Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fantastic Four Annual #1

As I have discussed earlier, DC's success with "Annuals" (really 80-page reprint mags) resulted in Marvel looking to add this profitable niche to its line. The problem was that Marvel had not been publishing their superheros long enough to be able to reprint stories and expect them to sell very well, or so they thought. So Fantastic Four Annual #1 featured a brand new double-length story with the FF facing the Sub-Mariner and his Atlantean hordes.

This was the first time since Namor's return in FF #4 that he appears in Atlantis. We learn that the Atlanteans are blue in color, which raises some questions about the claims that he is "a prince of the blood" as one character puts it. We also learn that he has a love, Lady Dorma, and a rival for both the throne and the girl, in the Warlord Krang. He gives a speech to his subjects in which he vows to make the "insolent human race pay for its crimes against our people."

The next sequence shows us the FF in a typical opening, with Johnny and Ben fighting. This time they damage some of Sue's priceless gowns. In an effort to relieve the team's tension while accomplishing some business, Reed suggests a cruise of the Atlantic, where sea monsters have been reported recently.

The sea monsters turn out to be a trap for the FF. Namor advises Reed that he declares the seas and the skies above them as his territory, banning any overseas boating or flights. This of course will mean war with the humans.

There follows a brief bio of Subby; turns out he's the product of a marriage between an human and an Atlantean princess; hence the caucasian skin. The Sub-Mariner's forces quickly take over New York and other major cities on the coast. However, the invasion is thwarted when Reed manages to create an evaporation ray, depriving the Atlanteans of the water in their helmets that they need to survive on land.

Angered, Namor kidnaps Sue Storm. While the boys fight it out above, Dorma, in a fit of jealousy, breaks a window in the undersea room where Sue is being held. Sue, realizing it is her only hope, jumps out the broken window. But she becomes tangled in some seaweed, and nearly drowns. Namor flies her back to the mainland to a hospital. But his act of selflessness has a price, as the Atlanteans feel betrayed and desert him.

In the second feature, the brief encounter between Spiderman and the FF from ASM #1 is retold in an extended version. The book also contains a reprint of the FF's origin from Fantastic Four #1, and a gallery of their most memorable villains.

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