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What If #4: Review

Aug 1977
Roy Thomas, Frank Robbins

Story Name:

What if the Invaders Had Stayed Together After World War Two?

Review & Comments

5 stars

What If #4 Review by (October 5, 2010)
Review: When is a What If? not a What If? When it’s in continuity. Wait—what? Exactly. In a rare move for this title, the story retcons events in the regular Marvel universe instead of providing an alternate version. Roy Thomas does a masterful job of coordinating all the 1940s and ‘50s history of the Timely Comics heroes into a coherent vision, all the more amazing when one realizes that the Spirit of ’76 was not a Golden Age hero but a creation of Thomas’ own only a few months earlier (INVADERS #14, March 1977). His well-known obsession with 1940s hero teams made him the ideal writer for this issue which has now passed into canon. It makes up for the art by Frank Robbins, maybe my least favorite Marvel artist of that era—him of the big blue eyes. Ironically, this canonical WHAT IF? gets its own “What if?" in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL #6 where we see what would happen if Adam-II succeeded in conquering the world.

Comments: Originally plotted with Gil Kane. The real names of the Spirit of ’76 and the Patriot are later given as William Naslund and Jeffrey Mace, respectively. The name of the Hiroshima bomb was “Little Boy” not “Lean Boy,” as the story states.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

What If #4 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro
In the closing days of World War 2, Captain America and Bucky pursue Baron Zemo’s robot plane; the bomb explodes, killing Bucky and sending Cap into suspended animation to be revived years later by the Avengers. The Watcher then shows us what happened next in our world: the Human Torch and Toro killed Hitler, the Sub-Mariner defeated the Japanese fleet, and Spitfire and Union Jack saved Churchill from an assassination attempt. The surviving Invaders are brought together in London and presented with the tragic news: Captain America and Bucky are dead. They are then flown to Washington for a meeting with President Truman, who informs them that for the duration of the war in the Pacific, Captain America must live on. A new Cap is introduced, the former hero Spirit of ’76, and a new Bucky, Yankee batboy Fred Davis. The President asks the team to stay together until the war is completely won, and introduces two new members for the team, Miss America and the Whizzer, of the defunct Liberty Legion. The team serves for the next several months until the dropping of the atom bomb forces Japan to surrender. The President then requests that the team stay together to fight crime under the name the All-Winners Squad. The team battles the arch-villain Isbisa and his minions and, on his defeat, the Sub-Mariner announces plans to return home and the Torch and Toro plan a visit to Torch’s creator Professor Horton. Arriving at the Professor’s Boston home, they are greeted by an android duplicate of Horton. It is a trap by Horton’s second android creation Adam-II, plotting to conquer the world with his own android army. Locked in a tank with the real Professor, the heroes face drowning until the Torch manages to heat the tank enough to trigger the fire alarm. The hero known as the Patriot comes to their rescue and Horton warns them that Adam-II is planning to replace a local politician with an android double. The rest of the All-Winners Squad is summoned and they search the city. Cap and Bucky find the androids near a campaign stop by Congressional candidate John F. Kennedy, and battle the enemy. Cap races to the top of Old North Church to signal the others but he is caught and crushed by an android. He manages to fire a flare into the android’s face before collapsing. The flash alerts the rest of the team, who arrive in time to save Kennedy from death. Captain America arrives to confront Adam-II who is destroyed in a car wreck as he tries to escape. Cap informs the assembled heroes that the real Captain America died from his injuries atop the church, and unmasks to reveal the face of the Patriot. A somber team pays honor to their fallen comrade.

Frank Robbins
Frank Springer
George Bell
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
Plot: .


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bucky Barnes
Bucky Barnes

(James Barnes)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)

(Jacqueline Falsworth)

(Thomas Raymond)


Plus: Adam-II, All-Winners Squad, Bucky (Fred Davis), Captain America (William Naslund), Captain America (Jeff Mace), Isbisa, Nazis, Patriot (Jeff Mace), Phineas T. Horton, President Harry S. Truman (Harry S. Truman), President John F. Kennedy (John F. Kennedy), Union Jack (Lord Falsworth), Whizzer, Winston Churchill.

> What If: Book info and issue index

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