Fantastic Four (1st series) #102

Issue Date: 
September 1970
Story Title: 
The Strength of the Sub-Mariner

Stan Lee (writer), Jack Kirby (pencils), Joe Sinnott (colors), Artie Simek (letters)

Brief Description: 

The Thing is ill and Crystal does her best to give Ben his medicine, though that is easier said than done. Even after he swallows it, Ben sneezes so powerfully that it almost destroys the entire living room! Reed reminds his teammates to be quiet as Sue is trying to get baby Franklin to sleep. He fears about Franklin’s health, as the city has the flu hanging around thanks to the pouring rain outside. Meanwhile, Namor and his soldiers are heading toward an island, as they tracked shockwaves coming from it. After defeating some dinosaurs on the island, Namor discovers the aftermath of a huge explosion and finds a sole survivor: Magneto! He takes Magneto back to Atlantis where the master of magnetism recovers. Magneto tries to convince Namor to bring war upon the surface world, stating that neither of them will ever be trusted as they aren’t fully human. Namor hears much truth in Magneto’s words, saying that he’ll think about it. Meanwhile in New York, Johnny is inexplicably attacked by a sky piece of a building, which becomes airborne, like a missile. Unable to melt or evade it, the Torch dives into the river, followed by the building piece, which promptly sinks. Returning back home to inform his teammates about what just happened, he finds more weird things occurring. All kinds of junk are flying through the city, and the even Fantastic Four’s electronic devices start go insane and attack them! However, after Crystal manages to use her elemental powers to destroy the main control panel, the danger is thwarted. When Reed’s machines indicate that the attack came from Atlantis, Ben wants payback and launches a warning missile on the underwater kingdom. However, Namor is unaware that the missile is harmless and interprets it as an act of war. He manages to prevent the missile before it arrives, and then plots revenge. Magneto urges Namor on and asks to accompany the attack. Namor consents, but refuses to share command. Not too long afterward, the FF spot an attacking fleet of submarines heading toward the city, realizing that they are now at war!

Full Summary: 

The Baxter Building…
The Thing is ill! Wearing a bathrobe and a towel around his neck, Ben is taken care of by Crystal, who tries to give Ben his medicine, though that is easier said than done. Johnny mocks that Ben can relax, as Crystal won’t hurt him.

Crystal uses one hand to open up Ben’s mouth and in the other holds a spoon with his medicine. She promises that the medicine will relieve Ben of his flu. His speech impaired by his congested nose, Ben jokes that he would rather have the code than having to swawwow the medicine. He swallows it anyway, despite the medicine’s awful taste. Crystal smiles that wasn’t so bad, was it? To this, Ben informs her that his Aunt Petunia used to give him a jellybean after he took his medicine.

Suddenly, Ben starts to sneeze. Seeing this, Johnny panics and picks Crystal up in his arms, and they go hide behind a coach. As Ben finally sneezes, the hard blow causes the room to shake, collapsing all the room’s furniture! A disheveled Crystal blesses Ben, while Johnny warns Ben that, if he sneezes like that one more time, he’ll wreck the whole furshlugginer building!

Reed enters the room, asking what all the commotion is about. He reminds his teammates that Sue is trying to get the baby to sleep. Speaking of babies, Johnny jokes, has Reed ever tried to give Benjamin a medicine? Ben can’t believe that everyone is picking on him all day.

Crystal hopes aloud that little Franklin is alright and Reed admits he is, so far, but with all this flu around... Johnny states that’s because of the lousy weather they’ve been having. Taking stock of this, the trio glances out of the window at the pouring rain. Reed mentions that, as soon as the weather clears, they’ll fly Franklin to Miss Harkness in the country. He does admit that it’s a good thing for Sue to have Franklin with her every so often… and it’s good for Franklin, too. Crystal only wishes the city wasn’t so gloom on a day like this. It feels like an omen to her – of some impending disaster!

Meanwhile, beneath the frozen Antarctic seas…

A speedy patrol ship of the royal Atlantis navy knifes through the silent deep. Inside, Namor the Sub-Mariner asks the vessel’s captain if they’ve reached their objective yet. The captain confirms, informing his liege that directly ahead is the site of the mysterious shock wave. Satisfied, Namor orders his troops to remain at their posts while he personally investigates the area. The soldiers agree to obey their lord and the Sub-Mariner dives through a hatch into the water outside.

Immediately, Namor senses that the water feels warm, while it should be icy. He decides he will seek the answer upon the surface above. Surfacing, Namor finds an island with smoke rising beyond some mountains. Namor flies toward the island, where he quickly discovers flying ancient reptiles – in actuality pterodactyl dinosaurs - flying toward the smoldering site. Arriving first, Namor discovers the remains of a mighty explosion. At the center of the rubble, he finds what seems to be a sole survivor, a costumed and unconscious man.

A moment after he lands, the pterodactyls arrive as well and Namor orders them back. However, they still advance, interested in the carcass of the costumed man. Undeterred, Namor starts attacking the dinosaurs, declaring that a “prince of the blood” must always be obeyed, no matter the moment or place. Gathering his strength and shouting “Imperius Rex!” Namor manages to throw the dinosaurs in the far distance. Namor checks the man’s health: he’s still breathing! He plans to take the survivor back to Atlantis to patch him up. Namor does not recognize him… as Magneto.

