Audiences today know Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner as the antagonist of this Fall’s cinematic release Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, or readers may recognize him as the foil to Black Panther throughout Jonathan Hickman’s recent epic run on The Avengers. However, his roots go back to the Golden Age of Comics when Marvel Comics was known as Timely Publications.
The sea-lord appeared in the third story in Marvel Comics #1, created by Bill Everett, the first comic the publisher ever released, and has many various narratives in his life-story. Namor of the sub-mariners, prince-regent to the people of Atlantis, has been many things to many people over the more than 80 years he’s been around.
10/10 Sub-Mariner: The Depths #1-5 Presents Young Namor Like A Movie Monster
A recent attempt at dramatizing his early days, Sub-Mariner: The Depths brilliantly reframes the Sub-Mariner from the perspective of the crew of a submarine on an expedition to disprove the existence of the legendary Atlantis. The whole thing may or may not take pace in the usual world of Marvel’s comics, usually denoted as Earth-616.
The result is really a horror comic. They discover a deep sea station full of corpses and then the crew themselves suffer attacks. Namor himself never speaks a word. He only appears as a shadow or a handprint against the glass of a porthole for the first two issues as Peter Milligan’s evocative writing and Esad Ribic’s painted pages create a sense of wonder and dread.
9/10 1975’s Giant-Size Invaders #1 Gave Namor A Strong Team Association From His Past
While Namor seems like a character who would never be a team player, the prince of the sub-mariners has joined almost every major group in the Marvel Universe on occasion. This issue from 1975 marks the formation of the Invaders, a team of Golden Age superheroes in new stories set in the early days of World War II.
Created by Roy Thomas, Frank Robbins, Vince Colletta, and Petra Goldberg, this comic tells readers how the Invaders first come together. Other than (potentially) his connection with the Defenders, the Sub-Mariner has been most associated with these war heroes.
8/10 The Story In Tales To Astonish #70-76 Cements Namor’s Rule Over Atlantis
In this 1965 storyline, Namor must find the Trident of Neptune, an Arthurian sword-in-the-stone style symbol of the proper ruler of Atlantis. The Sub-Mariner embarks on this quest to regain the widespread acceptance of the Atlantean people.
It seems after the half-blood prince becomes prince-regent of Atlantis, he must still prove himself worthy of the crown and fully committed to the sub-mariner species. The Sub-Mariner’s own people don’t trust him to be loyal. Namor, mixed race and therefore not fully belonging to the human or sub-mariner worlds, always struggles to prove himself.
7/10 Tragedy Strikes In Sub-Mariner #37
Despite all the various romantic interests Namor has encountered before and since his creation, the most important is Lady Dorma. Namor seems to be an inherently romantic character as a man torn between two worlds. As the cover of this 1971 comic says, “Two loves has Namor!! The land… and the lady!”
Friends since childhood in Atlantis (as readers see in flashbacks elsewhere) she was certainly the one most likely to be the Sub-Mariner’s spouse in this tale by Roy Thomas, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito. Tragically, the death of Princess Dorma, the former Lady Dorma, came almost immediately after their wedding at the hands of the ousted leader of Lemuria, a rival undersea kingdom.
6/10 The Fantastic Four #4 Marks Namor’s Return After A Decade-Long Absence
Artist Jack Kirby maintained that, if not for him, the new superhero crop of the 60s at Marvel Comics wouldn’t have happened because writer/editor Stan Lee’s first impulse wasn’t to create new characters but to reboot the successful characters of the Golden Age. One of the signs this might be true is that the three big characters from that era did come back in one form or another.
This issue marked the first appearance of Namor since the attempt to revitalize Marvel superheroes in 1954. Namor has somehow lost his memory in the intervening years and has been living as a Manhattan homeless man. With his memory restored, he’s angrier than ever.
5/10 The Human Torch #5 Marks A Big Step Into A Shared Universe For Namor
There’s a famous story of an epic weekend of writers and artists working together to produce an epic 60-page fight between two of early Marvel’s epic characters: the original android Human Torch and Namor the Sub-Mariner. Which comic the story refers to (and whether it’s even true) is disputed but it’s certainly true that this is a massive battle between the elemental forces of fire and water as well as one of the first superhero crossover stories ever.
Namor is a terrifying figure here. He only stops flooding New York City when he hits his head flying into the Statue of Liberty and realizes he’s been manipulated by a princess from another undersea kingdom.
4/10 Sub-Mariner #1-6 Has A Little Of Everything For Namor After Civil War
In the aftermath of Marvel’s Civil War, in which sub-mariner sleeper cells played a part in the political background of the plot, tensions between the United States and Atlantis might be at an all-time high. A sleeper cell gone rogue sets off an explosion on American soil in the first issue.
In the course of this 2007 story, Namor discovers his son Kamar survived to adulthood and has been plotting against him with other rebellious Atlanteans so he evacuates and destroys his entire kingdom to defeat him. Loss upon loss of familial and political upheaval make up the destiny of Namor the Sub-Mariner and this miniseries touches on it all.
3/10 Fantastic Four Annual #1 Shows Namor Invade The Surface World
Among the biggest single comic books Marvel Comics produced in the 60s, the main story of this issue was billed as “the longest uninterrupted super-epic of its kind ever published!!” in classic Stan Lee hyperbole. The story it contains showed readers the Marvel Universe’s Atlantis for the first time since the Golden Age of Comics.
The opening pages depict Namor formally crowned the prince-regent. Now leading the people he has been reunited with, the Fantastic Four must stop a full-scale worldwide Atlantean invasion force when Namor declares war in this classic by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
2/10 Marvel Comics #1 Features The Original 1939 Debut And Origin Of Namor
The company Marvel Comics and the character of Namor the Sub-Mariner share a birthday since the first book they ever published contains the first appearance of the aquatic adventurer. Created by Bill Everett as both writer and artist, Namor is born of a human father, Captain Leonard McKenzie, and a sub-mariner mother, Princess Fen.
Everett delivered audiences’ first introduction to the popular character and his unique genesis. Any readers seeking to start at the beginning and really get to know the character from the beginning should look no further.
1/10 The Saga Of The Sub-Mariner #1-12 Summarize Five Decades Of Namor Stories
By 1988, Namor the Sub-Mariner had been in publication, off and on, for almost five decades. Characters will have a complicated story by then but the Atlantean king’s was especially convoluted as he had been a hero, a villain, a main character, and a supporting one at different points and his lore became contradictory. This maxi-series specifically exists to streamline it.
As a result, the twelve issues of The Saga of the Sub-Mariner, by Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, Rich Buckler, Bob McLeod and Michael Higgins, summaries the first almost five decades of the character’s story. The resulting book moves really fast but gives readers all the essentials.
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