Since the beginning of time, warriors have sought to dominate their foes through awe - or fear - but in all the time since the first songs of valor were sung of the deeds of warriors, no warrior has inspired more awe or provoked more fear than the Avenging Son - Namor the Sub-Mariner, at the peak of his battle-fury. ‘IMPERIUS REX!’ Namor booms as he flies towards his target, fists ready. ‘No harm shall come to the beloved of Namor while I still live!’ he shouts. Unfortunately, this time the mighty Avengers themselves are the object of that fury - and Thor is the first to get punched in the face by the Sub-Mariner.
‘Namor! Have you taken leave of your senses?’ Dane Whitman a.k.a. the Black Knight asks as he and Jennifer Walters a.k.a. the She-Hulk hover nearby on Dane’s robotic steed. ‘That creature is going to destroy half of Miami if we do not stop it!’ Dane points out. As Namor soars over the water towards his teammates, the She-Hulk suggests to Dane that instead of trying to form a discussion group right now, they ought to just get out of his way. ‘I see your point!’ Dane replies.
And as the Avengers scatter, Dane’s prophetic words begin to come true as half of Miami’s expensive waterfront estate - becomes an offshore swash zone, destroyed by the Leviathan, who once was Namor’s wife, Marrina, Honorary Avenger and former Alphan. The ghastly Leviathan chomps its way through not quite half of the waterfront, as Monica Rambeau a.k.a. Captain Marvel, leader of the Avengers arrives on scene, able to dodge Namor with ease thanks to her ability to travel at the speed of light. Monica unleashes a blast of energy plasma, hoping to slow down the Leviathan, but the Leviathan dives into the ocean, followed by Namor, who calls out ‘Marrina!’
Thor remarks that Namor has forgotten them to pursue the creature that was once his wife, and the Asgardian dives into the water soon after, knowing that Namor’s great speed has enabled him to get out of sight already. ‘Oh, Namor. I feel the grim hand of fate reaching out for thee and thy beloved…and I fear that not even the Avengers will be able to save thy happiness’. Moments later, Thor surfaces, and flies up to the Quinjet, which Doctor Anthony Ludgate Druid is piloting, and Thor announces that Namor has escaped them and there is no trace of the Leviathan. Druid remarks that is a pity, and suggests they return to base to decide their next course of action. As the five Avengers fly over the ocean by their own means, Captain Marvel tells Dr Druid that he made a good suggestion, and announces that if she ever decides to step down as Avengers’ Chairperson, there will be a ready candidate at hand. ‘A little too ready by the sound of CM’s voice. I think maybe Doc is starting to overreach himself’ She-Hulk thinks to herself.
Inside the Quinjet, Druid tells himself that Captain Marvel has power beyond even her own imagining, but that her imagination is so limited. ‘And if the signs I have read are right, she’ll be no match for the dangers that will soon confront the Avengers and the world’ Druid adds, telling himself that Captain Marvel and the others must be convinced that she is no leader for the world’s most powerful group of superheroes - and soon, too.
In Druid’s Dream:
Suddenly, energy swirls around Druid, and a scantily clad blonde woman kisses him, calling him her lord and master and telling him that he is the leader that they have been waiting for. Druid finds himself in a temple of some sort as the woman places a crown on his head. ‘What? What am I doing here?’ Druid asks, declaring that he is certain a moment ago he was in the Avengers’ Quinjet. ‘Or is all that just a dream and this the reality?’ he wonders. ‘What foolish questions, my lord’ the woman declares, telling him that his devoted subjects await him. Turning, Druid looks over a sea of subjects as the woman stands at his side and tells him that in this hour of trial, they know that he will help them and they love him for it. ‘As do I’ she adds. She tells Druid to hear how they cheer him, and tells Druid that only he can save them. ‘As you will save us all. And soon’ she adds.
