Namor the Sub-Mariner #21

Issue Date: 
December 1991
Story Title: 
Call my Land K’Un-Lun

John Byrne (words, pictures, and cover), Glynis Oliver (color), Terry Kavanagh (editing), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief), Sub-Mariner created by Bill Everett

Brief Description: 

In Atlantis, Namor destroys the clones of his late wife Dorma and then finally takes her cell tissue and places it in her grave. On the surface world, Samuel Smithers and a H’ylthri named Sssesthugar catch Wolverine snooping and take him hostage. After handling business related to Oracle, Namor is approached by Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, who ask him to help find their friend Iron Fist whom they believe to still be alive. Namor agrees to do so and takes the two ladies to see Dr. Strange. After examining the plant piece that Misty brought, Strange tells them that it belongs to the H’ylthri and transports them to K’Un-Lun. There, the heroes discover that the city has been decimated. As they continue to scout the city, they are attacked by Lei King, Danny Rand’s old teacher, who is covered with vines.

Full Summary: 

The boundary trench, a near bottomless defile marking the northern edge of the ancient realm of Atlantis. And in a cave nestled into the wall of that trench, Namorita informs her cousin, Namor, that the charges are all in place. Namor, with his back to her, tells her he is… ready.

Namorita notes that he hesitates and asks him if he’s reconsidering. Namor replies that the law they obey this day was set down by their ancestors. It is not for him to debate their wisdom. Namorita asks that it’s still hard, isn’t it? These clones of his late wife, Lady Dorma… She knows they have no minds, no souls, but if what he said about a person maybe developing a soul is true… Namor tells her no, they must not consider that thought. It was their multi-great grandfather who ordered all clones be destroyed hundreds of years ago. Brutal though that judgment may have been, he fears in Atlantean society there is no room for lenience.

Just then, an Atlantean arrives on the scene and informs Namor they are ready. Swimming out of the cave, Namor says then let it be done and let it be done quickly. With that, the cave explodes, destroying all of the Dorma clones inside.

Dark are the thoughts of the small band of onlookers who now make their way back to the gleaming towers of fabled Atlantis. And grim is the news which awaits them. Vashti informs Namor that while he attended to the cave, the activated clones were put to a painless death. Namor asks about Vyrra, what of the one who was the author of this tragedy? Vashti informs him that he is dead. His tired, old body finally surrendered its feeble grip on life. They found him in his cell, not two hours gone. He had managed before dying to scribble a short letter reiterating his last wish to be laid to rest in Atlantis.

Namor exclaims no, take the corpse to boundary trench. Let him end his days as food for the blind bottom feeders of that dark abyss. When Namorita asks if he really thinks that’s…, Namor tells her silence. He shall not be questioned at this point, not even by her, who is blood of his blood. As he takes off, he tells them to let all be done as he has ordered it to be done. He has… other matters to attend.

Once Namor has left, Vashti asks Namorita if something is troubling her. Namorita tells him that maybe she’s been too long among humans. She forgot how hard can be they ways of Atlantis. And how utterly heartless can be her royal cousin.

Heartless? Let us follow the man the world knows as Sub-Mariner as he makes his way to the quarters set aside for him in the great palace of Atlantis. There to seal the door behind him that no eyes may witness what follows. The gleaming crystal cylinders on the table in the middle of the room contain the mortal remains of Prince Namor’s most beloved wife, Dorma, her body destroyed by the scientist Vyrra in his quest for viable cell tissue from which a clone might be created.

Covering the flask with an ancient royal burial shroud, Namor swims alone into the dark waters of the Antarctic night arriving, hours later, at this lonely, sacred place – the tomb of the Lady Dorma. The great stone which seals the cenotaph weighs more than twenty men could move. Namor pushes it aside as easily as opening a door. Inside, the waters of this temperate, northern realm are still and cold as if the sea gods themselves know and understand the grim business which brings the avenging son to this place and seek to mirror the freezing pain they sense in his heart. Gently the sea prince lays the crystalline containers in the open coffin as we turn our intruding eyes away from his time of consummate grief…

…to look to a place a thousand miles away as night brings an unsuspected and unwelcome visitor to this venerable old house. Silent as a stalking beast the stranger moves through the autumn dry foliage. No branch snaps at his passing, no leaf so much as rustles. He reaches the house without incident, confident his skill and training has allowed him to pass undetected. He could not be more wrong.

