Avengers (1st series) #272

Issue Date: 
October 1986
Story Title: 
Assault on Atlantis

Roger Stern (Writer), John Buscema (Penciler), Tom Palmer (Inker), Paul Becton (Colorist), Jim Novak (Letterer), Howard Mackie Assistant Editor), Mark Gruenwald (Editor), Jim Shooter (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

The Avengers make their way into Atlantis to rescue the imprisoned Marrina, Namor’s lover, from the warlord Attuma. They engage in battle with the Atlanteans and barbarians until they are joined by Alpha Flight, who have also come at to rescue Marrina, there former teammate at the request of Namor. The two teams invade Atlantis, careful not to start an international incident, and as Namor faces Attuma, Northstar frees Marrina from her orb prison. Soon though, all heroes are capture and Attuma orders them all to be slain, until a timely diversion from Hercules enables several to swim to the surface with Marrina, while the others remain and continue to battle. As Attuma is about to smash a large slab of rock on Namor, he finally realizes that Namor does not want Atlantis back. Alpha Flight’s Box realizes this is the longest he has been inside the armor for and Vindicator orders him to the surface to get out of the armor. On the surface of the water, the heroes realize that Marrina is missing, and indeed she has swum back to Atlantis where she is shot down and she swims away, with Namor and Captain Marvel in tow. Namor catches up to her and learns that when the Master of the World held her prisoner he introduced her to her genetic mate, which triggered changes in her, and she is not slightly deformed. Namor only wants to help Marrina, but she only wants to be left alone ands swims away until Captain Marvel blocks her, suggesting that the Avengers can help her as they know several biologists. Marrina does not accept the offer and swims away, believing she will only find solace in the depths, or death. Namor follows her and informs Captain Marvel that he will be taking a leave of absence from the Avengers so that he can help restore Marrina’s soul, and with that, Captain Marvel wonders if this is the real Namor.

Full Summary: 

Deep beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, six of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are making their way towards a legendary destination, the city of Atlantis! From within the deep-sea vessel, Namor the Sub-Mariner, former Prince of Atlantis calls to his Avenger teammate Captain Marvel, who streaks through the ocean beside the vessel and warns her to take care that she is not spotted. Monica Rambeau informs Namor that the people of Atlantis will not even know she is there.

Monica thinks to herself that she would feel a lot better if she knew for certain where Namor’s loyalties lie, recalling that when Namor joined the Avengers it seemed as if all his loyalties to Atlantis were severed. However last week Namor took off from the Avengers to rescue his captured lover from the barbarian warlord, Attuma, who had taken over Atlantis, and now Namor comes back to the Avengers with his tail between his legs, asking for help. Monica knows that it is only fair they help Namor, but cant help wondering if there is more than just rescuing Marrina on his mind, like trying to reclaim his throne?

Aboard the submarine, Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp asks the handsome Dane Whitman, a.k.a. the Black Knight if he is sure his devices will work. Dane tells Jan to trust him, informing her that the power harness he has added to the diving gear will enable them to function under high-pressure conditions and provide a propulsive force as well. Sitting relaxed in a chair Hercules wonders what songs shall be sun of the day that he and his mortal friends defeat the tyrant of Atlantis, to which Captain America, tells Herc that they need to win the battle before they write the lyrics.

Namor agrees, declaring that Attuma is a dangerous foe, far more insidious than he imagined him to be. Namor declares that since his abdication of the throne, Attuma has taken advantages of civil unrest in the kingdom to seize control. Captain America asks Namor about this “Marrina” person, reminding Namor that he has never previously mentioned her to them. With good reason, Namor replies, before declaring that he never thought he would see her again.

Namor begins to inform everyone that Marrina is an extraterrestrial with a body chemistry quite different from Human or Atlantean, however the brief time he and Marrina were together were some of the happiest moments in his life. Namor reveals that he asked Marrina to marry him. However before Marrina could give Namor and answer, she was summoned away by a friend in Alpha Flight and captured by the self proclaimed Master of the World. The Master brought Marrina in contact with another monstrously evolved member of her alien race, which thus revealed a suppressed bestial nature within Marrina. Namor continues, revealing that with his help the Master was defeated, but in the confusion Marrina vanished, and though he searched and searched for her, she was no where to be found.

Namor declares that in time he put Marrina out of his mind and by getting involved with other affairs, however upon learning that his old enemy Attuma had captured her to bait him, he knew he had to free her. Namor reveals that the people of Atlantis however turned again him and supported Attuma when he tried to rescue Marrina, adding that despite his abdication he never thought he would lose the love of his people. Shamefully, Namor declares that he had no choice but to turn to the Avengers for help. Captain America tells Namor that there is no shame in asking for help and proclaims that they will find a way to save his ladylove!

