Fear Itself: The Deep #1

Issue Date: 
August 2011
Story Title: 

Cullen Bunn (writer), Lee Garbett (penciler), David Meikis (inker), John Rauch (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Lee Garbett with David Meikis and Frank Martin (cover artists), Jody Lehup (assistant editor), Jeanine Schaefer (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)


Brief Description: 

Trouble brews in the ocean depths, as Attuma has been given a power boost as Nerkkod. He and his army battle Namor and his forces. Loa witnesses Attuma take Namor’s trident and level much of New Atlantis. Loa bravely rescues Namor and takes him to safety. Dr Strange arrives at a waterside tavern two days later, where he meets with Loa and a dejected Namor who briefs Dr Strange on what has transpired and tells him that his people need someone to defend them. With his powers changed, Dr Strange is able to send magical creature to seek out their former teammates from the Defenders. While they wait, occupied New Atltantis is overseen by Attuma’s generals - Tigershark, Aradnea and Tyrak - who prepare to defend Attuma and themselves from Namor. At the tavern, Dr Strange and Namor worry that their allies may not show up, while outside, the monstrous creatures that Tigershark and his cohorts have assembled lumber towards the tavern - until one of them is suddenly thrown through the tavern. Dr Strange believes that their friends have arrived, as there is only one brute he knows who could have caused that destruction. But, expecting the Hulk, he is surprised to be greeted by Lyra, a She-Hulk. The magical spirits that Strange sent to gather allies are with her, and Lyra explains that the Hulk is her dad - sort of. Alongside Namor and Loa, they start to battle the creatures. Namor is deflated however, and Lyra has to come to his rescue. Although they hold the first assault back, a further group of creatures emerges from the water nearby. However, the heroes are granted a much needed moment of respite when a new - old - ally arrives on scene - the Silver Surfer!


Full Summary: 

New Zealand, where several people on the beach look on in shock at a pod of dolphins that have become stranded on the sandy shore. In Hawaii, a large tsunami approaches the city while, off the US West Coast, a ship has become stuck in polluted, dirty waters.

New Atlantis, bodies of dead Atlanteans float in the water, while Namor the Sub-Mariner shouts: Hold the line! Hold the line!’ as he faces off against Attuma, who grins and tells Namor that his ranks are decimated, that his elite warriors are nothing but playthings for his horde. ‘I don’t know how you’ve bolstered your strength, Attuma… nor where you came across such a fearsome weapon… but the King of Atlantis will not be bested by stolen power!’ Namor responds. Attuma slams the weapon into Namor’s chest, causing the hero to fall back in the water. ‘I’ve stolen nothing!’ he boasts, declaring that this is his power, his hammer. ‘It, and Atlantis have ever belonged to me… Nerkkod, Breaker of Oceans!’

As Namor’s trident sinks downwards amongst the battling armies of Atlanteans, swimming nearby is the mutant called Loa. She sees Namor struggling against Attuma, who lashes out with his hammer once more, and tells the Sub-Mariner that he will live just long enough to see his people brought low. He wraps his hand around Namor’s neck. ‘NAMOR!’ Loa shouts. ‘Go ahead, King. Bellow your battle cry and inspire your troops’ Attuma snarls. Namor is unable to speak though, so Attuma whispers it in his ear: ‘Imperius Rex!’ and shoves Namor aside. ‘Your fear is so pungent that it poisons the water. Has it robbed you of your voice as well? Let me show you’ Attuma mocks, before slamming his hammer, striking rocks which shatter as he utters something in an ancient language. From the shockwaves of the strike, water rises up and billows over the ocean, as a citadel nearby crumbles to dust and rock.

‘L-Loa?’ Namor utters as the young mutant swims over to him as he lay on the seabed. ‘We’ve got to get out of here’ Loa declares. ‘But… New Atlantis… needs…’ Namor begins, as Loa drags him alongside her as she starts to swim, pointing out that New Atlantis needs him alive, and that is not an option if they stay here. ‘We’ve got to get lost before that monster notices that we’re gone’ Loa adds, but it’s too late, as Attuma sees them swim upwards. ‘Flee, Namor, and spread your fear to the corners of the ocean!’ Attuma collects Namor’s trident and raises his hammer, shouting ‘Never forget that you still drew breath while your city crumbled and your people suffered!’ He then utters something else in the ancient language, as Loa looks back at the crumbling citadels.

Two days later, at Oliveri’s, Dr Stephen Strange enters the establishment, as an announcer on the television can be heard stating that wildlife officials say reported deaths of thousands of fish and other aquatic creatures, as well as the recent underwater explosion off the western seaboard may be caused by shifting tectonic plates. The announcer adds that religious extremists claim these occurrences are signs of the “end of days” and that a number of vigils are being organized across the country.

