What If...? (2nd series) #60

Issue Date: 
April 1994
Story Title: 
What if Scott Summers and Jean Grey had married earlier? (1st story) - What if Scott Summers and Jean Grey had never fallen in love at all? (2nd story) - What if Phoenix had fallen for Wolverine? (3rd story)

Kurt Busiek (writer), Ron Randall (penciler), Art Nichols (inker), Bob Sharen (colorist), Janice Chiang (letterer), Rob Tokar (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Framing story:
As the Watcher witnesses the wedding of Cyclops and Jean Grey he muses about other worlds where things went differently.
1st story:
When the Beast quits, so do Cyclops and Marvel Girl to get married. While Jean and Scott (and all the original X-Men) have a life outside super heroics Xavier creates a new X-Men team, which he accompanies on their mission to Krakoa where they all die. It takes the Avengers to defeat Krakoa and the former X-Men are left to wonder if things could have been different had they stayed.
2nd story:
Marvel Girl starts a relationship with Angel instead of Cyclops, who withdraws more and more into his role as an X-Man. However, he becomes so fanatical that Xavier names the Beast leader instead of him. Enraged, Cyclops quits and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants easily convinces him to join their cause.
3rd story:
Cyclops discovers that Phoenix has started an affair with Wolverine behind his back. Despite that, they all stay on the team. Phoenix is corrupted by the Hellfire Club, turns into Dark Phoenix and is saved by Xavier. They are captured by the Shi’ar and duel for Jean’s life against the Imperial Guard. However, when Jean turns into Phoenix again, her bond with Wolverine is not enough to stabilize her. She turns Dark Phoenix and destroys the entire universe.

Full Summary: 

Framing story:
Storm flies over the X-mansion until an excited Kitty Pryde calls her down and enthuses the wedding is going to be perfect and she wants to catch every second on film.

The Watcher muses about the purpose of wedding photos, this being the wedding day of Scott Summers and Jean Grey. A day that to many seemed inevitable. But inevitability is an illusion, the twisted skeins of luck, fate and chance are far more delicate than one can imagine.

He watches the X-Men welcoming their friends and allies to the mansion. Beast jokes Polaris while Iceman talks with Quicksilver and Crystal about their family. Lorna muses that it is nice to have something to celebrate. Scott and Jean should have done this a long time to ago. It would have saved so much heartache.

Is she right? the Watcher muses. Is she wrong? He has recently discovered an alternate reality that could tell the answer to that question…

1st story:
Years ago:
Hank McCoy aka the Beast has just told his teammates he is leaving the X-Men when Cyclops and Marvel Girl announce they may want to hear this. They don’t want to steal Hank’s thunder, graduating and getting a job, but they thought they should know if Hank can brave the real world, so can they. They have decided to get married. They are going to try and live a normal life for once, Jean continues. The radio station Scott used to work for offered him a full time job and she still has some contacts in advertising.

Their teammates and Professor X congratulate the happy couple. And very soon there is a joyous wedding ceremony.

The next day, Xavier calls the remaining X-Men – Angel, Iceman, Havok and Lorna Dane – to a Danger Room session. They must get used to the team’s new balance and Angel’s new position as deputy leader. However, the X-Men announce they have been talking things over and think it is time they all graduated and took his teachings out into the world like the others have done. Xavier is taken aback. They remind him it is what he trained them for. Reluctantly, Xavier agrees.

Scott is successful as a radio moderator, speaking on pro mutant issues, for example the Worthington Corporation announcing that their equal employment practices extend to mutants. Sometime later, Scott and Jean are invited to Johnny Carson to promote their book America’s opening heart: the growing acceptance of mutants in society. To be followed by Mutant Outreach, an awareness program targeted at high school students. They also have a son, whom they name Charles.

Xavier, in the meantime, founds a new team of X-Men, consisting of Colossus, Catseye, Storm and Aurora and Northstar. Eventually, Cerebro registers an incredibly powerful new mutant and Xavier accompanies the young team to Krakoa to investigate. The mutant – the island itself – overwhelms the X-Men and drains their life energy. With Xavier a prisoner as well, there is no escape.

When Krakoa does move in search of new energies, it is the Avengers and Sunfire who oppose it. The Scarlet Witch finally severs Krakoa’s connection to the primal energies of Earth and Moondragon shuts down Krakoa’s brain. With the island defeated, they find the bodies of its victims – the new X-Men.

As the former X-Men gather around Charles Xavier’s grave, they wonder what would have happened had they stayed.

Framing story:
During the wedding ceremony
Any regrets? Nightcrawler whispers to Archangel. He means seeing the woman he once was head over heels over marrying another man? Warren asks. No, there was a time when they first met, he smiles wistfully. But she fell for Scott and they are beautiful together. How could he be upset? It just wasn’t meant to be.

2nd story:
The Watcher finds another reality:
Originally, it was Scott Summers’ shy reserve that attracted Jean to him. But what if she hadn’t noticed the quiet young man? What if instead she had fallen in love with the outgoing Angel?

His teammates’ relationship causes Cyclops to withdraw further into his shell. All he has is the X-Men, and so he throws himself into his work, spearheading the X-Men’s first attack on Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in the small country of San Marco. As the X-Men flee from an overloading generator, Angel stops to ask how Marvel Girl is. Cyclops snaps at them to concentrate on the mission. They find a door ahead, Xavier orders them to stop – it’s a trap! He hurls himself at the door which explodes in his face.

The lifeless professor lies in Cyclops’ arms, as the X-Men realize he shielded them from the booby trap with his own body.

