Forgive me if this is old information, somehow I’ve yet to see this as a big announcement and thought I would inform others in case it slipped under anyone else’s radar.
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI
Pencils and Cover by TOMMY LEE EDWARDS
World War II. America needs a super soldier. Only one man possesses the formula to create the perfect fighting machine from volunteer Steve Rogers. But when a deadly bullet kills Dr. Erskine along with his bodyguard, M.P. Ben Parker, Steve’s destiny—and that of the Marvel Universe—is changed forever.
J. Michael Straczynski: I wanted to show the impact – literal and figurative – of one bullet in the Marvel Universe over the course of decades. To explain what that means… When someone is killed, the consequences of that act ripple across the years and affect other people in all kinds of ways, because the bullet takes away everything the person was, and everything they were going to be, and everything they were going to do. A single bullet, fired in Sarajevo, killed Archduke Ferdinand…and set events in motion that led directly to World Wars I and II. You look at the bullets that took down the Kennedys, and King, and Gandhi, and you can see how history can be changed by one man with a gun in the right place at absolutely the worst possible time.
So, in this story, I looked to the past to find probably the one most critical moment in the history of the Marvel Universe, which was the moment when Steve Rogers became Captain America. No sooner did he get the Super-Soldier Serum than a Nazi assassin killed Dr. Erskine and made sure there would be no more Captain Americas.
I then took that moment and, for this alternate history story, changed one thing – the assassin hits Erskine one day earlier. Not only does this incident prevent Steve from becoming Captain America, the murder kills another person caught in the crossfire, the MP escorting Erskine to a waiting jeep…an eighteen-year-old Ben Parker.
So with one attack, two lives are lost…and the repercussions of that event ripple out across the entire Marvel Universe like a cue ball sending everything into new configurations. Though the Super-Soldier Serum is gone, Steve Rogers still wants desperately to serve…and the military gives him that chance in an experimental exo-suit they’re still perfecting, a device that takes a continual toll on his health because it’s so difficult and hard to use…the first prototype in the army’s “Iron Man” program.
Similarly, Peter Parker, born years later, grows up without the stabilizing presence of Ben Parker, and ends up in a very different place emotionally and physically…a troubled teen, who falls into the wrong company, gets in trouble, runs away and is stranded in the desert when a certain Gamma bomb goes off.
Over and over, person by person, layer by layer, the Marvel Universe is re-arranged, each event logically following from the one before it, as we see the ramifications of this single attack. The purpose of it all, in the end, is to show an alternate way by which the Marvel Universe we know might have come together, and to show the price of each life lost…which is an important theme, I think, in a time where life is as little valued as it is today.
Again, it’s less a “What-If “story than an alternate history covering fifty years, in which Reed Richards, Stephen Strange, Steve Rogers, and many others are profoundly changed by that one singular event. And when the whole world is in on the brink of destruction, it is the actions by the most despised that may end up saving everyone, and balancing the loss of all those previous years.