30 Things I Like About Comics—#10 Namor the Sub-Mariner

Let’s face it–Namor is awesome. He’s technically both Marvel’s first super hero but the first of its mutant characters. Created back in 1939 by Bill Everett, he’s consistently been one of the best in comics.

In his earliest appearances, the half-Atlantean, half-human prince of Atlantis was an anti-hero. He was really arrogant and hated the surface world. He would get upset and rip the antenna off the Empire State Building. Sometimes he would flood Manhattan, sometimes brawl with the original Human Torch.

But sometimes, at the urging of his would-be policewoman Betty Dean, Namor would help the surface world, whether it be fighting the Nazis during World War II or catching criminals.

When Namor returned to comics in the 1960s they played up the fact that he was torn between two worlds. He wasn’t necessarily respected as the ruler of Atlantis because he was pink-skinned like the surface dwellers. He loathed mankind, because they didn’t respect him as a leader or the ocean. Namor is constantly at conflict with the world around him. To top it all off, he’s also completely self-absorbed. Why else would he run around in his green speedo for the last eighty years? Namor thinks–and knows–he’s royalty and constantly demands to be treated that way.

What makes Namor likable is how much he cares for Atlantis and his people, even though he is not truly one of them. His outbursts against the surface world are to protect them and their honor. He would do anything to ensure their survival, whether it’s ally himself with Doctor Doom and have them relocate to Latveria, or have them form a mutual protection with the mutants on Utopia at the urging of his former lover Emma Frost.

So to those of you who think Namor is just a more scantily clad version of Aquaman, think again.

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