Atlantis, where one of the Avengers, transformed beyond recognition, has broken through the gates of Atlantis and has begun to destroy the underwater city. Her name is Marrina Smallwood McKenzie, wife of the Sub-Mariner, only now, she is known as the Leviathan. ‘Send word quickly! We must have more reinforcements! The Leviathan has broken through our defenses!’ one of the Atlantean warriors calls out. But, what defense can there be against a Leviathan? For is it not written elsewhere…
“There Leviathan, hugest of living creatures, on the deep, stretch’d like a promontory sleeps or swims, and seems a moving land, and at his gills draws in, and at his trunk spouts out a sea” - Milton, Paradise Lost
An Atlantean woman screams as buildings topple on her and others nearby, but suddenly, as inexplicably as it appeared, the Leviathan turns and glides away. And we are left to wonder, at such prodigies as we have witnessed, but only for a moment, as Namor a.k.a. the Sub-Mariner swims into view, exclaiming that he has tracked Marrina, but he is too late, as she has vanished again, leaving only destruction as the tangible evidence of her passing. Namor reminds himself that the Leviathan has ravaged the coastal habitats of the surface humans and destroyed tons of shipping as well, and now she has turned on the kingdoms beneath the sea and nearly destroyed his homeland.
Hanging his head, Namor tells himself that his eyes have seen what he never thought to behold, just as his thoughts contemplate what he never thought possible. ‘There can no longer be any doubt. Marrina, the wife of the Sub-Mariner, must die that all others may live!’. Swimming through the waters, Namor tells himself that only the Avengers can accomplish that, so he must return to them.
However, Namor is unaware that Doctor Anthony Ludgate Druid has been using his psychic powers to monitor him, and from inside Hydro Base, Druid exclaims to himself ‘Success! I’ve done it!’ before keeling over under great strain. And for an instant, as the barriers of the mind are submerged in the wave of unconsciousness, a vision of the recent past flashes through Druid’s mind:
Flashback, takes between this issue and last, prior to Marrina destroying Atlantis:
Druid declared that only he has the will to save all who can be saved. ‘I pray this will give me the strength to do what must be done’ Druid told himself, using controlled clairvoyance to locate the Leviathan, before creating an illusion - a tempting vessel of the sea skimming across the ocean, lured the Leviathan to the surface. ‘So, my terrible friend, let us see what we can do to convince the others that you are indeed a menace that must be dealt with promptly‘. As Druid planned, whatever intelligence Marrina had before she transmogrified into the Leviathan had departed, leaving her a simple beast who follows her prey no matter where it may lead - whether the chase logical or not.
Druid’s illusory vessel dove downwards, towards the underwater Kingdom of Atlantis. ‘A great shadow bears down upon us! Sound the alarm!’ a warrior called out, before calling the guard to arms. ‘The Kingdom of Atlantis is under attack!’ another exclaimed as the Leviathan began its attack.
Druid rouses, the sounds of battle still filling his mind still - a final vision of post cognition, for the battle is already over. Druid knows that he may have placed his immortal soul in jeopardy for this day’s work, there are countless souls he will have saved if the Sub-Mariner returns to them to help him convince the others that Marrina’s death is their only possible recourse. ‘She is too dangerous to be allowed to roam the seas at will…while Captain Marvel wastes time and lives seeking vainly for some illusory cure for Marrina’s condition’. Druid declares that there is no time to waste in that direction, for he has had dreams that foretell of grave danger in the near future - and Marrina could just be the beginning.
Druid leaves the room and makes his way down a corridor while wondering how he could convince his fellow Avengers of a threat heralded by dreams, and decides that it is best to keep his own counsel, and deflect the Avengers from Captain Marvel’s useless endeavors. ‘Such as this one’ he thinks to himself as he enters a communications room, where Doctor Hank Pym of the West Coast Avengers is on a monitor, talking to Thor, Monica Rambeau a.k.a. Captain Marvel and Jennifer “She-Hulk” Walters. ‘Then Marrina’s got a chance, Dr Pym?’ She-Hulk exclaims. ‘Maybe not even that’ Hank replies, adding that what he is proposing is dangerous beyond belief, and that the cases he gave Thor to fly back to them contain the only solution he could find.
