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What If... Peter Quill Attacked Earth's Mightiest Heroes?

"I thought you were that guy from Van Halen."

What if Peter Quill actually made it to his father and became the son Ego never had? That's what we found out in today's episode. And when Peter returns as a young man to wipe out resistance on planet earth, he meets 1988's version of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Just glancing at the title, this one didn't appeal to me at first. Sure, Peter Quill is a remarkable guy with a great soundtrack, but he's got no business taking on Earth's heroes by himself. Right? But this isn't the lovable Peter Quill we know, whose powers are mostly limited to his guns and his cleverness, this is an unstoppable and all-powerful child who can destroy everything in his path by lifting a finger.

But even though it's only 1988, Earth has a few heroes it can gather. Remember, the Avengers didn't form until Thanos was a looming threat, and until then each member was just an exceptional person in their own story. This episode could just as well have been called, What If... The Avengers Assembled in 1988?

Our vintage hero lineup:

-Agent Carter (always a welcome addition)
-Howard Stark (ditto)
-Ant-Man (original recipe)
-Thor (He's immortal so it makes sense)
-Golaith (Who you remember from Ant-Man and The Wasp)
-King T'Chaka (a.k.a., Black Panther)
-Bucky Barnes (as a really, really sad Winter Soldier)
-Mar-Vell (who's otherwise busy with the Air Force and Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S.)
-And...Hope. Ant-Man's daughter.

The fight is hopeless from the beginning. Partly because Peter is all-powerful, but mostly because nobody wants to kill a child... well, except for those awful Ruskies in control of the Winter Soldier.

These What If... episodes might actually be the most faithful comic adaptations I've seen. That might not make any sense since these aren't based on any particular comic, but I feel more like I'm a kid at the comic book stand during these episodes than any other time. What If... was always full of exciting possibilities, cool ideas that wouldn't fit in normal comic, and epic team-ups that were only possible in an alternate universe. The show is a perfect reminder of how it felt to hold one of those issues.

There's a powerful moment near the beginning when Ego disolves Peter's Walkman, and you really feel the loss of it, like someone just died on screen. He's not Peter without the tunes. And I can't tell you how overjoyed I am about how this all plays out.

Random Thoughts

-Ego's hair is dynamite. Even in animated form, Kurt Russell is my hero.

-Hank Pym is such a jerk. He doesn't even try to put his daughter in a safe place. That's perfectly in keeping with his character.

-It's fun to see Carter still kicking butt and taking names, even with silver hair. The fight's not over as long as she's around.

-And it's appropriate that Thor shows up. Ego is one of his recurring villains.

Final Analysis: Lots of fun, and lots of heart. Five out of five amazing Kurt Russell haircuts.

Adam D. Jones is a writer, historian, and undefeated cat wrestler. He's also something of an earth hero himself, having recently only pretended to go to work in order to save gas.

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