Meanwhile, in the heart of Atlantis, the evil Attuma stands menacingly before Marrina who remains trapped in the orb prison and after laughing he tells her that Namor was no help in saving her worthless skin. Face hidden by her arms, the former Alphan asks Attuma why he continues to torture her instead of killing her and getting it over and done with. Attuma tells Marrina that Namor lives and will never stop trying to free her until his cursed heart ceases to beat! But that the moment he beholds proof of Namor’s demise, Marrina shall follow her “beloved” into the embrace of death.

One of Attuma’s barbarians walks into the chamber and informs the warlord that scouts have reported two small forces moving in on their defense perimeters. Attuma realizes that this must be the doing of the outcast prince and declares that half-breed scum wasted no time in securing aid, no doubt from amongst his air-breathing friends. The barbarian asks Attuma what his orders are, and Attuma orders him to tell the captains to surround the enemy then attack and obliterate them, to take no prisoners. Turning back to Marrina, Attuma points at her and tells her pray for her would-be rescuers, to pray that they die quickly, for nothing that travels beneath the sea can survive the awesome power of Attuma’s under-sea legions.

Shortly, along Atlantis’ outer fortifications, barbarians and Atlanteans prepare their array of weapons as the orders for the air-breathers to be obliterated are given out. When the Avenger’s submarine stops just short of the target range, the warriors are quite puzzled, almost as if the Avengers knew they were waiting for them. Did you think Atlantis had a monopoly on intelligence? someone asks.

The weapons are ordered to be swung around when suddenly the six Avengers appear in their deep-sea gear along a wall. Namor orders the warriors to put down their weapons and no harm will come to them, on his word as the true Sub-Mariner. And mine, as leader of the Avengers, adds the Wasp. Captain America blocks a shot with his shield and tells Namor and Jan that that it was a nice try, but the warriors are not going to go for it, meaning that they’ll have to play hardball.

On his under-water mechanical steed, Black Knight is the first to leap into battle, smashing some canons with his powerful sword. Namor wonders if no one in Atlantis will heed his call, to which the Wasp tells him that it does not look like it. She regrets that the Black Knight did not have the time to devise gear that would shrink with her, but nevertheless she does not need to get small to generate a sting that will discourage the enemy, and with that she uses her power to knock back several of the Atlantean force.

A commander orders the fools to fall back so that the mobile artillery can soften them up, and with that a strange looking vessel starts firing at the Avengers. Hercules asks what manner of beast is this? to which Namor informs him it is not a beast, but an Atlantean warship and that those aboard must be taught the folly of firing upon the allies of a former prince of the blood! As Namor swims up to the vessel Hercules joins him and combining their incredible strengths they smash the vessel.

Below that wreck, Captain Marvel darts through her enemies, knowing that the conductivity of the sea water makes her “living lightening” trick somewhat harder so she has to concentrate more to jeep her voltage under control, as she only wants to stun the troops, not kill them! Monica calls over to Captain America, asking him how he is doing and he replies that it is going slowly, as the Atlanteans are hardy, and therefore he has only taken out a dozen so far.

Several Atlanteans manning the canons seem overwhelmed by the “air breathers”, stunned that Captain America alone stopped a whole squad single-handedly. Another declares that they will get the Avengers now and fires shots at Namor, who asks them why they continue the senseless attacks. Namor declares that Atlantean or not, they give him no choice, for he is an Avenger and whoever attacks the Avengers ‘must face the might of the Sub-Mariner!’ he shouts as he smashes through the canon and several Atlanteans.

Hercules holds back a dozen or so Atlanteans against a wall and jokingly asks them if they do not know any better than to get themselves cornered while another lot of Atlanteans retreat, rather wishing to face the wrath of Attuma than battle the Avengers unarmed. The Avengers regroup and Cap starts to make a plan when an underwater explosion grabs their attention. Hercules proclaims that it would seem Attuma’s forces are under attack from the North also, and Captain Marvel swims over to check it out, until Namor informs her that it will not be necessary if the new players are who he thinks they are.

