Silver Age Saturdays: Tales to Astonish starring Sub-Mariner; Issues #88-89 

Tales to Astonish; Issue #88 (February 1967)

“A Stranger Strikes from Space!”

Written by Stan Lee; Bill Everett Pencils and Inks.

Prince Namor’s realm – Atlantis – is under constant threat from jealous warlords and barbarians who want the realm for themselves. Here, the story starts as Attuma the Barbarian fails once again to do just this thing. Namor and Atlantis easily fend off the barbarians hordes, and Attuma is left to make an ignoble walk of shame back to his territories.

Meanwhile, a couple of aliens are on a joy ride over Earth. They’re literally so stoned on space weed that while discussing the concepts of tyranny and futurism, they don’t even notice their trailer — carrying a powerful intergalactic weapon, the Servo-Bot — coming unhitched right above our Atlantic Ocean, spilling the Servo-Bot into the deeps and right  into the path of the enraged Attuma. This actually happens.

The Servo-Bot is a tough cookie. Currently deactivated, Attuma’s horde can’t dent it with their most powerful weaponry. Uncharacteristically, Attuma deduces how to manipulate the control box of this alien technology through trial and error. Attuma – the barbarian – now has in his hands one of the most powerful weapons of siege warfare that the depths of our oceans have ever seen. Making a decision that is much more in character, Attuma decides to use this new Servo-Bot in another lightning attack on Atlantis.

The outcome – and intrigue – that follows is to be found in the next issue.

My Thoughts

Rating held off until end of next issue.

The Prince of Atlantis can sunder swords with his hands. Yikes!

I would have preferred Krang as the antagonist if they just had to go with the recidivist ‘Alien Trojan Horse/Titan’ Lee plot line.

At this point, I still am not certain of Bill Everett’s artwork.

 

 

Tales to Astonish; Issue #89 (March 1967)

“The Prince and the Power!”

Written by Stan Lee; Bill Everett Pencils and Inks.

At the gates of Atlantis, Attuma the Barbarian heckles Namor the Sub-Mariner with a loudspeaker. His xenos Servo-Bot is melting its way through Atlantis’ walls by increasing its core temperature to molten-hot highs. Namor, watching the whole spectacle from his pad, ponders the riddle of the Servo-Bot.

His army ineffective against such a creature, Lord Vashti advises a full-scale evacuation from  Atlantis. Prince Namor makes a very mature decision in agreeing with the Grand Vizier, but declines the Lord’s requests to accompany the retreat. Ordering Vashti to prevent the Lady Dorma from rebellion, he takes to the window and fly-swims to the battlefront, where his troops are unleashing their final barrage towards the invading Servo-Bot.

Avoiding the Bot’s deadly eye beams, Namor eventually comes to the realization that the Servo-Bot is unstoppable, and so settles for attempting to slow the weapon down in support of the retreat of his army. Very noble. Calling out to his allies amongst the depths in a rare use of his ‘sea creature control’ powers, Namor orders a serried charge against the machine. Fierce sharks, dozens of disgruntled octopuses, and even an ancient blue whale were insufficient to stop the rampage of the Servo-Bot.

However, while the enemy was distracted, Namor was approached by the Lady Dorma, who had rebelled. This is typical of her character. Namor actually used her as a crucial ally in this instance though, and had her run and grab the funky projecto-ray gun from his bedside table before bringing it back to him.

As the Servo-Bot finishes off the sea creatures, Namor is resigned to fight it off on his own, but before things get too heavy, a giant vacuum pokes down into the scene from above and surrounds the Servo-Bot – who doesn’t fight it at all. Lady Dorma and Attuma are all like, “wtf just happened?” But Namor… apparently he used his projector gun to relay to space that there was a giant advanced weapon down here ready for pick up, assuming that this level of technology was not of this world and figuring that there were some xenos scum out there looking for something just like this. Fair enough, I guess. In any matter, Namor and Lady Dorma swim all the way up to the surface, waving goodbye to the alien spaceship as its relieved crew pack the Servo-Bot back up in the hold of the giant craft. The aliens don’t acknowledge them. The whole thing is a bit much for Dorma, so they return to Atlantis and Namor laughs at Attuma as he flees the city once again.

My Thoughts

2/5.

Everett can draw some nice settings. I enjoyed the sea creatures, and when I think about it, Everett created the Sub-Mariner, right? So… Does that not mean he can invariably illustrate Namor, the Prince of Atlantis? I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t like the look of ol’ triangle-head.

Namor seems to be maturing as a ruler here, from what I’ve seen of him in the past. It’s a nice touch. Lord Vashti is great as always, and Lady Dorma stays true to form as an annoying but lovable puppy dog pet of the Prince.

Attuma stood uselessly along the sidelines of the battle. I guess he figured he had the Atlanteans trumped until the vacuum tube from space came down, and that’s actually a good excuse to save your troops. Still, the antagonist switched somewhere between the beginning of last issue and the end of this one, making the story an icky one.

Next Time

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3: “To Become an Avenger!”

 

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