SUB-MARINER: Page 12 of 17

Publication Date: 14th Aug 2017
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: Dean Clayton.


Unfortunately for Namor, his return was not as easy as others. Crashing into Manhattan, Namor's fragile mind could not reconcile the two conflicting sets of memories from his original life and Counter-Earth life. Finding himself amnesiac and highly enraged at first, the delirious Namor fell into step with the Wrecking Crew in destroying Wall Street and battling Spider-Man. Only when the Crew left Spider-Man to die in chains underwater did Namor's noble persona re-emerge and he entered the waters to rescue to web-slinger. Namor saved Spider-Man and collected his memories, but discovered an even greater problem... he could no longer breathe underwater! [Marvel Team-Up (2nd series) #6]

Like all the returning heroes, Namor went to work reestablishing his identity. He reclaimed ownership of Oracle, Inc., and blessed Jim Hammond's leadership of the company and efforts to establish the Heroes for Hire as an Oracle-sponsored force for good. [Heroes for Hire (1st series) #8] He also participated in the major gathering of past and present Avengers that took place shortly after the Heroes returned. [Avengers (3rd series) #1-3] Namor's personal problems continued to weigh on him, though. The hybrid imbalance in his blood was in full swing now that breathing underwater was impossible for him. Once again experiencing uncontrollable rages and mania, the Sub-Mariner still attempted to seek aid from Doctor Strange. The Sorcerer Supreme was able to diagnose the fracturing of Namor's mind caused by his time in the Franklinverse. Strange believed the malady was largely psychological, and even Namor's inability to breathe underwater may have been psychosomatic, but he was unable to cure Namor. Instead, he provided him with the Talisman of Abraxas to stabilize Namor's moods mystically. [Marvel Team-Up (2nd series) #8] Namor's mental difficulties were just one of several reasons he chose not to renew his Avengers membership when Captain America asked. [Avengers (3rd series) #4]

Namor felt he could not return to Atlantis and his people until he could walk freely among them, breathing the same medium they could. He named Namorita regent in his absence while he concentrated on improving his condition, but Atlantis ultimately couldn't wait. The nation remained fragmented after the rising of Old Atlantis. Llyron and Attuma each commanded their own rebel nations, while Namorita established New Atlantis with Vashti at the site of her home colony, Maritanis. Unfortunately, in the absence of Namor, the people of Atlantis were left to interpret his desires for themselves. Warlord Keerg misinterpreted Namor's recent foray into surface world commerce and began making deals with Tilton Enterprises to industrialize New Atlantis for profit, at the cost of polluting the seas. He staged a coup against Namorita when she refused to sign off on his economic initiative. Captain America recruited Namor to address Keerg's misconduct.

The Sub-Mariner discarded the restraining influence of the Talisman of Abraxas in order to confront his adversaries, but was forced to dishonor himself by appearing before his people in surface-world breathing gear. Namor was horrified by the factories befouling the environment under the sea, but could not dissuade his people because they believed they were doing the will of Namor. The Sub-Mariner was forced to unmask underwater, risking drowning, so that his people saw it was Namor himself opposing them. After dismissing Keerg and rescuing Namorita from his clutches, Namor was forced to accept the throne again despite his malady, so that the people of Atlantis would not misinterpret his wishes again.

Namor destroyed the Tilton Enterprises factory on land to prevent further pollution of Atlantean waters, bringing him into conflict with the Thing, Iron Man and the Wrecking Crew again. When the Crew invaded New Atlantis, Namor's breathing apparatus was destroyed, leaving him unfit to confront them in battle. In desperation, Namor fled to an Atlantean hospital and demanded a dose of Ox, a drug once used by his people to temporarily adapt to breathing on land but banned due to its addictive qualities. After using the drug and returning to help Iron Man defeat the Wrecking Crew, Namor was surprised to learn it wasn't Ox at all. The doctor couldn't find a sample of the banned drug and so gave Namor vitamin pills instead. Namor's malady was proven to be psychosomatic after all, and he once again found himself at home above or below the seas. [Marvel Team-Up (2nd series) #9-11]