Wasp asks Namor if he knows the other attackers, and he replies that he sent his cousin Byrrah to find them, although he had some doubts that he would, and as the new group of heroes approaches he sees that indeed it is Alpha Flight! Oh, of course! says the Wasp as she recalls that they briefly met them during the final battle with the Beyonder. Four of the Alphans sit on a giant white whale, who actually happens to be the goddess Snowbird who can change shape, that swims towards the Avengers while two more swim alongside. Aurora calls to her handsome brother Northstar that the Avengers are ahead and his reply is that he wonders what they are doing here. Box asks the new Talisman if they might be here to help Marrina too, and he replies that it is likely as he had read the Sub-Mariner rejoined the Avengers.

Shortly, the two super teams confer and Black Knight is surprised to learn that the white whale is one of their members, as though he heard there was a shape changer on the team he never realized the extent of her abilities. Alpha Flight’s leader, Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. Vindicator declares that they must all be careful as she wants to avoid an international incident. Captain America reminds her that they are just going to rescue Marrina and get out. The faster, the better! exclaims the Wasp and Namor concurs, reminding everyone that he no longer rules Atlantis, for when he ruled he ruled neither wisely not well, and that he will not force himself on his people.

Namor declares that the Atlanteans have chosen to live under the rule of a tyrant and so they must live by that decision, for all he now demands from them is Marrina’s freedom. Someone informs Namor that they are ready to see that demand met while Puck whispers to Box that they are playing with the big leagues now, eh?

Back in Attuma’s Atlantean fortress, the warlord tells Marrina that he does not think she will have to wait for death too much longer, and hopes that his messengers will soon bring word of Namor’s death – along with his head. He places his hands on Marrina’s orb prison and tells her that it is only fair that she sees her lovers face one last time before he crushes the life out of her. Cruelly he laughs and asks Marrina if she would like that.

Attuma turns to a servant and asks him how the slaughter is going. The servant replies that he does not know as he has lost all contact with the kingdom’s perimeter, adding that there are reports of more invaders on the outskirts of the city. Attuma snarls and asks how this can be, after all, what force could possibly over come the two divisions of his legion? Suddenly, a loud sound is made and Attuma realizes that it is the great warning horn, sounded because Atlantis is under siege. But other than Namor himself, who would dare?

Alpha Flight and the Avengers! That’s who! And at that moment, directly overhead, the two teams of heroes swim into Atlantis. Captain America tells the Wasp that it sounds like Atlantis knows they are coming, and Wasp orders Namor and Hercules to take the lead, as Vindicator tells Alpha Flight to be ready to back them up.

As Hercules pummels his way mocks the Wasp “Take the lead” says she…bah! What else would I do? The Prince of Power needs no slip of a woman to tell him the obvious! Captain America engages in battle and tells the Avengers not to let up, and to remember that the enemy has the home ground advantage. Wasp backs up what Cap just said and declares that they must not allow the enemy even the slightest opening. Black Knight exclaims that it might be easier said and done, as there are plenty more guards to replace the ones they just defeated!

More guards shoot at the super heroes, boasting that they will kill them for the greater glory of Atlantis. Vindicator warns Box that there is a whole division moving in on Namor and he swims over towards the Sub-Mariner, time for Alpha Flight to start puling its weight. Box crashes through the division, ready for Captain Marvel to stun them with her powers.

Attuma angrily shouts at his army, informing them that it is no ordinary air-breathers that they fight, but the Avengers, and he orders the heavy artillery to be brought up. Someone tells Attuma that such weaponry could destroy the city, to which the warlord asks ‘what of it?’ and proclaims that cities can be rebuilt and that he would level a hundred cities to insure his victory, for the Avengers must fall and the Sub-Mariner must die.

Namor sees Attuma swims quickly over to him, striking him in the jaw as he reaches him and declaring that he could hear him braying an ocean away. Namor tells him that the fact Atlantis chose him to rule staggers the mind and that while he may have the throne and the kingdom, the fact that he would sacrifice both to see him dead makes him a madman or a fool. With that, Namor smashes Attuma into a wall.

Attuma’s lieutenants rush to marshal their forces against the Alphans and the Avengers while Northstar streaks into Attuma’s throne room, where he comes across Marrina, who is surprised to see her former teammate. Jean-Paul tells Marrina not to worry, and smashing her prison open he declares that her ordeal is nearly over. Helping her out of the orb, he asks her what they have done to her, to which Marrina wearily tells him not to look at her.

Soon, Attuma has gathered himself and is furious that the half-breed traitor would dare assault him and his air-breathing accomplices free his lover. He asks where his legions are and bellows that the invaders must not be allowed to escape. As Attuma chokes out his commands, the waters above and around the city’s center fill with men and armament. Someone tells the army that they need to concentrate their fire to protect their threatened warlord. Attuma is glad that the withering barrage will keep Namor at bay until he can retreat to a position of strength, and within moments, Namor, the Avengers and Alpha Flight are surrounded.

