Tuesday, February 02, 2010

FF Blogging - FF Annual #1

It's been a while since I blogged about old issues of the Fantastic Four.

I started reading the Fantastic Four with FF Annual #2. It was years before I saw the first annual and I think that this was the first time I reread it.

Growing up in the 1960s, Marvel's annuals were a big event. DC put out super-sized collections of reprints but Marvel was too new for that. Their annuals featured a new, extended-length story, a reprint, and some extra material. At a time when DC shoehorned two stories into a regular-sized comic, the extended story was unprecedented. Stan Lee fit extra-large subject matter into the story, in this case, the Prince Namor, Sub Mariner.

The Sub Mariner was the first Golden Age hero that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revived. The Human Torch found him as a wondering, amnesiac, derelict in FF #3. After giving him a shave and dropping him in the ocean, namor regained his memory and went to rejoin his people. He found their city deserted, apparently due to nuclear testing. He declared war on the human race, starting with New York City and the FF. He also developed a crush on Sue Storm.

At the beginning of the annual, Namor found his people again and took him place as their ruler. Lady Dorma and Warlord Krang were introduced and would go onto become long-time supporting characters in the Sub Mariner's own comic.

The FF combined a vacation with an investigation into some strange sightings at sea. This turned out to be a trap. The Sub Mariner captured them then sent them to the United Nations to deliver his declaration of war. During the UN session, a scientist explained the evolution of Namor's people and the circumstances of his birth. The scientist turned out to the the Sub Mariner in disguise. When the UN rejected his demands, he launched his attack.

New York quickly fell to the Atlantean invaders. The FF captured a few soldiers and Reed figured out how to disrupt the helmets that let them breath out of water. His army fled but the Sub Mariner invaded the FF's headquarters and captured Sue Storm.

The other three followed but were attacked by sea creatures commanded by Namor. They were at a disadvantage and about to fall when a jealous Lady Dorma broke the window of the ship holding Sue. Sue nearly drowned and Namor commandeered the command craft to take her to a human hospital.

When he returned, Namor found that he people had deserted him again because of his divided loyalties.

That's a lot of story! These days it would have been spread over multiple issues and later gathered into a graphic novel.

As a backup, the annual had a reprint story and some pinups.

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