S is for Sub-Mariner

I now have the two more Masterworks covering Sub-Mariner stories I once owned, a couple of the Defenders, and one of the Golden Age Sub-Mariner, naturally featuring Everett’s story and art.

When I got suckered into reading comic books when I went to college, I started with a couple of comics that were #1s, but also Sub-Mariner #50. My girlfriend at the time and later my wife, the Okie, was particularly fond of Namor, the character with ears like Mr. Spock from Star Trek. As it turned out, the Sub-Mariner long predated the Vulcan, but did have a thing or two in common.

From the Marvel Universe: Namor’s father, American seaman Leonard McKenzie, embarked on an expedition to Antarctica in 1920… McKenzie set explosive charges to break up ice floes in the ship’s path, unaware that Atlantis lay beneath the waters. The city sustained heavy damage, and Atlantean Emperor Thakorr commanded his daughter Fen to investigate the cause of the explosions… In a strange twist of fate, Fen and McKenzie quickly fell in love and were married. Thakorr, fearing his daughter had been kidnapped or killed, sent an Atlantean war party to search for her. Thinking her a captive, the Atlanteans slaughtered McKenzie’s crew and apparently McKenzie himself. Afterward, Fen returned with the War party to Atlantis. Nine months later, Namor was born the first known Homo sapien – Homo mermanus hybrid.

So Namor, like Spock, was part homo sapien. On the other hand, while Spock was cool, Namor could be a bit of a hothead. The king of Atlantis has had several alliances over the years, but he has always chafed at being ordered about.

Wikipedia notes that Namor the Sub-Mariner was created by Bill Everett and “first appeared publicly in Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939) — the first comic book from Timely Comics, the 1930s-1940s predecessor of the company Marvel Comics. During… the Golden Age of Comics, the Sub-Mariner was one of Timely’s top three characters, along with Captain America and the original Human Torch. Everett said the character’s name was inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ Everett came up with ‘Namor’ by writing down noble-sounding names backwards and thought Roman/Namor looked the best.”

So I felt extremely lucky that the very first issue of Sub-Mariner I purchased featured the return of creator Bill Everett! Unfortunately, declining health meant that he contributed to only about a dozen stories before he died in 1973.

Still, I was hooked on this outsider with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. That particular run ended with issue 72, but I followed him when he joined the anti-group, The Defenders. But I needed more. Fortunately, I discovered the back issue market, as I described here. I also noted how I had gotten rid of my comics, but now have replaced some of them in hardcover book form. In addition to the ones mentioned, I now have the two more Masterworks covering Sub-Mariner stories I once owned, a couple of the Defenders, and one of the Golden Age Sub-Mariner, naturally featuring Everett’s story and art.

I must admit that I haven’t kept up with his development over the past couple of decades – one can read more here – but I’d still number him as one of my favorite comic book characters.

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

The Marvel Comics Challenge

SF notes, “in a world where his entire relationship with Mary Jane has been magically erased, does any of it even matter anymore?”

This was another meme from SamuraiFrog. But first, a big caveat; I was only buying Marvel comic books from 1972 to 1994, and while I have looked retrospectively, through reprints and items such as Marvel Masterworks, my knowledge post-1995 is anecdotal at best.

1. Your favorite character.
Clearly Spider-Man, mostly because of Peter Parker. In fact, when Todd McFarlane did that Spider-book in the early 1990s, I hated it so much that I, an otherwise Spidey completist (Amazing, Peter Parker, Marvel Team-Up, guest appearances), refused to buy it.

2. Your favorite villain.
The Green Goblin.

3. Your favorite diva.
Wolverine.

4. Your favorite royal.
Namor, the Sub-Mariner.

5. Your favorite team.
The Defenders. Such an unlikely grouping: Doctor Strange, Namor, Hulk, plus Valkyrie and the Silver Surfer?

6. Your favorite organization.
Merry Marvel Marching Society. Oh, you mean in a comic? Probably SHIELD, more by default.

7. Your favorite creature.
If Howard the Duck counts, then it’s Howard. Does Man-Thing count?

8. Your favorite movie.
Spider-Man 2.

9. Your favorite classic character.
Spidey.

10. Your favorite costume.
I always liked Thor’s outfit.

11. Your favorite power.

If I could have one of the powers of the Marvel Universe, it would be Silver Surfer’s power cosmic.

12. Your favorite weapon.
Thor’s hammer.

13. Your least favorite character.
Never thought much of Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Henry Pym.

14. Your favorite romance.
Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, back when it still existed.

15. The best rivalry.
Always thought Reed Richards and Doctor doom were two sides of the same coin.

16. The most powerful character.
Silver Surfer, I guess.

17. Your favorite god.
Loki.

18. Your favorite comic to screen character adaptation.
Rosemary Harris as Aunt May in the Spider-Man movies.

19. Your least favorite comic to screen character adaptation.
The first Fantastic Four film – I didn’t bother with the second one – was pretty awful.

20. Your best casting of a character (if you were casting).
Pass.

21. The most memorable death.
Gwen Stacy, since it was the first one I read. SF notes, “in a world where his entire relationship with Mary Jane has been magically erased, does any of it even matter anymore?” Fortunately, that erasure happened after I stopped reading comics, so I feign blissful ignorance.

22. Your favorite universe/dimension.
Wherever Warlock hung out.

23. The best form of transportation.
The Silver Surfer’s board.

24. Your favorite cartoon adaptation.
I liked the theme song of the old Spidey cartoon, but don’t much recall the stories. Pass.

25. Your favorite video game.
n/a

26: Your favorite elemental.
Storm, probably.

27. Your favorite non-human race.
Are Inhumans non-humans?

28. Your favorite comic time period.
When I first started reading.

29. Your favorite series you would suggest to read.
I always had affection for whatever the late Steve Gerber was writing (Defenders, Howard the Duck).

30. Your favorite Marvel Event.
That goofy Vermont Halloween schtick.