Moments later, Attuma stands on a balcony and jeering down at the captured heroes he reminds Namor that he called him a fool, but he was wrong, for a fool shows mercy to his foes! With that, Namor orders for all the heroes to be slain when suddenly, Hercules declares that by his beard no one shall be slain today, and creates a seismic shock when he stomps his foot down, causing a ripples effect to make the warriors fall down like dominoes.

Captain Marvel quickly neutralizes the stunned Atlanteans mobile artillery as eight of the heroes whisk Marrina to the surface, shielding her with their bodies, while four others remain on the battle ground to fight on against the legions of Atlantis. As Vindicator stops her opponents with an electromagnetic blast she thinks to herself that the Wasp is fast on her feet, but remembers that the Wasp has been at this a lot longer than she has. Box pummels through his opponents as the Sub-Mariner charges once again up to Attuma.

Namor tells Attuma that this has gone on long enough and now that his plan has been foiled it is time to call of his legions and surrender. Never! exclaims Attuma as he throws a large rock at Namor, which shatters against him, but knocks him to the sea ground as Attuma tells him that he may have beaten him in the past, but things are different this time. Attuma stands over Namor’s body and tells him that this time, it is he who is the sovereign of Atlantis and Namor who is the usurper and picking up a large slab or rock, Attuma declares that this time Namor will know his defeat.

However Namor gets up just in time and punches Attuma in the chest, declaring that he may rule, but he shall never slay him. Namor tells Attuma that he does not want the throne, and Attuma realizes Namor is serious. Namor tells Attuma to order his men to stop fighting before his allies in the Avengers and Alpha Flight are forced to injure more of them.

Nearby, Box announces that they have the Atlanteans on the run now, when suddenly he stops in his tracks. Heather asks him what is wrong, and he replies that he doesn’t know, for he has never stayed merged with the Box armor for so long, and he now doesn’t feel to good. Heather orders him to get to the surface and phase out of the armor ‘on the double’, and the jets in Box’s armor shoot him to the surface in mere seconds, where he flies out of the water just near the other heroes who have just resurfaced. Captain America asks if everyone is all right, and Aurora realizes that Marrina is missing!

Back on the ocean floor, Attuma is sprawled out on the ground as Namor stands over him, telling him to look around himself, and declaring that none of the destruction was necessary. Namor proclaims that the affairs of Atlantis are part of his past, doubting that he would have ever returned had Marrina not been taken prisoner. Namor declares that there is a saying among the surface people, that every nation has the government it deserves. If that is so, then I pity Atlantis. Hercules tells Namor they should return to the land, as there is nothing more for him here.

But suddenly, Marrina swims into view, calling out to Attuma, the warrior’s mistake this for an attack and as Namor calls to her to go back, Marrina is shot at by the legion. Namor smashes some of the legion declaring that they will cause her no further pain. Namor swims over to his beloved as she floats helplessly in the water. Hercules calls to him, but Captain Marvel tells him to let Namor go. Vindicator suggests to Hercules that they take their leave, and as the swim to the surface, Captain Marvel tells Attuma that he can keep ruling Atlantis for as long as the people will put up with him, and the Avengers will not interfere. But if he ever pulls another stunt like this then the Avengers will be on top of him like ‘mud on a crawfish’ and for him not to forget that.

Captain Marvel swims away and Attuma scowls, thinking that much has happened that he cannot forget, and Atlantis will not allow him to forget it either, but he shall make the heroes pay for this humiliation even if it takes all eternity.

Several leagues beyond the great undersea city of Atlantis, Namor realizes that the drifting traces of Marrina’s blood have disappeared like she swam away from him. He knows he cannot lose her again, when luckily he spies her up ahead. He calls to her, but Marrina tells him to go away, as he will not want to look at her like this. Namor tells Marrina that she has been wounded and he only wants to help her. I’ll be all right, some wounds heal quickly Marrina replies. She asks him again to leave, when he puts a hand on her shoulder informing her that she does not know how hard he had searched for her.

Marrina tells Namor that she did not want him to find her, for she knew he would repeat his offer of marriage…and I am not worthy. Namor tells Marrina that she is just in pain and knows not what she says, when suddenly, Marrina pulls her hands away from her face which has been hidden all this time, and she reminds Namor that she is an alien, and that the only reason she is even humanoid is because the first organism she came into direct contact with was a human woman.

