S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Leonard McKenzie was deployed on a United States fast-attack submarine, a Cold War posting to the Baltic Sea. Ostensibly a regular Naval crew member, McKenzie was tasked by S.H.I.E.L.D. to clandestinely gather as much non-military intelligence as possible while underway. Superficially, his mission was to gather topographical information on unmapped deep terrain for more effective future navigation and exploration; his true mission, however, was to scout for energy signatures or anomalies that might indicate the presence of undiscovered caches of natural oceanic products – mineral, organic, or other – that might be harvested and employed by S.H.I.E.L.D. in advanced weaponry or other operational systems. During the long months underway, Leonard McKenzie grew into a deep and passionate love for the wild waters of the world; he dreamed of a time when he might retire from service and sail the planet on a personal mission of discovery.
One night, the ship was impacted violently and without warning. McKenzie and his shipmates scrambled into battle positions, galvanized by adrenaline and terror; despite their best efforts, the submarine – crippled by the first impact and damaged beyond repair – was going down. In desperation, Agent McKenzie activated his personal S.H.I.E.L.D. distress beacon, praying for salvation for himself and the surviving crew. The call was received – but no rescue was attempted, as an evaluation by S.H.I.E.L.D. of the situation led to a determination that the preservation of secrecy outweighed any humanitarian need.
The embittered Agent McKenzie closed his eyes as the freezing water crawled up over his face, and exhaled for what he was certain would be the last time.
He was shocked back into consciousness by a blast of cold, oxygenated air into his lungs – and dumbstruck to find this miraculous gift was being conveyed via a tightly-sealed kiss. This was Leonard McKenzie’s first meeting with her Royal Highness, Atlantean Princess Fen.
Infatuation was mutual and instantaneous. The playful, sylphlike Fen and the more somber McKenzie – wonderfully compatible foils for one another – immediately became lovers. The relationship, however, lived in the shadow of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s potential rediscovery and forcible retrieval of their asset, or of violent separation at the hands of Fen’s savagely protective and xenophobic people. They took refuge on a remote, unmapped island in the warm waters off of Cuba, where they lived in blissful solitude. There, able to transition from element to element without difficulty, the situation was harmonious for both – and into this paradise, a son – Namor – was born. But there are no secrets in the sea; in all-too-short a time, whispers on the tides carried back to Atlantis Fen’s location, and news of a bastard, half-breed son.
Fen’s widower father – His Highness the King – had at this point in his life dismissed the idea of leaving the throne to any of an array of foolish, inbred, overly-ambitious nieces and nephews. Leaving succession to one not of the Royal line was equally unthinkable. Thus, willing to overlook the taint of half-humanity in the remote hope that this grandchild might be raised to be a true son of Atlantis and a future monarch, the King decided to rest his hope in the fidelity of blood and dispatched his personal guard to find the runaway daughter he had disavowed, her son, and drag them home.
The Atlantean soldiers surged onto the beaches of Fen and McKenzie’s oasis in a merciless wave, and fell upon the desperate father; in the melee, a trident meant for Leonard instead found its way into Fen’s chest, as she struggled to protect him from her kinsmen. He woke, grievously wounded, to find Fen murdered and his infant son gone. With his last breath, he activated his dormant S.H.I.E.L.D. emergency beacon and prayed – for rescue, and a chance at revenge.
Today, an arrogant Namor traverses the waters of the globe, surveying every reef and cavern with the self-satisfaction of the sole designated heir to the entire oceanic world. Scars on his elegant and powerful body attest to his battle-prowess and physical superiority, which he was forced to prove time and time again during his youth, when upstart cousins or Atlantean pureblood militants challenged his fitness to hold the high throne. His mixed-blood provides him with traits that even his grandfather eventually and grudgingly acknowledged to be advantageous, as he grew to understand the inevitability of commercial, habitat, military, and other points of intersection between the terrestrials and his own people. A Royal with the ability to meet these presumptuous heathens above and below the waterline with equal strength can only expand the reach and influence of Atlantis and protect its interests.
