What If, sometimes rendered as What If…?, is published by Marvel Comics whose stories explore how the Marvel Universe might have unfolded if key moments in its history hadn’t occurred as they did in mainstream continuity. What If comics have been published in eleven series (volumes).
The stories of the inaugural series (1977–1984) feature the alien Uatu the Watcher as a narrator. From the moon, Uatu, a member of an immortal race of “Watchers”, observes both the Earth and alternate realities. Most What If stories begin with Uatu describing an event in the mainstream Marvel Universe, then introducing a point of divergence in that event and then describing the consequences of the divergence. Uatu was used similarly in the second series (1989–1998) until a point where, in the Fantastic Four comic book, Uatu was punished for destroying another Watcher. This made the use of Uatu improbable so the character was phased out to its last appearance in issue #76. Without a framing device, the stories themselves became the focus. However, in later series, some writers chose to introduce alternative narrators. For example, in Volume 3, in What If Karen Page Had Lived?, What If Jessica Jones Had Joined the Avengers? and in Daredevil (2005), Brian Michael Bendis, the writer himself, made a cameo as narrator. In the early 2006 series, a hacker, whose online alias is “The Watcher”, opens each of the six issues.