‘But does Marrina have a chance, Dr Pym?’ Captain Marvel asks. Pym, replies that he is not optimistic, and assures her that he has done all he can. He remarks that he has examined the records provided to him of Marrina’s genetic structure, but that the material is so fragmentary. ’There’s nothing that we can extrapolate from clearly to asses her present condition’ Hank points out, adding that anything they try is essentially going to be a shot in the dark. At that moment, Dane Whitman a.k.a. the Black Knight pulls something from one of the trunks - a high-tech harpoon, and asks if they are going to do the shooting. ‘Harpoons? Well, shiver me timbers. Looks like the Avengers are about to go whaling!’ She-Hulk jokes.
Frowning, Captain Marvel declares that she had hoped they were not going to kill Marrina, to which Hank assures her that they are not. Hank explains that what the Black Knight holds in his hands is rather more like a hypodermic needle than a harpoon, at least in function. Hank tells the Avengers that the darts are made with a hollow core needle designed to inject its contents into the Leviathan after penetration. He adds that inside each needle is a charge of viral recombinant DNA suppressor, designed around Marrina’s own genetic structure as best he could determine it. Hank explains that once Marrina receives the charge, the recombinant DNA will combine with her own DNA, producing a regression that will reduce her physiological radicalism to her original form.
Hank tells the Avengers to handle the darts with extreme care, as there is no telling what might happen if anyone else should accidentally receive the charge. Monica asks Dane what he thinks, to which Dane replies that he thinks he can construct a pair of modified bazookas that will fire the darts in a couple of hours. ‘And then…we’ll have to go whaling’ he adds, before pointing out that there is an additional problem - for wherever they find Marrina, they are likely to also find Namor. ‘I don’t know that he’s going to take kindly to the thought of harpooning his wife. No matter how noble the cause’.
Suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘A true monarch, Dane, will sacrifice anything, even his own happiness, for the good of the subjects he rules. That is his sacred trust’. ‘NAMOR!’ exclaims Captain Marvel as everyone turns to see their aquatic teammate enter. The Sub-Mariner exclaims that although he is no longer a monarch, he is a guardian of Earth and its mortal inhabitants. ‘Is my trust not as sacred?’. ‘Well spoken, Prince Namor!’ someone exclaims, before Thor puts a hand on Namor’s shoulder and tells him that he does not bid him welcome. ‘For what glad greeting can cloak the grim task that confronts us - a kin slaying’.
Thor declares that he speaks as one Avenger to another as he tells Namor that his sacred trust in this hour of trial is gratefully received. ‘No other warrior would I as lief have at my side’ Thor adds. Namor thanks him, before explaining he may be more help than simply as a warrior, revealing that he knows where Marrina has hidden her prizes. Namor admits that he doesn’t know where in the seven seas Marrina roams currently, he believes her treasure would be a good place for them to begin their search. She-Hulk whispers to the Black Knight that is a good plan, but wonders whether Namor can really be trusted. ‘I mean…we are talking about his wive, for pity’s sake!’. Dane declares that when all is said and done, Namor is a prince of the blood - his word is his bond. ‘Yeah? So was the word of King Herod to the wise men’ She-Hulk mutters, adding that she is getting a bad feeling about this.
Shortly, the Avengers Quinjet is en route to the location of Marrina’s treasure collection. Within moments, the Black Knight announces that the computer navigation indicates that they are cruising above Marrina’s base of operations, but that there are no indications of any major life forms below. ’Maybe she’s out shopping’ She-Hulk jokes, to which Namor suggests that she could well be hunting, as she never stays long with her prizes. Thos declares that they must begin their own hunt, while Druid presses his fingers to his head, remarking that a clairvoyant trance may enable him to locate Marrina. The Black Knight remarks that any method that works is acceptable to him, but personally, he has more faith in the latest sonar pod they carry. Transforming into electromagnetic energy, Captain Marvel departs from the Quinjet, ‘Each to his own, Dane’ Monica remarks, before declaring that she shall cover the world’s oceans in a few minutes. ‘If Marrina is anywhere on the surface, I’ll find her’.