Acting as his country’s diplomatic ambassador – representing his ailing grandfather, whose great age is finally beginning to make itself known – Namor has cultivated an enormous web of relationships in the political, social, and financial arenas. His imperial disdain merely makes him absurdly desirable to hosts and hostesses, who vie madly for his attention; his attendance at any event is desperately sought, and a coveted mark of social status. He has launched and grown – with unprecedented speed – an international shipping empire of staggering size called Circe Enterprises, with offices in every major port cities on the globe. What is not detailed in the company’s stockholder reports or mission statement, however, is the fact that the operations of this conglomerate are all ultimately structured to place Atlantis in a position of power when the war of land and sea comes – which it must, as the terrestrial population continues to boom, and governments increasingly look to mine the oceans to provide for their ever-expanding needs. Thus positioned, the Prince of Atlantis is also quietly able to conceal from prying eyes the true enormity of the undersea population, resources, cultural and scientific assets and developments – but this task grows more difficult with each passing day.
In the course of his various diplomatic and business dealings, Namor has encountered a very few humans that he has deemed worthy of notice for either good or ill.
He has encountered Anthony Stark in a variety of settings, although with lesser and lesser frequency over time. As a man and a Royal, Namor finds himself repulsed by the minute, well-hidden – yet still detectable – signs of Stark’s personal deterioration. The Prince, gifted with perceptions beyond any normal human range and trained since childhood to read any and every micronuance of expression in an interaction, knows that something is not quite right. He despises weakness – and sees Tony’s nervous vigilance and volatility as exactly that – a lack of control that makes him unqualified for any kind of leadership. Like everyone else in the terrestrial world, Namor cannot avoid heavy integration of Stark technology in almost every aspect of his life – but he is fanatically thorough in implementing alternative methods and controls in the operations that continuously take place behind Circe’s various shell companies. Some of the methods are indescribably archaic – but Namor takes grim comfort in knowing that what he must sacrifice in efficiency or convenience is more than compensatory if they prevent an oversight that might compromise the secrecy upon which the future security of his kingdom relies. His feelings for Tony are riddled with the deep vein of contempt he fosters regarding all surface dependence upon electronic “toys” to facilitate the easy life, devoid of all majesty or greater meaning, through which they move like sheep.
Namor also has an uneasy and conflicted history with the colloquially-referenced “Fantastic Four”.
Dr. Reed Richards’ brilliant accomplishments won his grudging admiration, the team’s defiance against a heavy-handed authoritarian government in search of scientific truth won his battle-tempered respect, and their deep loyalty to a vision of a better, greater world – and to one another, to the family – quietly touched his heart. The value-system, bravery, and clan loyalty demonstrated by these people were the only thing that he had ever encountered on the surface that approximated the morality and emotion that drive him so relentlessly.
All remove was finally fully lost from him when he claimed a dance from Susan at her wedding, and realized as they spoke that her that her carriage, pride, and strength created in her the surpassing beauty worthy of a Queen. Respect for her loyalty to her husband (punctuated with episodes of violent irritation at same) has kept him from actively courting her, and respect for Susan herself from indulging in a dishonorable attempt at seduction; but now – as she paces the crest of the Baxter Building as though it were a widow’s walk – he thinks that his time has come.
At this time, Namor has a clan, a family, a vision, and a mission.
He is driven – by love of his grandfather and King, by the memory of his mother, assaulted by a human and tragically passing away during the trauma of his own birth, and by his duty to save his people.
There is no room is his heart or his mind for doubt; he wavers on nothing – and in this certainty is all of his strength.
He does not know the story of Fen and Leonard McKenzie.
The few Atlanteans that did are dead. Not all of these were natural deaths.
And he has no idea that his entire world is founded upon a lie – or that his father might still live.