Inside the residence, Samuel Smithers pours himself a drink and tells Sssesthugar that everything is proceeding exactly according to the master plan. He has nothing to worry about. Sssesthugar, a member of the H’ylthri race, says he always worries when humans are involved. The duplicity of his species knows no bounds. They…

Just then, Sssesthugar asks what that is. Looking out the window, Smithers sees a figure. Realizing that he has been spotted, the stranger begins to run off. As he does, he wonders how. He didn’t trip any alarms approaching the house, he’s sure of it. Flight is not a natural response for the small intruder. It galls him to run away from the house. But the curiosity which brings him here was born of the intuition something unearthly was happening in this house. He was right!

Just as the stranger goes to leap over the wall, he is stopped when a vine wraps first around his ankle and then the rest of his body. Walking out into the courtyard, Smithers tells his little friends very good, they have caught their eavesdropper. From inside the house, Sssesthugar orders Smithers to destroy him. Smithers sarcastically says really? He was the one who preached caution. Holding a stick up to stranger’s face, Smithers asks him who he is, how did he happen to be there. The stranger, Wolverine, answers funny, he knew when he arrived, but now it seems like he just can’t remember.

Smacking him across the face, Smithers tells Wolverine not to get cute with him. He may think he’s the toughest thing on two legs, but they have ways of loosening even the most reticent tongue. Wolverine says fine, he’s got just as much time to waste as him. He’s not telling him anything. But, even as he speaks these words, the mutant known as Wolverine feels a small, cold spot form, deep in his breast, a chilling realization that, for the first time in his memory, he may have been outmatched. The next few days blur into an endless ribbon of agony for the captured X-Man…

…but our attention must turn away, across the Hudson River to the gleaming towers of New York. And one such tower in particular – the erstwhile headquarters of the Rand Meachum Corporation. Which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Oracle Incorporated. And in the boardroom on the fortieth floor, Lady Jacqueline Crichton tells Joy Meachum that she sees no reason for further debate. The takeover may have been hostile, but it is what you Americans call a “done deal.” Joy angrily asks if that is the way the game is played in England. Your property is stolen out from under you, and you just roll over and play dead? She begins to understand then how Britain lost her empire.

Storming off, she tells her to hear her and hear her good. Her father built this company; Crichton has control of it now, but that is a condition she intends to see changed. Count on it!

Once Joy departs, Crichton asks Kevin Plunder who was standing nearby the entire time if he has anything to add. Kevin tells her that he does not. Unless it is to say that he has no idea what’s going on around there. It’s as if a piece of his life has been punched out. He remembers being at home in the Savage Land and then he remembers being in New York, a couple of days ago. Everything else is a total blank.

Crichton tells him that it is an anticipated after effect of Skrull hypnotism. For the past several weeks, he was an unwitting slave of the Super Skrull as was Joy Meachum. She seems to have responded somewhat differently to her liberation, however. Kevin remarks that he still finds it hard to believe his mind could have been so easily taken from him.

From behind, a female voice asks him why? As minds go, his isn’t exactly up there with Homer, unless it’s Homer Simpson. Turning around, Kevin sees that the voice belongs to Shanna and passionately embraces her. As he does, a now blushing Crichton tells them that she’ll just leave them to their privacy. She has an important call to make, anyway.

On a video-chat with Namor, Crichton informs him that everything seems to be running smoothly. She’s recalled the Rand Meachum crews working in the Savage Land and halted the project the Skrull started. Namor tells her excellent and adds that it is unfortunate, however, that Joy Meachum should choose to take such a negative stance. The resources of Rand Meachum Inc. should add considerably to Oracle.

Crichton agrees. She’s a canny businesswoman, despite her youth. They could use her on their side. Speaking of their side, how’s Namorita doing? Looking in after his cousin, Namor tells Jacqueline that she is recovering. The healing process will be long and hard but his physicians inform him she will make a complete recovery. Now, if she’ll excuse him, he has someone waiting to see him.