But as the hours drag by, there is no sign of the Leviathan - until, ‘What is it, Dane?’ Jennifer asks. Dane explains that it is an area of static, like the chaff Marrina broadcast before to jam ships’ distress calls. Dane announces that he has a fix, and programs it into the Quinjet computer.
Shortly, the Avengers arrive to find the Leviathan already attacking another ship. In an instant, Dane and Jennifer drop out of the Quinjet on Dane’s robotic steed, just as Marrina slams her body on the ship, breaking it in two. ‘We couldn’t save that one, but with luck - we’ll see to it that there’ll be no further victims!’ Dane exclaims as he fires a blast from the weapon - only the dart shatters against Marrina’s armored body. She-Hulk loads the weapon up with another dart and tells Dane to try again, while the Black Knight supposes Marrina is less well armored beneath - but as the Black Knight fires the weapon once again, the Leviathan spins around, and takes the dart against her armored head.
Thor flies from the Quinjet, telling Dane to ready another shot while he sees to it that he has a target. ‘Have at thee, creature of the depths! The Avengers shall endeavor to save thee in spite of thyself!’ Thor calls out as he flies towards the Leviathan’s gaping mouth, which, wide open, is smacked by Thor’s powerful hammer. With Marrina stunned, Dane has a clear shot at her underbelly, and fires the weapon - which strikes her square on - only they find that her belly armor is no less formidable than her back. Dane points out that they have a single shot left, while Marrina rises once more to try and swallow them. ‘That’s it! Her mouth! Aim for her mouth, Dane! No amror!’ She-Hulk exclaims.
As Dane and Jennifer move closer to the Leviathan, Jennifer urges Dane to fire, as they are about to be swallowed. ‘I’ll fire when I can see her tonsils!’ Dane exclaims, declaring that this shot shall not go astray. An instant later, he fires his weapon and it strikes her gaping mouth. ‘A direct hit!’ someone exclaims as the upright Leviathan suddenly falls to the ocean, creating a massive splash. Dane exclaims that he prays the dart has done the job, before pointing out that the Leviathan seems to be shrinking before their very eyes.
A few minutes later, all that remains of the Leviathan is Marrina, in her regular form. ‘It…it worked!’ someone exclaims. Namor swoops down to collect his wife, ‘My heart! My heart! May you not be slain! For how long shall Namor survive if his spirit is torn from his body?’ he declares, adding that if Marrina lives, he swears by the throne of father Neptune that he will set himself to safeguard her soul forever. Suddenly, Marrina stirs in Namor’s arms: ‘Oh, my love. Is this another fevered illusion…or have my fondest dreams come true?’ Namor tells Marrina to fear not, assuring her that she is safe now. ‘O promise. And here is my kiss upon it’.
Elsewhere, Kang finds himself standing before countless others dressed like he, while an older looking Kang remarks that it is rare for a Kang to survive a council war, and those that do are monitored by this group. ‘If they merit it, we examine them. And if they pass the examination, we offer them…membership in the most unique, powerful, and ambitious secret council in the Omniverse! The Council of Cross-Time Kang’s!’. The older-looking Kang, tells the Kanf before him that he is a survivor. ‘Your presence here is the proof’. He adds that, not only has he survived his local council war, but he has successfully countered an assassination attempt by a renegade of this council.
‘Most unusual. Consider that you have already passed the entrance examination’ another Kang declares. ‘We offer you provisional membership, pending more thorough consideration, Kang of Earth 123488.23497’. ‘And should I refuse?’ Kang asks. ‘Then you would naturally cease to be a survivor’ the female Kang remarks, standing nearby. ‘Then naturally, I accept’ Kang declares. The older Kang declares ‘Excellent!’ and motioning to the female, addresses her as Nebula, and tells Kang that she will escort him to his quarters, and explain a little about them.
