Fear Itself: The Deep #4

Issue Date: 
November 2011
Story Title: 

Cullen Bunn (writer), Lee Garbett (penciler), David Meikis, John Lucas with Rick Magyar (inkers), John Rauch (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Lee Garbett with David Meikis and John Rauch (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: 

Dr Strange, the Silver Surfer, Lyra, Loa and Namor each remember important events in their lives. Namor’s involves his current war with Attuma, who has been empowered by the God of Fear. Attuma is ready for the coming battle, and with a large army, prepares to storm the mainland, but Namor, Strange, Loa, Lyra and the Silver Surfer arrive to intercept them. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the heroes work well together, and Loa and Lyra even team up for a Fastball Special. The heroes soon realize they must get to Attuma and strike him, when reinforcements arrive in the form of other former members of the Defenders and associated teams, such as Hellcat, Gargoyle, the Black Panther, Stingray, Cloud and Devil-Slayer. The allies are welcomed, and enable Namor to battle Attuma. Loa is forced to use her power to dissolve part of Attuma’s arm, but Attuma is able to break free from the heroes, retrieves his hammer and escapes on a water funnel. Attuma’s forces are rounded up and the heroes regroup. Dr Strange and Namor comment on how nice it was to work together again, before Dr Strange announces that the universe is still in danger and he has a feeling Defenders will be needed in the days to come.

Full Summary: 

Dr Strange remembers feeling the earliest stirrings of magic within him. The Silver Surfer remembers staring into the face of a god - Galactus. Lyra remembers meeting her father, the Hulk, for the first time. Loa simply remembers - remembers killing Aradnea.

Namor the Sub-Mariner remembers the monster who took his kingdom, his people and his dignity. He remembers how afraid he felt when he faced him. How helpless. Namor stands on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. A “beware” sign with an image of a jellyfish is on the beach below. The water littered with jellyfish. Namor tells himself that even now, with New Atlantis free, with his people rescued from their oppressors, he still feels fear. But he knows that he must fight his fear, as fiercely as he has battled any foe. ‘I must face him again’ Namor thinks to himself, dropping down into the water. Namor isn’t sure how Attuma arrived so quickly in the waters off the eastern seaboard, but Dr Strange sensed his movements like the coming of a storm. He knows that unless Attuma is stopped, now before he further bolsters his armies, he will claim the seas as his own and ravage the surface world. ‘And stopping him falls on me’ Namor realizes.

Attuma, now known also as Nerkkod, emerges from the water, greeted by one of his followers, who announces that they have yet to receive word from his forces in New Atlantis. ‘I’ve dispatched messengers, so if you wish to wait -’ the warrior begins, but Nerkkod tells him that they attack. ‘Very well, my Lord’ the warrior responds, adding that although Nerkodd has arrived earlier than expected, his soldiers have been preparing for this day for some time. ‘We are ready’ the warrior declares, flanked by a hundred-strong army, an and enormous large tank-like vehicle that rises from the water. ‘Yes…’ Nerkodd begins, standing by a sign that says “beware: dangerous marine life” on it. Nerkkod grins and utters something in an ancient language. The warrior turns to Nerkodd and holds a horn up to him, informing him that he needs to sound the march. ‘And let only suicidal fools stand in our way’ Nerkkod responds, as he puts the horn to his mouth. Suddenly, ‘A suicidal fool, is it?’ a voice calls out.

Nerkkod turns to see Namor, Dr Strange, Loa, Lyra and the Silver Surfer standing ready. ‘I’ve been called worse’ Namor adds, informing Attuma that his minions in New Atlantis have been routed, and that his pacts with the Undying Ones have been broken. Namor offers Attuma only one chance to unconditionally surrender - otherwise, they will crush him. Attuma narrows his eyes. ‘Brave words, Sub-Mariner. But do you think I can’t hear how your voice trembles?’ Attuma replies. He utters something in that ancient language, and stamps a foot into the water at his feet, causing geysers to bursts forth, and with that his forces rush forward. The Silver Surfer flies through the towering waters, and remarks that Attuma has cracked the very earth with a simple gesture. ‘With such power, he could flood the entire planet!’ the Surfer points out.