The Sub-Mariner's restoration was not the end of Atlantis's troubles, however. In order to discourage further industrialization, Namor was forced to adapt a hard line restriction on Atlantis interacting with the surface world as an example to his people. He sold Oracle, Inc. to Stark-Fujikawa in order to distance Atlantis from air-breathing commerce, which unfortunately led to the dissolution of Heroes for Hire. [Heroes for Hire (1st series) #19] Further, the pollution of New Atlantis was not ended quickly enough to spare the people. Pollutants in the water led to a plague called the Black Tide, killing the young and old among the Atlanteans alike. Even Lord Vashti began suffering from the Black Tide. Ironically, it was an opportunistic invasion by Attuma which led to the solution. The Sharkan barbarian had his scientists extract the gamma-irradiated blood of the Hulk to enhance him so that he could beat Namor in combat. The Hulk and the Sub-Mariner defeated Attuma, and also discovered that a small dose of Hulk's gamma blood was a curative for the Atlantean people. Vashti and the other sick water-breathers were purged of the Black Tide, and Atlantis persevered. [Incredible Hulk & Sub-Mariner Annual '98]

International tensions with the Inhumans soon turned in favor of Atlantis. Namor had never forgotten the deaths caused by the raising of Old Atlantis from the ocean floor. Although the Inhumans were not responsible for the cataclysm, their city of Attilan occupying Atlantean lands was considered an insult to Namor's people. When Maximus the Mad arranged for a consortium of Russian KGB and Portuguese mercenaries to attack Attilan, King Black Bolt made his own arrangements against his brother. He sent Triton as an envoy to Namor, supposedly requesting Atlantean aid against the invaders. In fact, the secret dispatch bade Namor to openly and haughtily reject this olive branch and leave Attilan to its demise. Black Bolt secretly had Karnak and Gorgon locate a fault line on Attilan that would sink the lands once again, while Lockjaw's teleportation power was rigged to transport Attilan back to its ancestral home in the Himalayans. The humans believed their shelling triggered the fault line and Attilan was destroyed in the quakes, making the Inhumans a "secret people" once again. Meanwhile, the lands of Attilan and Old Atlantis were returned beneath the waves, allowing Namor and the Atlanteans to reclaim their cultural heritage and homeland. Once the deception was complete, Namor personally apologized to Triton for lying to his old friend, but it was done as a favor between kings for the greater good. [Inhumans (2nd series) #9, 12]

Back in control of both the old Atlantis and the new, Namor consolidated his power and dismissed the claims of contenders such as Llyron or Attuma to represent the true Atlantis. The Coral Crown was atop his brow and Prince Namor was the true ruler of Atlantis once more.

Responsibility for Atlantis and its outlying colonies brought Namor to the brink of war with King T'Challa and Wakanda again, in a grim mirror of the Kiber Island incident from years earlier. Wakanda had continued to hold the rogue Atlantean military officers from that encounter without extradition for years, and now faced a similar situation with Deviant Lemuria. A Deviant refugee mother and her child had sought sanctuary in Wakanda and the Deviant priest-lord Ghaur demanded the return of the child for execution as genetically impure, per Lemurian law. The Black Panther refused extradition, granting sanctuary to the child for her protection and suspicion over Ghaur's motives. Wakanda and Deviant Lemuria were on war-footing as a result, which concerned Namor due to the close proximity of the innocent and unrelated water-breathing colony of Lemuria to Deviant Lemuria. As Wakanda warships moved into a holding pattern around Lemuria, Atlantean vessels moved into position behind them. Concerning proximity and alliance treaties also brought Magneto of Genosha and Doctor Doom of Latveria into the mix, creating an international incident which threatened World War III.

To make matters worse, the Panther's enemies Klaw and the White Wolf were deliberately stirring up trouble between the nations. They attacked a U.S. Naval carrier in the region, framing Wakanda for the assault and started the launch sequence for Deviant Lemuria's missiles. So Wakanda was forced to fire upon Atlantis to disable their weapons so that Wakanda was free to fire upon Lemuria to stop their missile launch... and so war began. The United States attacked Wakanda, who was attacked by Atlantis while trying to attack Lemuria, who had never attacked anyone but was under attack itself. It was the Black Panther's aide, Everett K. Ross, who sussed out Ghaur's true motives -- the priest-lord had been getting frisky with the Deviant nuns, and the "genetically impure" child was actually his daughter. Thanks to Ross' machinations, the child was officially declared "dead" as a result of the invasion shelling in Wakanda. The child was secretly given over to Namor as a neutral third party at the consent of Ghaur and T'Challa, ensuring no loss of face to Deviant Lemuria while allowing the child to survive. [Black Panther (3rd series) #26-29]

