Writer Danny Fingeroth
Penciler Ron Lim
Inker Keith Williams
Colorist Tom Vincent
Letterer Gary Fields
Cover Dated Mid November 1989
Splintered From Inferno
There is something about this issue that makes it feel epic and important.
Issue opens with how this a quick recap of how we came here, a full two pages will fully explain it but we get a crash course right off the bat. The X-Men and X-Factor were able to defeat N’astirh but S’ym was waiting close by and absorbed all of N’astirh’s power. Combined with the help of the Goblin Queen, they were able to overpower the mutants, killing most of them.
Wolverine tried to save Jean but Madelyn kills her and S’ym turns Wolverine into their demon pet.
In classic What If fashion, a bunch of dark shit happens in this issue but nothing as truly horrible and tragic as what happens next. Madelyn puts poor sweet baby Nathaniel on a slab and S’ym sacrifices the baby! Which, I’m sure I read as a young boy and just flipped the page to the story but as an adult and father of an almost three year old, that nonsense takes me out of a story and I have to just sit there thinking about that act. With his death, S’ym and Madelyn have permanently left a giant portal open between Limbo and Earth, so they are all powerful.
Uatu the Watcher sets up the question, What If The X-Men had Lost Inferno?
Demon Wolverine is standing on the cart that has Alicia Masters (who I’m pretty sure should be secretly Lyja the Skrull IF she’s dating Johnny Storm – which she is) in it and a few others. These humans are going to be feed to some demons. We see Diamon Hellstrom and Alpha Flight’s Shaman are on their way to a meeting.
Before we get into the crux of the story, Uatu the Watcher tells us what happened in the original timeline and uses the next page to set up what was different.
Magik had originally opened a portal from Limbo to Earth and demons started flooding out of t. Rachel Summers and Excalibur came across the pond to help but Rachel was turned into a mannequin. Doctor Strange was trying to reclaim his body from Dormammu (that we covered already earlier this month) and Spider-Man helped fight some inanimate objects turned demonic.
In this timeline, Magik put all of her dark magic into sealing the portal, ending it by throwing her soulsword through the closing portal. S’ym grabbed the soulsword, opened a small portal and came back to Earth.
S’ym and the Goblin Queen are a couple, at least in the early days. S’ym straight up gives Demon Wolverine a baby to eat and he totally enjoys it.
Meanwhile, in the Federal Reserve Bank (that is abandoned now that gold isn’t respected anymore) the humans are trying to come up with a rebellion.
The mages are using a cloaking spell to keep the demons away. They are – Doctor Strange, Margai Szardos, Jennifer Kale, Doctor Druid, Hellstrom, Dakimh, Baron Mordo and Shaman. I’m not sure who Dakimh is but I recognize everyone else. Who knew his whole name was – Baron Karl Amadeus Mordo? Baron, of course, is his sweet title.
The human characters, or the non-demonic heroes are – Spider-Man, She-Hulk, Human Torch, Thor, The Captain (America) and Shadowcat! It is an odd group of characters. She-Hulk wants to punch someone, she’s not one for hiding.
Demons Hulk & Wolverine kill Doctor Druid and Jennifer Kale, in the first wave. Next, Demon Hulk kills Shaman as the heroes try to fight back. Demon Hulk kills his cousin, She-Hulk, as Demon Wolverine kills the Captain.
Human Torch is holding his own, while Spider-Man gets clawed from behind. The mages try to work on an escape plan but S’ym arrives and shuts most of the mages down. Thor gets into the fight.
Thor sacrifices himself as Doctor Strange, Shadowcat, Human Torch and Baron Mordo escape.
The four heroes make it to the Daily Bugle, an odd choice now that Spider-Man is dead.
Meanwhile over at the Baxter Building, Demon Doctor Doom and Demon Reed Richards are working for S’ym and Madelyn. The two geniuses are working on a way for the two superpowers to take over the multiverse. Which is an awesome motivation that I’m surprise isn’t always brought up in the What If issues.
An hour later. Strange detects a great power and leaves, while not telling Mordo which causes resentment in the lesser magician. The power source is Rachel, still in that wedding dress and still smiling.
Rachel shakes off the effects and together with Doctor Strange kill some demons and teleport away.
Kitty and Rachel are reunited, like the great friends that they are. Mordo is acting like a jilted lover towards Strange. Strange reveals that his fear is that the Living Tribunal is going to take notice of Earth and the unbalance scales of mysticalism and wipe the Earth clean and start over. If these heroes can stop the demons on their own, life as they know it can continue – instead of a completely fresh start.
Strange wants to use Rachel’s connection to the Phoenix Force to bring the cosmic entity to Earth to balance the scales – without wiping out everyone in the process.
Kitty is the one to bring up that the purge of demons means that everyone who has been taken over the demons will be dead. But those characters are so far removed from who they were, they are essentially other people now, wearing their friends’ old faces and clothes. Kitty, of course, is against genocide – for several reasons.
Once again – S’ym, Madelyn and Demon Wolverine – come crashing into the building. Baron Mordo is a traitor and revealed their location – surely that will backfire on him later. Human Torch tries to fight everyone back but Mordo strikes him down.
Human Torch tries to go super nova, or as close to as possible but not to burst Strange’s force field that is keeping him, Kitty and Rachel safe. Poor Kitty feels pretty useless in this fight, all she can do is watch.
Rachel gets the Phoenix Force’s attention. S’ym is able to strike at Strange, so Strange goes off to fight S’ym.
Madelyn Pryor and Rachel start fighting over the Phoenix Force, as neither has a full connection to it. Demon Wolverine tries to murder Strange, from behind! Kitty tackles her old mentor.
Look at that truly horrific panel at the top! Demon Wolverine straight kills Kitty! Mordo tries to kill S’ym.
Mordo tries to kill Strange next and is able to pick up Magik’s soulsword to claim complete victory. With the death Kitty, Demon Wolverine sort of comes to his senses. He kills Mordo, the same way he killed Spider-Man, claws to the back.
With Mordo’s dying breath, he burns Demon Wolverine down to his adamantium skeleton. Poor Rachel has to keep note of the room around her and is shock to see her dear friend Kitty’s dead body. Madelyn tries to take advantage of the shock.
Madelyn is taken out by the adamantium skeleton’s final action. Rachel calls out to the Phoenix Force. The Phoenix Force confronts the Living Tribunal and all of the demons are purged.
Issue ends with Alicia Masters delivering her son, Jonathan Storm, with the aid of Doctor Strange and Rachel Summers. So everything should work out, most What Ifs don’t try to end on such an upswing.
What Now?~ letters from – Tod Preece of Austin, TX / Craig Lloyd of Canada / Dom Beaudoin of Montreal Quebec, Canada / Joe Decker of Lynn, IN / Robert Kowaiski of Detroit, MI / Jon Trouten of Harmony, MN / Hurricane Heeran of Van Nuys, CA / Shane Hutchison of Dickinson, TX / Rudy Mangual of Gardena, CA / David Moran of Elk Grove, CA / Jeff Lewonczyk of Newington, CT.
Next issue, What If Wolverine was an Agent of SHIELD? I don’t own it so it won’t be for us.
. . .
With this, we end Doctor Strange Month!