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The Theory of the Leisure Class (Modern Library Classics)
Thorstein Veblen, Alan Wolfe
What If?: Secret Wars - Brian Reed, Jim McCann, Steven Grant, Karl Bollers, C.B. Cebulski, Patrick Spaziante, Paul Tobin, Jorge Molina, Patrick Scherberger, Gus Vasquez, Paolo Pantalena Ugh. Like all collections, this has its ups and downs. At its best, it's mediocre--at worst, it's unreadable and downright offensive. A What If? collection should be inventive and fearless, exploring plots and character development that twist expectations and assumptions. Instead, the only differences between normal continuity and these stories are that these stories are just as boring, but they didn't get editorial approval the first time through. Not a one of them gives me a new take on a character, or an unexpected perspective on an event, or even anything I'd consider cataclysmic or shocking.

"What if Doctor Doom kept the Beyonder's Power?" Fine art, writing that doesn't make much sense. And the dialog...blegh. The last line literally is "Yes Galen...Yes, it is." FFS!

"What if Mary-Jane had been shot instead of Aunt May?" The artist (Gus Vasquez) is bad at people but good at action sequences. There isn't really much of a twist on the original One More Day/Civil War plot here--Mary Jane dies, Spider-Man seeks revenge against Kingpin and Iron Man keeps trying to protect Kingpin because he's a protected witness. Really, not much of a what-if.

"Newer Fantastic Four" The art is so terrible that I really couldn't bear to try to read this. Patrick Scherberger sucksWhat little I could read was mostly just four random heroes working together, just like any other team-up in the history of comics. Not much of a what if.

"What if Iron Man had died?" A nice try at realistic art, although the faces are poorly done. The what-if is basically that Tony Stark dies instead of Captain America during Civil War, and everyone feels sad about it. Vague references to the coming Skrull invasion, but it doesn't seem like anything is really changed from the original storyline.

"What if Scarlet Witch ended the 'House of M' by saying 'no more powers'?" Apparently if there were no powers, everyone would grab guns and shoot the bad guys. Inspired! The art is as bad as the writing deserves.

I give you: what Paolo Pantalena thinks women look like! Paolo Pantalena sucks
Peter Parker being mauled/caressed by MJ! (check out Xavier's insanely stretched, unrecognizable face in the upper right)Paolo Pantalena sucks
Scarlet Witch's exploding basketball boobs! Paolo Pantalena sucks

"What if the Runaways became the Young Avengers?" This is basically the tale of two time travelers who each recruit their younger selves to kill each other and/or the Runaways, in order to ensure their own ultimate power in the future. Bored.

Also, I didn't even mean to notice this, because at this point I go out of my way to avoid things that annoy me about the comics industry, but--of the 60+ people listed in the front as editors, artists, writers, etc? Three are women.

Now, I think anyone in comics (or any other genre plagued by a lack of diversity) has heard the usual excuse that it would be unfair to hire people based on their gender/sexual orientation/race/ethnicity instead of on ability. But judging from the incredibly poor quality of this book, HR could literally hire high school students and hobos and get better quality plots, art, and writing than they've got now. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to start hiring people if they're good, not just if they've got a penis.