The Baxter Building…

Seeing that it has stopped raining, Ben sticks his hand out of the window to confirm. However, to his astonishment, he feels that someone just dropped something in his hand – even though they’re on the thirty-fifth floor! Crystal thinks Ben must be imagining things but Ben pulls his hand back in, and finds a gift-wrapped box!

Ben sticks his head out to find out who gave the present to him – quickly discovering that it came from Johnny! The Torch, standing on the building’s ledge, jokes that Ben can relax, as it’s just a new bottle of cough medicine he got for him. Becoming irate, just as Johnny intended, Ben yells at the Torch as he flies away, telling him to just wait – he’ll feed him castor oil by the gallon! Flying away, the Torch quips to Ben that he’ll have to catch him first!

As Johnny flies through the city, he witnesses the top of a building pull itself loose… and then hurl itself at this direction. Johnny quickly tries to evade, but the piece starts to follow him like a missile, even moving too fast for Johnny to melt. Thinking quickly, the Torch thinks there’s only one way out: he’ll have to sink the building into the river. Johnny manages to lure the building to the river and, as he dives into it, so does the building piece, which promptly sinks to the bottom.


Ben meets up with Reed in his lab, asking if he’s working on another far-out invention that will save the world. Reed denies that: it’s a new feeding formula for Franklin. Ben jokes that that’s what happens when a super-hero goes domestic. Looking at Sue taking care of baby Franklin in the other room, Ben thinks to himself that he wishes that would also happen to him.

Getting a bit concerned, Ben thinks it’s about time Johnny got back home. Reed jokes that perhaps Johnny is just pricing some tranquilizers for Ben, but Ben isn’t amused.

Spotting something odd, the Thing stares out of the window, and thinks aloud that he has gone bananas fer sure! He sees all kinds of junk flying through the city! Reed corrects Ben that he isn’t imagining things: he can see it, too. Ben, still not believing it, mocks that in that case, they’ve both gone insane.


The now safe and conscious Magneto studies the equipment in Namor’s lab. Marveling at it, he silently thinks how he can use it to magnify his magnetic powers a hundredfold. Suddenly, he is joined by a , who arrives to inform Magneto that Namor the First wishes to speak to him – Magneto will accompany him at once!

As they walk through the spacious halls of the Atlantis, they pass other Atlanteans – both other troops, as well as civilians. The guard explains to Magneto that, when he approaches the sovereign Lord of Atlantis, he will not speak until he it first spoken to. Magneto tells the guard to spare him the advice, as he too was born to command.

A few minutes later, Magneto has explained his story to Namor, about how the X-Men recently managed to defeat him and how he now wants revenge on the world. Looking at Namor, who sits thinking on his throne, Magneto reminds the Prince that neither Namor nor he are truly human. Because of this fact, Magneto believes that neither of them will ever be trusted by the world above. Therefore, he suggests that they join forces, as with both their powers combined, nobody will be able to stand against them.

Namor realizes that Magneto hints at war – while he has always striven for peace. And yet, the Sub-Mariner hears much truth in the words the master of magnetism speaks. Magneto suggests that, in that case, Namor thinks long and deep about his proposal.

The Baxter Building…

Johnny has returned back home and has informed the Thing about what happened to him. When the two rush to Reed’s lab wanting to tell him about it, Reed claims that he already knows. His devices indicated a strange magnetic force that has been playing havoc with the city. That’s why he started to develop a magna-tracer, so he can track the waves to their point of origin. He reveals that, so far, all his preliminary research has pointed out one shocking fact, namely that the source of the disturbances seem to be… the kingdom of Atlantis!

Ben states that this means the Sub-Mariner is behind all this – he’ll moider the bum! However, Reed responds that they can’t be positive about this yet. He presses a button on the tracer, adding that he’ll send forth a sonic probe, which will tell them what they have to know. Should any further disturbances take place, a second press on the button will send a concussion missile to the site to warn Atlantis of their folly. The Thing still believes that a poke in the snoot would do it better. He wonders why Reed always has to come up with some kind of scientific jazz.

Suddenly, electrode wires from the machines behind Ben start grabbing his neck! Reed tries to warn his friend, but is too late. The wires strangle Ben, taking him out with a massive electrical blast. The FF’s electrical apparatus all start moving by themselves! It’s as if the entire lab has gone mad!

More cables start coiling around Reed and Johnny flames on, wanting to burn the cables off. Surprisingly, the cables avoid the flames as if they were alive. Johnny worries that, if he’ll make the flames stronger, they’ll burn Reed. Suddenly, the cables start attacking Johnny as well, and Reed warns the boy to protect himself. Reed then spies that the control board is operating by itself. It’s hurling a vacuum blast. The blast hits Johnny, and he can’t stay aflame anymore, as the pressure’s too great.