‘Nebula?’ Kang asks as they walk side-by-side through the futuristic headquarters. ‘To avoid confusion, we have each chosen an individual name’ Nebula explains. She suggests to Kang that he choose any name he wishes, perhaps one that represents his heart’s desire. ‘Fred’ Kang replies. ‘Fred?’ Nebula asks. ‘As in Flintstone’ Fred explains. ‘An appropriately stone-age name for a backward novitiate in such a unique, powerful, and…ambitious secret council’. Nebula remarks that is interesting, as almost none of the Kangs has a sense of humor. ‘I doubt if they’ll know how to log that into your file’ she tells him, before motioning to his quarters.
Entering Fred’s quarters, Nebula tells him that hers are just down the hall, and that he should come visit her sometime. Leaning close to Fred, Nebula tells him that she may tell him a bedtime story about all the kings and Kangs and the hunt for the deadliest weapon in the Omniverse. ‘It’s what the council is all about’. Leaving Fred’s quarters, Nebula tells him that he will enjoy the council.
In her own quarters, Nebula tells herself that there are depths in Fred and she shall enjoy plumbing them. ‘But some other time. I must check on my catspaw again’ she tells herself, while deciding that becoming a member of the Kang Korps was the wisest move of her career. ‘And seducing the future leader of the Avengers will be the second!’ she boasts as she projects a spirit of air and darkness into the limbo - the guise she has been haunting Dr Druid with!’
Back on Earth, Namor carries Marrina, while Thor and Captain Marvel fly alongside him and the Quinjet. Thor declares that they must get Marrina to a hospital immediately, while Monica asks Namor if he needs assistance. Namor declares that none but his arms shall carry her, before turning to Marrina, who tells him that she is so cold, and feels as though a hand of ice clutches at her heart and freezes her blood. ‘Then let Namor’s kiss kindle a fire within you that would melt the polar ice cap!’ the Sub-Mariner exclaims, but as he places his lips to Marrina’s, he pulls back, exclaiming that Marrina’s lips are like ice. ‘MARRINA!’ he calls out, before suddenly, Marrina convulses and roars, while asking Namor to help her as she claws at him and struggles to free herself from his arms.
‘The light in her eye has failed!’ Namor exclaims, struggling with her, he declares that the Marrina he holds dearer than life itself is slipping away. Thor remarks that he fears Dr Pym’s best efforts have failed, and urges Namor to strike now before Marrina regains her prodigious strength and size. But Marrina’s insistent struggles force her and Namor into the water beneath them, and Marrina’s form shifts and grows. ’I must slay her now while I still can but - oh, father Neptune! What dread deed you ask of your avenging son!’ Namor exclaims.
Namor begins to lose his grip over Marrina’s ever-increasing mass, and the waves generated by her begin to tear them apart. ’I’ve lost her!’ he shouts - but only for a moment, for out of the sea rises the Leviathan, wrapped in a terrible majesty. A grim and awesome specter recalling an ancient time before the age of men - when monsters held dominion over all the Earth - and might was the measure of all things! Waves crash all around, as Marrina’s furious form thrashes about. ‘The sea boils like a cauldron! Marrina’s fury is as the fury of a thousand storm giants!’ Thor declares. The Asgardian adds that if they do not stop Marrina now, all of Earth may be in grave danger.
Captain Marvel tells Thor that he is right, and asks him to quickly call the storm, as they need lightning. ‘Together, you and I may be able to electrocute her before her transformation is complete!’ Captain Marvel adds. Thor summons the lightning in a massive display, while Monica tells herself that she doesn’t know if she believes Thor is really the ancient Viking God of Thunder, but if he can summon the lightning, and she can transform into the same thing, it makes no difference. ‘Marrina, forgive us!’ Monica calls out, while Thor tells her to strike, and in unison, they do - Thor’s lightning, and Captain Marvel transformed into lightning strike the thrashing Leviathan.