Thor notices that Druid is allowing the Quinjet to drift off course, and flies over to it, tapping it on the screen, ‘What ho within, my good Doctor? Tis not the time to be sleeping!’ Thor calls out. ‘Shall we plan our course of action in dreams?’ he adds. Druid wakes, and looks around: ‘Wha - Thor? Then…it was a dream!’ Druid exclaims, before wondering what exactly the dream was, as already the vision fades from his memory, ‘And the cares of the real world mock such insubstantial flights of fancy’ he tells himself, recalling that the Sub-Mariner’s life, Marrina, has been transformed from a lovely sea lass into a creature to rival the biblical Leviathan.
Druid reminds himself that she threatens to do incalculable damage to the ships that ply the sea lanes and has already attacked shoreline communities. ‘And Namor himself would prevent us from destroying her which may be mankind’s only salvation!’. Druid knows that this is not a matter for the faint of heart nor the weak-minded. ‘Something shall have to be done about Captain Marvel…and soon!’
Shortly in the Avenges makeshift headquarters on Hydro Base, in the communications room, Captain Marvel asks the Black Knight how things are going. Dane replies that the hands of the Black Knight are skilled not only in the arts of war, but in the arts of science as well, and announces that in another moment or two he shall have their computers online and fully operational again. ‘Nice going’ Jennifer tells Dane, before asking him why he is always talking like such a stiff these days. ‘Relaxation does not interest me, Jennifer. Results do’ Dane replies, before exclaiming ‘Voila’ as the computer screen blinks to life, and an image of Marrina appears. ‘Everything we know about her is here, Madam Chairman’ the Black Knight tells Monica. ‘From her extraterrestrial origin as a cross breeding experiment of the Plodex race…to her marriage to our renegade member, Namor’ he remarks, adding that there is even a preliminary file on her genetic structure, as an image of Namor and Marrina getting married is displayed. ‘You’d better access it. We’re going to need all the information about Marrina we can get’ someone declares.
Meanwhile, far beneath the surface of the ocean, near the Mid-Atlantic ridge, Namor lurks through the water, and finally comes across Marrina in her Leviathan form, beyond the rise. Walking across the ocean floor towards her, Namor thinks that although she has wreaked havoc in the world of man, she suffers him to approach her without violence. Namor runs a hand along Marrina’s form, ‘Oh, my darling, can it be that somewhere within this vast armored form…there yet beats the heart of the woman I loved…and still love?’ Namor wonders.
Suddenly, Marrina stirs and brushes aside the mountains of the sea as though there were merely cardboard imitations of the real thing. Namor wonders if there is some unknowable purpose at work here, something born within the alien genes that Marrina carries, or if his presence has irritated her so she brushes him aside as though he is an unpleasant memory of a former life that is all but forgotten? ‘Marrina, I swear I will not desert you but seek instead to release you from this horror!’ Namor thinks to himself, watching his wife with puzzled eyes.
Meanwhile, in another time, another place, far, far from here - a figure materializes within an energy field - a figure now unfamiliar to the Avengers - Kang! He finds himself in darkness, blinded by flashing lights though, as a voice exclaims ‘Welcome, great Kang! We who serve time, have called you here to see if you would join us in that service! Step forward that we may see you!’. Kang realizes that the lights are deliberately blinding him so whoever has dared to bring him here can hide their identity from him. He needs a moment for his armor’s sensors to analyze the surroundings, declaring that he has never served any but himself. ‘Why should I accept such an offer, especially from an unknown?’ he calls out, before the voice responds ‘But we are not unknown, great Kang. You know us well. And we know you…’
Kang notices the woman, dressed in matching armor, who brought him here materialize behind him, and gazes upon three holographic images of beings also dressed in his costume appear before him, as one of them announces that they watched his so-called council of Kangs fight among themselves and destroy each other. ‘We watched you as you alone survived. Survival is a valuable commodity in our organization’ one of them remarks. Kang declares that it would seem he has few secrets here, before pointing out that still the identity of his “hosts” is hidden from him. ‘And I have never liked secrets’ he declares, as he presses a button on his armor which releases a pulse of ultra-high frequency radiation which he believes will short out the screening lights around him.
