BY MATT TUCK
What If…? made its long-awaited debut, and Captain Carter and the Hydra Stomper’s MCU introduction was infused with Max Fleischer goodness. The new series is sparking interest in some key issues, including a forgotten series from 2007.
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD
WHAT IF…? EPISODE ONE: CAPTAIN CARTER
For its latest Disney+ series, Marvel Studios is using CGI-animation to tell the alternate reality stories of Marvel’s history. Paired with the 1940s-era big band score, the premiere episode felt at home alongside Max Fleischer’s Superman movie reel cartoons from the 1940s.
What If…? appeared directed at family entertainment that was closely aligned with the first Captain America film. Overall, the episode was clearly aimed to entertain adults and children alike with its classic superhero adventure. There was plenty of mostly light-hearted action and quips as well as a couple of moments when the villains had exaggerated facial expressions that would have fit Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Whether or not this will be the trend for the entire series or just this episode remains to be seen.
Although Peggy Carter may have become her timeline’s super soldier, Steve Rogers was not far behind. In this version, he was given his very own Iron Man suit, dubbed “the Hydra Stomper.”
The bigger picture, however, is that as fun and exciting as seeing alternate timelines unfold and present us with new twists on old characters, Marvel Studios may have bigger plans for these standalone stories according to head What If…? writer Brad Winderbaum.
Now for the fun part: the collectible keys. With the chance that any of the characters could become a bigger part of the overall MCU, it adds an added layer of collectibility to any of these issues. In light of the events of the first episode, take a closer look at these comics.
TALES OF SUSPENSE #77
Although Peggy Carter technically appeared two issues before in TOS #75, it is her first full appearance that has collectors’ eyes. Since Agent Carter has been an integral part of the MCU’s S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America legacies, this was not exactly a sleeper pick going into What If…?. Now that she has debuted as Captain Carter, it will make her more popular, which will result in an increased demand for this issue.
The good thing with TOS #77 is that only the higher grades have reached the four figures. In July, a 9.6 sold for $1,250, and a 9.4 hit $1,090 in March. Aside from those grades, everything else comes in at $500 or less, at least for the time being. Most recently, a 7.5 brought $220 on August 1. Meanwhile, a 5.5 earned $171 a week later.
The cheaper option is to peruse the raw copies. On eBay, those lower-quality issues are generally selling for around $40-$50.
Everyone knew Captain Carter was going to be the star of the first episode of What If…?, and it will likely create a new fan base for this version of Peggy Carter. The biggest difference between what we saw in the Disney+ series and the comics is that the Exiles #3 Captain Carter sported the Stars and Stripes rather than the Union Jack. Be that as it may, Captain Carter has made her official MCU debut, and there could be more for the character if the fan reaction is as loud I suspect it will be. It will, in turn, boost the prices for the alternate Captain’s debut issue.
When it comes to Exiles #3, there are two covers you will want to watch: the standard edition and the game edition. Both covers feature Captain Carter in all her glory, though the game edition was a 1:10 ratio variant, making it available in smaller quantities. It also makes it the more expensive of the two, and the last sale was for $909 in July. A year ago, it did not sell for more than $160.
The more popular version has been the standard cover. Just three days ago, a CBCS-graded 9.8 brought $356, which breaks the previous graded mark of $345 from July. Prices for raw copies are on the move as well, selling for close to $60 in most cases.
The thing to remember here is the way Episode One ended, with the Tesseract sending Captain Carter to what appears to be the opening scene of Avengers. It was a fun and unexpected twist on the Captain America mythos and set up a new take on the 2012 film. That leads me to believe that we have not seen the last of Captain Carter.
BULLET POINTS #1
The initial episode of What If…? could be the tip of the iceberg for a trip into the alternate world of Bullet Points.
Written by J. Micahel Straczynski, the story tells a different version of World War II, specifically the creation of the super soldier program. Instead of the Nazi assassin carrying out his mission and killing Dr. Erskine after Steve Rogers is transformed into Captain America, this version of the tale sees the gunman arrive one day earlier. With Dr. Erskine dead, the super soldier program is abandoned. The alternative is the original Iron Man suit, which must be surgically connected to the operator. Instead of Tony Stark manning the armor, it is Steven Rogers who volunteers to become this world’s Iron Man.
Another interesting twist in Bullet Points is its version of Peter Parker. In this reality, Ben Parker was an MP killed in the attack on Dr. Erskine. Without his uncle to be his moral compass, Peter becomes reckless and rebellious, and one day steals a Jeep for a joyride. Instead of Rick Jones, it is Peter who happens upon a gamma bomb test site. Rather than being rescued by Bruce Banner, Peter is caught in the blast, which transforms him into this world’s Hulk.
With the Hydra Stomper being a clear take on the Steven Rogers Iron Man from Bullet Points, it begs to reason if other characters from the ‘07 series could appear either in a future What If…? or possibly another section of the Multiverse. Out of all the characters from Bullet Points, the safe money would be on the Peter Parker version of the Hulk.
These are still selling for very little. At no more than $10 at the moment, it is hardly a gamble to add a raw copy to your collection.
JUST THE BEGINNING
Naturally, there is much more to consider following this episode. After Captain Carter’s vault into the modern MCU, it would appear there is more in store for her character. That leads to a host of different theories that we will explore in the near future.
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.