Despite this incident, Namor remained primarily dedicated to his own affairs over several months, reestablishing full control over Atlantis and deliberately avoiding contact with the surface world. He was in the middle of a tirade against the surface-dwellers when Atlantis was invaded by the Mindless Ones of the Dark Dimension. Hellcat had uncovered the Defenders' old foe Yandroth had captured Gaea, and was using the power of the Elder Goddess to flood the planet with invaders. She contacted Nighthawk, who in turn had his mystic friend Papa Hagg teleport Namor and the four original Defenders to Maine to deal with Yandroth. Doctor Strange, Hulk, Silver Surfer and Namor were all cranky, emotionally and physically exhausted from recent ordeals, and Namor and Hulk even came to blows. They defeated Yandroth, despite themselves, but immediately began squabbling again. Yandroth was dying due to the power he attempted to wield and, as he saw the Defenders at odds, he cursed them with his final breath. [Defenders (2nd series) #1]

The nature of Yandroth's curse soon became evident. Cast with the last of Gaea's stolen power, the curse brought the four Defenders together at the site of any threat to Earth which required their power to defeat it. Namor was livid with this arrangement, for Atlantis was under siege by Attuma when he was first spirited away by the curse, and so his nation fell to the Sharkan invaders. Still, he found that the curse teleported him back to the crisis site if he tried to leave, so the infuriated Sub-Mariner was forced to assist the Defenders. Other Defenders (Nighthawk, Hellcat and Valkyrie) assembled around the cursed foursome and were eager to restart the Defenders on a permanent basis, but the core four chafed under the curse's influence. Doctor Strange wanted to bring them back to his Sanctum Sanctorum and study the curse, but Namor could not leave Atlantis in Attuma's hands. Strange cautioned the folly of trying to liberate Atlantis when the curse could recall them at any moment, but Namor would not listen and rushed back to his besieged nation. [Defenders (2nd series) #2-4]

Unfortunately, Strange's words proved prophetic. Namor fought his way through the barbarians on the outskirts of the city, lay siege to the palace, battered his way into the throne room and had his hands around Attuma's neck... when the curse displaced him once again. [Defenders (2nd series) #5]

Nighthawk helped convince Strange and the other Defenders of Namor's need, and so the Defenders gathered to liberate Atlantis after the next crisis. Attuma had prepared for Namor's return, however, and assembled his own allies including Tiger Shark, Orka and Nagala, a new wielder of the Serpent Crown. The battle delayed too long, and Namor and the Defenders were summoned again by the curse. It took mere moments to defeat Hell-Eyes of the infernal dimensions once the curse teleported them away, but the fight for Atlantis was over. The Defenders remained at odds with each other over whether Atlantis or the curse needed the greater attention, and the tense squabbling among the "team" only continued to rise. [Defenders (2nd series) #6-7]

The Sub-Mariner allowed Doctor Strange to lead the Defenders into space in search of the Silver Surfer, who had not appeared the last few times to curse manifested. Strange wanted to investigate the mechanics of the curse more, while Namor thought the Surfer's power was necessary to free Atlantis. They determined that Yandroth used the power of Gaea to cement his curse, meaning it was ineffective after the Defenders left Earth itself. In their absence, however, the cursed Defenders found their fellows had been unable to stop the Headsmen from conquering the world with the power of Orrgo the Unconquerable. The annoyed bickering continued during their confrontation with the Headsmen, as Namor and the other three could only think to attack the problem head on. It was Nighthawk and Hellcat who saved the day by infiltrating the Headsmen's base and retrieving the idol that allowed them to control the all-powerful Orrgo. Strange used Orrgo to restore the world to its pre-conquered state, and he and Namor began thinking to use the idol to free Atlantis and end all threats to Earth, making the curse moot. Hellcat smashed the idol before they could use it, but now the notion of forcing peace on the planet was rooted in the Defenders' minds. [Defenders (2nd series) #8-10]

The Defenders finally reassembled to aid Namor in reclaiming Atlantis. Thanks to a plan concocted by Doctor Strange, the Defenders were able to systematically defeat their foes and rout Attuma's forces. A victory celebration was held in honor of the conquering heroes, and Namor arranged for his own unavoidable absences by naming a ruling Council of Three with Namorita, Seth and Andromeda to look after Atlantis in his stead. [Defenders (2nd series) #11]

