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What If? #3: Review

Sep 1989
Jim Valentino, Dave Simons

Story Name:

What if…Steve Rogers Had Refused to Give Up Being Captain America?

Review & Comments

1 stars

What If? #3 Review by (July 23, 2013)
Review: Remarkably lame tale: they came up with the idea then didn’t know what to do with it; the Red Skull’s victory is surprisingly easy (and shame on you if you didn’t identify him on his first appearance, even in disguise). Of note mainly for anticipating many elements of Civil War years later: Cap’s rebellion against a government edict, his pursuit by both heroes and villains recruited by the government, his very public murder on orders of the Red Skull, and his replacement by a colleague with emotional issues. No “Reborn,” though.

Comments: The divergence of timelines occurs at CAPTAIN AMERICA #332. The abrasive talk show host is clearly based on Morton Downey Jr., who had a short-lived show in the late 1980s. Jasper Sitwell is called “Stillwell” by Nick Fury. The Avengers: Thor, She-Hulk, Black Knight, Captain Marvel (Photon), Dr. Druid, and the Sub-Mariner.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

What If? #3 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

As the story opens, Captain America, branded a traitor, is fighting his way out of the Pentagon. Why? The Watcher fills us in: The Commission told Cap he worked solely for the US government and he would have to follow the orders of the task force. In our world, Steve Rogers resigned rather than surrender his freedom…but in this timeline, he refused to allow anyone else to define the ideals he fought for and rebelled, escaping from the Pentagon. Later that day he contacts the Avengers by remote link to resign from the team as a liability. The Freedom Force (Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants co-opted as federal agents) burst into Avengers Mansion, by the agency of Henry Peter Gyrich, to search the place for Captain America; the heroes refuse to co-operate. Meanwhile, the government brings in the Taskmaster to train a team led by the Super-Patriot in Cap’s fighting style in order to hunt him down. It is then revealed that Douglas Rockwell, the head of The Commission, is secretly following the orders of a mysterious villain named Smith, who is plotting against Cap. As Cap meets with allies Falcon, Vagabond, Nomad, and D-Man, his friends, Rick Jones, Mr. Fantastic, and the spokesman for the VFW appear on a TV talk show to defend him. The next day, Cap appears at a rally near the Washington Monument and is attacked by Super-Patriot and his sidekicks. A battle between them and Cap’s allies is interrupted by the arrival of SHIELD agents led by Nick Fury, under orders from President Ronald Reagan himself who appears on the scene to settle the dispute. The President announces that the Super-Patriot and his team will be the government’s special mascots while the pardoned Cap will be an independent agent. Seeing his plot in jeopardy, Mr. Smith calls his agent Rockwell and orders him to kill Captain America. The secret traitor shoots Cap in the back of the head in full view of the audience and is gunned down by Fury. Super-Patriot—John Walker—is named the new Captain America and when his mental problems overwhelm him, there is no Steve Rogers to intervene in this world. The Captain America costume is retired and placed in a museum and Smith—the Red Skull—gloats in triumph.

Also includes: What If Ben Parker's Nephew Was Galactus?
Script: Sholly Fisch. Pencils: Rod Ramos. Inks: Chris Ivy. Colors: Tom Vincent.
When he returns from the Ed Sullivan Show to learn Uncle Ben has been murdered, Galactus obliterates the Burglar with a thought and resurrects Uncle Ben as the Silver Surfer—while Aunt May makes wheatcakes.

What if Franklin Richards Had Found the Hammer of Thor?
Script: John Rozum. Pencils: Vince Mielcarek. Inks: Chris Ivy. Colors: Tom Vincent.
It’s too big for him since he’s only a little kid.

What if Wolverine got a Real Job?
Script: John Rozum. Pencils: Vince Mielcarek. Inks: Chris Ivy. Colors: Tom Vincent.
Slicing meat in a deli—with his claws.

Dave Simons
Bob Downs
Tom Vincent
Marie Severin (Cover Penciler)
Marie Severin (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Knight
Black Knight

(Dane Whitman)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Sam Wilson)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)
Red Skull
Red Skull

(Johann Shmidt)

(Jennifer Walters)
Silver Surfer
Silver Surfer

(Norrin Radd)



(James Howlett)

Plus: Captain America (John Walker), Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Commission on Superhuman Affairs, D-Man (Demolition Man), Freedom Force, Jasper Sitwell, Nomad (Jack Monroe), President Ronald Reagan, Resistants, Super-Patriot, Vagabond (Priscilla Lyons).

> What If?: Book info and issue index

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