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What If #23: Review

Oct 1980
Peter Gillis, Herb Trimpe

Story Name:

What If Jarella Had Not Died?

Review & Comments

4.5 stars


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

What If #23 Synopsis by Julio Molina-Muscara

Jarella died in the fateful pages of Incredible Hulk #205. While the Hulk was battling the Crypto-Man in the streets of Santa Fe, New Mexico, she sacrificed herself to save a kid from a collapsing wall. She took the brunt and died soon after. But, what if such incident did not fatally hurt her? It's what Uatu, the Watcher is about to reveal us.

As Jarella prepares to jump and push the kid away from the falling bricks, she notices that the image of the boy flickers. Such confuses her, halting for a few seconds, enough time for the debris to fall over the minor. Or was he a holographic image after all?

Meanwhile, Hulk destroys the Crypto-Man, and the power feedback does similarly to the lab and the robot's controller (again, as in Hulk #205). In the lab, a strange looking horned idol remains. Jarella alerts the Hulk about the boy, but he finds nothing under the rubble.

Jarella is happy with the Hulk, but she misses K'ai, a world she may never return to it. Fortunately, Henry Pym, AKA the Ant-Man, finds a way to bring Jarella back to her homeworld. And Hulk decides to go with the woman he loves. They depart from Gamma Base. Surprisingly, Hulk's last words are for Thunderbolt Ross: "Hulk did not hate you... Really."

After stopping in several micro universes during their journey, they finally reach Jarella's planet. Bruce Banner regains control over the Hulk's form (thanks to the enchantment of wizards Torla, Holi, and Moli in Hulk #140). The populace is thrilled to see them back. And the couple gets married a few days later.

Panels sample #2

A tentacled monster attacks Jarella in her sleep. Hulk smashes it and follows his trail to a catacomb where a warlock had sacrificed a woman to the Dark Gods. An immense idol like the one in the Santa Fe lab was the mute witness. Hulk turns it to pieces. The warlock turns to ashes.

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Strange events ravage K'ai. The dead rise, buildings get covered by fungoid, strange machines attack people. Jarella asks the defenders of the realm, Cnerla, Hrond, Ythaer, Vidias, and Glunno, to aid the Hulk neutralize the problem.

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Torla theorizes that the source could be mount Wol Ulrai, the heart of all darkness. Hulk leaves solo, but the defenders soon follow him.

From the base of mount Wol Ulrai, the spawn of the Dark Gods, an army of monsters, emerges. Hulk and the champions attack them. Jarella joins the fight.

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After battling for a while, the foul enemy vanishes as a strange creature comes out of a cave: Lord Visis zombie-like remains. He became a spokesman for the Dark Gods.

Visis reveals that the Dark Gods tried killing Jarella using the illusion of a boy in danger. The evil ones require the Hulk to stay out of K'ai. With Jarella dead, he would never return. Since their plan failed, and Hulk is here, he must die. Visis commands a copy of the green goliath's savage self (last seen in Hulk #156) to attack. And he assaults Jarella!

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By letting his rage run free, Banner defeats the savage Hulk. The fight outcome brings the mountain down, burying Visis and a few demons. Finally, Hulk stands defiantly as the protector of K'ai, and its people should the Dark Gods strike again.

Also in this story: Betty Ross, Glenn Talbot, Clay Quartermain.

Story #2

The First Celestial Host!

Writer: Mark Gruenwald.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

This story was presented as "Untold Tales of the Marvel Universe!"

"Eons ago" (approximately a million years ago), the First Host of the Celestials visited Earth. They were carrying their "never-ending galactic mission": Explore and experiment on beings with the potential of intelligence.

A large crowd of biped anthropods, genetic ancestors of the human race, fled in terror as ten of these gigantic robot-like creatures, standing two thousand feet tall, emerged from their vessel.

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Each Celestial has a task: Gammenon's is to collect the specimens for the experiments. And in the laboratories, Ziran, Nezzar, and Oneg would do the experimentations.

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Each tester selected a group of quasi-men. Ziran and Nezzar irradiated them with a different stream of DNA molecules, causing them to evolve in a few hours. Ziran created monster-like humans later known as Deviants.

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Nezzar, perfect cosmic-energy-tapping meta-humans called Eternals. Both groups were set free to multiply. Deviants usurped subterranean caves while Eternals fled to find their place elsewhere.

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The third Celestial, Oneg, only implanted a dormant gene in his subjects. They did not change. Instead, like their equal without such gene would evolve slowly and naturally becoming the human race. The dormant gene will someday wake special abilities like those in mutants and superheroes of the 20th century.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Herb Trimpe
Mike Esposito
Carl Gafford
John Buscema (Cover Penciler)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski.
Editor: Dennis O'Neil.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Betty Ross
Betty Ross

(Elizabeth Ross)

(Bruce Banner)
Thunderbolt Ross
Thunderbolt Ross

(Thaddeus Ross)


Plus: Cnerla, Crypto-Man, Dark Gods, Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), Glunno, Holi, Hrond, Moli, Vidias, Ythaer.

> What If: Book info and issue index

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