Dr Strange casts magical energy about and announces that the Surfer is right, as the energies Attuma is wielding are unlike anything they have faced before. Namor, armed with his trident, tells Stephen that it doesn’t matter. ‘Even if my life is forfeit, I will stop him!’ Lyra slams her fist into one of the warriors, shattering the helmet over his face, before Loa calls out to her, asking if she has ever heard of a Fastball Special. ‘No, but - I think I get the general idea!’ Lyra replies as she picks Loa up and hurls the young mutant skyward. ‘Savage!’ Loa exclaims as she strikes the large tank-like vehicle, right through the center of it, she uses her power to dissolve it, and as it crumbles under her touch, Attuma’s forces leap from it. ‘Eat your heart out, Wolverine’ Loa jokes as she lands back in the shallow water on the beach.

Nerkkod does not look happy as the remains of the large tank crash to the shore. ‘You shouldn’t have brought your friends to this fight, Namor’ Nerkkod calls out. ‘You’re only going to get them killed’ he adds, while the Silver Surfer flies up behind him. ‘And you shouldn’t turn your back on your enemies, warlord!’ the cosmic hero points out - but Nerkkod spins around, his massive hammer raised high, ‘Inspects do not trouble me!’ he booms as he slams his hammer into the Surfer, knocking him back off his board. The Silver Surfer gets to his feet near where Namor and Strange are standing. ‘We must separate him from the hammer! That’s his source of power!’ Dr Strange points out. ‘We have to strike - together now!’ he adds. Nerkkod, followed by his forces, rushes forward, ‘Fools!’ he booms. ‘I am the avatar of the Serpent’s might! You can no more strike me down than you can smite the sun!’ he boasts, smacking Strange, Namor and the Surfer aside with one swoop.

‘Team… I don’t’ think we’re convincing anyone that they’re outmatched just yet!’ Lyra calls out as she is attacked by several of Attuma’s forces. Namor looks back at Attuma and tells Stephen that he is not sure they can beat him. ‘Chin up, Sub-Mariner. Reinforcements have arrived!’ The Sub-Mariner looks up: ‘The Defenders! How…?’ he gasps. Surrounded by the magical spirits that Dr Strange sent out to gather their allies, the heroes join the battle. Dr Strange reports that while they were in New Atlantis, he took the liberty of conjuring a more aggressive version of Belial’s beckoning. Among the gathered heroes are Hellcat, Gargoyle, Devil-Slayer, Hellstorm, Stingray, Moon Knight, Cloak and Dagger, the Blazing Skull, the Black Panther and Cloud in female form. Dr Strange adds that he put the call out to the Defenders, the Secret Defenders and even those who were only Defenders for a Day. ‘Pretty much everyone…and I didn’t take no for an answer’. As Strange and the Sub-Mariner watch Hellcat and Black Panther slash through Attuma’s forces, Cloak transports his opponents away, while Dagger throws energy blades at hers. Devil-Slayer raises his sword and Cloud floats through the warriors. ‘Who are these guys?’ Lyra asks as she and Loa watch Gargoyle fly upwards, dragging two of Attuma’s forces with him. ‘Apparently Namor has teamed up with some pretty colourful characters over the years’ Loa points out.

‘Not that I’m complaining’ she adds as Moon Knight shoves a weapon into one of the smaller tanks, which destroys it, energy pours from it. ‘This is a trick! The magician is using illusions to break our spirit!’ Attuma’s general shouts. ‘Does this feel like an illusion to you?’ Moon Knight asks as he smacks the warrior in the face, breaking his helmet. Dagger throws some more energy blades, while Hellstorm and Blazing Skull battle their foes nearby. ‘Stand your ground! We still have them outnumbered!’ another of the warriors shouts. ‘Let’s see what good the advantage of numbers does - when you can’t see who you’re fighting!’ Dr Strange suggests, and an instant later, his spell is cast, and the warriors clutch at their helmets’ ‘Blind! I’m blind!’ one of them calls out. ‘What -’ the Silver Surfer begins, as Dr Strange explains that it is a variation of a simple privacy enchantment. ‘Think of it as a mystic window tinting’ he suggests. Dr Strange continues, ‘It won’t last long, but it might buy us time to deal with -’ he is interrupted, as Namor collects his trident and tells the Stephen to hold his ground. ‘Attuma is mine’ he announces, while the Surfer retrieves his board.

‘IMPERIUS REX!’ Namor shouts as he moves towards Attuma and strikes him with his trident. Attuma cries out in agony, and Dr Strange smiles. ‘He’s back’ he remarks. ‘That’s the Sub-Mariner I know and love’ Loa grins. ‘Honestly? Kinda scary’ Lyra remarks. Attuma shoves his elbow into Dr Strange’s back, and asks him if he needs a reminder of the beating he gave him last time. Namor falls to the shore. ‘I - I haven’t forgotten. But maybe you don’t remember all the times I’ve bested you…made you look like a -’ Namor begins as he reaches for his trident. ‘You’ve never defeated me! Through the Serpent I have been reborn!’ Nerkkod boasts, ready to bring his hammer down on the fallen Sub-Mariner - but the King of Atlantis spins around and reaches up, shoving his trident into Nerkkod’s chest. ‘Now, while he’s stunned!’ Namor calls out. ‘We have to get the hammer away from him!’