‘Step forward and show…yourself!’ Kang booms as the blinding light engulfs the room. But, as the blinding light fades, revealing to Kang his surroundings, the warlord is momentarily at a loss for words as he beholds the audience before him. They are all dressed in familiar garb - and there are utterly thousands of them! ‘Wonderful!’ one of them shouts. ‘Superb!’ another cries. ‘Record time!’ one of them declares. ‘An excellent grasp of the essentials!’ another declares. ‘He’ll make a fine addition to the ranks!’ another of them points out, as the vast amphitheatre rocks with thunderous applause, and the lone Kang in the middle of the chamber continues to stare at the countless beings before him, distinguishable only by their various alien skins and shapes and sizes.
Back on Hydro Base, ’That’s it, then. The longer that creature roams the sea at will, the greater the devastation, both on land and sea’ Dr Druid announces, adding that they will have to kill the beast and the sooner the better. ‘Better for who, Dr Druid?’ Captain Marvel asks. ‘You’re asking us...or is it telling us…that we have to slay an Avenger. And Marrina is an Avenger, whatever she looks like’ Monica declares. Druid replies that he accepts that, but it believes it doesn’t change anything. ‘Marrina or not, that…thing has got to be put down’ he declares.
‘And suppose you were the beast instead of Marrina, Doctor?’ Captain Marvel asks. ‘Is it your hope that the Avengers, instead of trying to help you, should simply kill you instead?’ Monica asks. ‘But I am not the beast, Captain Marvel’ Druid replies. Always one to speak her mind, She-Hulk exclaims ‘Oh, I don’t know, Doc. Your eyes always looked a little feral to me. And besides, I think C.M.’s point about trying to save Marrina rather than kill her is well taken’ Jennifer adds. She-Hulk exclaims that Marrina is not responsible for her actions and they should be trying to help her, not destroy her. ‘Spoken as a true servant of the law’ Black Knight tells She-Hulk, adding that he too can sympathize with Marrina and with Namor, but that he believes that they are too late to help them.
‘Better we should help the thousands she will slay if she is allowed to roam the seas at will’ Dane declares. Thor tells his teammates that their dilemma is doubly difficult, that they cannot ignore the plight of Marrina whether she is responsible for her actions or not, but they longer they delay, the more danger there is to those mortals whom they are sworn to protect. ‘Then you think -?’ Captain Marvel begins, to which Thor declares that he thinks in the past the Avengers have never chosen a course of action by majority vote, and points out that Captain Marvel is elected leader of the Avengers and he will follow her lead in this matter. ‘But there is no margin for error’ he adds.
Druid asks Thor how he proposes they should implement the good Captain’s desire to save Marrina from herself. ‘Wish upon a star and change her back?’ he mocks. Thor points out that he is not the mystic Dr Druid is, and announces he has a more practical idea in mind. Thor tells his teammates that before any of them were Avengers there was a colossus who not only helped found the Avengers, but who was a world class bio-chemist as well. ‘These days, he resides with the West Coast Avengers and -’ Thor begins, as Dane tells him that is a wise thought, and immediately places a call over the communications monitor.
Moments later, Dr Hank Pym appears on screen, and after explanations have been made, Pym confirms that it is true that he has conducted detailed investigations of physiological radicalism in living organisms, but if what he has just been told Is true, it goes beyond the work that he has done in the past. ‘Then you think there’s no hope?’ Dane asks. Hank replies that someone once told him that where there is life, there is hope. ‘There was a time when I wasn’t sure it was true. But I’ve seen too much of the world to either believe or disbelieve now’ he declares.
