Recently there's been a lot of complaining--definitely justified--about how DC is using the Countdown mess as an excuse to suck dollars out of pockets, with the near-infinite number of tie-ins and crossovers. (Hey, didn't you just break your promise not to complain about Countdown anymore? --Ed.) (No, I'm not blogging about Countdown, it's just a tangential reference --snell) (Yeah, right--Ed).
But let's face it, true believers, Marvel is doing the same thing. Yes, it's usually on a smaller scale--you could survive nicely without reading any World War Hulk crossovers, or X-Men Messiah, or Civil War: Power Pack. And yes, they're usually of much, much, much much better quality than Countdown (not that that's very difficult). (Hey--watch it! --Ed.)
But look what's available next month: that's right, it's What If? Planet Hulk. Now don't get me wrong...I love the concept of What If? But part of what's fun is with the premise is to see what the long-term differences in "history" would have been. If you're what iffing something that ended 5 minutes ago, we don't even know what the short-term implications of the event actually are...so it's hard for the audience to amazed, because the results can't be all that shocking, can they? If I did a "What If? You hadn't read this post," it wouldn't be terrible good or insightful, since we can't know how reading this post will impact your life. (Rather badly, I think --Ed.)
And this isn't a one-time thing, either. The December solicits have a What If? Civil War and a What If? Rise & Fall of the Shiar Empire. Again, since we haven't begun to see what the final fallout from those stories is, a what if things would be different is pretty silly, if you ask me. I wager you dollars to donuts that within 2 months we get a What If? Spider-Man One More Day, published 5 minutes after that story wraps up...and it shows us that everything woiuld have been terrible and awful if Straczynski hadn't ended it precisely the way he did.
Which leads me to one more cranky note: All too often, these immediate What If?s are written by the same author who wrote the original story it's based on (e.g. Pak & WI Planet Hulk). That screams a little bit of onanism to me...because 99% of the time the What If will have a dire, awful, "see how everything sucks" ending...so it really is just the authors' way of saying, "See, I told the story the best way possible the first time!! Love me." Yup, Pak is going to show us 3 different ways Planet Hulk and World War Hulk could have turned out...dude, if you didn't use those ideas the first time, I'm betting they were neither as good or interesting. What's the point? This is just a money grab, not a legitimate storytelling exercise.
Back off the What If?s, Marvel. Now. Especially since the Watcher is now a murder suspect. Uatu needs a break...