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What If...? Episode 8: the Coming of [SPOILER]!

Ultron What If...?

BY MATT TUCK

Coming off the weakest episode of What If…?’s inaugural season, the show was firing on all cylinders with its latest entry, “What If...Ultron Won?,” and a mind-blowing Easter egg that sent the comic community reeling. SPOILER ALERT. 

I ADVISE YOU TO WATCH EPISODE 8 THEN COME BACK TO TODAY’S BLOG. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

Did What If…? just unleash Galactus on the MCU? That is a possibility after an amazing reveal.

This episode had a plethora of Easter eggs with market implications, and it will likely take a second viewing to grasp them all. There’s a direct naming of Age of Ultron, the return of Arnim Zola, and possibly a reference to Old Man Hawkeye. 

As enticing as those details and allusions are, they do not compare with what Marvel Studios revealed at the 23:28 point of the episode: Galactus played by a cosmic Ultron. In fact, that may be one of - if not the - most intriguing Easter eggs the company has revealed since Iron Man 2 offered glimpses of Captain America’s shield and Mjolnir. 

“All those worlds, all that suffering, and you just watched.”

Leading to that point, an Infinity Stone-powered Ultron and his bots invaded the world of “Party Thor” at the tail end of Episode 7. After what has widely been considered the low point of What If…? so far, the creative team delivered a stellar rebound. The Galactus Easter egg may garner the most attention, but the episode as a whole was solid with action and drama that gave us a truly intimidating, godlike Ultron that far exceeds his Avengers: Age of Ultron counterpart. The plot unfolded like a horror movie when Ultron discovered the Watcher’s hiding place in the Multiverse, and their battle across time and space is fittingly on a grand scale.

It was already revealed that James Gunn has plans for the Watcher in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. If it is anything like what we saw here, sign me up.

THE GALACTUS REVEAL

When Ultron punches the Watcher into another galaxy, the roles become reversed. Instead of Uatu’s giant face in the sky, it’s Ultron staring down at the Watcher. The shot then changes to show an enormous Ultron head above the galaxy itself, and he opens his mouth as if to consume it. During the shadowy reveal of Ultron with the Infinity Stones at the end of Episode 7 literally foreshadowed this moment; the silhouette of his open helmet bore a close resemblance to Galactus, and Episode 8 gave us a suitable payoff. 

After two Galactus allusions, one more obvious than the other, it stands to reason that this is more than simply a cool bit of fan service. (If that’s all it is, it doesn’t go unappreciated.) Clearly, the What If…? showrunners want the viewers to make the connection between Ultron and Galactus. Is this how the Devourer of Worlds will be introduced to the Marvel faithful and the larger MCU? While it may sound absurd to suggest the MCU’s Galactus is a mashup between Galan and Ultron, that may be the origin story we are witnessing. 

Don’t forget that What If…?’s head writer, A.C. Bradley, had said that ideas, characters, and timelines from the series could make the transition to the live-action MCU, and this would be a great pick. Furthermore, the What If…? showrunners have said that, yes, the events from the series are taking place in the Multiverse of the MCU, so the door is wide open for the Devourer of Worlds.

SHOULD WE CALL HIM “ULTRA GALACTUS” OR “GALACTATRON?” MAYBE “ULTRONACTUS?”

Galactus is known to move between dimensions. In the comics, he was one of the first Earth-616 characters to set foot in the Ultimate Universe. With Ultron having the six Infinity Stones, it would be simple to explain how he crosses dimensions and enters the MCU’s Earth-616. Now that he has discovered the Watcher and the Multiverse, it would seem he could open a portal to not only invade the MCU, but he could bring others with him. That makes the remainder of season one of What If…? must-watch television for Marvel fans.

THIS HOLY GRAIL JUST GOT HOLIER

The comic community has been waiting for anything related to the Fantastic Four for years now, and this just delivered on a planetary scale. When it comes to key issues, they don’t get much more iconic than Galactus’ first appearance in Fantastic Four #48. It doesn’t hurt values that the Silver Surfer rode into the Marvel Universe in the issue as well.

There is no doubt that prices are about to inflate for what was already one of the most popular and expensive Silver Age comics on the market. In fact, it’s already started. Around 8:30 this morning, a graded 1.5 sold on eBay for $1,200, which is $50 past the previous record set in July. 

There are always ebbs and flows, but generally speaking the FF #48 market is consistent year round, and even the lowest of grades has become increasingly difficult to obtain for the average collector. Just eight days ago, a 0.5 - the lowest grade CGC will award - sold for a record $850. With the Galactus Easter egg in What If…?, it won’t be long before you can’t find a complete, graded copy of FF #48 in any condition for less than $1k. That, my friends, is why issues like that are called holy grails.

JUST WAIT

I am a longtime fan of Galactus, giant purple Pope hat and all. While I would prefer to see the traditional Galan version of the character, this isn’t bad at all, and it is completely unexpected. The thing is, Ultron powered by the Infinity Stones makes sense for him to become a Galactus-type threat. After all, since the wielder of all six stones basically makes for a god, it would be a convenient substitute for the Power Cosmic, which would explain why Ultron can suddenly become an all-consuming, world-eating giant. 

As far as FF #48, there will be a price flux for virtually every grade sold on the secondary market. Should you be lucky enough to own a copy, it may be tempting to hop on the bandwagon and sell while the market is hot, but I would advise holding a bit longer. You see, if we do see an Ultron-Galactus hybrid invade the live-action MCU, then the Silver Surfer can’t be far behind. That is when things will really get interesting, but that is a topic for another discussion.

Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.



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