Hank adds that he just tries to survive, and remarks that he can empathize with any other survivor. ‘I’ll do whatever I can’ he tells them. Dane asks Hank what he needs, to which Hank replies that he needs everything they have got - complete genetic records, personal history, detailed background of Marrina’s known career, everything. ‘As fast as possible’ he adds, before the automatic monitor suddenly picks up something on an emergency frequency. ‘What -?’ She-Hulk gasps, but Druid tells her to shush as someone aboard the SS Gosnold, out of Cape May, shouts ‘Mayday! Mayday!’ and announces that they are under attack by an unidentified sea creature. ‘Engine room flooding! Two lifeboats smashed! We’re going down by the stern!’ he calls out. Captain Marvel tells her teammates that she can tracks that signal in a flash by light speed, exclaiming that there might still be time to help them, and with that, she vanishes.
Onboard the SS Gosnold, one of the crewmen tells his fellow officers to get out. ‘It’s pulling us under! The blasted thing is pulling us under!’ he exclaims, while another continues to shout ‘Mayday! Mayday!’ through the radio system. And as the terrified crew scrambles for safety, ‘Abandon ship! Abandon ship!’ someone calls out, while the Leviathan slithers across part of the freighter, and crunches down on it. Several of the crew try to lower a lifeboat off the sinking ship, but they have great difficulty. Suddenly, the Leviathan forces most of the ship down into the water, just as Captain Marvel arrives, realizing that she is too late, as Marrina has destroyed the ship. Monica tells herself that she may be able to help the survivors if she can drive Marrina away before she turns on them.
Captain Marvel begins blasting the Leviathan with enough energy to light a small city, and yet it does not faze her. Suddenly, with her snake-like body still wrapped around the ship, Marrina turns, and a moment later, dives into the water, taking the entire ship with her. ‘It’s as though it never existed!’ Captain Marvel exclaims, while wondering what Marrina is doing. Monica wonders if Marrina has been transformed into some malevolent creature, or if she is being driven by some alien purpose that they cannot even guess at. Monica tells herself that it is no good speculating, and that she will have to return to the Avengers and report her failure to stop Marrina. ‘I can see the smirk on Doctor Druid’s face already’ Monica tells himself.
But as the good Captain converts to light and vanishes into the sky, far below, two military ships move into view, with someone announcing that search sweep delta is complete and there is no contact, no sign of the target. ‘Very well. Notify the squadron. We’ll move on to begin our next search pattern’ someone replies. Suddenly, someone alerts the captain to an unidentified blip moving at an incredible speed right towards them. ‘It’s already on top of us!’ he exclaims, just as Namor appears on the deck. ‘Attention! This vessel and its companions are to reverse course immediately!’ Namor exclaims, referring to the other military ships nearby.
Namor demands to be taken to the commanding officer at once, to which the captain asks his first officer to notify security and have them report to the bridge, on the double, before the captain announces himself to the Sub-Mariner, who drops down beside him. ‘You must order your ships away from this area!’ Namor exclaims, telling him that it is dangerous for them to remain here. ‘We know that, Namor. But our orders are to seek out and destroy whatever’s been disrupting the shipping lanes’ the captain explains. Namor tells the captain that the danger is far greater than he can imagine, before integer officer announces that the surface radar is picking up a sizeable vessel of some kind bearing down on the squadron. ‘Where away?’ the captain asks. ‘Two o’clock and moving fast!’ the officer reveals, adding that the lockout reports visual sighting. ‘Then it’s too late!’ Namor exclaims.
‘If that’s true, Namor. Then you can be that we aren’t going to act like sitting ducks’ the captain declares, before seeing the Leviathan emerge from the water. ‘Good lord! Look at the size of that thing!’ someone shouts, while another officer announces that its range is 3000 yards and closing. Namor flies off the vessel, declaring that there is yet one faint hope, while the captain orders a new course and for the main batteries to prepare to open fire. ‘Inform Naval Command that we are about to engage!’ he exclaims.
