Fantastic Four (1st series) #103

Issue Date: 
October 1970
Story Title: 
At War With Atlantis!

Stan Lee (writer), John Romita Sr (pencils), J. Verpoorten (inks), Sam Rosen (letters)

Brief Description: 

Namor and Magneto can see on the viewing screens from Namor’s royal flagship that the Fantastic Four are now fully aware of their attack. Magneto tries to provoke Namor several times to strike now, but Namor shouts at him to be silent, as none tell Namor when to command. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four manage to persuade the president to let them try to convince Namor to stop the war. As Crystal gets reluctantly left behind to handle communications, Sue leaves to Whisper Hill, wanting to leave baby Franklin into the care of Agatha Harkness. After doing that, she returns to the rest of the team so she can help them out. Unnoticed by Namor and his men, Magneto uses his powers to launch a missile from their ship. Refusing to have Atlantis strike first, Namor flies to stop the missile, however the Fantastic Four arrive just in time and use the weapons in their Fantasti-Car to destroy the missile. Unfortunately, Namor gets caught in the blast as well and falls into the sea. Ben wants to finish Namor off and dives after him, but in the sea Namor is the stronger and he quickly defeats Ben. At the same time, Magneto uses his magnetic powers to gain control over Namor’s flag-ship, and also of the crew in there. As he notices the returning Invisible Girl, he manages to take both her and Lady Dorma as hostages. After a quick brawl between their two sides, Namor and the Fantastic Four realize that Magneto is up to something. Magneto informs the men of his hostages and states that both Namor and the Fantastic Four will serve him, or else he’ll destroy those they love. Ben want to go after Magneto alone, but Johnny holds him back, realizing that, with the lives of their loved ones at stake, the next decision will have to be made by both Reed and Namor.

Full Summary: 

Namor is proud that, on his viewings screens from his ship, he can see that the Fantastic Four are aware of his military operations. Wishing for the attack to begin, Magneto tries to warn Namor that he has to attack the super-heroes now.

As the two speak, the Atlantean invasion fleet has taken to the surface – waiting for its leader’s imperial command. Namor’s troops report to their lord that everything is ready and that they’ve attained full combat strength. The sea scouts use their ships to fly up into the skies, and their pilots follow plan 4: observe and protect.

Namor shouts at Magneto to stand back – none tell Prince Namor when to give a command! Namor reminds Magneto that he doesn’t regard the lives of his fellow Atlanteans slightly, and the same goes for the surface dwellers. Magneto takes off, thinking in himself that he can’t allow Namor to change his mind… not now!

At the Baxter Building…

Reed has alerted the Pentagon about the attack, believing it was his duty to do so. Sue asks if that means war is inevitable, but Reed replies he prays that it doesn’t. That’s why he’s trying to contact the president – right now. Ben mopes that, with the way luck has been running with the Fantastic Four lately, the president is out for lunch and they’ll end up with Spiro!

Reed speaks into his headset, hoping to reach the White House. He states that they’ve got to clear all circuits and to initiate frequency red as top priority. Sue informs Reed that a picture is forming on their viewing screens, thinking that the White House must have put Reed through to the War Room.

On screen, a general asks Richards to talk fast, because the White House is already planning a strategy. Every minute counts! Reed shouts that the White House has to mark time until he can reach the White House. The official is incredulous – when Namor is about to attack? Is he mad? Reed begs the general to listen to him, because the Fantastic Four know Namor. They’ve faced him before and they’ve got a good chance to reason with him. The general doesn’t dare to think about the risk they’ll take if they delay the attack. To this, Reed asks him if he would prefer to fight a war that could have been prevented.

Johnny has heard enough. He flames on, and thinks he’ll reach Namor alone and will be able to stall him. Crystal and Reed try to hold Johnny back, but with no such luck. Ben wonders why Reed doesn’t just let Johnny go, because at least he’s doing something. Reed tells Ben that he would like Johnny to do something stupid like he did, namely by launching that missile on Atlantis while he told him not to? Johnny flies out of the room’s window, but Reed shouts at him to flame off and stretches his arm to grab him. Johnny agrees to listen to his brother-in-law and flames off, not wanting to burn him.

Reed tells Johnny not to take this personally, but the risk is too great. They’ve got to act like a team… with a plan! Crystal warns that there’s someone else coming on the viewing screen. The general contacts Richards, explaining that they too contacted the White House. Reed answers the general that all circuits are open.

Reed then asks Sue to bring the baby into the room. While there’s still time, Reed wants her to bring Franklin to Agatha Harkness. Sue wonders what if she’s needed, but Reed tells her that she can rejoin the team later. The important thing now is that little Franklin is safe. Reed explains that if there is an attack, the entire Eastern seaboard will have to be evacuated. And their headquarters will be the first place Namor will strike.

Appearing next on screen is the president of the United States, causing Ben to yell at Reed to return. Replying to Ben’s yells, the president tells “Mr. Grimm” to take it easy. “Let us try to lower our voices!

