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What The--?! was a Marvel Comics comic book series self-parodying the Marvel Universe, similar in vein to the 1960s series Not Brand Echh. It was billed as "The Marvel mag of mirth and mayhem!" The series ran for 26 issues from August 1988 through Winter 1993, with issue #26 being a "Fall Special". It typically contained a series of short stories with comedic takes on Marvel heroes and villains, such as having Spider-Ham substitute for Spider-Man.
Cover to What The--?! #26. Art by Doug Rice.
|Publication date||August 1988 – Winter 1993|
|No. of issues||26|
What The--?! spotlighted some of the top artists and writers at the time. Many, such as Stan Lee and John Byrne, contributed works that spoof some of their all-time greatest successes. For example, in issue #2, Byrne creates a tale pitting his work on the Fantastic Four franchise against his work with Superman. The issue goes so far as to have the Lex Luthor character complain about the changes Byrne made to the Superman legend after DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Though it carried the Marvel Comics label on the front left corner, What The--?! touted itself as being published by "Marble Comics". What The--?! parodied Marvel institutions such as the legendary Marvel Comics fan mail page, with staged articles called "The Marble Mailbag" and the "What The... Mail". The title also did not contain any "true" advertisements. Instead, What The--?! hosted a number of fake advertisements that made fun of classic comic book advertisements such as Charles Atlas, novelty by-mail companies, and the Hostess snack food ads of the 1970s and 1980s.
What The--?! was originally published as a four-issue limited series. The last issue closed with an appeal from Fred Hembeck for readers to write to Marvel if they wanted to see more of the comic. Several months later, What The--?! returned, resuming its numbering at issue #5. Marvel.com has a web series called "Marvel Superheroes: What the--?!", mainly featuring MODOK and Deadpool.
List of What The--?! issuesEdit
|Issue #||Characters||Characters parodied||Notable writers/artists||Year/month published|
|1||The Pulverizer, the Bower Brats, Clunk and Dagnabbit, the X-Persons and New Pubescents, the Watchman||The Punisher, the Power Pack, Cloak and Dagger, the X-Men and related mutant teams of the time, the Watcher, the Beyonder||Peter B. Gillis, Hilary Barta, June Brigman, John Severin, Terry Austin, Jon Bogdanove, Steve Ditko, Al Milgrom||August 1988|
|2||The Fantastical Four, Superbman, Knick Furey, Woof R' Ream, Doctor Deranged||Fantastic Four, Superman, Nick Fury, Wolverine, Doctor Strange||John Byrne, John Severin||September 1988|
|3||Spider-Ham, Vizzion and Scarlett Wench, Bat-Man, Scaredevil, Mutant Beach Party Chapter 1||Spider-Man, Vision and Scarlet Witch, Batman, Daredevil, assorted mutants||Glenn Herdling, Alex Saviuk, Kurt Busiek, Joe Sinnott, Fred Hembeck||October 1988|
|4||Mutant Beach Party Chapter 2, Doctor Deranged, Shang-Chew, Starchy, Lone Wolvie and Chris||X-Men, New Mutants, Doctor Strange, Shang-Chi, Archie, Lone Wolf and Cub||John Byrne, Kurt Busiek, Peter David, Fred Hembeck||November 1988|
|5||The Pulverizer vs. Wolvoream, the Alien-ated Legion||Punisher, Wolverine, Alien Legion||Peter B. Gillis, Erik Larsen, Al Gordon, Terry Austin, Jim Lee, Chuck Dixon, Larry Stroman, Walt Jaschek, Whilce Portacio, Al Milgrom, Al Williamson, Hilary Barta, Doug Rice||July 1989|
|6||Smacks of Vengeance, Man-Thang, Swamp Thang, Sore, the Pulverizer||Acts of Vengeance, Man-Thing, Swamp Thing, Thor, the Punisher||Stan Lee, John Byrne, Terry Austin, Hilary Barta, Doug Rice, Howard Mackie, Peter B. Gillis||January 1990|
|7||The Revengers, Just-A-League, Awful Flight||The Avengers, Justice League of America, Alpha Flight||Scott Lobdell, Marc McLauren, Tom DeFalco||April 1990|
|8||The Goon Knight, Son of Santa, Klang||Moon Knight, Son of Satan, Kang, Forbush Man returns||Scott Lobdell, Kurt Busiek||July 1990|
|9||Wolvie||Wolverine||John Byrne, Peter David, Scott Lobdell, Don McGregor||October 1990|
|10||What The--?! X-Mas Special: Milk and Cookies, Santa Doom, Chaplain America||Cloak and Dagger, Doctor Doom, Captain America||Scott Lobdell, John Byrne, AKIRA (Ayehearya)||January 1991|
|12||Moanin' the Bavarian, Scarlet Itch||Conan the Barbarian, Scarlet Witch||Rurik Tyler, Darren Auck||May 1991|
|13||Silver Burper, Bratman, Goose Rider, My-Fist-Toe||Silver Surfer, Batman, Ghost Rider, Mephisto||Stan Lee, Joe Quesada, Darren Auck||July 1991|
|15||Strange Young Fighting Frogs, Tony Stork, Captain Ultra||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tony Stark||Scott Lobdell, Joe Quesada, Darren Auck||November 1991|
|16||Ock Around the Christmas Tree, Milk and Cookies, Ka-Mart, the Vault of What The--?!||'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Cloak and Dagger, Ka-zar, The Vault of Horror (EC Comics)||Scott Lobdell, Darren Auck||January 1992|
|17||Environmental issue: Wolverweenie and Pulverizer save the rainforest||Wolverine, Punisher||March 1992|
|19||Ghost Writer, the Pulverizer, Wolvie, Knick Furey, Doctor Deranged||Ghost Rider, the Punisher, Wolverine, Nick Fury, Doctor Strange||Scott Lobdell, Rick Stasi, Mike DeCarlo, Sholly Fisch, Rurik Tyler, Doug Rice, Hilary Barta||July 1992|
|20||The Infinity Wart, Pork Grind||The Infinity War, Venom||August 1992|
|21||Sheeza-Hulk, Toast Rider||She-Hulk, Ghost Rider, Weapon X||Marie Severin, Darren Auck, Hilary Barta||September 1992|
|22||The Pulverizer, Wolverweenie, Spider-Ham, Hazards of Being a Supervillain, Salem's Pot||The Punisher, Wolverine, Spider-Man, supervillains, Forbush Man||Joe Quesada, Hilary Barta, Roger Brown||October 1992|
|23||Superb Pro, Nick Furious, New Worriers||Super Pro, Nick Fury, New Warriors, Forbush Man||Hilary Barta||November 1992|
|24||Roasting the Infinity Gauntlet||The Infinity Gauntlet||December 1992|
|25||Mutant parody issue||X-Men, New Mutants, X-Factor, X-Force||Summer 1993|
|26||Spider-Ham 15.88||Spider-Man 2099||Winter 1993|