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In house ad for "Atlantis Attacks".
The storyline is a complicated, multi-layered crossover regarding the return of the seven-headed serpent god Set at the hands of the various underwater empires of the Marvel Universe. The title is misleading, as Atlantis and its then-leader Attuma only play minor roles in the story as flunkies for the real masterminds: the Lemurians and their leader Llyra.
Atlantis Attacks continued and expanded the format created by 1988's The Evolutionary War crossover, in which all of Marvel's superhero annuals were tied into one storyline. However, where "The Evolutionary War" had had eleven parts, Atlantis Attacks had fourteen, as Marvel revived the annual format for Daredevil, Iron Man, and Thor (which were not given annuals in 1988) as part of the storyline. The Daredevil Annual is mistakenly numbered "4", the same as the previous annual in the series. In an effort to minimize the resulting confusion, this annual is often numbered "4b" in price guides and retailer listings.
Also, unlike Evolutionary War annuals, which were mainly standalone stories loosely connected by the presence of the High Evolutionary, Atlantis Attacks was a true serial, with many of the annuals ending on cliffhangers that would be resolved in the next installment.
Every annual also contained a back-up story called "The Serpent Crown Saga", written by Peter Sanderson with pencil art by Mark Bagley. This 14-part story explained the complicated history of the Serpent Crown and recounted all its previous appearances for new readers.
The disembodied Ghaur baits Silver Surfer into restoring his physical form by hijacking Surfer's surfboard. After a brief battle, Ghaur escapes and flees to Earth, where he convinces Lemuria's ruler, Llyra, to form an alliance to summon Set back to Earth.
Ghaur's plan for the serpent god's return is a fivefold plot:
1. Build a brand new, giant-sized Serpent Crown, via gathering a large amounts of mystic artifacts and melting them down into building material for the new Serpent Crown.
2. Forge an alliance with Attuma, ruler of Atlantis, and convince him to declare war on the surface world as a means to render Atlantis defenseless (due to Attuma devoting all of the city's military resources towards a surface world invasion), so that Ghaur and Llyra's forces could launch a massive military assault on Atlantis, slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians as a sacrificial offering to Set.
3. Transform the human population into mute serpent men; using a serpent formula conceived by the terrorist Viper, with the deposed underground tyrant Tyrannus injecting recovering drug addicts with the chemical.
4. Kidnap seven super-powered heroines for the purpose of becoming brides for Set, ultimately for the purpose of becoming pregnant with the seven-headed serpent god's children.
5. Use the super-heroine Dagger (one of the women selected as a bride for Set) and a special magical magnifying glass to magnify the potency of a portion of Set's life-force into a viable amount of life energy, to give life the giant Serpent Crown, allowing Set's exiled essence to possess the now mindless seven-headed serpent body and return to Earth.
However, their plans are countered at just about every turn by Earth's heroes, culminating with the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Namor the Sub-Mariner (who is believed dead for the bulk of the storyline during a skirmish with Iron Man and Attuma's military forces) defeating Ghaur and Llyra and stopping them from bringing Set to Earth.
Cast of characters
- Part 1: Silver Surfer Annual #2
- Part 2: Iron Man Annual #10
- Interlude: Marvel Comics Presents #26 (Mr. Fixit [Hulk] battles a killer whale)
- Part 3: X-Men Annual #13
- Part 4: The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #23
- Part 5: Punisher Annual #2
- Part 6: The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #9
- Part 7: Daredevil Annual #5 (mislabeled as Annual #4)
- Part 8: Avengers Annual #18
- Interlude: "New Mutants" #76 (return of Namor, consumption of tuna fish sandwiches and intro of monster summoning horn)
- Part 9: New Mutants Annual #5
- Part 10: X-Factor Annual #4
- Part 11: Web of Spider-Man Annual #5
- Interlude: Avengers West Coast #56
- Part 12: Avengers West Coast Annual #4
- Part 13: Thor Annual #14
- Part 14: Fantastic Four Annual #22
- Atlantis Attacks Omnibus, 2011 (collecting the above)
What If... ? Vol.2 #25 (May 1991), by Jim Valentino and Rik Levins, explored the question "What if the Marvel Super Heroes had lost Atlantis Attacks?" (interior title "What if Set Had Come to Earth?"). In the story, only a handful of Earth's heroes (as well as villains Doctor Doom and Sabretooth) have avoided being turned into serpent men. After they dispatch numerous transformed former allies, they are massacred by Set and his brainwashed brides, who Set has impregnated with his evil spawn. Only Silver Surfer and Quasar survive, and with the help of Thor (who is horribly burned and placed in stasis to keep him alive), they destroy two of Set's heads before Quasar, backed by the power of Captain Universe, sacrifices his life to exile himself and Set inside Doctor Strange's Eye of Agamotto. Silver Surfer gives the Eye to the Watcher for safe keeping, as Set's children are born; they then consume their brainwashed mothers and countless mindless serpent men and women before leaving to terrorize alternate universes.
- Atlantis Attacks at the Comic Book DB