I was going to blog up this issue last weekend when I got the Walgreens exclusive Marvel Legends Namor, but may have gotten distracted since it featured Namor's classic green speedo look, and wasn't very good: from 1994, Namor, the Sub-Mariner Annual #4, "Children of Lesser Gods" Plot by Karl Bollers, script by Nel Yomtov, pencils by Bill Wylie, inks by Sandu Florea. This is also referred to as "act 1" in the title, but I don't know if it was meant to be continued somewhere, or referring to a chapter break somewhere later in the story that doesn't appear to happen.
The villain of the piece is Baron Strucker, who seems to feel he's having a bit of a comeback, or renaissance; even though I'm hard pressed to name anything he had managed to accomplish by that point--I was thinking of an old issue where Strucker kills Nick Fury's old boss General Sawyer, and that had been a Strucker robot! But he's got HYDRA going for him, he's got a massive undersea carrier, and he's got not one but two named henchmen: his second, High-Zero, "shaped since infancy," and "most trusted" Agent Thirteen. His most recent scheme involved a toxin called "Project: Blue-face" which HYDRA had stolen from a Nobel prize winner, and which killed gill-breathing life, like fish...or Atlanteans. Unfortunately for Strucker, the underwater lab working on said project is somewhat ironically crushed by a massive sea monster.
Elsewhere, the friendlier undersea base of Aquaria is also under attack, by smaller yet no less deadly monsters. Stingray has a brief appearance, but his suit was out of commission, and his newly pregnant wife was more than willing to let Namor fight the monsters instead. (I wonder if Stingray's kid ever came up again? Or if the pregnancy was forgotten when Namor's title was cancelled.) Namor tracks the monsters back to the chasm HYDRA's lab sank into, and runs across the Baron's carrier. There is a brief fight, where an injured Namor is taken by the tentacle of the larger monster...and then later returns, possibly after a missing scene, since he gives Strucker the canister from the HYDRA lab and some exposition! First, there's no explanation what happened to Namor after he was grabbed, or how he figures out that the monster is a plot thread that had been lingering a few years. Second, I'll buy the canister doubtless has a big HYDRA logo on it, but Namor didn't know they were looking specifically for it, and why would he give it to HYDRA either way? He fought Strucker in WWII, he knows they're capital-E ee-vil, and he straight-up gives them a big container of poison that specifically kills him and and his people? No idea what happened here; maybe a page or two fell outta the script...
Anyway, the larger monster is actually Namor's son, or daughter...in a manner of speaking: his offspring with his late wife, Marrina of Alpha Flight. Although she had initially been a friendly little mermaid type, Marrina was actually an alien known as the Plodex, and had turned into a giant sea monster when she became pregnant. Namor had been forced to kill her with the Black Knight's Ebony Blade (which I think messed up the Knight, but that's another story...) but the offspring had apparently survived. The smaller sea monsters were parasites, living on the offspring, but also pretty terrible. What Namor intends to do with either is unclear, since Strucker intervenes, or tries to; demanding genetic samples of the creature or he'll use the toxin (again, that Namor inexplicably just gave Strucker) on an Atlantean fishing village...that's conveniently nearby.
Meanwhile High-Zero catches Agent Thirteen nosing around the Project Blue-face, and is killed for his trouble. Thirteen reveals himself to Strucker as the son of the scientist that had created the toxin, seeking revenge...which is interrupted by Namor wrecking the hell out of the carrier. Strucker escapes in the typical escape craft, is momentarily grabbed by the offspring, but escapes; completely unfazed by the loss of his carrier, his best guys, his poison. The toxin kills the offspring, and hopefully the parasites as well, as Namor watches...apparently unaffected or out of range of it.
It feels like Namor's barely in this one, and he doesn't seem to get a helluva lot done. There's a lot of page-space given to Strucker, who seems to have a completely undeserved sense of superiority; yet still has a nightmare about tentacles. (And High-Zero in his bedroom!) Agent Thirteen's reveal is played up like it's supposed to mean something, and a shot of the son with a scar over his eye almost makes me think the character was intended to either return, or be someone else. And I would've sworn Marrina's offspring had been resolved somewhere else; and she would go on to return a couple of times: I think she's actually alive again now, but I don't know if her marital status or dangerous alien DNA have come up lately.
This wasn't a very good comic, but it's almost interesting in its not-goodness, in trying to sort out what happened, or what was supposed to happen.