Since 1977 Marvel has been publishing counter-factual stories in the series What if…? This series features hypothetical or virtual history scenarios that are thrown out about everything from, what would have happened if Spider-man had joined the Fantastic Four (in Amazing Spider-man #1) to how would the Marvel Universe be different if Wolverine had killed the Hulk when they first met (in Hulk #181).
The setup, since volume one (the series is currently on its ninth volume), has for the most part remained as follows: the stories usually begin with Uatu the Watcher explaining how there are many dimensions and realities and how he observes them all (after all, as a Watcher, it’s basically his job). Then we get the details of a Marvel story arc that was either a fan favorite, or popular and significant at one point and the variables and outcome get changed.
These comics were always great fun, but little did I know reading them back in the day that some of them would actually become valuable. Lo and behold, many years later, some of the original and even more recent What if…? issues are actually selling for good money.
So which issues of the long running series should you pick up if you find cheap copies online or at a garage sale? Glad you asked, there are actually a couple. In what follows I’ll list only the most valuable in detail and then give some honorable mentions:
“What If Someone Else Had Become – the Amazing Spider-Man”. When this was published in 1978 there was no extended Spider-verse and no Ultimate or alternative versions of spider-heroes like we have today. Heck, this was decades before the clone saga story arc revealed that Peter was probably not Peter. So, at a time, when there was no Miles Morales, no Spider-Gwen, etc. this issue gave various scenarios of other characters getting spider-powers. In one story, Flash Thompson gets bitten by the radioactive spider and takes on the mantle of ‘Captain Spider’ with Peter Parker becoming his biggest fan. It ends with Peter watching Flash getting dropped to his death by the Vulture during their first meeting, ouch! Imagine if ‘Spider-man: Homecoming’ had ended with Tom Holland falling to his death! I think this comic is being boosted by the unquenchable love for all things Spidey-related. Currently [in certified 9.8 grade] this comic has a FMV of $400.00 (you read that right). Best returns are also on 9.8 copies which after three sales has a positive return of +52.6%.
What if Jane Foster had become Thor? Well, we all know that Jane does become Thor, in Thor Vol. 4 from 2014, so no mystery as to why this issue is valuable. It also has a great homage cover to Journey Into Mystery #83. You can’t go wrong with that. First lady Thor in 9.8 graded condition currently holds a FMV of $210.00. Best returns, however, have been on 9.6 certified copies with a positive +13.8% record after 31 sales recorded on GoCollect.com since 2011.
This issue is hot. Yes, it’s another anticipation of the Spider-verse, but this time we get the first appearance of Spider-Girl, i.e. Peter and MJ’s daughter in an alternate (spider) universe. It also features the first appearance of Zane Yama or J2 the son of the original Juggernaut. So you get two first appearances in this one, which may explain why it is selling for $210.00 in 9.8 certified grade. Best returns, since 2013, have also been on 9.8 certified copies with positive + 113.4% roi and it’s trending up in all grades. Get a copy before a Spider-Girl movie happens.
This is a stand-alone title in the series featuring stories based on Deadpool and Venom. Currently this comic is seeing FMV sales of $300.00 in 9.8 certified grades, but be careful as this one is trending downwards in almost all grades except 9.4 and 9.0. The bump in value was no doubt brought on by the success of the two Deadpool films and the new Venom movie. Hard to say what direction prices on this comic will move in the future.
What if…? Vol. 1, #1 currently it’s seeing returns of over $200.00 in 9.8 certified copies. The best returns have been on 6.0 with a positive + 424.7% roi. But numbers are trending down. I say keep your eye on it, especially if Spidey shows up in an MCU Fantastic Four film – which could happen at some point. What If…? Vol. 1, #24, which is titled “What If Gwen Stacy Had Lived?” and is a great read. What if…? Vol. 1, #31, ‘What if Wolverine had killed the Hulk,’ which has been picking up in value in recent years – most likely spurred on by the ever increasing desirability of Hulk #181, and, finally, What if…? Vol. 2, #49 (May 1993), examines the scenario of the Silver Surfer having the Infinity Gauntlet. No doubt the bump in prices on this issue is connected to the success of the ‘Infinity War’ movie.