Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.

Rather than another character-swap adventure, episode three of What If…? is a hard-boiled murder-mystery set during “Fury’s Big Week.” For those unfamiliar, a comic series released in the build-up to The Avengers detailed how Iron Man 2, Thor and The Incredible Hulk all took place within days of each other, based on Easter eggs and Phil Coulson’s role in each. (Remember when that was the extent of continuity in these movies? How things have changed).

It’s never explicit in the movies, and the comics are only partially canon, but What If…? has now made it sacred writ … before flipping it on its head. In this universe, Fury and Black Widow’s meeting with Tony Stark at Randy’s Donuts ends with Stark dying suddenly from unknown causes. A day later, Thor’s break-in to the S.H.I.E.L.D. base to unsuccessfully retrieve Moljnir ends in his death when Hawkeye accidentally shoots him but insists he would never have misfired. As the potential Avengers die one by one, it’s up to Fury and Black Widow to determine who is killing them while also dealing with a vengeful Asgardian whose plans for Earth are moved up by Thor’s absence …

I have mixed feelings about this episode because its murder-mystery’s resolution depends on revealing the actual question later on at the heart of the story. The big thing that diverted this universe isn’t the murder of the Avengers; that’s a downstream effect from something that’s unestablished from the jump. So, as a murder-mystery, it seems a little unfair despite some very obvious clues that point the audience toward the solution.

Then again, it’s also a captivating and interesting twist on the What If…? formula that takes the premise in darker, weirder directions. It’s a solid thriller plot. Truthfully, it’s nice to get Phase 1 Nick Fury back, too. Back then, he was all-knowing, heroic and basically everything we wanted from Samuel L. Jackson. We wanted to see him do super-spy shit, and that’s what he does here. Phase 3 kind of wasted Fury, so I’m hoping Phase 4 is able to build him back up to what he’s supposed to be: the most competent guy in the Marvel Universe. This episode is a nice reminder of what he was from the get-go.

What I Bought

Nothing this week.

What I’d Buy

I don’t buy many Marvel Legends, and most of the Phase 1 figures are now hard to find beyond the occasional reprints. I guess I’d buy a really good Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. figure if they re-released him as part of their Infinity Saga wave.