Sub-Mariner #70

sub-mariner-70Keeping with the under the water theme, Sub-Mariner #70 continues the story of Namor trying to find a cure for the bio plague that has been unleashed on the Atlanteans.

It’s revealed that this poison was created by the United States government that can turn animals into wild monsters that they could drop into combat zones. There’s a ridiculous series of panel that shows cute little rabbits being turned into Sweetums-like monsters. Don’t believe me? You can view the page over on Marvel Comics Chronology. Conveniently it’s assumed that there is an antidote to this that can be found among the wreckage of a ship in the Pacific Ocean.

How convenient that our hero–a mermaid of sorts–can find the cure under the water. It would be funny if Namor would have to go somewhere random, like the Sahara Desert or an Arby’s in Passaic County, New Jersey.But no…writer Marv Wolfman set it in the ocean. How imaginative.

So Namor is looking through the wreckage only to be attacked by a group of Men-Fish. Pretty much, the Men-Fish are sea creatures that have been mutated by Doctor Dorcas.There’s that name again. The Men-Fish are pretty silly looking, seemingly more appropriate being member’s of Skeletor’s army of minions. And like minions, Namor is able to dispatch them fairly easily.

WHat Namor didn’t count on was the Men-Fish having a new leader of sort called Pirahna who can be described exactly how his name sounds. And that’s how the issue ends.

Not caring about spoilers, I looked up what happens in the next issue. Namor and Pirahna tussle some more until the Sub-Mariner beats him bloody. That in turns causes a school of piranhas to feed on Pirahna, causing the fishy villain a painful demise, and Namor leaves with the cure. Isn’t that irony!


Super-Villain Team-Up #2


Poor Namor.

I love the whole concept of Super-Villain Team-Up so much. The idea of Dr. Doom and Sub-Mariner just teaming up and going on there own adventures just entertains me so much.

On one hand, you have the extremely self centered ruler of Atlantis. And his best friend (well, at least for this story’s purpose) is an egotistical mad scientist with an inferiority complex. It’s like the adventures of Cousins Larry and Balki, especially since Dr. Doom and Balki are eastern Europeans.

The second issue of this series has Namor by his longtime villains Attuma, Tiger Shark and the worst named villain in the history of comic books–Dr. Dorcas. His name is just s ridiculous as it sounds.

It’s up to Dr. Doom to save his bestest friend in the world, using a remote controlled camera masquerading as a fish to find his location. And with some help from Namor’s longtime love interest Betty Dean Prentis, the prince is rescued. During the ensuing facas, poor Betty gets hit fatally by a blast from Dorcas’ laser cannon. And this sets up the next issue, where we assume the Sub-Mariner gets a little savage.

The book is just what you would expect of a Marvel issue from the mid 1970s. It’s a fun story, sublimely over-the-top in all aspects. But what makes the book is the artwork; with a cover by Gil Kane and interior art by Sal Buscema, it’s just full of awesomeness.

So does Betty survive? Or at the very least, does Namor avenge her?

Who knows.

I don’t have Super-Villain Team-Up #3, but I would be happy to review it if one of you doesn’t mind passing it along.

Friday Fights #25: Mr. Fantastic vs. Namor

namor-vs-reed-richards-mr-fantasticThis is a perfect post-Valentine’s Day Friday Fights! Even though Invisible Woman’s marriage to Mr. Fantastic is regarded as one of the best marriages/pairings in comics, the relationship is perpetually threatened by an obsessive Namor. So if these two men fought for her hand, who would come out the victor?

There are a few things to consider about this epic battle. Namor has a lot of advantages. He’s much stronger than Reed and can fly. Not to mention, the closer he gets to water the more powerful he becomes. Namor can also be a little bit of a psychopath at times, so you would only assume he could be a little more, um, violent with Reed for standing between him and the woman he obsesses.

Reed’s power of unbelievable elasticity kind of pales in comparison. But then again, that’s usually the case. He usually relies on a myriad of gadgets and inventions created just in case he finds himself in situations like this, not to mention that he usually has his three closest friends with him at all times. So without either, it really gives the advantage to Namor.

But there is one thing missing from this hypothetical battle: Sue. It’s pretty clear that she’s madly in love with Reed. In about forty years of comics, no writer has been able to figure out a way for Namor to split them up. So whether she interferes on her hubby’s behalf (or even pleas for Namor to stop), it is a given that Reed is leaving with Sue. And at the end of the day, that’s what is most important. WINNER:  Mr. Fantastic

Namora #1: Under The Sea (And We’re Not Talking About Ariel)


This was the perfect book to pull from a dollar bin at a comic show (I might have even paid less for it, I don’t remember). Namora #1 is a single-issue story by Jeff Parker (who has had some experience writing the character during the Agents of ATLAS series) with art by Sara Pichelli before her Ultimate Spider-Man breakthrough.