In a flash, Namor soars across the water towards the oncoming behemoth. ‘Beloved! Do not do this thing, I beg you!’ he calls out. For a moment, the great red eye regards the noble figure hovering alongside, but this time, there is no sign of recognition - and no mercy, as the Levithan swats Namor away. Onboard the Naval ship, one of the officers tells the captain that the radio room reports heavy static, and they have no radio contact with anyone. ‘They think that thing may be generating some sort of interference’ he exclaims. The captain announces that they will do what they came to do - alone. ‘Bring us around. All main batteries to bear on target!’ he announces, before ordering ‘Main batteries open fire!’, and a barrage of weapons is fired at the Leviathan, in a devastating display of power.
But when the smoke and cordite clear, the Leviathan has risen up out of the water, roaring, as one of the crew exclaims ‘It’s - it’s untouched, sir! Not a mark on it!’. The captain orders the guns to the ready, but it is too late, as Marrina dives back under the surface. ‘Sir! Sonar reports contact right below us! Coming up fast, Sir! Still coming, Sir!’ someone shouts, but they never had enough time to move the ship, as Marrina bursts through the surface, knocking the vessel upwards and crushing it.
Nearby, Namor sees the actions of his transformed wife, and thinks to himself that he has seen her power but even he can hardly credit his eyes. ‘A heavy cruiser turned to scrap metal in an instant!’ Namor exclaims, but knowing his duty is clear. ‘Though the ship is doomed, many of her crewmen may yet be saved if I can act swiftly enough!’ Namor tells himself as he flies towards the survivors who are floundering in open water.
Back at Hydro Base, The Black Knight informs Captain Marvel that he is monitoring reports of naval activity, revealing that much of the middle Atlantic has been blackened by some kind of static interference, and that the Navy has a squadron of ships in there looking for Marrina. ‘Perhaps she found them first!’ Druid suggests. ‘We’re out of time!’ Captain Marvel exclaims, before telling her team to get to the Quinjet. ‘I’ll find Marrina if she’s attacking the Navy and report back’ Monica announces.
The Black Knight remarks that there has been no word from Thor and that he hasn’t returned from Pym’s laboratory. Monica declares that will do with out either of them, before Jennifer asks her what chance she has of finding Marrina without any real bearings. Monica declares that, at light speed, she can search the entire Atlantic in about three seconds. ‘If she’s on the surface, I’ll find her!’ she exclaims, before telling the team to get moving.
In a matter of moments, She-Hulk, Black Knight and Dr Druid are inside a Quinjet. ‘She wasn’t kidding! She’s back already!’ She-Hulk exclaims as Captain Marvel appears alongside the Quinjet. ‘I’ve found her!’ Monica announces, telling the Avengers to turn on the afterburners. ‘Hurry! There’s no time to lose!’. Inside the Quinjet, Druid tells his teammates that he thinks Captain Marvel is beginning to lose her cool, to which She-Hulk suggests to him that he ease upon her. ‘I’m starting to think about revoking your license’ Jennifer adds, before remarking that if Captain Marvel is getting worried, then it must be for a reason.
It is, for when the Avengers finally reach the location of the naval squadron, they find a scene resembling nothing so much as a circle out of Dante’s Inferno. All the naval ships in the area are on fire, about to sink, and the crews do what they can to escape. ‘An entire squadron of modern warships destroyed!’ Black Knight exclaims, before motioning to the survivors, floundering in life boats. Druid points out that the oil slick and flames are spreading rapidly. Dane exclaims that they will have to move faster and hands the controls over to Druid, remarking that this looks like close work.
Within moments, the Black Knight has mounted his robotic steed, and hovers over several of the lifeboats. ‘WHAT -?’ one of the crew gasps, before the Black Knight introduces himself and explains that he is with the Avengers, and tells them to ship their oars and prepare to take on a towline. ‘I’m seeing it, but I’m not believing it!’ one of the crew calls out as the electromagnetic Captain Marvel darts between all of the lifeboats, linking them up rope, she tells the sailors to have a seat and that they will be moving in a moment. Monica calls out to Dane, telling hi that she has two more lines to tie and then they are good to go. And in a few short moments, one of the strangest convoys to ever sail the seven seas begins to glide across the waves, bearing her sailors to safe haven.
