Issue(s): Avengers #272
Attuma is aware that the team is coming...
...but Captain Marvel is able to do some surveillance in the invisible neutrino form that the Black Knight taught her to use last issue, so the Avengers stop just short of the cannon assault that the Atlanteans have prepared, and they offer the troops a chance to surrender.
With no takers on that, the battle begins. We see the source of the submarine that got tossed above water in the Alpha Flight issue.
Despite their ability to completely repel Sub-Mariner in the lead-up to this, the Atlanteans (supplemented with Attuma's barbarian horde) turn out to be a complete joke in this issue, with Cap patronizingly saying that he's only able to take out a dozen of them so far and then the whole unit fleeing in terror.
That's when Alpha Flight shows up. I have mixed feelings about their appearance here. On the one hand, the team are definitely second-stringers compared to the Avengers, and they are treated as such. I do think that makes sense; the Avengers are Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the world's premiere super-hero team, so Alpha Flight shouldn't be upstaging them. But they ought to at least have something to contribute.
We start with the Wasp barely recognizing them.
I do like the Black Knight's double-take at seeing SnowWhale.
Then we have a line with Puck and Box talking about how they are in the "big leagues" now.
Again, i like the sentiment but it comes across a little too overt. Several re-readings ago (my Roger Stern Avengers issues are well-worn!) when i read this line i went back to double-check that Bill Mantlo wasn't scripting.
The renewed battle focuses on the Avengers...
...and when Alpha Flight is spotlighted, it's still with an acknowledgement that they aren't really needed...
...and other such comparisons.
Box is forced to withdraw from the battle due to being in the armor too long (this even will be described differently in Alpha Flight #40).
Namor fights Attuma personally, and since the tide is definitely against him, Attuma eventually accepts that Namor is telling the truth and that he only wants to rescue Marrina and not re-take the throne.
As Namor says, quoting the surface world saying, people get the government they deserve. So if the Atlanteans want Attuma as a ruler, so be it. Attuma therefore lets everyone go (it's not like he had a choice since the Avengers - and ok, Alpha Flight a little too - decimated his forces). But he swears vengeance.
Namor catches up with Marrina and sees for the first time what she's become. He says that he wants to help her, but you can see he seems unable to look at her.
She runs off. Captain Marvel, who had been listening in, also tries to convince her to stay, but to no avail. And she's unable to convince Namor to take further help from the Avengers, either.
We've been seeing Captain Marvel wondering whether she could trust the Sub-Mariner since he joined the Avengers, and that continues at the beginning of this issue, where she wonders if he'll use the team to reclaim the Atlantean throne. But now, seeing his devotion to Marrina, she realizes she was wrong and feels like she's seeing the true Sub-Mariner but wonders if it's too late because she might not see him again. Namor will return during Roger Stern's run while CM is still on the team, though.
Everyone knows i'm a big fan of the Buscema/Palmer combination, but this issue feels rough in several places. That first picture of Attuma laughing is just goofy, and his battle with Namor is also not so good. Considering that this appears between two very similar bar scenes for Hercules in issues #272 and #273, i did wonder if this story got inserted later. Not enough that the issue was late or needed fill-in help, but enough that the team had to rush a bit. That's pure speculation, of course. The art still has the basic Buscema/Palmer feel and is nothing to scoff at, and unlike David Ross' work on the Alpha Flight issue at least you get a sense that the action is actually happening underwater, even if it's just because of some wavy lines and seascape backgrounds.
Storywise, this also isn't the best Roger Stern issue. The Alpha Flight guest appearance, as i've already noted is disappointing. After the Black Knight makes a big deal of Snowbird as a giant whale, we don't even see her again, and more generally the team just doesn't get much of a focus. There isn't even a goodbye scene. It's possible Stern knew the issues were happening roughly simultaneously and assumed that Mantlo and Ross would focus on Alpha for their half, but the Alpha issue really reads more like a lead-in. Beyond that, the battle with the Atlanteans is kinda sad. Whenever Atlantis invades the surface world, they bring with them all sorts of high tech equipment and sea monsters, but aside from some canons that the Avengers easily circumvent, the Atlanteans have nothing here and come across no better than street thugs. It makes you question why Namor actually needed any help.
The whole issue comes across as something that the creative team is only half-heartedly invested in, again making me wonder if the crossover got pushed on them. Stern does make use of this story to resolve Captain Marvel's doubts about Sub-Mariner, and it's still a fun battle issue, so it's far from a total loss.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place more or less concurrently with Alpha Flight #39, with this issue possibly starting a little later and definitely ending later. Namor's search for Marrina continues directly in Alpha Flight #40 (and Alpha Flight will join him). Namor's departure from the team is referenced in West Coast Avengers annual #1, so this storyline takes place before that story, which begins in Avengers annual #15.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAttuma, Aurora, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Box, Byrrah, Captain America, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Hercules, Madison Jeffries, Marrina, Northstar, Puck, Shaman, Snowbird, Sub-Mariner, Vindicator (Heather Hudson), Wasp
Is this the only time Attuma has worn this costume? Did Big John Buscema not care, or is the new outfit indicative of his new leadership of Atlantis?
I have an irrational love of Attuma for some reason. I think he makes a better leader of Atlantis than Namor for multiple reasons, the foremost being that a protagonist is very limited if he has the responsibilities of a monarch. Fine for a guest star or supporting character, but it hurts a solo superhero title as a monarch has heavy responsibilities to his people. Plus, I like the idea Attuma was "prophesied" to rule Atlantis. Very nice when the bad guys win occasionally.
However, I always thought Attuma to be someone like Genghis Khan or Tamerlane - a barbarian who gains control of a major state and really terrorizes the world through his military genius and utter ruthlessness. I think it would make him a very good major villain.
"Attuma, what is best in life?"
Posted by: Chris | January 22, 2014 1:23 AM
In regards to Attuma, I wouldn't associate the word genius with him. He never struck me as being particularly smart. I always saw him as the "shoot first, ask questions later" kind of guy.
Also, the Black Panther ruled Wakanda and still found time to be a super-hero. And he was as high-profile as Namor.
Posted by: clyde | January 22, 2014 10:18 AM
I never noticed before, but Black Knight has almost become the "Reed Richards" of this team. As the resident "scientist", he's helped the Wasp and Captain Marvel get better control of their powers and rigged up suits to help the others use their powers underwater. He even analyzed his sword.
Posted by: clyde | May 26, 2015 4:22 PM
Yeah, the Black Knight is one of (if not THE most) overlooked smart guy/scientist types the Avengers have on their roster. This was certainly his era to shine in that capacity what with Iron Man and Hank Pym on the west coast team, the Black Panther in the middle of a LONG hiatus and Beast with X-Factor. Unfortunately, he's never rotated back into that kind of position since...
Posted by: Bill | May 26, 2015 4:38 PM
This issue sets up the tragedy of what will happen later with Marrina and CM's knowledge here is reflected during that run, where she is both the leader and the one who knows what happened here.
I really loved that the Sub-Mariner joined the Avengers just as my subscription to it began and was massively bummed that he was gone within a year.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 26, 2015 7:28 AM
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