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What if Captain America became president? Comic Collection Monday #43: What If Vol. 1 #26

"What If" Vol. 1 #26
"What If" Vol. 1 #26

In today's Comic Collection Monday, I’ll take a look at “What If” Vol 1  # 26, with a publication date of April 1981.

In Comic Collection Monday, each Monday, I post the cover of a comic book from my collection, along with a brief note about the issue – what I thought about it, where I got it, whatever comes to mind.  Spoilers are ahead if you haven’t read the issue in question.

The issue: Marvel’s “What If” series started in the 1970s, and it took existing Marvel stories and put a twist on them - “What If” something else had happened?  By this point, there was enough interest in Marvel’s lore, and enough Marvel fans buying into it, that “What If” ran for 47 issues from 1977-1984; a second volume of 114 issues from 1989-1998; and since then, several more times in limited-series formats.  

Today we look at issue #26 is from the first run of “What If.” There are three stories in this 41-page issue.  In one, the question is “What if the mindless Man-Thing retained its human brain?”  In the last story, Mark Gruenwald explores an untold tale of the Marvel Universe.  But the lead story, most relevant for our election-week Comic Collection Monday, is “What if Captain America had been elected President?”

Mike W. Barr writes the issue, with Herb Trimpe and Mike Esposito on art.

As I wrote back in Comic Collection Monday #8 (http://newsok.com/article/5430606), Captain America was offered an opportunity to run for president from a third party, but ultimately turned it down. But in this “What If” issue, the reader sees what would have happened should Cap have run.

Spoilers ahead: Captain America wins, defeating Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter (though the electoral math shown in the issue shouldn't actually work). Cap then reveals his true identity (which seems like maybe something you should have done during the campaign) and sets out to help the U.S. as president. His proposals are going well: he provides clean energy with the help of an orbital station that collects solar power.  Meanwhile, he provides rebels in San Pedro with solar weapons to help them overthrow a dictatorship there.

When Cap visits San Pedro to visit the rebel leader, Jacinto Morez, now democratically elected president, there's a shock: the Red Skull killed and replaced Morez, and has lured Captain America into a trap.  He's going to use the secrets of the solar weapons to take over America's solar satellite, turn it into a weapon, and destroy Washington, D.C.

Fortunately, Cap escapes, and is able to change the beam's path, so that it hits its origin point in San Pedro, killing the Red Skull -- but also Captain America.  Cap's indestructible shield is all that survives of the mansion, and it's presented to the Falcon at Cap's funeral.  

A page from "What If" Vol. 1 #26
A page from "What If" Vol. 1 #26

How it got in my collection:  Captain America has always been a favorite character, so when I could I also picked up What If? issues featuring the character.  I’m pretty sure this one was picked up in a 3 for a dollar box in the late 1980s.  

The idea of Captain America as president is compelling enough that Marvel revisited it in its "Ultimate"
 line of comics, set in an alternate Marvel universe, in comics published in 2012. 

Going on in the world: According to Mike’s Amazing World, this April-dated comic book would have gone on sale on Jan. 27, 1981.  The top show of the TV season was “Dallas.”  The top film at the box office was “9 to 5.”  The top song on the Billboard hot 100 was “(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon.

Related Photos
"What If" Vol. 1 #26

"What If" Vol. 1 #26

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a57a3f17b688b93c4edd2f5d54b700fa.jpg" alt="Photo - "What If" Vol. 1 #26" title=""What If" Vol. 1 #26"><figcaption>"What If" Vol. 1 #26</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-aac6ef8cf1a31671cfdf837d90618b01.jpg" alt="Photo - A page from "What If" Vol. 1 #26" title="A page from "What If" Vol. 1 #26"><figcaption>A page from "What If" Vol. 1 #26</figcaption></figure>
Matthew Price

Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s... Read more ›

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