Returning with his headset, Reed explains to the president that the only thing they ask him is to give them a chance to deal with the Sub-Mariner before they find themselves at a catastrophic war… a war that could destroy the planet Earth itself! The president agrees to give Reed a chance, but he wants to make one thing clear: America’s armed forces will be ready in case he fails! Reed admits that they don’t dare to fail. Reed tells Sue to take their aero-car, explaining that it’s build-in circuits will lead her back to the team after she dropped Franklin off.

Johnny tells Crystal that she’ll have to stay at the headquarters to handle communications, but she would rather help the Fantastic Four out. Johnny disagrees. He reminds Crystal about what Reed said… they’ve got to act like a team with a plan. And Reed is the one who calls the signals. Crystal is needed at the headquarters and Johnny tells her not to let them down. Crystal promises that this is the last time she’ll be left behind.

Minutes later, at the Baxter Building rooftop…

Reed and Sue take goodbye from each other. Reed tries to convince Sue that this might be nothing, and just be a false alarm. When Sue asks Reed if he truly believes that, Reed claims that there’s no more time to talk, and tells Sue to get into the aero-car. Sue tells Reed to look at Franklin, and says that the baby is looking at Reed with so much loving trust. Reed promises his son that he won’t let him down, adding that he deserves something better than war. Sue wonders when they’ll ever have a peaceful life. Reed doesn’t know… maybe never. But at least, he’s glad, they have each other. They share a kiss, and Sue leaves.

Reed, Johnny and Ben step into the Fantasti-Car, and it’s time for them to go. Ben wonders why he never gets to ride in front. Johnny jokes that’s because they need Ben for ballast. Reed tells the two to cut it out, because this may be their most fateful mission! As the ship takes to the sky, Reed is determined to reach Namor and stop him before he can launch his attack.


Magneto informs Namor that he has spotted the Fantasti-Car on the radar scan. He wonders if maybe now Namor is convinced to order an attack. If he waits, it may be too late. Namor is surprised that the Fantastic Four are approaching his domain. He does tell Magneto to be quiet, not wanting to hear any more from him. He proudly declares that a Prince of Blood is never panicked when in action. Magneto warns Namor not to vex him, reminding the Prince that he too is born to lead… born to lead all of mutantkind!

Namor ignores Magneto and walks towards the window of his ship, explaining that only one ship is approaching him. Magneto notices that Namor doesn’t mind him anymore, and thinks now it’s the time for him to make his move. He uses his magnetic powers to launch a missile from the ship! Namor’s pilots inform him that a missile has been launched. Namor quickly flies out of his ship, declaring that noble Atlantis will never strike first.

The Fantastic Four notice the launched missile as well, and Namor too. They believe that Namor must be guiding the missile somehow and want to stop him. Reed fires the Fantasti-Car’s built-in jamming ray, hoping that the ray will disable the missile. However, as the missile explodes, Namor gets caught in the blast. Ben believes that this is the one war that got stopped before it started. Reed doesn’t think so, correcting that though Namor is falling down he’ll probably be just unconscious.

Ben wants to make sure Namor will stay that way, and quickly jumps out of the Fantasti-Car, ready for some heavy clobberin’ time! Reed tries to warn Ben that his strength won’t match Namor’s when he’s underwater, but Ben already can’t hear him anymore.

Meanwhile at the ship, Magneto grins that his plan seems to be working and that he now wishes to take over control of the ship. He fires a magnetic blasts from his hands, which pins all of Namor’s servants against a wall! Magneto shouts at the soldiers that they’ll all serve him now, shouting that he’s in control now, just like he and his mutants will one day rule the world!

Elsewhere, at Whisper Hill…

Sue and baby Franklin reach the home of Agatha Harkness. Sue lands the ship in front of the house, and is glad that they reached the house before nightfall. Sue says to herself that she doesn’t know how Agatha can live out here by herself, all alone. Sue knocks on the door, admitting to herself that, even though she has faced a lot of deadly menaces over the years, this place still gives her the creeps.

The door opens and an odd, black cat welcomes her with a hiss! Sue is startled at first, but Agatha opens the door further, explaining that she was awaiting Sue’s arrival, thanks to Ebony, who had sensed her arrival. Agatha stands hidden behind the door a bit, apologizing for her behavior, but she can’t be too cautious these days.

Sue admits that’s why the Fantastic Four have chosen her to take care of Franklin. Agatha is flattered. Sue hands over her child and apologizes for leaving so soon, but she has to rejoin her husband. Agatha understands, because she knows what’s going on. Sue is surprised to hear that. However, not wasting any more time, Sue leaves again in her ship, with Franklin and Agatha waving her goodbye. Agatha whispers to Franklin that perhaps one day, she’ll tell Sue just how much she really knows. At her ship, Sue tears up for leaving Franklin behind, but she realizes she doesn’t have much choice.

Atlantis, a few minutes later…

Magneto spots Sue’s arrival on his monitors and believes he has found the perfect hostage. He believes that, with Sue held captive, the Fantastic Four will have no choice but to do his bidding. He releases a magnetic attack, which starts to pull Sue’s ship apart! All of the ship’s metal pieces begin is falling apart, flying around in the cockpit. Sue loses control over the ship, which starts to crash. She activates her force field, hoping this will protect her from injuries.