This moment of peace would not last, however, and the core four Defenders became increasingly restless and irritated with the influence of the curse. A stray comment by Nighthawk led them to consider petitioning Gaea herself to break the curse, for Yandroth used her power to seal the enchantment. Unfortunately, the Defenders were in no mood to petition nicely, and were aggressively confrontational with Mother Earth. Gaea refused to end the curse, for she liked having her Defenders so readily available, and dismissed the Defenders with a teleporting wave of her hand. This was the last straw for the cursed Defenders, who vowed to impose peace on Earth by any means necessary in order to relieve themselves of the curse's influence. [Defenders (2nd series) #12]

Namor and the Defenders renamed themselves the Order, and took action against all possible threats to the Earth. They attacked both the terrorist nation of Halwan and the United States Navy on maneuvers. They threatened the United Nations at the Hague, to keep order or else, and secretly "bugged" the delegates with a magical spell that would warn the Order of any evil they, or anyone they spoke to, heard of. As a worldwide police state slowly began taking focus, the Order also took possession of Sky Island away from the Bird People, using it as their base of operations. Doctor Strange and the Silver Surfer used their powers to reshape the Island into four zones suitable for each member of the Order to relax in... yet for some reason a fifth manifestation, a throne, appeared in the center of it all. Although initially confused by the throne's appearance, the Order quickly ignored its presence and went about their business.

The other Defenders had not been idle during all this, however. Nighthawk, Hellcat and Valkyrie consulted with Papa Hagg and were transported to the realm of the spirits, where they found the heroic sides of Namor and the Order chained to ephemeral stakes. It seemed Yandroth's Curse did more than bring the Defenders together; it also subtly stoked their anger and irritability until their frustrations overwhelmed their rational sides, causing them to lash out at the world they were chosen to defend. Although the Defenders now knew their friends weren't acting entirely under their own control, the darker sides of the Order found the Defenders in the realm of spirits. Not willing to reconnect with their "weaker" selves, they chased their friends away. [The Order (1st series) #1-2]

The aggressive arrogance of the Order continued as the Avengers confronted their once-friends. The Sub-Mariner had fallen so far by this point that he even ignored Captain America's pleas to their long friendship and threatened to leave his old ally broken and bleeding in his wake. He also grabbed and nearly tore off Namorita's ankle wings when the Defenders recruited her to talk some sense into him. Clearly the Order were drifting further and further from their original heroic selves by the day. [The Order (1st series) #3-4]

Even that did not prove to be the true nature of Yandroth's Curse, however. The Defenders finally uncovered the truth that Yandroth was harnessing the aggressive energies released by the Order just as he empowered the Omegatron to do so on the Defenders' very first mission together. The curse not only kept the Order in a constant state of irritability, causing them to lash out and fight, it also absorbed the energies released by those fights, leading to a critical mass which would bring about Yandroth's resurrection as a supremely powerful being. Papa Hagg and the Order's female counterparts in the Defenders, such as Namorita and She-Hulk, were able to break the curse's influence on the four by rekindling their connection to their humanity. With their minds cleared, Namor and the Order confronted the spirit of Yandroth as he tried to reform and simply stopped fighting. Yandroth was unable to achieve the power he sought, and was resurrected but only as a normal man. As Yandroth was sent back to his own dimension for incarceration, Gaea appeared before the Defenders and fully relinquished the power of the curse, allowing the heroes to choose for themselves when they would form in defense of the planet in the future. Namor and the Defenders went their separate ways after that, but it was inevitable that the Defenders would regroup one day. [The Order (1st series) #5-6]

Somewhere around this time, Namor was out near Maui in Hawai'i when he fought a super-villain called Great White and witnessed a young girl named Alani Ryan discover her mutant powers for the first time. To his surprise, Alani was the granddaughter of Alice Terrel-Ryan, Betty Dean's old roommate from the '40s. Namor could barely look at Alice, though, as he expressed his deep apologies for his behavior all those decades ago. Alice forgave him and offered back the Atlantean necklace he had once gifted to Betty. Alice had held onto it after Betty moved out and abandoned the amulet, as a reminder of good times and bad. Namor refused, however, and his shame led him to quickly depart. [Namor: the First Mutant #5]