Moving into action herself, Crystal fires her elemental powers on the panel, and demolishes it. With the panel out, the cables loosen up as well. Reed frees himself, and Johnny and Crystal help him up. Reed can’t believe that they’re own equipment was under magnetic control, from some distant source. It’s almost indescribable the raw power it represented. Johnny thinks there’s no telling what would have happened if Crystal hadn’t smashed the panel in time. Reed agrees with that, but doesn’t think the danger is over yet. There’s no way of knowing when the next attack will come.

Ben suggests that, in that case, they don’t just sit around waiting for something to happen. He says it’s time for the Fantastic Four to start carrying the ball. He presses the button on Reed’s device, and fires the missile! Reed is incredulous at Ben’s actions, but Ben is glad he did it.


Reed’s sonic wave strikes the city, causing massive shockwaves and demolished buildings, including parts of Namor’s castle. Namor spots a giant arch above him, about to collapse on some of his guards. He stands underneath it, using his strength to hold it up until they are clear. Once they are, Namor throws it away. Now, with the danger passed, Namor exclaims that his wrath has been aroused – and his royal blood cries for vengeance! But first, there must be an inquiry. He orders his soldiers to bring Magneto to him, and they do as told.

Namor asks Magneto if he knows where the shock waves came from. Magneto claims that he knows more than Namor thinks. He traced the source magnetically in Namor’s lab. It was triggered in New York, the home of the Fantastic Four! Namor thinks he should have known the FF would attack him again. Magneto promises that, this time, Namor doesn’t have to face the heroes alone. He can help him. Namor proudly declares that he doesn’t need help. Magneto tries to tell Namor not to be a fool, as together they can accomplish anything.

One of the guards informs his master that another missile has been sighted! Even now, it approaches them at incredible speed! Namor wonders if the surfacemen have gone mad. The guards open the view-screen of the palace so Namor can see for himself.

As Namor examines the missile out from the monitor, Magneto silently recognizes the missile. It’s a harmless concussion type, he notes, used merely as a warning. But, he adds, Namor doesn’t need to know that. Namor flies outside, wanting to stop the missile before it strikes. Once again he succeeds into using his great strength to throw the missile away, and it explodes away from his kingdom.

Magneto and the other Atlanteans are impressed at Namor’s strength. Magneto even admits that Namor’s power is greater than he suspected. Fate has offered him the perfect pawn to do his fateful bidding! He believes he must continue goading him, make Namor feel he fights a noble crusade to save his people. Magneto thinks that, for as long as men feel the end can justify the means, so long as they seek to justify battle – and carnage – and endless killing, so long will he still have a chance to destroy the human race. Whether on the surface, or beneath the sea, mankind’s foolish pride, anger and fears drive them to war, even if they long for peace!

Namor’s guards quickly rush to assemble their ranks, as the signal has been sounded! Magneto regards the racing soldiers, glad that this is just as he planned it: Namor is mobilizing his forces. Magneto tries to convince Namor to let him fight as his side. Namor tells Magneto he can do as he wishes, but wants him to know he doesn’t share command! The Sub-Mariner alone shall lead this attack! The Sub-Mariner alone shall crush the human race! Magneto quietly grins.

The Baxter Building…

The Fantastic Four gather around an unashamed Ben. Reed states that Ben acted too quickly, as he wasn’t ready to launch the missile yet. Ben mocks a guy could die of old age before Reed made up his mind. Johnny reminds Ben that Reed is still their leader, and if he doesn’t like that…! Ben realizes his mistake, telling Johnny not to scare him to death. So he made one crummy mistake. It’s not the end of the world, right? Reed wishes he could answer that.

Crystal notices activity on their marine radarscope, pointing to a fleet of submarines heading toward the city. Ben hopes it could be just a herd of whales, but Reed laments if only they could be that lucky. Suddenly, the vibro-alarm goes off, meaning it really is a fleet of warships! Johnny adds if that’s the case, they’re in for… WAR!

Characters Involved: 

Crystal, Human Torch II, Invisible Girl, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing (all Fantastic Four)

Namor, the Sub-Mariner

Namor’s servants & warriors (all unnamed)


several pterodactyl dinosaurs

Story Notes: 

This is the last issue of the Fantastic Four penciled by Jack Kirby, after a run of 102 issues.

In original printing, Magneto’s appearance in this issue was right after his defeat in X-Men (1st series) #63. However, years later, when the X-Men: The Hidden Years was released, Magneto made appearances after X-Men (1st series) #63, which are all chronologically ordered in said series. So, from the XMHY point of view, Magneto’s appearance in this issue takes place after X-Men: The Hidden Years #12.

Also years later, due to the release of X-Men: The Hidden Years #20-22, this story is retold in those issue from the X-Men’s point of view.

Magneto tried to lure Namor to his side once before, but failed to, in X-Men (1st series) #6. That’s why the two know each other.

Furshlugginer is a word made up by several letters courtesy of MAD Magazine. The word is an adjective with as many possible meanings as the user deems necessary. It’s often used in the negative sense, and came into almost-popular usage during the late Seventies and early Eighties. In current days, the word is hardly used anymore.

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