WARNING: This article contains spoilers for What If? The Punisher #1 and What If? Spider-Man #1, which are both on sale now
While Marvel Comics’ pre-established Spider-Men, Spider-Women and various other Spider-People are busy getting caught up in Spider-Geddon, the publisher just introduced two new versions of Spider-Man in a pair of What If specials. They might have Spider-Man’s powers, but neither one uses them responsibly, and while these alternate reality Spider-Men don’t have too much in common with each other, both of them are ready to use their Spider-abilities with lethal force.
What If? The Punisher #1 asks “What If Peter Parker Became the Punisher?” in a story by Carl Potts, Juanan Ramirez, Rachelle Rosenberg and Travis Lanham. In this alternate reality, Peter Parker’s origin mixes familiar moments with a few twists. After getting bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter designs a dark suit that features a Punisher logo that’s inspired by the convenient black-and-white skull design on the spider’s abdomen. Once his Uncle Ben is killed by a burglar he ignored, Peter chases the criminal down… and shoots him with his own gun at point blank range.
While Spider-Man is usually against killing, this incident sends Spidey down a dark path with a high body count. After pictures of “the Punishing Spider” are published in The Daily Bugle, Peter starts his war on crime and Peter modifies his web-shooters to shoot small caliber ammunition. During his first battle with the Sinister Six, this Spidey executes Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Sandman, Vulture and Doctor Octopus with specialized bullets that cut through their powers, abilities and bodies.
Despite his lethal methods, this Peter Parker finds a happy ending that always eluded our Peter Parker. When the Green Goblin kidnapped Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man uses his wrist-shooters to shoot through the Goblin’s armor and finish him off for good. This lets Spider-Man save Gwen Stacy on the night she died in the main Marvel Universe. After helping her recover, Peter throws away his costume to give all of his attention to the woman he loves.
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