Monday, May 07, 2007

What If... Destiny Had Not Destroyed Atlantis? (Marvel comics)
What If? #41 When: October 1983
Why: Alan Zelenetz How: Marc Silvestri & Mel Candido

The story so far...
Possessing the Helmet of Power, a criminal mastermind called Destiny attempts to conquer the world, rock the undersea kingdom of Atlantis to it's very core.
Responding to the threat, Emperor Thakorr sends the avenging son, Namor, out into the field to put a stop to the attacks, but Namor is bested and has his memory stripped from him, leaving him to dwell among the surface dwellers lost and without a history.

In this world, however, the Sub-Mariner is victorious against the threat of Destiny, and while a plot of assassination and treason takes place back in Atlantis. Byrrah sets in motion his plan to seize the throne, and ultimately frames the Sub-Mariner himself for the murder of Thakorr.

Denying the will of Neptune himself, Namor enters a self-imposed exile, turning his back on a people blind enough to fall for the ploys of a corrupt dignitary.
Poetic irony sees Byrrah comes under a coup himself, set upon by the barbaric Attuma who believes himself a superior ruler to the pompous murderer.
But will Namor answer the call of his people, or turn his back forevermore?...

Previous Form:
Sub-Mariner (#27): Victories over the X-Men, Brotherhood of Evil Mutants & Dr. Dorcus.
Attuma (#244): Attuma was thwarted recently by the MODvengers.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Sub-Mariner 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Sub-Mariner 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Sub-Mariner 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Agility 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Draw 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Attuma 2 (Projectile Weapon)

I love Namor, but seriously, if you want to talk about the keys to victory, most of his villains could probably just bore him to death. You can kind of understand his fading into obscurity when you take the Nazis out of the equation, and rule out the one hundred and ninety-seventh invasion of the surface/fight with the Fantastic Four.

Attuma's probably just about the pick of the litter when it comes to Namor-specific villains. Granted he doesn't have the snazzy van dyk of Dr. Dorcas, but what he lacks in villainous facial hair, he makes up for in brute force.

On the superhero richtor scale they're pretty comparable. Varying characterization sees each as a fraction more powerful than the other, but on the whole I'm going to say the Hulk-slapping Namor takes that post. Likewise on the strategic intelligence front, even though Attuma is no doubt a fine military mind.

What Attuma does generally have over Namor is numbers. Despite being the rightful and prosperous Prince, Namor's arrogant temper and conflicting association with the surface world leaves him with few truly faithful subjects.
Attuma on the other hand manages to regularly rally barbarian soldiers, and sway the political interests of Atlantis at a whim.

Ultimately Attuma probably serves more than a distraction for Namor, but more often than not the war will be won by the Sub-Mariner, if not every battle. Imperius Rex!

The Math: Sub-Mariner (Meta Class)
The Pick: Sub-Mariner

What went down...
With an eighties pop-rock ballad blaring, Namor returns to Atlantis, having done some general adventuring and soul searching. Ready to accept his birthright, he returns to Atlantis to open a can on the barbarian ruler Attuma, complete with Neptune's personal trident, which he previously had turned down.

The Sub-Mariner punches his way through the kingdom, making his way to the throne room, where he makes an explosive entrance, flying through the doors with demands that would do Zod proud, "Bend your knees to the true prince, Barbarian knaves!"

Attuma commands his guards to seize Namor, but they are less than enthusiastic about their duty. Reaching his hands out to columns at his sides, Namor mocks them. "How you tremble, lowly warriors of base-born Attuma. What -- do you fear the strength of Namor?" With that, he flexes his mighty mutant muscles, and pushes the load baring columns to the point of buckling. He literally brings the ceiling down atop the insurgents unwelcome to the throneroom.

Standing confidently beside the wreckage is Prince Namor, with Neptune's haloed trident in his stead. He waits while Attuma pulls himself from the wreckage of the besmirched Atlantean palace.
In possession of a sword, Attuma hunches and curses Namor's insurrexion, promising to feed him to the serpents.

Attuma's attack is powerful but undisciplined.
Namor is able to swiftly defend the attack with the trident, matching the warrior blow for blow, despite lacking the savage desperation of Attuma's movements.

As Namor talks up his game, Attuma manages to disarm him! With a whip of his sword he flicks the mighty trident from the Prince's hands, flinging it out to land staked by the staff in the undersea dirt.

Not too proud to fight dirty [*ahem*], the Sub-Mariner uses his strength to lift a heavy rock and hurls it at Attuma's face. With the advantage his again, he turns to more traditional means of combat, throwing his weight into a devestating right hand.