Entering the waiting room of his office, Namor offers his condolences to Phoebe Marrs on the death of her brother, Desmond. It saddened him to learn that whatever madness lately consumed him had now cost him his life. Phoebe thanks Namor and proceeds to tell him that is only indirectly what she’s there to see him about. She needs his help desperately. Her brother Desmond got into the trouble that led to his suicide due to the decimation of Marrs Corps resources by Stark Enterprises.

She did not discover until today just how bad the situation had become. She’s broke. Marrs Corps is nothing but a name, now. All their holdings have been bought out and dismantled. They tried to take over Stark. Instead, Stark has crushed her company, her life. Namor replies that would go far to explain why Desmond behaved as he did in the last days of his life – stealing the resources of his company, attacking Caleb Alexander. The pressure must have driven him mad. Turning her head away, Phoebe says that it was never a particularly long trip to begin with, as she’d be the first to admit. But her brother’s state of mind is not the issue here, except to the extent that it brought her to her present situation.

She proceeds to tell Namor that she needs her help. Dropping to her knees, Phoebe tells Namor that she is begging for her help. Shocked, Namor helps her to her feet and tells her that such undignified behavior is unnecessary. Of course he will do whatever he can do to help. He says to her to come. He will have his people examine her books. They will learn what can be done. Smiling, Phoebe tells Namor “thank you, my Prince.” The next twenty-four hours are of little interest to us, readers, as they take Namor into the least glamorous regions of high finance.

Let us look now to the afternoon of the following day, as Lady Jacqueline Crichton has visitors. In her office, Crichton tells Misty Knight that is quite a story and asks if she has anything beyond her emotional conviction to support it. Misty tells her she does not but it’s no less true for that. Danny Rand is alive, she’s sure of it. Colleen Wing adds that she believes Misty, for what that’s worth.

Stepping into the office, Namor states that is worth quite a bit, if Miss Wing’s reputation is deserved. Namor adds that when Jackie informed him they had contacted her and asked for this meeting he had his security people run a full check on “Night-Wing Restorations.” What he learned surprised him, especially given that not two weeks ago Miss Knight was battling against him, in the Savage Land. Misty answers that she believed the Super Skrull to truly be the man she once loved. And he could not have convinced her he was Danny if she had not had access to a Danny who was alive after the time of his supposed death. Now, she wants his help finding him.

Shortly, Misty, Colleen and Namor walk the streets of Greenwich Village. Colleen remarks that this hardly seems like the place to start a search for Iron Fist. Walking up to a house on the corner, Namor says it might not seem so to her but if everything she has told him of Danny Rand’s life is true, they can do no better than beginning with a visit to this house. Misty says she doesn’t get it. She must have walked down this street fifty times, and she’s never noticed this house before. Namor replies doubtless because she had no need of its owner. Once Wong opens the door, Namor greets him and asks if his master is in residence. Wong tells him that it’s been too long and that the master is in his study. He shall inform him he is there.

Entering the atrium, Dr. Strange tells Namor that it is really good to see him and then asks who the charming ladies are with him. Namor tells Colleen Wing and Misty Knight to meet Dr. Stephen Strange. Colleen excitedly asks Doctor Strange? The Doctor Strange, the magician? Strange replies there are some who call him such. Turning to Namor, he asks his old friend what brings him to his home. Namor tells him a search. One he felt certain could be achieved by one with his talents.

Walking down the hall, Strange remarks that he knows K’Un-Lun well. When Namor asks if Strange can transport them there, Misty asks why. Danny was killed on Earth. Namor informs her that is true but according to what she has told him; Danny’s behavior was markedly changed when he returned from his ancestral home. It would seem to him, then, that a good place to begin a search for a living Iron Fist would be there. In the meantime, does she have the specimen he asked her to bring for Stephen’s examination?

Pulling out a plastic bag with a plant spore inside, Misty says yes. It was no easy task getting it away from the city medical examiner, let her tell them. Taking a look at it, Strange says fascinating and he takes it from her to make a closer study. As Strange begins to examine it, he tells Namor that it is of plant matter certainly. Dead for precisely the length of time since their friend was believed killed. And, yes, there can be no doubt. This organism is extra dimensional, not of this Earth. After Namor asks if he can hazard a guess as to its origins, its species, Strange states that its origins can only be the very place he wishes to visit. For this was once an H’ylthri, and they are found only on the planet where lies the lost city of K’Un-Lun.

