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Tales to Astonish 97
"The Sovereign and The Savages"


STAN LEE Prestigiously Presents A ROY THOMAS-WERNER ROTH Classic Of Cataclysmic Chaos!
Lettered By: L.P. GREGORY
Reviewed By: STEVE CHUNG
(Originally Reviewed On 01/09/02)

The Sub-Mariner is held captive in bands of energy, and vows to break free, as well as defeat The Plunderer, who tells Prince Namor that he is only alive because he wishes it, and orders one of his men to return the guards to their posts on Skull Island, while he takes care of Namor! (Holy Space Ghost, Batman! Did Space Ghost have a garage sale?)

Namor continues to struggle against the energy bands, striving to break them or fly over them, while The Plunderer seeks to make him his ally. It was two years ago, while searching for the original site of Atlantis, that The Plunderer came across an undersea channel, which led to The Savage Land, and it was here that he was able to build his giant submarine, and commit acts of piracy, then return to his hidden base. (Holy Yellow Submarine, Batman!) The Plunderer recalls a time when the mutant team known as The X-Men entered The Savage Land, and met Ka-Zar, he who is The Plunderer's brother!

Since The Jungle Lord left for civilization, the only other inhabitants are The Swamp Men, who are mystified by the skull-shaped rock of the island! (Holy Wein and Wrightson, Batman!) Unconcerned about them, The Plunderer shows Namor the Vibra-Gun, which could have destroyed The Sub-Mariner if he wished, and with it, he could plunder the entire world, a tune which Namor has heard before. Seeing that Namor is skeptical, The Plunderer arranges a demonstration, targeting a stony crag, and the next moment, The Vibra-Gun, made from the unique element, The Plunderstone, he makes an adjustment, then uses it to destroy any substance he wishes, and in Namor's case, merely stunned. (Holy Selegue, Batman! You think The Melter can sue The Plunderer for copyright infringement?) Having failed in his attempt to steal some mining tools, The Plunderer was attacked by The American Undersea City ,which he sees as a minor setback, then asks Namor if he would join him as his second-in-command? (Holy Agnew, Batman!) Namor swears that he'd die first, and The Plunderer tells him that it can most definitely be arranged.

Outside the chamber, the guards hope that their boss sets out for sea again, since they don't like the jungle and its noises, figuring that The Swamp Men wouldn't dare attack them. KWAK! The Swamp Men club them upside their heads, then one of them finds the sentries' fallen weapon. Intent on mastering the invaders' weaponry, The Swamp Man turns it on, zapping the side of the chamber, and alerting their enemies to their presence!

WROOM! Namor and The Plunderer see the wall disintegrate, and wonder if they are under attack? (Holy Odd Couple, Batman! It's probably The Swamp Men from next door, asking for some sugar!) Assessing the situation, The Plunderer sees that The Swamp Men have a Vibra-Gun, and tells his men to attack them with their modern weapons. (Holy Have Gun Will Travel, Batman! Shouldn't those be called "Silver Age" Weapons?) Seeing their war-clubs disintegrated by The Plunderer's men, The Swamp Men turn tail and run, unaware that The Vibra-Guns only affect other substances, and not human beings. Distracted by the commotion, The Plunderer is unaware that Namor has freed himself of the energy rings, which have been severed when the power source was destroyed in the wall's destruction.

Calling Namor a fool for not attacking him while his back was turned, The Plunderer prepares to use The Vibra-Gun on The Sub-Mariner, but the setting is stuck on destroying metal, which Namor takes as a sign that Plundy's career is over! Intent on disposing of The Vibra-Gun, Namor prepares to hurl some debris, having senses that the blast has weakened significantly, and the metallic debris above Namor's head is only cracked and not destroyed, its power ended. Turning to flee, The Plunderer is seized by his caped, and when Namor tells him that his prodigous ocean-born strength will make short work of him, The Plunderer begs for mercy...

Instead, Namor hurls him against a nearby wall, only to have The Plunderer seize the opportunity and blast The Sub-Mariner with a blast of ultra-compressed air from a nearby blaster! Retrieving a second Vibra-Gun, The Plunderer prepares to make good on his threat, while Namor uses some torn cable to snare his arm, with The Plunderer now akin to a floundering fish on Namor's line. Visons of his dreams of conquest in jeopardy, The Plunderer is in disbelief, while Namor is confident that there is no one left to aid The Plunderer.

Above them, The Swamp Men's prince, unaware of who the good guy and who the bad guy is, hurls a giant slab onto Namor, while The Plunderer retrieves his Vibra-Gun, using it to blast the roof beneath The Swamp Prince's feet, in thanks for his good deed.

Leaving Namor and The Swamp Prince in the debris, The Plunderer is startled to see that the other buildings are on fire, set by a Swamp Man, forcing him and his men to abandon Skull Island before the fire reaches the ammo dump. For the past week, The Plunderer has had his men load their submarine with a supply of the Plunderstone, enough to dissolve the firearms of each armed force in the world. Whatever supplies they'd need would be stolen from passing vessels, and their plans of conquest will begin on this day, continuing in another story for another time. (Holy Mylar, Batman! Plundy may decide to come to your town comic shop!) Skull Island is aflame, and The Plunderer watches from his submarine, confident that no one will stumble across the machinery used to process his Plunderstone, and no doubt, The Sub-Mariner has undoubtedly perished!

In the fiery lab of Skull Island, a damage water pipe bathes The Sub-Mariner, who revives, then frees himself, and as he prepares to reach the water, he sees the fallen Swamp Man who attacked him, then takes him along, determined that he not die, despite his own weakness. Aware that there are explosives on the island, Namor takes the unconscious Swamp Man away from the island, with an instant to spare, Skull Island is no more!

The Swamp Men are pleased to see their prince again, carried from the water by Namor, who is grateful that he won't have to fight them, with his strength at a low ebb. Namor watches The Plunderer's submarine leave the Savage Land, and vows to stop the enemy of Atlantis and the surface world. In Atlantis, Lady Dorma and Lord Vashti are under the impression that Namor has thrown in with The Plunderer, having seen it with their own eyes, ableit with some magnetic interference on the screen (not knowing that Subby was Plundy's prisoner) and believing that the two have joined forces to attack the surface world, which would mean war between them and fair Atlantis! Convening The Council of Elders, the elder statesmen are in disbelief that their monarch would betray them and side with a pirate. Knowing of their verdict, Vashti has stepped down as Grand Vizier of Atlantis, as the council have declared Namor a traitor and banished from the golden realm.

Unaware of what has taken place in his native land, Namor sits silently, as The Swamp Prince and his people celebrate their victory against The Plunderer. His strength slowly returning, Namor wonders where the pirate will strike next? Emerging from the undersea tunnel which links The Savage Land and the outside world, the submarine now sets course for Atlantis, where their king has been banished, and should he return, Namor will be repelled, even at the cost of his life!

Werner Roth is the illustrator of this tale, having drawn The X-Men, as well as an issue of Werewolf By Night in the early '70s.

The Plunderer has faced the likes of The X-Men, Ka-Zar, and even Rom, Spaceknight, back in 1980, in a story by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema.

Interesting that The Skull Island sentries didn't believe The Swamp Men would dare attack them, moment before they do just that!

The Plunderer must be one of the more luckier villains. More criminal scientist than mighty warrior, Plundy folds when met by a superior force, and he did lose his base of operations.

Despite the misunderstandings taking place in his homeland, it's nice to know that Namor's efforts are appreciated by those whose lives he saved. (Holy Guess Whose Coming To Dinner, Batman!)

This Review Is Dedicated To Chris Juricich

Steve Chung
"The Sovereign And The Review"