Black Knight tows the lifeboats behind him while radioing to Doctor Druid, and informing him that he is plotting a course for the nearest land. Druid replies that he copies, and announces he is presently computing a course for the Bahamas. ’Estimating arrival in seven hours’ he adds, while She-Hulk is lowered from the Quinjet but a rope, and clutching a net, she tells Druid to hold the Quinjet steady. ’I’ll have these fish netted in a sec!’ she exclaims as she drops the net down to collect some of the sailors who are floundering in the ocean. ‘Who…who are you?’ one of them asks. ‘Your guardian angel, sailor. We come in all colors now…and sizes!’
Later, when all the crew members have been safely deposited on land, one of the crew approaches the four gathered Avengers and remarks that there is not a man here who doesn’t appreciate what they have done for them, before announcing that he is a little confused. ‘I was under the impression that Namor was one of the Avengers. Yet he appeared just before we were attacked, possibly trying to delay or divert us’. The crewman adds that Namor saved some of his men when the Memphis went down, but vanished just as the four of them were approaching.
The officer adds that Namor seemed to be familiar with the creature. ‘Whatever it was. He may even have been directing that thing to attack our vessel!’ he exclaims. ‘What were you using for eyes, captain? Namor would never attack a ship!’ She-Hulk shouts. Captain Marvel senses She-Hulk’s tension and tells her to ease up, before revealing to the captain that Namor does know the creature. ‘It is…or rather…it was…his wife!’ Monica adds that Namor would never have been trying to destroy shipping, no matter what. ‘That creature is his wife? And naval intelligence has had no word of this?’ the captain exclaims, before telling She-Hulk that her memory must be too short to work properly, as it wasn’t so long ago that Prince Namor declared war on the human race.
The captain declares that he doesn’t know what that thing really is, or what Namor - or the Avengers - have to play in this, before suggesting to Captain Marvel that she decides where their priorities lie. ‘We don’t have any doubts in the United States Navy!’ he exclaims, before storming away, thanking them for their help.
Druid turns to Captain Marvel and exclaims ‘So much for our effort to save Marrina from herself, Captain Marvel. Perhaps we still have time to save our reputations!’. Annoyed, Monica replies ‘Men are dead, Marrina’s still a menace, and you’re worried about our reputations, Doctor? Maybe our priorities do need re-examining!’. Druid declares that he is worried about a multi-ton behemoth out there in the ocean somewhere, and what is going to happen when word gets out that the Avengers cannot be bothered to stop one of their own. ‘Back off, Doctor! We’ll do whatever we have to! Whenever we have to!’ She-Hulk booms, standing alongside Captain Marvel and the Black Knight. Doctor Druid frowns, and thinks to himself that so will he. ‘While Captain Marvel fails to make the tough decisions, men die. The Avengers must be convinced that the Leviathan, whatever her origin or form, should be killed! And I think I know how!’
Meanwhile, far beneath the surface of the sea lies a graveyard of ships. Namor sits on a mound, thinking to himself that already Marrina has destroyed thousands of tons of shipping and cost many lives. ‘Who knows where she may be rampaging, trailing death and destruction in her wake as she slips further and further into the role of monster…while the Sub-Mariner watches, paralyzed, unwilling to commit himself to a course of action!’ Namor thinks to himself. He tells himself that when he was Prince of Atlantis, his duty was clear - he was sworn to protect his people, and as an Avenger he has fought to guard those who were defenseless, even those who were once his enemies.
‘And once before, I lost the woman I loved. Must I now be asked again to sacrifice every happiness? If only I had never seen Marrina, or touched her hand or tasted her lips’. Solemnly, Namor thinks to himself ‘Woe to love that it should demand such a price. For surely I must now cut out my living heart!’