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Marvel’s “What If…?” Episodes 4-6

We are back with more What If episodes, as Kathleen posted about the first three, and I’m here with the middle three. These episodes are self-contained story arcs narrated by a being called The Watcher, who takes the viewer through different universes. In these alternate realities, we see familiar events occur differently. All three had dark endings that I quite enjoyed.

What if…Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?

To be honest, I never bought the romance between Strange and his lady love Christine Palmer in the movie, so that put me at a disadvantage that I wasn’t invested in their romance in this episode. Strange and Palmer are involved in a car accident that kills Palmer, and in his grief he learns mystic powers that he later uses to try to go back in time to save her. The Ancient One and Wong warn him that he could tear apart the fabric of time, but in his arrogance, he believes he knows better. He doesn’t…

What If… Zombies?!

When Hank Pym goes into the Quantum Realm to save his wife, he inadvertently brings out a zombie virus. Soon not only most of mankind has been zombified, but so have many of the superheroes on Earth. Soon only Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Hope van Dyne, Bucky Barnes, Okoye, Sharon Carter, Scott Lang, Vision and T’Challa are left to try to save humanity. But things don’t go well for a majority of them and even the last rag-tag group of survivors face yet another challenge in the closing moments of the episode.

I thought Chadwick Boseman’s last voice credit was in episode two, but he is featured in this episode plus the next. So these words, that he said as Black Panther, “In my culture, death is not the end. They’re still with us, as long as we do not forget them” were very poignant.

What If… Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?

The quote, “People see what they want to see and what people want to see never has anything to do with the truth” is proved in this story. Erik “Killmonger” Stevens rescues Tony Stark from an ambush in Afghanistan, and is then heralded as a hero, but is playing a long con and is able to fool almost everyone. He bamboozles Stark with deadly consequences (I have to admit I’ve never been a fan of Stark, he’s too full of himself, so his death didn’t bother me in the least) and makes it to Wakanda to take on the mantle of the new Black Panther. So much death and destruction, and just because Erik has Daddy issues? Only Shuri and Pepper Potts see through his masquerade and begin plotting their own coup.

These episodes are all stand alone stories, so you can watch just the ones that feature your favorite heroes (or villains) without worrying about missing others. The voices are excellent, as a majority of actors and actresses from the movies recreate their roles, and Marvel found good voice replacements for those that didn’t. The animation has been hit-or-miss for me- the coloring is flat, and they seem to have trouble capturing the likenesses of their movie-screen counterparts. I agree with Kathleen’s comment in her earlier review, that they seemed to be trying to emulate a moving comic book, but I feel it’s not translating well. So to me, these episodes are more about the storytelling than the actual art. Stay tuned for Kathleen to review the last three episodes, including one about Thor whom she was most excited to see!

-Nancy

Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord podcast

“In a post-apocalyptic future, Marvel’s Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord finds Peter Quill and Rocket a little paunchier, a little slower, and a lot saltier than they were during the glory days of the Guardians of the Galaxy. They quickly discover the Earth isn’t what it used to be either, when they crash land 30 years after all the world’s super villains seized control.”

I’ve been very pleased with Marvel podcasts- Wolverine: The Long Night, Wolverine: The Lost Trail, Marvels and Black Widow: Bad Blood. On a whim, I checked if a new podcast was out and was pleased to see that Wastelanders had just started. Not typically a fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy, I gave it a try because I had felt the same way about the Fantastic Four and still enjoyed Marvels.

Record of a Fallen World

Quill and Rocket are sent to Earth on on mercenary mission, under threat of death to find a sacred object called the Black Vortex, just to find Earth in ruins and controlled by Doctor Doom. An alien-created “skinbot”, nicknamed Cora, accompanies them, and it is through her narration of record keeping that we find out a lot of background information. This introductory episode gave us a lot of worldbuilding but in a way that didn’t seem like huge info dump and seems to correlate with the Old Man Logan graphic novel timeline.