Misty exclaims yes. Danny often spoke of the H’ylthri. They’re some kind of intelligent vegetable species that was native to K’Un-Lun before human settlement. In fact, it was Danny’s first encounter with the H’ylthri that led to his disenchantment with the society he’d grown up in. He realized the people of K’Un-Lun were guilty of savage and brutal aggression against the peaceful plant people.

Strange asks peaceful? Did Daniel Rand truly believe the H’ylthri to be peaceful? When Namor asks if Danny was wrong in this, Strange replies that he would not be prepared to say without actually having encountered them. But anyone who has ever owned a garden would be quick to tell them the image of plants as peaceful and benevolent is false. The plant kingdom is one of the most savage and territorial on Earth. He would advise against any assumption that intelligence would make it otherwise. Namor says aye. Humanity’s advanced intellect has made them no less barbaric than their simian cousins. But, they can save the philosophical debate for another time. How soon can he work the spell that will transport them to K’Un-Lun? Waving his hand, Strange replies that is a most trifling spell. In fact, they are already there.

With that, Colleen, Misty, and Namor find themselves in K’Un-Lun. Misty remarks that she never thought she’d see the day she’d… But there’s something wrong there. Colleen adds that she might say that. She’d have thought they’d have rebuilt by now but the destruction is the work of a dragon called Chian Tang. Misty remarks ruins, as far as the eye can see. The city has been devastated.

Namor asks Colleen that she knew about this? Colleen answers that he could say that. She was with Danny when he returned to K’Un-Lun for the first time. Misty didn’t come then. She and Danny were… sort of on the outs at the time. Misty adds to the extent that she was actually getting involved with another man – Tyrone King, someone who also wandered back into their lives in the past few days.

Starting to make his way through the ruins, Namor ponders that for a moment and tells the girls to follow him. The natural lay of the land is such that it rises in this direction. Perhaps from the high ground they can make a better assessment of the situation. Misty adds that it’s so quiet. Is… do they suppose it’s possible that… Namor asks “everyone is dead?” It begins to appear to look that way. The leader of this city was a man called Yu-Ti, right? Misty says yes. He was Danny’s uncle. But he wasn’t exactly on the up and up, from some of the hints Danny let drop. Danny’s greatest friend and ally was his teacher. A man called Lei Kung, the Thunderer. From what Danny used to say, he was a real straight shooter. Maybe the only one in the burg. Namor proceeds to state then it is him they should seek out, if he yet lives.

Out of nowhere, Lei Kung, covered in vines, kicks Namor in the head and informs them that he lives but they need not seek him, for the Thunderer has found them.

Characters Involved: 

Namor (the Sub-Mariner)



Samuel Smithers (Plantman)

Ssesthugar (member of the H’ylthri race)


Joy Meachum

Lady Jacqueline Falsworth-Crichton (Spitfire)

Kevin Plunder (Ka-Zar)

Shanna (Ka-Zar’s wife)

Phoebe Marrs

Colleen Wing

Misty Knight

Dr. Stephen Strange

Wong (Dr. Strange’s assistant)

Various clones of Dorma

Various unnamed Atlanteans

Lei-Kung, the Thunderer

Story Notes: 

Dorma’s body was destroyed by the scientist Vyrra in Namor the Sub-Mariner #19.

The H’ylthri sent a cake to Samuel Smithers in prison back in Namor the Sub-Mariner #16. Once freed from jail in Namor the Sub-Mariner #19, Smithers found his greenhouse base through a realtor and promptly killed her. In Namor the Sub-Mariner #20, Ssesthugar chided Smithers for his rash reaction.

Namorita was brutally beaten by the villainous Sea Urchin in New Warriors #14.

The story depicting the Super Skrull posing as Iron Fist occurred in Namor the Sub-Mariner #15-18.

“Iron Fist” (in actuality, a H’ylthri duplicate) was killed by Captain Hero in Power Man and Iron Fist #125. The real Iron Fist (Danny Rand) was kidnapped by the H’ylthri in Power Man and Iron Fist #119. What that means was that for a little while, the duplicate Iron Fist fought alongside other heroes, including Secret Wars II.

Chian Tang destroyed the city of K’Un-Lun in Power Man and Iron Fist #119-120.

Issue Information: 
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