WHAT IF #11
This is probably the most blatantly self-indulgent story Marvel ever published. It also has the dubious honor of being the last Fantastic Four story Jack Kirby ever illustrated. I can’t imagine what Roy Thomas was thinking when he came up with this premise, nor how he inveigled Kirby into doing it. But. oddball that I was, I really enjoyed it. And I like it even better today, now that I’ve met Flo Steinberg, and can hear all of her dialogue coming out with her daffy delivery.
In this wacky What If world, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Flo Steinberg and Sol Brodsky open a package that’s been sent to the Marvel offices, revealing a high-tech device that bombards them all with cosmic rays. Transformed by the rays, Stan and Co. take inspiration from themselves in publishing the adventures of the fictitious Fantastic Four, while they venture out at night in similar attire and attempt to track down the mysterious S-people who sent the box their way. The whole mess comes to a head as the Bullpen FF team up with the Sub-Mariner (who’s real in this world), and learn that the S-people are really the Skrulls (ditto.) No good reason is ever given for the Skrulls sending Stan et al a device that’ll turn them into super heroes–but the story is so goofy and unashamedly off-the-wall that it really doesn’t matter. It’s not about plot details–it’s about fun.