So to win, I'm putting in a new fighter under my management, and I challenge you to last out a single freakin' round with her. You can't beat her! Why, let her say it in her own words:
All panels in this post (except for the final one) come from What If? #27 (July 1981), written by Mary Jo Duffy, art by Jerry Bingham, John Stuart, and Carl Garford
Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner, wearing scarlet and gold and a crazed expression, Mean Jean
WHOA! A TKO right out of the gate! Not every member of the audience is that thrilled with that swift and decisive victory, however. Bet with your head and not with your heart next time, pal!:
Let's welcome fighter #2: Charles "Wheels" Xavier! "Chuck"'s brother is perennial ring favorite the Juggernaut, so let's see if heavy muscled brawling runs in his side of the family too:
And he is outta there! Defeated and disqualified for bringing a folding chair in the ring! Is there no honor to this sport in this day and age? Now, standing six-foot-one and weighing seventy-three pounds, hollow-boned Warren "Warbucks" Worthington soars into the ring to take on our champ. In the immortal words of Torrance Shipman, bring it on!:
Down goes Angel! Down goes Angel! Down goes Angel! Never has this sports reporter witnessed a more pugnacious display of pugilism! Dark Phoenix is burying every challenger! Literally!:
Let's give a big hand for our next challenger, Bobby "Stone Cold" Drake! Bobby's hobbies are hanging around lobbies in Abu Dhabi...oh wait, he's out for the count!:
Can you smell what the Ph'ix is cookin'? Why, it's Kurt "No Relation to Richard" Wagner!:
Why, this is a travesty, ladies and gentlemen! Two challengers at once climb into the ring to face off against the champ! Have they no decency? Have their no honor? Have they no brains?:
And the crowd goes wild!! Yowsa! Our boy certainly got the point!:
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Wolverine is Burning.:
Next up: The Legion of Substitute X-Men, the ones nobody really cares about, Polaris and Havok:
Any more challengers? Oh yes, there's Scott "Slim Chance" Summers, who dies as he lived: pretty boring:
Ha! Take that, challengers! Who are you gonna put up against my champion now? Spider-Man? Daredevil? Luke Cage? Dark Phoenix is way ahead of you!:
Bwah-ha-ha-ha! So you say you'll pit one of the global heroes against my champion? Maybe Captain Britain? Defensor? Shamrock? Sabra? That Indian Spider-Man nobody ever read? Well, think again:
Yeah! Yeah! Now I s'pose you think you can send the Silver Surfer or Thanos or some of those Stone Men from Saturn against her! Ya think?:
Oh...oh wait a minute. Oh crap. the universe just got destroyed. Bugger. That's where I keep all my stuff.
Okay. On second thought I may have overreacted and missed the point of Friday Night Fights. I have learned my lesson, Bahlactus! I have learned my lesson: that it's not who wins, it's that everybody has a good time! Please let me have another chance at Friday Night Fights!...
Oh! Oh! Oh! The universe is still here! It is not all burned down! Hooray! Hooray! I am as light as a feather! I am as happy as an angel! I am as merry as a schoolboy! I am as giddy as a drunken man! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo! What night is it, boy? What night is it?
"Why, 'tis Friday night, of course, little stuffed bull!"
It's Friday night! I haven't missed it! Bahlactus has done it all in one night! He can do anything he likes. Of course he can! Of course he can!: he's the grand funkmeister of the galaxy!
And that comic, What If? #27, "What If Phoenix Had Not Died," was not only just a bad dream, it also will never be listed as one of "the most fun comics ever!" Not only is the ending grim and grisly, not only does it attempt to cash in on the popularity of the X-Men in the early 1980s but without featuring a single one of that book's creators, but it also has the most dreadful moral of any What If?: Uatu sneering at us to say "Don't complain about the way X-Men #137 turned out! Things could be worse!"
But now that I have seen the true spirit of Friday Night Fights, I can change the future...I can make it all right this time! Let me try that again:
Panel from What If? #34 (August 1982), script and art by Al Milgrom
Whew! That's the kind of ending we all should have: a happy one.
Bully was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Wolverine, who did not die, he was the bestest pal in the world, and the two of them went out on the road together in a souped-up van and traveled from town to town solving mysteries. Some people laughed to see the alteration in Bully, and some laughed at his fuzzy fuzzy tail, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on Earth-616 at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset, except maybe when Bill Foster got zapped through the chest and had to be buried in chains, oh, and when Captain America got blown away by a freakin' sniper after surviving approximately one zillion other assassination attempts, but aside from that, and oh, yes, aside from maybe making Mary Jane Watson into a superhero named Jackpot, he was pretty happy. It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Friday Night Fights well, if any little stuffed bull alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Bahlactus observed, are you ready to rummmmmmmmmmmmble?