As the ship crashes into the ocean, Magneto uses his magnetic powers to move Sue’s ship closer to his. He opens a hatch in his ship, and draws Sue in it. Magneto also plans that, after the Fantastic Four, Namor will also have no choice but to do his bidding.

Meanwhile, Reed and Johnny spy a waterspout in the ocean, followed by ever-widening concentric circles. Reed believes that can only mean one thing: Ben is trying to lure Namor to him! He’s using his massive arms to create a spinning vortex around himself, which will draw everything beneath the surface to him, like a center of a giant, man-made whirlpool!

Sure enough, Namor gets drawn to the whirlpool and quickly recognizes Ben, thinking that the hero will soon learn how well he fights. Ben is glad that his plan is working and strikes out to Namor, but Namor quickly swims away from the punch! When Ben wonders how that’s possible, Namor explains that in the sea, he is supreme! The water gives him strength. Strength enough to defeat the Thing!

Namor swims a couple of times around Ben, causing him to wonder where his opponent went. The Sub-Mariner then appears behind Ben and grabs him tightly by his neck in a chokehold. Before Ben can react, Namor throws Ben into a rock on the seabed, knocking him out in the process. His task finished, Namor takes off, wanting to let fate decides what happens next to the Thing. He recalls that Ben’s lungs are stronger than any other man, so there’s a good chance he’ll survive.

Moment later, Namor resurfaces, only to discover that his flag-ship is… gone?! Suddenly, he gets attacked by flames, coming from the Human Torch. Namor takes to the air, hoping to dodge the flames, but Johnny quickly fires again, nodding that the air is his territory. Namor agrees with that statement, so he dives back into the sea. Meanwhile, Reed wonders why Ben isn’t coming up and quickly stretches his arm into the ocean. He soon finds Ben and pulls him back up into the Fantasti-Car, much to the Thing’s embarrassment. Johnny warns the others that Namor is escaping!

Nearby, Namor spots his flagship again and moves to enter it. However, as he sees the Fantastic Four approaching, he orders his men to close the hatch, as they must not be allowed the enter. However, the Torch has already arrived and blasts the hatch with a fireball.

A moment later, Reed has stretched himself and Ben to the ship. The Thing blocks one avenue of escape for Namor, while stretches himself around the other side. Still, Namor tries to fly away, but Reed stretches his body so that Namor bounces in almost a wall, causing him to fall back straight into Ben’s strong arms. As Ben holds Namor tightly, with Reed’s stretched arms holding Namor’s arms to his side, Reed demands to know why Namor is attacking them. Namor angrily defends that the Fantastic Four fought first, and believes that he should have listened to Magneto and launched the first missile himself. Reed is surprised to learn that Magneto is involved.

Some ships of Namor approach him, and the sailors inform their master that Magneto has conquered the royal flagship. Now, he threatens both Namor and the Fantastic Four! Namor shouts at Ben to release him, which Reed tells Ben to do, because now it seems they’ve got a common foe.

The Fantastic Four follow Namor into one of his ships, and look upon the viewing screen. From the captured flagship, Magneto speaks to them and informs them that this is why none of them will lift a finger against him. Behind Magneto, the foursome see that the master of magnetism holds both Sue and Lady Dorma captive!

Namor shouts at Magneto not to dare harm Dorma, but Reed tells him to be quiet, noticing that Dorma is trying to tell them something. Dorma, crying a bit, hopes that Namor will forgive him. She was lured into the flagship, believing that Namor was there. But he begs her not to fear for her safety and that he has to do what needs to be done.

Namor and Ben both try to threaten Magneto, but mutant master tells them that he is unimpressed. He knows that they must serve him, while he holds the ones they love! Holding back the others, Reed realizes that Magneto is right! He’s got all the aces!

Ben thinks this is nuts and wants to go after Magneto, but Johnny holds them back. He explains that human life means nothing to Magneto and, with Sue and Dorma as his prisoners now, the decision of what to do must be made by both Namor and Reed!

Characters Involved: 

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

Franklin Richards

Agatha Harkness

Ebony (Agatha’s “pet”)

Namor, the Sub-Mariner

Atlantean troops


Namor’s servants (all unnamed)

(on screen)

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


Lady Dorma

US general

President Richard Nixon

Story Notes: 

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

The president is clearly Richard Nixon, who was the 37th president of the United States and was still in office at the time of the issue’s publication. “Spiro” refers to then vice-president Spiro Agnew. He would later resign in scandal in 1973 and be replaced by Senator Gerald Ford, who would later himself become president with the resignation of Nixon in 1974.

Nixon’s statement of “Let us try to lower our voices” is from his 1969 1st inaugural address. In the speech, Nixon says that “Greatness comes in simple trappings. To lower our voices would be a simple thing.” In saying this, he was trying to convey his belief that nation was rich in power and influence, but now suffering from a crisis of spirit.

When Reed tells the general that they need to “mark time,” this seems to be a lettering mistake. Given the context, it makes more sense that he is urging the general to “make” time.

Issue Information: 
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