Marrina declares that there was one other living creature on Earth with her body chemistry, the monster with which the Master entrapped her. Marrina reveals that the Master wanted the two Plodex to destroy each other, thus riding the world of their kind, but in bringing them together he nearly propagated their Plodex race. Captain Marvel arrives near Namor and Marrina, but in her neutrino form she remains unseen, but a shocked witness to Marrina’s story. Marrina informs Namor that her race was bio-engineered with breeding in mind, and thus contact with her mate triggered changes within her, eventually awakening an alien spawning that has left her body wracked with pain.

Namor calmly asks Marrina how he can help her, and as she starts to swim away, Marrina tells him that he cannot, adding that there is no future for the two of them, she tells him to forget her. That is something I cannot do, Marrina, says Namor, to which Marrina asks him to remember her as she was, for she must go now and lose herself amid the depths.

Suddenly Captain Marvel makes her presence known and she gets in Marrina’s way, telling the young amphibian not to go. Marrina is surprised that Captain Marvel heard everything, to which Monica apologizes, not meaning to eavesdrop. She suggests that they may be able to help her, as the Avengers know many top biologists that could at least ease her pain. Marrina scowls that no one can help, and that the only thing that can alleviate the spawning urge is time…or death.

Marrina tells Captain Marvel to get away from her and with her rational mind beginning to slip away, Marrina leaps at the glistening form, almost eager to rend the golden flesh. Leave me alone! she screams, but there is no flesh to be torn, and with a maddened yowl, Marrina passes harmlessly through Captain Marvel’s living light and streaks away into the ocean depths.

Namor and Captain Marvel swim after her, Monica assuring Namor that she can reach Marrina before she gets away, but Namor tells Monica that this is no longer Avengers business, it has become a personal matter and he will find Marrina himself. Captain Marvel reminds the Sub-Mariner that he invoked personal privilege a week ago and wound up having his mind changed the hard way. ‘This is different’ Namor snaps back. Monica doesn’t think it is and tells Namor that she is his teammate and that Captain America may be the best friend he has on all of Earth. Why wont you let us help? she asks.

Narrowing his eyes, Namor professes that this is because it is no longer a case of saving an innocent from oppressors, it is a matter of recovering a lost soul. He declares that Marrina has been through a terrible ordeal, in part because of his love for her, realizing that had he not proposed marriage, Attuma would never have tried to use Marrina against him. Adding to all of this, Marrina’s own body has begun to betray her and she is utterly alone, more an outcast than he himself. Namor tells Monica that he feels responsible for Marrina and asks if she understands that.

Captain Marvel replies that she thinks so, but tells Namor not to forget his other responsibilities, reminding him of the two billion dollar lawsuit facing him back in New York, not to mention he was the one who insisted on going to court. Namor declares that recognition in the courts of his father’s land is very important to him, for it is a priceless opportunity to declare his place amongst the humanity of the surface world. Monica tells him that this could be his last opportunity, to which Namor declares he is aware of that, but he cannot abandon Marrina, he must help her find some sort of peace.

Still following Marrina as best they can, Namor tells Monica that he wants to tell the Wasp that he wishes to take a leave of absence from the active ranks of the Avengers, but that he shall return as soon as he can. Monica asks him if he is sure about taking indefinite leave, and swimming away from her Namor calls back that he is not certain of anything in this world, save duty and honor, and when the first is ignored, the second must wither and die. Namor fares Monica goodbye, adding that he shall miss being an Avenger and the Avengers themselves.

Captain Marvel says good bye, Namor while watching him leave she remembers that when Namor first joined the Avengers she wondered whether or not he could be trusted, and today she even doubted his motives. She wonders if she has finally seen the true Sub-Mariner, but is it too late, and will she ever see him again?

Characters Involved: 

Black Knight III, Captain America, Captain Marvel II, Hercules, Sub-Mariner, Wasp (All Avengers)

Aurora, Box, Northstar, Puck, Snowbird, Talisman III, Vindicator II (All Alpha Flight)
Marrina (Former member of Alpha Flight)


In Flashback

Marrina’s Plodex mate

Story Notes: 

This story follows from Alpha Flight (first series) #39 and concludes in Alpha Flight (first series) #40.

Namor’s abdication of the throne of Atlantis took place in the Sub-Mariner limited series.

Namor and Marrina’s last time together was chronicled in Alpha Flight (first series) #14-16.

The Avengers and Alpha Flight both took part in the final battle with the Beyonder, which took place in Secret Wars II #9.

Marrina’s encounter with a human woman, Gladys Smallwood, can be seen in Alpha Flight (first series) #2.

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