Home > Marvel Comics, Somebody's First Comic Book > Somebody’s First Comic Book: What If? (1989 Series) #108

Somebody’s First Comic Book: What If? (1989 Series) #108

Wondering what Somebody’s First Comic Book is all about? The explanation is on this page!

TITLE: The Greatest Sacrifice


Writer: Tom DeFalco
Sergio Cariello
Keith Champagne
Kevin Tinsley
Chris Eliopoulos
Frank Pittarese
Cover Art:
Sergio Cariello
Marvel Comics

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: The Avengers… they’ve got that movie coming out, right? And… I guess Spider-Man is one of them, too?

IMPRESSIONS: Maybe not… the story kind of starts in the middle, with the Avengers (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and three people I don’t know) throwing down against Spider-Man’s enemy Carnage, who somehow has taken possession of the Silver Surfer. (Wait – Silver Surfer… wasn’t he in the Fantastic Four movie?) Evidently, we learn later, Carnage is some sort of alien slime that has been bonded to a serial killer, but left the killer and possessed the Silver Surfer.

We also find out, somehow, that these guys aren’t technically Avengers, but that they’re about to pick a new team. I’m not sure exactly how this works, but I like to imagine it’s like gym class, with Captain America and Iron Man taking turns picking from a line and the last one (I’m guessing the dude called “Justice”) being stuck with whoever picked second. Anyway, “Cosmic Carnage” nearly destroys the Avenger called the Vision and whips up on the rest of them until Spider-Man decides to clue them in that the monster is usually vulnerable to loud noises and fire, and maybe this girl called Firestar could do something? In the end, though, all she does is weaken the alien enough for the Surfer to exert control, fly into space, and kill himself and, presumably, the alien too.

I’m… lost here. The story itself is kind of straightforward, but what on Earth are they talking about – they’re not “really” the Avengers, they went and killed the surfer, and… and the title of this book. “What If?” Is that supposed to tell us that this is a “fake” story? It didn’t really happen? And if that’s the case, why the hell am I reading it?


[Meta-Note: I’m going to drop the usual pretense of this feature for a moment here to explain my commentary. The old Marvel What If? series, for a long time, was hosted by the Watcher, who explained that what we were seeing was a story set in a world very similar to the “real” Marvel Universe, but where something happened differently and the whole world changed as a result. Kind of a superhero version of Ray Bradbury’s Butterfly Effect theory. At some point, they dropped the Watcher as the narrator and, not being a regular reader of that book at that time, I didn’t really think much of it. Looking back for the sake of “Somebody’s First Comic Book,” I realize the lack of explanation makes this confusing as hell.

On a more amusing note, the letters page for this issue features letters for issue #105, the first appearance of Spider-Girl. The letters absolutely gushed over the comic, although the editor answering the letters initially says “Every story is only meant to be a glimpse into that particular reality. So don’t count on any more trips to see Spider-Girl!” Ah, hindsight.]

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