Spider-Man as the Punisher? Marvel reveals new lore-twisting ‘What If?’ comics coming this fall

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Jul 17, 2018, 10:45 PM EDT

What would Spider-Man have been like if some little event in the butterfly effect of Peter Parker’s life story had fluttered just a little differently? How different a hero would Thor be if he’d been ripped from Asgard as a young thing and raised by giants in some far-off frozen realm?

These are the questions Marvel will be asking and answering for a handful of familiar heroes with another new line of lore-twisting What If stories, coming this fall in a six-installment series. Each of these new treatments is definitely WTF-worthy — but find comfort, at least, in Marvel’s continued willingness to play with its own canon in much the same way we’ve all done, at some point, when arguing the merits of our most beloved (or hated) characters. 

The six new tales zero in on alternate fates for Peter Parker/The Punisher, Magik, Ghost Rider, Thor, Domino and Cable, and, perhaps most inevitable of all, Flash Thompson — who finally gets to become Spider-Man instead of Venom. Check out some of the new batch’s intriguing covers below:







In the press release, Marvel pitches the series almost as a way for fans to join them in letting off some steam: “What If something else happened? What If an event — poised on a knife edge — fell in the other direction? What If the Marvel Universe was…different? These are the questions posed, explored, and brought to their dramatic, reality-defying conclusions in the legendary Marvel What If books — and this fall, they return!”

The What If anthologies are a longstanding Marvel tradition, dating all the way back to the late 1970s. In their earliest incarnations, many of the alternate scenarios (like Spider-Man joining forces with the Fantastic Four) more closely resembled the daydreams that tantalize modern-day MCU fans who salivate at the crossover possibilities of the looming Disney-21st Century Fox merger. 

Each one-shot in the new series is written and illustrated by a different lineup of Marvel Comics’ in-house talent, and each is slated to land on one of the five Wednesdays in October this year. Domino and Cable, along with Flash Thompson, double up to get things started when What If? Spider-Man #1 and What If? X-Men #1 simultaneously hit store shelves Oct. 3.