Uranus. This series doesn't spell it out but again the authorities get the message. They also started a race of Eternals living on Uranus. And it was these people that Marvel Boy Robert Grayson and his father lived with as explained in #1 of his series in 1950 and beyond.


Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:




Rich Buckler
Dave Simons
Carl Gafford
Dave Simons (Cover Penciler)
Joe Rubinstein (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski.
Editor: Dennis O'Neil.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Balder
Balder

(Balder the Brave)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Executioner
Executioner

(Skurge)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Hogun
Hogun

(Hogun the Grim)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Loki
Loki

(Loki Laufeyson)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Goliath (Hank Pym), Grand Vizier, Igron.

> What If: Book info and issue index

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