Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Once More Rises... Atlantis!

As the Sub-Mariner title in late 1973 began what seemed a steadfast march toward cancellation, writer Steve Gerber made a few changes designed to breathe new life into the book and turn around its flagging sales. That decision would translate to a world of grief for Namor, as well as for Atlantis, both of which had seen more than their share of conflict and setbacks already--only this time, what Gerber had in mind would combine their two fates by making Namor the catalyst for what would befall his kingdom. It was an unfortunate time to be an Atlantean, as well as the Sub-Mariner.

Namor's woes began when two powerful enemies, Orka and the She-Beast, joined forces to subdue him by first bringing Atlantis to near-ruin and then going on to eliminate its ruler. And when you have control over a herd of killer whales and have backed your victim against a coral reef, you'd have every reason to feel confident that victory is at hand. But Namor decides on a desperate plan of escape--one that will end up costing him in the long run.

Washed ashore and near death from his exposure to the gas, Namor is retrieved by the Inhuman, Triton, and brought to the Fantastic Four--but upon regaining consciousness, he learns that his collision with the nerve gas cannisters has indeed taken its toll on him.

Meanwhile, Orka and the She-Beast enter Atlantis (or what's left of it) in triumph. But the force of Namor's impact with the surface ship carrying the gas cannisters has caused their contents to spread--and Atlantis, and nearly all within, end up in its path.

At the Baxter Building, Reed Richards has devised a special suit that will allow Namor to remain alive when he's out of contact with water. Yet when he returns to Atlantis, he finds that everything that made his life worth living has been decimated.

However, when Namor is found by his young cousin, Namorita, who arrives with the group of amphibious humans he rescued earlier from a power-mad villain, he discovers that hope yet remains for his subjects.

After relocating to the surface facility where Croft and his fellows were transformed to amphibians, a further step is discussed which is intended to preserve the Atlanteans while the cure for their condition is being researched.

That leads to a conflict with the villain known as Force, who has other ideas for the invention that Namor needs for his people. Eventually, however, Namor prevails, and his kingdom soon lies protected beneath the depths.

By this time, however, Sub-Mariner has shifted to bi-monthly publication, which unfortunately is a fair indication that the writing is on the wall for the mag. That indeed turns out to be the case, as, three issues later, the title folds, leaving the fate of Atlantis and its population in limbo.

Which is our cue to unfold yet another

Marvel Trivia Question

When and how did the resurrection of the Atlanteans take place?

Nearly two years would pass before there was any definitive action taken to resolve this storyline, finally addressed in the pages of Super-Villain Team-Up (another bi-monthly publication)--where Dr. Doom holds the safety of Atlantis as leverage in order to secure the cooperation of his sometime-ally, Namor. For Doom, of course, "cooperation" is another word for "subservience."

And talk about mileage. It takes an entire year for the tide to turn in Namor's favor on the issue of his people, when Doom is at a disadvantage in dealing with the attack of the Red Skull and turns to the newly-arrived Sub-Mariner (who by now is free from his oath to Doom, as well as his affliction in regard to the nerve gas exposure) for assistance--and with an offer that Namor can hardly refuse.

Add another issue for the Skull to receive his comeuppance, and the stage is finally set for Doom to make good on his word, and the people of Atlantis to finally awaken from their long slumber.

What neither of these men counted on, however, is for Atlantis to have been claimed by Namor's old enemy, the warlord Krang, along with an armed group of men made up of everything from outcasts of Atlantis and Lemuria to remnants of the armies of Byrrah, Attuma, and even surface-men. But while Namor tears into them like a man possessed, Doom is in the clear to do what he came to accomplish.

Moving to aid their prince, the Atlanteans join in the fight against Krang's forces--while Doom clashes swords with Krang himself. It's a fine issue worth the wait, which sees Namor and his people triumphant and ready to give their all into making their civilization rise again.

Just what was the deal with that prophecy, anyway?

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