Namor calls out to Loa, and she goes over to Attuma, who is chained in mystic bonds. ‘I hate doing this, but you’re not leaving us many options!’ Loa exclaims. I’m - sorry’ she adds as she touches Attuma, and uses her power to begin dissolving him - until suddenly, ‘No!’ Attuma calls out as he breaks the bonds and knocks the heroes aside. ‘No!’ Attuma shouts again, clutching his arm which has been partly dissolved, including his hand. ‘NO!’ he roars as he looks over at his hammer, but before he can go over to it, Namor punches Attuma, and tells him that his powers are fading already. ‘Yield, warlord!’ he tells him. But, Attuma gets to his feet, ‘Never! I am the avatar of the Serpent! I am one of the chosen!’ he declares. Uttering the ancient language once more, the hammer soars towards Attuma, who grabs it with his remaining hand.

‘You… you can’t defeat me… I’ll return for you… return to harvest screams from your dying lips…’ Attuma warns the heroes as he spins the hammer, creating a water spout which he rises up on. ‘We must stop him before he’s - hone’ Namor calls out - but too late, as Attuma disappears from view. As the gathered Defenders round up Attuma’s forces, Namor, Strange, Silver Surfer, Lyra and Loa gather together. ‘I don’t want to sound like a downer, but I just melted a guy’s arm off - and for what? Nothing!’ Loa exclaims. Strange announces that he disagrees, and points out that New Atlantis is free, and Attuma’s forces - poised to overrun the world - have been routed and crushed. Silver Surfer adds that Attuma may have escaped, but that he will not soon recover from this defeat. Namor remarks that the warlord’s parting words were bold, but that they disguised his true feelings. ‘Now he fears us’ Namor adds.

Dr Strange tells Namor that it is always nice when they get together like this. ‘Let’s not do it again for a while’ he suggests. Namor tells Dr Strange that he will gladly take his leave of him. ‘If you could just convince these troublesome otherworldly threats from popping up’ Namor adds. ‘And Stephen…thank you’ Namor smiles. The five heroes are close as Dr Strange announces that for now though they need to ready themselves, that they need to be prepared for what comes next. ‘The world…the universe…is still in danger. And I have a feeling the Defenders will be needed in the days to come’.

Characters Involved: 

Cloud, Devil Slayer, Dr Strange, Gargoyle, Hellcat, Hellstorm, Namor, Silver Surfer (all former Defenders)



Black Panther, Moon Knight (both former Defenders associates)

Cloak & Dagger

Stingray (formerly Defender for a Day)

Blazing Skull (formerly of the Initiative’s Last Defenders)


Attuma / Nerkod



(In Dr Strange’s memory)

Dr Strange


(In Silver Surfer’s memory)

Silver Surfer



(In Lyra’s memory)



(In Loa’s memory)



Story Notes: 

Loa had no choice but to kill Aradnea last issue.

Hellcat is one of the longest serving Defenders, commencing her tenure with Defenders (1st series) #44, lasting until Defenders (1st series) #122.

Hellstorm worked with the Defenders occasionally from Giant-Sized Defenders #2, and then more regularly from Defenders (1st series) #94 until he and Hellcat married and left in Defenders (1st series) #122.

Devil Slayer was associated with the Defenders from Defenders (1st series) #58-60, and then again from #97-110.

Cloud joined the New Defenders in New Defenders #130, although she / he worked with the team briefly before then. She / he departed in New Defenders #150. Appearing in this issue in female form, between New Defenders #150 and this issue, Cloud only appeared in Solo Avengers (1st series) #20 and Star Masters #1.

Gargoyle was a long-serving member of the Defenders, commencing with Defenders (1st series) #94 until the team was destroyed in New Defenders #152.

Moon Knight was an associate Defender beginning with Defenders (1st series) #47.

The Black Panther was an associate Defender beginning with Defenders (1st series) #84.

Blazing Skull was a member of the Initiative’s Last Defenders team.

Dagger was a Secret Defender in Secret Defenders #23, however Cloak has not served with any Defenders team.

Stingray was one of the Defenders for a Day as seen in Defenders (1st series) #62-64.

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