Atlantis Attacks was a massive crossover event that played out in nearly every Marvel annual in 1989. Basically, the Lemurians (longtime rivals of the Atlanteans) have returned and are set to rule the world with a little help from the Serpent Crown and their evil serpent god Set.
The main event is here! Despite the title “Atlantis Attacks” splashed across the top, there has been precious little appearance of the Atlanteans in the annuals I have reviewed so far. This chapter makes up for that in spades.
Spidey and the United States army are just hanging at the docks of southern Manhattan. And hey, the Fantastic Four are there too! This iteration of the team includes She-Thing (aka Ms. Marvel aka Sharon Ventura) and Ben Grimm in his non-rocky form. The heroes and soldiers stand around and look stoically out at the water. Suddenly, Atlantean warships appear and start attacking!
The heroes do their regular thing and along with the army they seem to be holding their own against the Atlantean foot soldiers. As an aside, the Atlanteans are all wearing bubbles on their heads and are dressed in pink and purple jumpsuits. Is it a matter of continuity that Atlanteans are colorblind?
Anyway, a giant, craggy monster (possibly Giganto’s cousin?) rises from the ocean! Naturally, this throws the fight in the other direction and finally gives our heroes a real challenge. The giant swats She-Thing, Mr. Fantastic, and the Human Torch all in their turn. The Invisible Woman and Ben Grimm are left to catch them and/or check and see if they are okay
Meanwhile, Attuma (who is the king of Atlantis I guess?) is having a meeting with Lord Ghuar and Llyra. It seems that the Lemurians are manipulating Attuma into doing their bidding and they plan to double-cross him by destroying Atlantis while its army is otherwise occupied. Sneaky, sneaky those two!
With everyone else busy, Spidey is left to face down the sea monster (who I shall dub… Leviathon) all by himself. Our hero leads Leviathon on a chase all the way to Times Square and tricks him into electrocuting himself on the big Jumbotron there. While it doesn’t really faze Leviathon, his driver and controls are knocked out. What, I didn’t tell you that this particular sea monster had a little control panel and operator built right in the middle of his forehead? Well, it did, and now the whole apparatus is wrecked thanks to Spidey. Now that there’s no one directing its actions, Leviathon decides to return to the water.
Having dispatched that threat, our hero returns to the frontline where the Fantastic Four are about to brawl with Attuma, who has decided to join the fray himself. Of course, this is the moment the Lemurians have been waiting for and they give the order to destroy Atlantis. The news of its destruction is somehow transmitted instantly to the troops and everyone stops fighting. Even Attuma is stunned and goes into a catatonic state. And just like that the invasion is over.
Remember the first Fantastic Four annual (way back in 1962) where Namor declared war on the surface world and almost took over Manhattan? Well, this is kinda like that.
Interestingly, the events of the entire issue are relayed between two newscasters who argue back and forth. One wants to emphasize the gravity of the situation while the other only wants to entertain and distract their audience. Even back then, people could see the news going downhill. Overall, a very clever framing device.
The Atlantis Attacks storyline is directly continued in Avengers Annual #18.