What If? With Great Power – Sebastian Girner, Leah Williams, Gerry Conway, Carl Potts, Ethan Sacks, Bryan Hill, Casper Wijngaard, Filipe Andrade, Rachelle Rosenberg, Michel Bandini & More (Marvel)

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With Great Power the latest chapter in Marvel’s peak behind the curtain of parallel superhero realities and alternate costumed crusader histories, tears down the barriers between worlds that are separated by a single decision, event or course of action, to present a compendium of tales of what might have been. Although the title would suggest that With Greet Power is a Spider-centric anthology, in reality only a third of the six entries are given over to the arachnid powered avenger, the first exploring what might have happened if Flash Thompson had become Spider-Man instead of Peter Parker and the second imagines what might have happened if Spider-Man adopted the role of the Punisher. The former charts Flash’s journey of self-realisation in which his Spider-Man is a rage infused avatar of justice who balances on the thin line between law and chaos before becoming everything that he despises which ultimately leads to him discovering who he really is. While the latter charts a different course and argues that no matter what cards fate deals, an individual’s true character will always emerge to guide them to be the person they were supposed to be. And that Frank Castle’s destiny always leads him to the same point and that he cannot escape who he was always supposed to be; The Punisher.

For most of us, me included, that one two Spider-Punch would be worth the price of admission alone. But that’s not enough for the Rod Serling of the Marvel Universe, The Unseen, formerly known as Nicholas Fury, who also guides his audience through four more tales of speculative fiction, beginning with a cyberspace showdown between Charles Xavier and his oldest friend and foe in an X-men story that feels like it was written, devised and given shape and form by David Cronenberg and William Gibson. Then there’s the stories of Magick being guided and taught by Doctor Strange to become his replacement and the sibling rivalry that ventures into incredibly dark and cold places when Thor is raised by Lauffey to become his heir after the King of the Frost Giants slays Odin in battle, all of which twist the accepted version of reality into all manner of new and incredible shapes. Finally, in possibly the strangest story of the anthology, the Ghost Rider is pitted against a Black Metal band in an ode to the Lovecraftian mythos in which the very future of his world and reality is at stake.  Weird, wonderful and straight out of left field, With Great Power proves that, in the right hands, a little imagination, some great writing and fantastic art can change the perspective of even the most die-hard true believers.  Welcome to infinite possibility… Tim Cundle

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