The Wastelands

Bickering constantly, Quill and Rocket explore South Dakota’s Badlands and are helped by a local named Red. Past trouble is inferred, but we are in the dark about what happened to the former Guardians of the Galaxy or the fates of their former teammates. At times the actor’s voice are hard to distinguish between Quill and Rocket, as they sound very similar.

Blood Farmer

Red gives them refuge on his farm, where he shares what happened thirty years ago, and how this apocalyptic world came to be. They lay some traps and lay in wait for the local thugs to come looking for them. After defeating them and taking their horses, Quill, Rocket and Cora head into the hills to begin their search for the Black Vortex.

Deer on a Spear

As Quill and Rocket head towards the contact that Red gave them they pick up on a signal for a broadcast that is televising Kraven the Hunter following the very man they were hoping to speak to in a Running Man/ Hunger Games type of scenario. Quill tries to save the man to no avail, and now their contact is gone, and Kraven is on to them. The broadcaster was so wonderfully smarmy, you could really visualize the hunt from his commentary.

Heaven and Hellfire

Although this duo is older, they are none the wiser, and luckily a former X-Men Emma Frost who owns a local bar, comes to their aide. But she is keeping her cards close to her vest, so they are unsure if she is there to help or hurt them. I do need to add that Emma’s overuse of the word darling became grating. She sounded like Joan Collins from Dynasty and isn’t how I imagined she’d talk.

Trust Exercise

Splitting up to see if they can obtain the Black Vortex and get their guillotine collars off, nothings goes as planned (of course). But Cora ascertains that Emma is there to help, so there’s that.

Catching Fire

A Quill-centric episode establishes that Emma’s powers are fading as she ages, but she has given Quill and Rocket a window of opportunity after putting Kraven the Hunter out of commission for a few days. Quill thinks he has a lead on where the Black Vortex is located after interviewing the town’s forgotten librarian. Hell yea- a librarian to the rescue!

Buried

Some backstory on what happened with the Guardians is established showing how Quill is racked with guilt and wants to atone for the deaths of his friends. An ally returns, but so does a foe, so all paths are converging as they try to infiltrate Doom’s compound.

Kraven’s Hunt

In this penultimate episode, Quill and Rocket are moving towards discovering the Black Vortex with Kraven on their heels, in another narrated hunt. Cora and Emma Frost rally their allies that include the Ghost Riders to prevent Kraven from killing the duo. Rocket’s poor health can’t be hidden anymore and he tries to prepare Quill for a future without him.

Dawn and Doom

Sacrifices are made, with a devastating death, but Quill and Emma Frost prevail. So although they have scored a victory, we know it’s not over, as the episode is only half over. There is a surprising double-cross with a new villain emerging, with definite tie-ins to what has happened (or will happen-I’m unclear exactly of the timeline) in Logan’s story. I am left wanting more, but that’s good storytelling, for I will definitely tune into future podcasts.

I started this podcast apprehensively, as I’ve never been a big fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the bickering between Quill and Rocket was annoying to me. Yet, this podcast grew on me so kudos to Benjamin Percy who also wrote the two Wolverine podcasts I enjoyed last year. In fact, I recently read a short story horror collection by Percy, Suicide Woods, that I found excellent. This podcast is supposed to be the lead-in to a new universe set in the Old Man Logan future with Hawkeye, Wolverine, Black Widow and Star-Lord. I’m excited, as Susan Sarandon will be voicing Black Widow and I can’t wait for that story and how they will all tie-in together!

-Nancy

Voice Cast:

Timothy Busfield as Star-Lord

Chris Elliott as Rocket

Nadine Malouf as Cora 

Patrick Page as Kraven the Hunter

Vanessa Williams as Emma Frost

Danny Glover as Red

Elizabeth Francis as Joanna Forge

Hawkeye, Black Widow, Wolverine, Star-Lord

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