I’m super stoked Marvel put out another run of What If books, and even more stoked they did this one. It’s gooooood.
In this tale we get to see Flash Thompson as Spider-Man (duh), and it kind of goes as one expects. He’s a jackass vanity case that doesn’t pull his punches and actually inflicts a little fear on the masses because he doesn’t know how to properly channel himself as a superhero.
A thing I particularly enjoy about this book and can only assume is a constant in the other one-shots is that Nick Fury, now the Unseen, is the narrator of it all. It feels so old-school and just makes all the sense. I especially think the military talk is particularly relevant given Flash’s history in the 616 universe.
So what we end up learning is in this alternate reality Peter never became Spidey and Uncle Ben never died, however we eventually reach the Master Planner arc where Aunt May gets sick and Peter is helpless to save her. Except he actually placed a tracker on Spider-Man once in hopes to potentially discover his identity… And maybe ruin him in the process? Not positive. It’s never intricately clarified, but I’d say that was the intent.
Anyway, Peter tracks down Flash to a trailer park and pleads for his help to find the isotope the Master Planner stole in order to save Aunt May’s life. Unfortunately Flash is a pompous, furious moron and ends up accidentally murdering Peter when he delivers a full punch to his gut and makes an enormous dent in his trailer.
I’m not kidding. He kills Peter. Checks his pulse and everything. My hat off to you Conway.
Flash ends up doing right and tracking down the Master Planner, inevitably finds out it’s Doc Ock, lays the beatdown, and just like in Peter’s take on Spider-Man finds himself trapped under rubble.
This is the best part, because Fury goes on to speak about there being an infinite number of realities and differences in between, but that there’s usually a constant that keeps them sewn together and this is “one of those moments.” That’s something I’ve always gravitated towards when theorizing about alternate realities, that there’s usually unavoidable synching despite all the changes. Don’t get me started on deja vu and all that…
So Flash finds the strength to save his own worthless skin and lifts the rubble off himself just as Peter did in 616. It doesn’t feel contrived and it’s just about as glorious. Then it’s a quick wrap-up where Aunt May survives and is heartbroken over Peter’s death, but that Flash ultimately turns himself in to serve his time in the hopes of someday becoming worthy of the title of hero.
Solid read. It’s short, to the point, and relates a very simple fact: no matter who bears the mantle, Peter Parker will always play a part in forging a great Spider-Man, even in death.
TL;DR Score: Seriously. A body-sized dent in a trailer…. Damn.