‘Namor?’ Dr Strange calls out as he enters the bar. The announcer remarks that experts in the scientific community caution citizens that while these events are strange, they are not cause for panic. Dr Strange casts a spell, switching the television off, and as he examines his surroundings, ‘You looking for the King of the Seven Seas?’ Loa asks from where she sits in a booth, before motioning back to the bar, where Namor is camped out.

‘Stephen. What took you so long?’ Namor asks, a large jug of beer in hand. Dr Strange apologizes to the Sub-Mariner and points out that his gifts are not as they once were. ‘So it is for us all’ Namor replies. Dr Strange asks him what has happened, and Namor reports that New Atlantis is no more, and despite all his seaborne might, he was helpless to stop the destruction. ‘It wasn’t your fault’ Loa points out as she approaches the older men, adding that there was nothing he could have done, not against that walking nightmare. ‘I could have fought more fiercely… but instead I darted away like a frightened ink-spewing squid’ Namor responds. He reveals that the warlord Attuma has laid siege to his kingdom and his people have been made prisoners. ‘They need their king. They need someone to stand for them. To defend them’ he laments.

Turning back to Dr Strange, Namor tells his old teammate that he would not have called upon him if he had anywhere else to turn, but that even the X-Men are occupied with other threats - and he can’t do this alone. ‘You won’t have to’ Dr Strange assures him. ‘After all, what good are friends with super-powers if you can’t lean on them once in a while?’

Energy beings start to form around Dr Strange as he explains that he has had to learn to be a little more creative when it comes to spell-casting. ‘Belial’s Beckoning, for example, was first devised as a means of fetching alchemical ingredients. With a few minor adjustments, it should serve as a fine summons for our teammates’. The bartender ducks behind the counter and looks at the energy beings flying about his establishment. ‘This is why those super heroic types make such terrible customers’ he mutters. ‘Too stingy with the tips… too loose and easy with the collateral damage and magical mumbo jumbo…’.

Loa stands amongst the energy beings and exclaims ‘Oh… this is so much cooler than “Avengers Assemble”!’ and as the energy creatures fly out of the tavern, Dr Strange declares that all they have to do now is wait - and pray.

Occupied New Atlantis, where those Atlanteans who have sided with Attuma are marching captive Atlanteans through the city. In a chamber in one of the buildings, a trio have gathered. ‘Why so glum, Tyrak? New Atlantis is ours’ the female of the trio points out. ‘Not ours, sister. The city… all the sea… belongs to Nerkkod’ Tyrak tells Aradnea, while Tiger Shark sits with his arms folded, unimpressed. Tyrak asks ‘And now... now that our warlord has seized that which he prized above all else… what does he do? He marches off without so much as a glance at his spoils’. Tyrak adds that Nerkkod has left the three of them, his generals, here to twiddle their thumbs. ‘Is that what’s bothering you?’ Aradnea asks. ‘Does it frustrate you to be relegated to the role of “house-sitter?” is standing watch over a city full of slaves tiresome to you?’ she enquires.

Tiger Shark scowls and tells Tyrak to face it: ‘Attuma - sorry, Nerkkod - doesn’t need us. He can win this war all by his lonesome’. But Aradnea tells Tiger Shark that is not true, as even mighty Nerkkod has limitations - he cannot be everywhere at once. ‘Watch your mouth, Aradnea. If the boss heard you talking like that, he’d -’ one of the men begins, but Aradnea interrupts them, announcing that Namor yet lives. Tiger Shark growls, while Aradnea continues: ‘Battered… broken… afraid… his spirit crushed… but he will return to liberate New Atlantis… and he’ll bring allies’. Tyrak listens, as Aradnea strokes Tiger Shark’s chin, and declares that they shall stand against Namor, shall strike him. ‘The prisons of old are weakening. Let King Namor call upon his friends… and we’ll call upon ours’ she smiles, as lurking in the depths, a horde of sea demons wait.

Later, still in Oliveri’s, customers have started to fill up the empty booths, as Loa tells Namor and Dr Strange that she hates to be a downer, but she thinks they might be the only people showing up to their little super hero party. ‘You may be right’ Namor agrees, pointing out that this is a time of great strife, and that the others are likely to be occupied with concerns of their own. ‘They’ll be here. They’ve never let us -’ Dr Strange begins, before he clutches his head, ‘By the Vishanti!’ he gasps. “By the Vishanti?” Loa quotes, asking if Dr Strange always talks like that. ‘Only when we get together’ Namor replies, before asking Stephen what troubles him. ‘I feel something - an eldritch signature I haven’t encountered in some time’ he announces, before telling Namor and Loa that they are in grave danger.