But Xavier survives though without his mental powers. Back in Westchester, while Xavier is sleeping, Cyclops blames himself for being distracted by Warren and Jean. He vows to redouble his efforts.

He refuses any of his teammates’ attempts to get him to relax. Eventually, Magneto and the Brotherhood are found in Magneto’s asteroid base and once again Cyclops leads the attack.

Though the battles goes in the X-Men’s favor, the asteroid eventually breaks apart and Cyclops is in the wrong part. A desperate rescue plan is hatched. Iceman creates an ice tunnel between the two parts and Angel dives through it to get Cyclops, who angrily berates them he could have saved himself.

Back on Earth, Cyclops wants to give the Professor his report. No need. Xavier reveals he never lost his powers. This was a test to see how they’d do on their own. Angrily, Cyclops interrupts him: Does he think this is a game? That their cause is something to be trifled with? They risked their lives for him and he lied to them!

By this time in the ordinary world, Summers had created bonds with the other X-Men and was on his way to becoming a caring compassionate leader. But in this reality, obsession and bitterness make him ever more a loner. When Xavier leaves the team for a time, he names the Beast as his substitute leader. Why not him? Scott demands. He had hoped it would be Scott, Xavier admits, but he is too rigid and driven to lead effectively. He has no sense of perspective.

Angrily, Scott quits. He reaches New York City, where he is accosted by the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Wanda assures Scott he has nothing to fear from them. They realize he is a kindred soul, an outsider, misunderstood even by those he though his friends, an outsider seeking nothing but the justice that mutants deserve. But he wants it done right, Quicksilver continues. He’s got no patience for an uncommitted bunch of lagabouts who think of nothing but their own pleasure.

Scott realizes they are right. If only he X-Men saw things his way – he could lead them – he knows it!

Magneto joins them and tells him to forget the X-Men. Join him and he will be given carte blanche to shape the Brotherhood into a force so strong the triumph of the mutant cause will be assured. Scott takes his offered hand. They walk off, even as the Scarlet Witch begins to flirt with Cyclops.

Framing story:
After the wedding ceremony, everyone’s dancing… almost everyone. Rogue notices Jubilee moping and asks what is wrong. Jubilee is sad because Wolverine isn’t there (though actually he is watching the celebration from some distance away.).

Logan too loved Jean Grey. And that attraction was mutual. In another reality, it led to more…

3rd story:
During a time when Jean Grey is replaced by the Phoenix, Cyclops is looking for Jean as the professor needs them for a conference. He enters her room to find Jean in an embrace with Wolverine.

Jean apologizes. They meant to tell him – ever since she became Phoenix, she’s felt wilder, freer and she felt like Scott’s been holding her back, forcing her to be nothing but Jean and she won’t be held back, not anymore! Looks like the better man won, Logan leers.

Hurt Scott withdraws. As a result, as Phoenix grows rougher and more out of control, Cyclops cannot bring himself to challenge her behavior, unable to discern the difference between his judgment as team leader and his feelings as a man.

The X-Men’s battle with the Hellfire Club exposes Phoenix’s illusion-casting tormentor, but again it is too late, as Mastermind claims Phoenix for his own as the Black Queen. It’s not long before Phoenix breaks Mastermind’s control snapped free by the shock of facing her lover Wolverine in battle. She takes her revenge on her manipulator, but by then the damage is done. Her self control has been eroded and as the X-men escape she undergoes a dramatic, fateful transformation as she becomes Dark Phoenix.

Soaring unfettered through space, Dark Phoenix destroys spaceships, stars, even an inhabited planet before returning to Earth and a final confrontation with the X-Men. Here it is Wolverine who breaks through to the humanity at the heart of the Phoenix, allowing Charles Xavier the opening he needs to engage her in battle, a battle which he ultimately wins.

However, moments later, the X-Men are teleported aboard the imperial flagship of the Shi’ar fleet, where Lilandra intends to destroy Phoenix. Xavier challenges Lilandra to a duel of honor for Jean’s life.

Cyclops still loves her but it is Wolverine which Jean leans onto. The duel begins the next day, X-Men versus the Imperial Guard. Wolverine stays close to his lover, but the stress is too much for her. She transforms first into Phoenix, then into Dark Phoenix.

Wolverine tries to reach her, hold her together. Her bond with Scott Summers was equal to the task. But her bond with Logan isn’t yet strong enough and Wolverine is anything but a calming influence. She moans that she is sorry before she destroys the moon. The X-Men, the Imperial Guard and the Shi’ar court all die in the first soundless burst of power. And then the Phoenix flies free, unfettered, uncontrollable, unstoppable. It spreads its wings, rears back its head and the universe is no more.

Framing story:
The Watcher wonders what the future will bring for this reality. Will Scott and Jean Summers find happiness or struggle, reward or suffering?

Jean and Scott happily run outside with their friends throwing rice at them.

Characters Involved: 

Framing story:

Archangel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Jubilee, Jean Grey, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Nightcrawler, Shadowcat (Excalibur)
Polaris, Strong Guy (X-Factor)
Crystal, Quicksilver (Avengers)
Other heroes and other guests as seen in X-Men (2nd series) #30.

1st story:
Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Havok, Iceman, Lorna Dane, Marvel Girl (original X-Men)
Professor X
Aurora, Catseye, Colossus, Northstar, Storm (new X-Men)

Iron Man, Moondragon, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision (Avengers)


2nd story:
Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (original X-Men)
Professor X
Magneto, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch (Brotherhood of Evil Mutants)

3rd story:
Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Phoenix II, Storm, Wolverine (X-Men)
Professor Xavier



Story Notes: 

The framing story refers to X-Men (2nd series) #30.

Written By: