Trust me, that's the best title you're going to get for this one.
This issue's cover is, well, alright. A bright light shines on Pepper and Iron Man, Pepper pointing a revolver at its source. The Iron Man suit doesn't look quite as big as it did last issue, but I'm just going to chalk that up to the cover artist and the interior artist not being the same guy.
Recap page! Uniquely, it appears the recaps for this series will be told through letters written by Stark. I realize this technically makes them a part of the narrative, but since it's nothing I didn't cover last time we'll just move on. Well, okay, the letter (dated May 6, 1939, by the way) mentions that Stark plans to bring Pepper on the trip to Atlantis, which I hadn't considered for some reason. It's only logical, since she's replacing Munsey as Stark's chronicler for Marvels
. He also tells Rhodey, to whom the letter is addressed, to finish up the Jade Mask story for Marvels
— in particular, to play up Zemo and Strucker as villains.
Two days later, on May 8th, Stark, his employees, and his hired crew shove off from Cadiz, Spain in the dead of night. I don't know a lot about ships, but this one looks relatively small. In fact, it reminds me of the Blackbird
from X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain
. Oh, this is clever. Pepper, which is to say Frank Finlay, has taken over narration duties. Like Munsey, her narration seems to take the form of her actual rough draft of the story as it unfolds, if that makes sense. She's writing from a first person perspective - Frank Finlay's. To avoid confusion, I'll just call "him" narrator Pepper.
Narrator Pepper says she's just embarked on what will probably be the greatest adventure of her life. She describes Tony Stark as living up to his titanic reputation, but detects something lurking beneath the surface... something dark
. Stark asks if she's feeling any better now, and she confirms this to be the case. She's not used to flying in "planes with rocket... thingies
on them." Stark says jet propulsion is the future of aviation and hands her a lemon dipped in sugared whiskey to calm her stomach. If the jet freaked her out, she'd better be prepared for what's ahead; the Dorma isn't exactly the smoothest ride in town.
The Dorma? Pepper is flabbergasted. She's aboard the actual Lady Dorma
? Apparently so — which means the stern helmsman is actually infamous pirate Captain Namor, the Blood Mariner
. We see Namor staring grimly out to see as he grapples with the helm... and I can't help but notice his peculiar pointed ears. Pepper still isn't over this whole "Namor" thing. And the fabled Lady Dorma
being about as far from the regal speed demon she'd heard so much about as possible.
Stark says she's got more kick than you'd think. Pepper notes his familiarity; he's chartered this rig before. Tony Stark chumming around with Captain Namor. What a world. Stark says they aren't exactly tennis partners at the Hellfire Club, but they're no stranger to one another. He's called upon Namor's services a couple of times before. The reason he picked him this
time is because he knows Namor can get the job done. Pepper says he's really going to have to start talking to her if he expects her to do a decent job with all this. He didn't tell her where they were going until they got there, and she still has no idea just what they're after. Stark admits fault and apologizes.
He says he forgets she's new, that she isn't Munsey. Munsey actually liked being kept in the dark because it amped up the excitement and suspense of his writing. He'd actually get mad if Stark told him too much. Pepper comforts Stark and says that going from the few times she met Munsey, he loved what he did... but he also thought Stark had been getting too reckless. Stark asks for her opinion on the matter, and, well... he's traipsing off to God knows where on a pirate ship based on the files of a Nazi sympathizer. She's doesn't think it actually gets any more reckless.
Before Stark can respond, Namor calls him over to take a look at the... inductor. I have no clue what an inductor is, but it's got four needles like a seismograph and apparently they're off the charts at 5.3 "H". Namor says they're more than 100 kilometers from the dive site. Stark's amazed - he thought Gialetta's estimates were generous, but it looks like there's even more. Man, comic, you are so
lucky you explained this later, I swear...
Anyway, Namor says he and Rhodey (who's been navigating the whole time, looks like) have been watching those numbers for while... and if they're right, the price for this trip just went up exponentially. Stark says if he can do this, he can just about name his price. Namor likes the sound of that, but Pepper reminds him of the "just about" part. After realizing they hadn't met, Stark introduces the two. Namor's a little pissy that Munsey's replacement is a woman. Understand, he's a man of the sea and claims ties to no country, but he doesn't approve of the way Americans let their women go around acting like men. He puts the ship on automation and retires to his quarters for the night.
As he walks away, Pepper jokes that he's a real charmer, and mentions his ears. Rhodey says they're the mark of his pirate crew - they slice them to look like shark fins. Stark admits that Namor's a little eccentric, but they should follow his lead and get some rest. Pepper wants to know what they were talking about with "H"s and inductors earlier, and reminds Stark that she isn't Munsey when he tries to brush her off. Tony tells her to whip out that whiskey lemon while he ruins the mystery for her.