Moments later, ‘A direct hit!’ Thor calls out, as trillions of tons of steam rise into the air, obscuring his vision. ‘I can see neither the creature nor Captain Marvel!’ he announces. The Black Knight hovers on his robotic steed, alongside She-Hulk and Dr Druid who are inside the Quinjet. Dane announces that his instruments indicate a life-form. ‘The Leviathan still lives! There is no other choice! The Black Blade against which all armor is in vain must once again draw blood!’ Dane declares. Urgently, Jennifer shouts ‘Dane! No! Remember the sword’s curse!’
The Black Knight asks if a single life matters against what will happen if the Leviathan survives to become even greater than she is already. ‘Namor spoke of a sacred trust. Such is also the trust of an Avenger’ Dane adds as he circles the Leviathan once the steam clears. ‘My destiny is clear!’ Dane exclaims, bidding Jennifer farewell, he raises his sword - only for Namor to shout ‘HOLD!’ and grab Dane’s wrist. ‘The Black Knight shall not draw blood this day!’ Namor exclaims. ‘Did I not swear to safeguard the very soul of my beloved? Am I not a prince of my word?’ Namor asks. ‘But your trust?’ Dane asks. ‘…is as sacred to me as my oath!’ Namor declares, raising the sword into the air, he exclaims ‘Marrina, my beloved. Hear me, wherever you may be. That which I swore to guard has been taken from us both!’
Flying down towards the Leviathan which once more rises from the water, sword ready, Namor exclaims ‘And only death now can free your soul from within this living prison! Rise, Leviathan! Rise up, and meet your nemesis!’. Namor lands on Marrina’s head, ‘For my beloved! For Marrina!’ he booms as he shoves the blade into her skull. ‘The blood! The blood!’ the Black Knight exclaims, screaming in agony, clutching his head. The Black Knight plummets towards the sea - but Thor grabs his robotic steed, preventing him from falling. ‘But is he dead or - nay - alive, but unconscious’ Thor realizes. ‘Yet if the curse of blood upon his sword hath truly been invoked, mayhap he would be better off dead’ Thor realizes, as he returns Dane to the Quinjet.
Below, the Leviathan moans, still alive, it is approach death in agony. ‘Her vital signs are weakening on the monitors’ one of the remanning Avengers remarks as the Leviathan begins to sink down below the surface, towards her collection of prices. The Quinjet is altered to function submerged, and once under the water, one of the Avengers remarks that Marrina has laid the sunken ships out in a great circle, before Thor notices the motionless Leviathan in the furthest shadows of the derelicts. ‘MARRINA!’ Namor exclaims as he swims towards her, She-Hulk, Thor and Druid gaze out of the window of the Quinjet at the graveyard of ships, before She-Hulk spots three large eggs.
‘Oh, no, Thor! It can’t be! That can’t have been what this was all about!’ She-Hulk exclaims. ‘Eggs! The Leviathan laid a clutch of eggs…and this was her nest!’. Suddenly, the three eggs hatch, and creatures emerge from the broken shells. ‘But…who’s the father?’ someone asks. ‘Perhaps we shall never know’ another points out as the hatchlings speed from the nest and into the darkness. ‘And our tragedy is nearly over. The Leviathan begins to shrink!’. Indeed, the Leviathan fades from view, leaving the body of Marrina lying on the ocean floor.
Namor picks up the body of his wife and declares that it is finished. ‘We dared to love though we were of different worlds, and this is our fate’. Namor declares that shall be their glory - and their epitaph. Namor promises to seek out Marrina’s children and teach them of their mother’s spirit. ‘But first, I shall build for you a bier fit for a queen…where you will rest forever amidst the coral, the sea jade, and mother-of-pearl…the most precious jewel in the sea’. Without a backward glance to his teammates, the Sub-Mariner guides into the darkness with his dead wife, and is lost from sight.
Long moments later, the Avengers Quinjet surfaces in silence. Thor announces that the Black Knight remains unconscious, and suggests they return as quickly as possible to the mainland and medical facilities. Suddenly, Druid exclaims ‘Look around. What’s missing?’ She-Hulk is confused, but Druid declares that in all the excitement, they have overlooked something: ‘Where’s Captain Marvel?’….