This feature is called "I Tell You What If," and it is about all the times that an alternate reality storyline ended up becoming part of official continuity. My pal, Justin, wrote to me about this trend the other day and I noted that it is probably just as simple as an idea being good enough to be used in an alternate timeline will often end up being considered good enough to use in the REAL timeline.
We open this feature with a look at how Wolverine ended up becoming an actual Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
The alternate reality appeared in What If...? #7 (by Jim Valentino and his future Image Comics co-founder, Rob Liefeld, with Scott Williams inking over Liefeld's pencils, which came after Valentino laid the issue out and wrote it).
The point where this reality diverged from the normal continuity is following Wolverine's fight against the Hulk and Wendigo in Incredible Hulk #181. In the original comics, he gets picked up by the Canadian government. This time around, however, he is approached by Nick Fury, who has been granted permission of the Canadian government to use their agent, Wolverine, which Wolverine is none too happy about (he has a funny problem with people acting as if he is their property to loan out).
However, Fury makes a good pitch to Wolverine and he ultimately agrees to help S.H.I.E.L.D. out. You see, some villains have managed to get their hands on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Life Model Decoy technology and were using that technology to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. Fury theorized that Wolverien's senses would allow him to be able to figure out who was real and who was an LMD. As it turned out, Wolverine was perfect for the assignment and even he knew it...
So Wolverine teamed up with the Black Widow to hunt down nests of these LMDs. Hilariously, there is a moment where Black Widow fusses with her hair and Wolverine offers to cut it, so Widow goes to the hair style that she was wearing in the comics at the time. It seriously seems like they just wanted to draw her the way that she looked like at the time and so they came up with a reason for her to change her look. That's pretty adorable.
Wolverine proves himself to be a valuable fighter. Soon, he and Widow find out the main base where the bad guys are at and Nick Fury joins up with them on the all-out assault where they discover that it was Baron Von Strucker behind everything. He had Dum Dum Dugan hostage personally! So Fury and Von Strucker fight and Fury wins.
Fury then offers Wolverine a spot at S.H.I.E.L.D. and Wolverine accepts...
The problem with that is that Wolverine is now in a really happy place in his life, so when Charles Xavier comes looking to get Wolverine to join the X-Men, instead of telling the Canadian government to buzz off when he joined the X-Men, he instead turns Xavier down. Somehow, the All-New, All-Different X-Men still save the original X-Men (or maybe Xavier just kept sending waves and waves of All-New X-Men after the originals until finally one of them made it out alive).
Fury is then killed and Wolverine is named the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and he then uses that power to change the world for the better when it comes to mutant rights...
Okay, so how did this alternate reality become reality? Turn the page to find out!