With the surprise development and nearing release of an animated adaptation of the “What If…?” comic book series, two other similar series come to mind; specifically, “Not Brand Echh” and “What The–?!” While the chances of these two series getting their own animated adaptation are slim to none due to the type of humor and more importantly parody/intellectual property gray areas, the stories contained within their pages are a comedic gold mine. Here we will take a look at a few of the initial issues for a collector who might be looking to dive in.
The hero that personifies the entire Not Brand Echh series is Forbush Man, who makes his first appearance in this issue. With a metal pot as his helmet and a distinct “F” on his chest, Forbush Man is a hero with no superpowers other than sheer luck. His real identity is as an assistant who works at Marble Comics, Irving Forbush; whose first appearance occurred a decade earlier in an early Marvel satire magazine, Snafu #1 (1955).
The flagship issue of the series includes the four parody stories of: the Silver Burper meeting Doctor Bloom, Kid Cold and Rawhead Kid try to run away with a cache of gold, the Human Scorch fights the Sunk-Mariner, and Sgt. Furious and his Hostile Commandos on a mission in WWII. In a funny moment, Weed Wichards even tries to extinguish the fire of the Human Scorch. Another moment has the Silver Burper riding his board by bouncing around like a pogo stick.
Between the two series, Not Brand Echh #1 is the only book to have developed a market with both considerable value and volume of sales. The current fair market value of the book graded CGC 9.8 at $1,100 and CGC 9.6 at $375. Despite the high values, sales prices are volatile with no prevailing overall trend.
The second issue of the series got even wilder with parodies of heroes from DC Comics. No matter what permutation of J. Jonah Jameson is involved in the story, he always has it out for Spider-Man. In the first story of the issue, a J. Jawbone Junkton hires Gnatman and Rotten (Batman and Robin; these puns are endless) to catch Spidey Man. The legal loopholes that Marvel Comics employed here would be very interesting to examine.
The other parodies in this issue include: The Ironed Man travels to the future, but is attacked by Magnut, who misconstrues him as a robot; and Knock Furious, S.H.E.E.S.H agent, fights Dynaschmoe for an office space.
Continuing the spirit of the Not Brand Echh series, two decades later Marvel Comics published the What The–?! series, which even saw the return of Forbush Man. The stories parodied in this first issue include: the Pulverizer tracks down the baddies through the city, the Bower Brats eat cookies instead of fighting off an alien invasion,the X-Persons fight the Offengers, and the Watchman has a difficult time kicking off another Secret War.
Latest sales of note for What The–?! #1 were a few copies graded CGC 9.8 in 2017 that sold for $39.99; which compared with Not Brand Echh #1 is relatively affordable. Interestingly, a copy of the last issue in the series What The–?! #26 graded CGC 9.8 sold for $270 in late 2018; it does have a very striking cover with Spider-Ham 15.88 (Spider-Ham 2099).
With all the DC Comics parodying fun from the Not Brand Echh series, What The–?! #2 continued the legally dubious tradition. The first story of the issue begins with Dr. Bloom getting the reporters Park Bench and Nosey Dame (Clark and Lois) to investigate the Fantastical Four’s alleged bankruptcy. When the Scorch accidentally ruins Nosey’s hair, Park Bench seeks revenge by changing into Superbman and fighting the Fantastical Four. Throughout the fighting, Superbman and Inevitable Woman even develop an infatuation for each other.
If not for the first story, this issue is a definite fun read for the other parodies such as: Doctor Deranged getting stuck in the AC Universe (DC), a Hex-men training session, and Knick Furey trying to retire.
“Okay, Marvel, maybe this idea will appeal to you!” – Forbush Man