The new Marvel Disney+ series, “What If,” is premiering on Aug. 11. Based on the comic books of the same name, the new animated series will feature new twists on familiar characters and stories. Alternate stories revolving around Peggy Carter, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Thor, and Loki have been prominent in the trailers, all under the Watcher’s eye.
To prepare for the upcoming show, here are five Marvel comics to read before watching “What If.” Each story below shares similar scenarios with forthcoming episodes. By learning about these comic books, readers will gain insight into where the “What If” series will go.
Exiles Vol 3 #3 (2018): Peggy Carter as Captain America
Peggy Carter as Captain Britain will be one of the main players of the “What If” series. Instead of Steve Rogers taking the supersoldier serum, Carter will receive it.
Other Marvel media has explored this concept. In the “Marvel Puzzle Quest” mobile game, one of the playable characters is Peggy Carter as Captain America. Similar to “What If,” Carter received the supersoldier serum.
However, this was at the expense of Rogers’ assassination. In the “What If” series, Rogers will instead pilot the Hydra Stomper armor and fight alongside Carter.
Spinning out of the mobile game, Carter as Captain America appeared in the “Exiles Vol 3 #3” comic. Here, Carter fights alongside the Exiles, a group of heroes plucked from other universes to solve problems in the multiverse.
Given the inclusion of a universe hopping supersoldier Peggy Carter, this comic is a good read for fans looking forward to “What If.”
The Marvel Zombies Series (2005): a Marvel-themed Zombie Apocalypse
The “Marvel Zombies” comic series involves a virus that turns many heroes into zombies while retaining their powers. As a result, the zombified heroes need to snack on flesh, otherwise losing control over themselves.
Zombie apocalypses are a popular trope in media, so Marvel making stories about it is no exception. “What If” will also have a zombie-themed episode, presumably inspired by the “Marvel Zombies” series. The episode will feature several zombified Avengers and Spider-Man as a zombie hunter.
Given the graphic and horrific content of “Marvel Zombies,” the “What If” episode will probably be toned down to better fit the tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The “Marvel Zombies” series is a fun read about a twisted version of the Marvel universe for those fascinated by horror and zombies.
Age of Ultron (2013): Ultron rules the world
Many Marvel fans know “Age of Ultron” as the second Avengers film, but the “Age of Ultron” comic books are vastly different. The comic entails a world where Ultron defeats countless Marvel heroes and rules the earth.
To save the world, Wolverine and Sue Storm use time travel with the intent to kill Ultron’s creator Hank Pym, resulting in massive consequences for the multiverse.
In the “What If” Disney+ series, an episode will revolve around Ultron winning, featuring a post-apocalyptic Black Widow. Ultron occupying Vision’s body with the Infinity Stones is visible in the series’ poster, implying the worst-case scenario for the Avengers.
The “Age of Ultron” storyline is entertaining for fans who want to see Ultron at his strongest. Therefore, it is great for those wondering what would have happened if Ultron won in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
What If #18 (1997): Evil Doctor Strange
The scenario “What If Doctor Strange were a disciple of Dormammu” is explored in “What If #18.”
Instead of being the Doctor Strange readers know and love, this alternate version goes down a dark path. With a lust for power and wealth, Strange pursues dark magic, studying under Dormammu instead of the Ancient One.
Since a “What If” episode will revolve around a corrupted Doctor Strange, “What If #18” can serve as a baseline for what fans should expect from it.
Fantastic Four Vol 1 #13 (1963): Introduction of the Watcher
Uatu the Watcher, voiced by Jeffrey Wright, has been watching the Marvel universe for a long time. Uatu is a part of a race known as the Watchers. The Watchers’ original goal was to guide the universe. After their efforts backfired, they resorted to only observing events, vowing never to intervene again.
(Much to the annoyance of the other Watchers, Uatu often intervenes in the comics).
Uatu unveiled himself to the Fantastic Four after they stumbled upon his base on the moon. He intervenes to break up a fight between the superhero team and the Red Ghost and his minions.
For those looking for more context about Uatu and the origins of the Watchers, start with this comic book.
For history enthusiasts, the story of “Fantastic Four Vol 1 #13” is driven by the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. This is further supported by the Red Ghost, who is an indirect Communist stereotype. Additionally, the comic also implies that the Fantastic Four were the first humans on the moon (sorry Neil Armstrong).
Are you looking forward to “What If?” Which of these comic books would you read first?
For more Marvel content, check out Marvel’s “What If…?” Interview: Making the Multiverse and Tom Holland’s Best Interview Moments.