Attuma acknowledges his foe's strength, but with a left to the bread basket, scoffs it's comparison to his own impressive physicality. Attuma grabs at Namor's face and heckles, "Does defeat choke the boasts in your throat now, haughty man-fish?"

Namor reaches out to Attuma's face, and furious throws his weight into a left that gets his opponent off of him. Though rattled, Attuma is still in a position to quickly respond in kind with his own jaw-shaking punch, but Namor is likewise not so easily felled.

With one last righteous punch, Namor delivers his decree to the coup leader in word and fist.
"Never shall one soul more of proud Atlantis perish as victim of Attuma's lust for blood!"

No longer able to retaliate, Attuma is lifted off the ground, hoisted above the rightful heir to the throne with Neptune's trident baring witness to the grim occasion. Demanding justice of a murderer, the Sub-Mariner pledges to do what he must.

Attuma dies for his crimes.
Order is restored, and Atlantis is again with a worthy king, but it comes as too little, too late.

Disillusioned, the Atlantean people ask of Prince Namor why it was he did not answer their first plees for help.
With their kingdom torn asunder, much like their hope, the Atlantean peoples dissipate, scattering themselves across the ocean floor like the memory of the once mighty kingdom. Even the insidious Krang joins the other Atlanteans, mournful for his involvement in Byrrah's original manipulation. Thus, Namor takes the throne in an empty kingdom.

The hammer...
Though there is little left to rule over, Namor is king of Atlantis and victor once more in the Secret Wars of Infinite Earths!

A little bit of cross pollonation there. We said goodbye to What If Wednesdays at the end of last month, but I thought I'd bring sexy back one last time for the Monday MUA fun. While it isn't one of my favourite stories, I'm glad I did take the time to look over it again.

I'd love to know who out there is a fan of Atlantis, because honestly I think there's a real argument to be made for pushing it aside. With the Sub-Mariner mini-series coming up soon, I'm thrust into bemusement as solicitations trickle out concerning the heavy involvement it takes with Atlantis.

We've talked in the past about the viability in entertainment of undersea adventures, and how even films of that nature have fallen by the wayside.
I don't think there's anything to suggest an undersea story can't work. I think of a recent issue of Black Panther where the Atlantean backdrop was actually enjoyable, with Namor's involvement as a political figure taking centre stage.

I'm loathed to suggest destroying Atlantis, regardless of the dramatic potential such a concept has. It has been done before, and there's always a heavy expectency in the gut for events such as those to be undone. Still, I remain thoroughly unimpressed by all I hear about the mini-series, and am reminded here how unimpressive Atlantean pseudo-politics can be, despite it's potential.

One can't help but feel a boat was missed with Civil War. Looking to Black Adam for inspiration, you can see how the catalyst of Namorita's death could have been the spark which lit a fire to take Namor to a place of purpose.
Nobody wants to see Namor rip through the country on a murderous rampage just because it worked for Black Adam, but it seems tragic that Namor, who was characterized in such a manner long before Black Adam, is being outdone by a copycat. Instead, he languishes in an obscure limbo of being himself, yet not so.

Namor: Kingpin of crime? I say it can work!Not to say change is bad. I still strongly stand by my concept of moving Namor back into the surface world, allowing him to take active interest in a role more reminiscent of a super-ambassador. With the political atmosphere so tense in post-Civil War Marvel, it becomes even easier to justify the shift, bouncing off of the Atlantis sleeper-agent/Damage Control conspiracy sub-plot.

Of course, the ultimate goal of my concept would be to have Namor taking a pro-active role in the criminal underworld, acting in the vaccuum left by the imprisonment of figures like Kingpin, Bullseye, Daredevil, Punisher, Owl, Hammerhead and other noteworthy gangsters. Even with DD and his fellows moving back to the scene, I think it would be wonderfully interesting to see the interplay between these characters.

That corner of the Marvel Universe is heavily directed by the prestigious Daredevil title, and while you could never ask to impede on the direction of that book, somewhere at the heart of the concept is that issue number five where DD and Namor met. It's so often noted as many fans' favourite fights, and I love the idea of giving some sort of logical validity to a scenario like that in a contemporary setting.

Yes, it's a distinct shift, but there are a lot of smaller moving parts that would make it work. It's probably a little too radical to happen even if I somehow establish myself as one of the most exciting new writers in comics, but damned if it isn't a pitch that will rip your fucking nipples off!
And yes. You can bet your arse I'm going to be peddling it again in the future, because what's coming is boring. I want excitement!

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 4
NEXT: Can a rag tag bunch of Z-graders possibly stand up to the might of the deadly DRAGON MAN?!

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