No offense, but this part gets a little boring, so allow me to summarize: orihalcum
. Plato mentioned it in his original mention of Atlantis, the very original texts. The steel of the gods, researchers believe that from its description in various sources it was some kind of super-conductor, or power-enhancer. A metal that amplifies power exponentially. According to accounts, there was a temple at the center of the city to Poseidon — the statue of whom carried a trident made of orihalcum. It's believed that this is what caused the Atlantis to sink, that it was too powerful a conductor and actually created a vortex that sucked the whole city under the water.
Stark wants to find Atlantis for the orihalcum. The possibilities are endless; you could hook a coil of the stuff to a car battery and power a whole city on 12 volts. There's an obvious implication that Stark sees this as a way to more or less cure his heart condition, as well. The inductor's readings point to some kind of bizarre electrical activity off the coast of the straits of Gibraltar. Pepper just wants to know why he has to go after it personally
. Why does he do this to himself? Isn't he scared?
Well, Stark has an answer for her. It has to do with his father, Howard, who was in the Argonne forest with Jarvis in 1918. They were captured behind enemy lines and kept as POWs for six months. Howard died when Stark was still a kid, but he remembers having these nightmares and waking up to him. He'd run into his father's room - and find him awake at his table, working at a feverish pace on some new invention that could keep anyone from experiencing what he had... a robot that could fight instead of men, a remote controlled tank... Stark would ask him if he was alright and get this strange look from his father. Distant, as though he didn't believe the child was real. Howard would tell him he was fine, and that Stark should just "go have an adventure, okay?"
Realizing he had gotten away from the question, he simply says that no, he isn't afraid of any adventure. Anyway, they really should call it a night. He hopes he's sufficiently ruined the mystery for Pepper, but according to her he's not even close.
In the morning, Namor's men use pulleys to heft a small submarine into the water. It's an experimental model Stark designed himself. According to narrator Pepper, the prototype is nicknamed the Happy Hogan
, after 616 Stark's chauffeur. Stark, Rhodey, Namor and Pepper climb in. I said the Happy Hogan
was small, and I'm not kidding. It's just
big enough to fit the four of them in, plus enough headroom to stand. She can withstand up to 4 tons of pressure per square inch and go to depths of up to 6000 feet. Narrator Pepper says that as the world above fades into darkness, she can't help but feel that her readership is missing the show.
Pepper sees light beyond a ridge. Namor dismisses it as coral or jellyfish, but Rhodey doesn't think so at this depth. One of the lights inside the Hogan
explodes. They're pushing her limits. Namor wants to turn back. He doesn't want to die for Stark's bull. He's singing a different tune, however, when they come across Greek ruins lining the ocean floor and an ominous pile of ship wreckage at the center. Rhodey says if orihalcum is as conductive as records suggest, any kind of electrical storm would cause it to do its vortex thing - hence the ship pile.
They find the temple just beneath a Spanish Galleon, eventually finding an air pocket housing the statue of Poseidon and his orihalcum trident. Stark gets out and conducts a little test by attaching a single volt battery charge to the trident... producing an amazing wave of light and electricity that could be seen even from outside the shipwreck pile. Rhodey and Stark detach the head of the trident and take it with them back to the surface and the Lady Dorma
. Narrator Pepper says that she feels a pang of sadness as they rise back up top, because soon their adventure will abruptly come to an end. As they climb on deck, we find that she's completely right: because Strucker, Zemo, and a bunch of German soldiers are waiting for them, demanding the trident head.
Stark tries to reason with Zemo as a scientist, but Zemo orders his men to simply take it from him if he won't give it up willingly. He says they don't know what they're dealing with, but Gialetta, who has taken to wearing the jade mask full time, disagrees. They're dealing with Tony Stark - famed adventurer and frightened little boy. Stark realizes this was a set-up. She left those documents in her drawer so Stark would do their bidding and retrieve the trident for them.
Strucker's getting tired of this drama, instructing his men to kill our heroes and be done with it. Rhodey whispers to Stark to grab Pepper and run for the Hogan
on Namor's signal, but Stark's adamant that he can get the trident back from Zemo. Namor presses a button on one of the rails that fills the air around the boat with smoke. Stark makes a leap for the trident, but Zemo knocks him down. Rhodey collects him, but they lost track of Pepper. Well, Gialetta and her Nazi friends have taken her aboard their speedboat to make their escape. And they disabled the Lady Dorma
's engine in case they try anything. They're sitting ducks. A torpedo is launched from the speedboat that blows the Lady Dorma
End of issue 2