Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writers: Jeff Parker & Paul Tobin
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Blambot's Nate Piekos
Cover: Romita Jr., Janson & Stewart
Production: Paul Acerios
Consulting: Mark Paniccia
Editor: Nathan Cosby
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

What If issues are a curious muse, offering the creativity to tell a story with tremendous freedom, but still built upon the foundation of the original issue.

This one, published an incredible 21 years after its inspiration Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1, seems well-intentioned but just doesn't score many points on either count.

This is a shame, as it has a really promising start. Page two recaps events so far by inventively taking panels from the first version and presenting them as photos, be them oddly reversed on occasion. However that early page is also where things begin to fall apart for me, as there's just no way that some of those moments could have been photographed. The original issue didn't feature anyone there with a camera to take them.

Before the 'point of divergence', Peter Parker seems to have an extra bag at the airport, and is wearing different clothes. After that, his locally hired Spider-Man costume is missing the words 'Die Spinne' from the back. In fairness, this caption wasn't always visible in the canon story, but here it's absent from every panel.

These may sound like details, but I think it's important to make these connections well. The old book is, after all, what's selling the new one.

Generally speaking though, the artwork looks cool throughout this, particularly when Spidey's alternate costume arrives on the scene as a hybrid of his established red and blue duds with his more recent black outfit.

However none of this is enough to save the story from rushing to fit everything into only 24 pages. We race through the new timeline, never really getting to see Peter coming to terms with the big unfamiliar changes taking place in his life, while current events back in New York get left hanging with barely a mention.

Also, despite the title and the cover above, at no point in here do Spider-Man and Wolverine ever fight each other.

What I was intrigued by was the expansion of Pete's powers along fresh lines. The notion of his spider-sense getting honed so sharply that he can perceive the future is the sort of idea that really offers itself to development.

Perhaps this novel thought could be explored further back in his regular continuity?

After all, in the final analysis, every Marvel Comic is a What If? story.

(sometimes available here)


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