Tales To Astonish #82-83
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #82, Tales To Astonish #83
The Sub-Mariner and Iron Man are fighting over a misunderstanding involving Krang and Lady Dorma.
They seem fairly evenly matched (although Marvel's writers have always had a very optimistic view of the power of judo, which nearly every Marvel hero seems to have taken time to learn).
Namor uses the oath "By the rising gates of Atlantis!". I find that to be a strange oath, similar to if i were to shout "By my front door!".
Finally, Namor and Iron Man are locked in mortal combat...
Ok, luckily Iron Man Masterworks vol. 3 has got me covered here. It turns out Namor runs off when he thinks (or pretends; Iron Man has him on the ropes at this point) that he's spotted Krang's flagship in the sea...
...and then Tony Stark resolves to call Senator Byrd and turn himself in.
But the Iron Man Masterworks doesn't cover the Hulk portion of the issue, so I still don't know how the Hulk story begins, but he's fighting the army again. Talbot shows up back at the base with Rick and informs General Ross that his daughter's been kidnapped. Meanwhile the members of the Secret Empire are being assassinated one by one. They suspect that it is Agent Nine who is doing it but they say they can't act without proof. They're very by-the-rules for an illegal secret organization bent on world domination.
The Hulk encounters Boomerang carrying Betty around and like any good horror monster he just keeps coming despite everything Boomerang throws at him.
Boomerang flees, leaving the Hulk with a terrified Betty.
She tries reasoning with him, and he ends up digging her a shelter and providing her with fire. He heads off to find her food as well but the army attacks him. Rick mediates a cease-fire and the Hulk leaves, unhappy and confused that Betty wants to return to her father.
Number Nine kills off the rest of the Secret Empire, excepting Number One (actually he just hits them with a stun grenade; see the comments for more on this).
He's talking in full villain high-speak, but it will turn out (revealed in Strange Tales #149) that Number Nine is actually Gabriel Jones, infiltrating the Secret Empire for SHIELD. Another good reason to read all of these comics at once; otherwise this feels like an unresolved plot line.
Back to Namor... he's back on the trail of Krang and Dorma in NYC. Krang tries to take advantage of the fact that Namor has suffered head injuries in the past, but it doesn't help him any. The Sub-Mariner starts to tear apart Krang's ship. But when he sees Lady Dorma he pauses for a minute, long enough for Krang to blast him.
Meanwhile, in a nice continuation of the Hulk story, Secret Empire's Number One is in New York as well.
His plan is to hypnotize Namor to have him defeat the Hulk in revenge for the Hulk's disruption of Boomerang's attempt to steal the Orion Missile. He heads after Namor but finds that Namor is already stunned from Krang's blast and doesn't need any further hypnotizing to do Number One's bidding.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Sub-Mariner story continues directly from Tales Of Suspense #79-80. Takes place before Gabriel Jones returns to SHIELD in Strange Tales #149. For the Hulk, this takes place in a very compressed timeframe due to Marvel Monsters: Monsters on the Prowl #1; see the Considerations section there for more details.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: Marvel Super-Heroes #37, Marvel Super-Heroes #38, Marvel Masterworks: The Invincible Iron Man vol. 3
Inbound References (5): show
Betty Ross, Boomerang, Gabriel Jones, General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, Glenn Talbot, Hulk, Iron Man, Krang, Lady Dorma, Rick Jones, Sub-Mariner
In the credits box for the Kirby Sub-Mariner story, a line reads something like: "Kirby drew it, and then asked 'Who's Sub-Mariner?'" even though Kirby drew the story bringing him back in FF #4.
Oddly enough, Number 9 isn't Gabe Jones, and he hasn't killed off the other Secret Empire guys. He says in this issue that the blast was a stun bomb, and by the time the others wake up he'll have usurped Number 1. Years later, when Captain America revisits the plot, circa Cap 174, Gabe Jones reveals that he was also in room and wearing body armor under his robes, and subsequently duked it out with Number 9 and took down the organization. At least that's what I recall from the GTI DVD ROMs.
Much cleaner if Gabe was Number 9 and had blown up the others, and maybe it was retconned thatthebomb did kill them, but the original TTA story claims otherwise.
It's Cap 175 where we learn that Gabe was actually Number 6. The TTA 83 panel that reveals the grenade was only a stun bomb is right before the one where Number 9 reveals the armor under his robes. I don't have Strange Tales 149, so maybe the details there are different.
Hey Walter. I've expanded on the relevant scans for Strange Tales #149 and Cap #175. You'll see in ST #149 that Gabe identifies himself as Number 9, and a footnote says that Gabe's defeat of the Secret Empire was a "highlight" of TTA #83, so i'm pretty confident that it was Stan's intention that the Number 9 we see here is Gabe.
But Cap #175 clearly retcons that. In that issue, Gabe says he was actually Number 6. I wonder if Englehart was "fixing" the fact that Number 9 was talking in high villain-speak here. Seems like an unnecessary retcon.
Either way, you're right that Number 9 doesn't actually kill the other Secret Empire members here; it's a stun grenade. I think i might have been winking about the fact that it sure looks like they're dying in the art but the dialogue makes it code-approved, but that's not clear and i've added a correction.
If I were going for a No-Prize, I'd suggest Gabe just lied to Cap in Cap 175 about how he infiltrated the Secret Empire. Maybe to cover up the fact that his stun grenades were more lethal than he'd counted on...
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