Q: Why did What Ifs and Elseworlds use to be so popular? And why don't we see them much anymore? -- @TheKize
A: I don't want to reject your premise outright since I think you're onto something here, but I also think it's worth pointing out that we're not exactly suffering from a lack of alternate-continuity stories, either. Multiversity, Convergence and Secret Wars were all based at least partially on the idea of exploring and playing around with the same kind of stories that didn't quite happen. If, however, you're talking about those specific brands, the What If books and the Elseworlds imprint that showed up on so many comics, then you're right.
For the most part, I think it just comes down to a simple swing of the pendulum back from oversaturation. There were a ton of those stories, and as is usually the case with these things, publishers just decided to put 'em away for a while. But there's another reason, too, and it has a lot to do with why so many of those stories exist in the first place.
Here at ComicsAlliance, we value our readership and are always open to what the masses of internet readers have to say. That's why every week, Senior Writer Chris Sims puts his comics culture knowledge to the test as he responds to your reader questions...
For the past few months, Marvel's advertising department has been doing their level best to get readers psyched up about the impending "Death of Spider-Man" (buy digital) in various Ultimate comics, and if you ask me, it's working: The death of an alternate universe version of a character? Who wouldn't be excited about that?
But really, killing off characters left and right is exactly what Alternate Universes are for. Creators might not be able to ever really off any heroes in the main-line stories of serialized fiction, and even if they do, it doesn't tend to stick -- just ask Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- but in alternate universes, you can go for a full-on slaughter. That's why today, in honor of the Ultimate Death of Ultimate Spider-Man, I've sifted through a stack of What Ifs, Elseworlds and time-travel tales to bring you The Best, Worst and Weirdest Alternate Universe Deaths!
If you've ever taken a look through a cover archive of DC Comics circa the Silver Age, then you're aware of a simple truth: They are insane. The absurd conflicts they illustrated (often with helpful thought bubbles) included obese Lois Lane, Lois Lane as a centaur, Lois Lane as a black woman, and Superman as the biggest dick ever ...
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