‘Then let these threats show themselves, and see how they weather the fury of the King of Atlantis!’ Namor boasts, getting to his feet, while, outside, a creature lumbers towards Oliveri’s. Dr Strange tells Namor to wait, and putting a hand on Namor’s shoulder informs his friend that he senses a great hesitation within him, a festering despair that he might not even realize. Namor scowls: ‘Get your hands off me, magician!’ he exclaims, before Loa calls out ‘Uh, guys… what in the name of giant-monsters-on-the-loose is that?’ The large creature with crab-like pincers is thrown through the tavern. ‘Neptune’s trident!’ Namor gasps. ‘I’d say our friends have arrived at last’ Dr Strange smiles, adding ‘Only one brute I know is capable of such destruction! The Incredible -who are you?’ Dr Strange declares as the dust clears and a green-skinned woman with red hair, Strange’s energy creatures latched onto her, standing before him.

‘The name’s Lyra… I’m the girl who’s gonna start knocking buildings down unless someone explains what’s going on! And get these things off of me while you’re at it!’ she exclaims. The energy creatures are absorbed into a surge of energy that Dr Strange creates, and remarks that he doesn’t understand, as the spell was mean to call upon the Defenders. ‘I expected the Hulk, but not a She-Hulk!’ he adds. ‘Yeah…the Hulk’s my dad… sort of…’ Lyra mutters. ‘Of course! I used an imperfect variation of the incantation’ Dr Strange realizes, supposing that the spell sought Lyra out because of her similar genetic makeup to the Hulk. Loa tells Dr Strange that she hates to break up the magic lesson, ‘But it looks like there are more of those things coming out of the bay!’ Loa exclaims, peering out of the gaping hole in the wall.

More crustacean-like creatures lumber towards Oliveri’s, and Dr Strange notices that they are spreading out into the city. ‘There’s no telling the carnage they’ll cause unless we stop them!’ he adds. ‘So be it. Let’s send them back to whatever pit they crawled out of!’ Namor declares. Lyra points out that now that she is here, she has nothing better to do, while Loa calls out: ‘So the bad guys have an army of sea monsters. What have we got? A kid, a sea king who looks like he went ten rounds with Galactus, a magical has-been and a junior She-Hulk? This should be fun!’ Loa declares. DR Strange smiles, and she asks him what he is smiling about. ‘Nothing… this just reminds me of old times’ Strange replies. The quartet rush forward, ‘Take care, Defenders! These monstrosities are even more deadly than they appear!’ Dr Strange tells his allies, adding that he senses in them a connection to the terribly Undying Ones. ‘Sheesh! My insurance agent warmed me there’d be days like this’ the bartender mutters as he checks out the damage to his establishment.

The heroes have engaged the strange creatures, as Dr Strange comments that his magic may not be what it used to be, but that it is good to know he can still contend with the likes of these demons. Mystic energy wraps around his foes, while Lyra grabs her opponent around its neck, ‘The slimier they are…the harder the fall!’ she declares. Loa dodges the creature that lunges at her, ‘Maybe we can talk this out… I don’t think you really want to do this!’ Loa calls out - but the demon shoves its arm into Loa, enabling her to swim through it, breaking it into pieces, which continues on through the rest of the creature. ‘Toldja’ Loa declares. Namor moves towards two creatures and remarks that he doesn’t know what dark magic has twisted them in such a way, but he promises to make short work of them - until one of them slams into him, knocking him several feet through the air.

‘I… I can’t…’ Namor begins, unable to move as the creatures lumber towards him, growling - but before they strike, Lyra rushes over to them, ‘Heads up! Keep your eyes on the prize, friend, and you just might survive this brawl!’ she tells Namor, slamming the creatures into each other. She goes over to Namor and helps him up, telling him not to worry, just stick with her and she will cover him. Dr Strange and Loa go over to them and Strange remarks that they are not out of the woods just yet, as the creatures are cross-breeds between demon and sea creature. ‘That kind of hybridization can only mean -’ he begins, as Loa turns back to the dock and sees large tentacles reach out of the water, climbing onto land. ‘Let me guess… mass destruction!’ Loa exclaims, and as the hideous creatures lumber towards her, ‘Uh… a little help over here?’ she asks - and is answered in the form of several blasts of cosmic energy that strike the creatures, ad a voice calls out ‘I bring a dire warning, Defenders’. ‘Whoa…’ Loa utters, looking up. ‘That is so cool!’ she exclaims as the Silver Surfer hovers over the group. He announces that the fell energies at work upon Earth threaten to surpass even the power cosmic, so to confront the enemies before them, they will need all the help they can muster. ‘You will need the aid of the Silver Surfer!’

Characters Involved: 

Dr Strange, Namor, Silver Surfer (all former Defenders)




Attuma / Nerkkod

Aradnea, Tiger Shark, Tyrak




Bar tender


Sea demons

Story Notes: 

First appearance of Aradnea.

Lyra is the daughter of an alternate future’s Hulk and Thundra.


Written By: