Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Sub-Mariner Strikes!

It's interesting to read Fantastic Four #147 in hindsight, since we already know what Namor, the Sub-Mariner, is up to when he makes a blatantly aggressive move against the FF. And if you aren't aware of what he's up to, I'll withhold those details for now. (But hold that thought.) We'll just proceed as if you're laying eyes on it for the first time.

To bring everyone up to speed, however, here's how things break down:

  • As far as the FF know, Reed's estranged wife, Sue, has taken her son, Franklin, and retreated to a ranch owned by her friends, Bob and Carol Linders.
  • Johnny, Ben, and Medusa have just returned from a (heh heh) chilling encounter with Ternak.
  • In their absence, Reed has been served with divorce papers from said estranged wife.

It's a heck of a time for the Sub-Mariner to stir up trouble, but it looks like that's clearly what the issue's splash page is trying to convey.

I'd pay good money to actually hear Medusa try to whistle "I Wish I Was In Dixie," but something tells me traditional southern folk music never made its way to the Himalayas.

At any rate, the news serves as the catalyst for the hostilities that will break out later between Namor and the FF--because though all three of the new arrivals react to the depressing development which has Reed slumped in a chair, only one of them moves to do something about it.

With Johnny tagging along, the Thing takes the team's jet-cycle and heads towards Pennsylvania. But by now you've no doubt guessed the road block he's going to run into.

Namor, taking the Thing by surprise, lands the first blow, smashing the 'cycle in the process. When he lands, Ben is still mystified by Namor's words--striking because his "honor demands it," even though he and the Thing have no quarrel at present. But Ben had better shake off his confusion fast, because Namor has easy access to water--and you know what that means.

Artists Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott do a *ahem* bang-up job on this issue, though I lost count of the number of panels that Buckler has based on Jack Kirby's prior work on the book. Or, put another way: If I'm thrilled by the artwork on this issue, just which artist am I appreciating?

The Torch fares little better against Namor--but we do learn definitively that Namor was lying in wait for both of them. At present, neither the Torch nor the Thing know the reason behind that, though that will change--just as soon as Namor gets his clock cleaned by a fighting-mad Thing.

While it may seem to you and I that Namor was completely decked, unfortunately Ben and Johnny only receive a moment's reprieve before their foe circles back and issues a stern warning, one that would seem to spell out just why Namor wants the FF to back off in its search for Sue.

Despite the Sub-Mariner's veiled threat, the pair proceed to the ranch as best they can (we can assume Johnny rustled up some transportation once he dried off), only to discover from the Linders that Namor had retrieved Sue earlier, during what appeared to be a kidnapping. Curiouser and curiouser.

The only thing left to do is to return to the Baxter Building and brief Reed on the situation. And his reaction? Earlier, we found him gripped by depression; now, five hours after learning what happened to Sue, he's worked to come up with a plan of action, though he's understandably a bit short-tempered. (You have to admit, a divorce summons arriving on the day that the Sub-Mariner, his long-time rival for Sue's affections, shows up and stakes a claim for her is one heck of a coincidence.)

(Oxy-pills are all well and good--but wouldn't four pairs of goggles also be in order?)

As to the sight that greets the stunned adventurers--have a look at what Buckler can come up with when he puts his mind to it.

Despite the precautions Reed has taken, the team is at a severe disadvantage in tackling the Sub-Mariner beneath the sea.  Eventually, the fight comes down to Namor and Reed--though it becomes clear that it isn't the number of blows rained against him that have an impact on Reed, so much as Namor's stinging words.

While their fight plays out, the Thing takes the opportunity to locate Sue within the fortress. A sensible move--after all, if she's indeed been kidnapped, this could be the way to bring Reed and Sue together long enough in the same room to talk, with both of them being receptive to what the other has to say. Of course, if that isn't the case--well, it figures that this would be the time when the other shoe drops.


Believe it or not, there's method to Namor's madness, though it may be the strangest approach to marriage counseling that was ever on the books. As usual, Sue is clueless to what's really going on here--that this has all been part of a plan by Namor, Triton, and Medusa to bring the Richardses back together. Yet the plan culminates in Namor's attack on New York, presumably to avenge the wrongs done to Sue--now how can something like that be helpful? But somehow, it works--just because Sue sees how desperately Reed is fighting for her. (Like she didn't already see that on that big viewscreen.)

What we really need is a post to put the troubled history of Reed and Sue's marriage into perspective. And it just so happens that the PPC has you covered.

Fantastic Four #147

Script: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Rich Buckler
Inks: Joe Sinnott
Letterer: Artie Simek


Marcus said...

I loved this issue when I was a kid and even had Buckler & Sinnott sign the cover but almost every panel echoes Jack Kirby.

Jared said...

It seems to me “The Sub Mariner Strikes” is a title that has been used many times. I know there is a Lee Kirby issue with the same title on the cover.

I’ve said it before but I maintain FF is the hardest Marvel to come up with new ideas or art styles for.

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