Namora is Namor’s half-human cousin and a general nice person. The story begins with her rescuing some Russian sailors from a kraken, only to find out that the sea monster has a peaceful coexistence with a colony of lost Atlanteans. Unfortunately Namora realizes that everything is not what it seems as she has a conversation with her deceased daughter Namorita (who was killed back at the start of Civil War). Ultimately it’s up to the Atlantean princess to save her people from the sea monster.

The resulting issue is a lot of fun. It’s a complete story and everything is resolved by the end. It comes across kind of like a pitch, like Marvel was trying to gauge the interest on the character getting her own mini or ongoing series. I enjoyed it, as it was a different take on the Namor/world of Atlantis. So this gets a thumbs up. What also gets a thumbs up is the cool variant cover by legendary lady comic artist Ramona Friden!

Uncanny X-Men #5-9


I read the second collected volume of the new Uncanny X-Men and it didn’t really do anything for me. It felt like it was just another X-Men adventure. Cyclops’ team is off to Tabula Rasa, some super evolved civilization from the future that has popped up in Montana, and in turn have to save its inhabitants from certain disaster.

It was like something we’ve seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation a million times over. But writer Kieron Gillen did a few things of note  in these issues. He plants some seeds for the Avengers/X-Men feud/crossover, mostly showing the tense relationship that Cyclops and Captain America have as leaders of their respective groups.

Magneto and Psylocke don’t agree about anything philosophically, but there is an underlying respect. Magneto is the only one in this group that knows that Psylocke has been going out on more, um, violent and extreme missions as part of Wolverine’s secret X-Force. There’s also a bit of a weird connection between Namor and Hope Summers, and there is a lot of flirting going on. Things get awkward after poor Namor alludes to having sex with a crayfish-like alien queen and Hope seems both disgusted and jealous as a result. Super weird. I really don’t know what they were getting at and it was just uncomfortable all around.

So how would I rate this? I’ll give this a thumbs in the middle; it’s recommended only for completists or super fans of Gillen.

Namor The First Mutant #1-4: Curse of the Mutants

Thanks to the Twilight novels, vampires are all the rage in popular culture. In 2010, the X-Men spent some times fighting off the bloodsuckers, so it’s no surprise that X-ally Namor would wind up fighting underwater vampires in the first four issues of Namor The First Mutant.

In recent years, living in Atlantis has been pretty rough. The fabled underwater kingdom was destroyed and its residents now live under the X-Men mutants-only island of Utopia. Now they have to deal with a vampire invasion. Great.

It’s up to Namor to gather up the Atlantean forces to fight them off. Not only does he have to recover some ancient relic from the vampires, but it turns out his long missing (and extremely loathsome) grandfather Tha-Korr is not only one of them but their highlord.

Writer Stuart Moore did an exemplary job with this, as he put together a whole mythology for Atlantis that wasn’t ever shown before. I’m sure the vampire business was an editorial mandate and he made it work. Art wise, Ariel Olivetti’s work is mind-blowing as usual. There are some fill-in pages by Andres Guinaldo, though well rendered, are so stylistically different from Olivetti that kind of break up the flow of the book. It’s not a negative against Guinaldo, they just juxtapose too much.

Both artists do deserve a lot of credit for finding interesting ways to depict the characters moving in the ocean. I can imagine it must be pretty hard, as you have to think spatially how characters would relate to each other under water, as there is no up or down. There’s just space. Olivetti and Guinaldo not only understand that, but that everything is perpetually moving by undercurrents. It’s much harder to show ebbs and flows  on the comics page, then say an animated film like The Little Mermaid. But they succeed as you can clearly tell that everything is under the water.

If you read this in its trade paperback format, there’s also a great account of the life and times of Namor, as recounted by his cousin Namora. If you want to read more about the character’s life and personal history, this does a great job of summing up about seventy years of back story.

Sub-Mariner #23

Here’s some more Silver Age fun, this time in the form of a Sub-Mariner comic! This twenty third issue of his late sixties/early seventies ongoing series introduces a new villain to the Atlantean pantheon:  the human killer whale Orka!

So who exactly is this marine mammal themed super villain? Orka is a soldier in Atlantean renegade Kwang’s posse of ocean thugs. After being given the powers of a killer whale by fellow Namor hater Doctor Dorcas (probably the most unfortunate super villain name ever…I wonder if writer Roy Thomas was making a joke about a similar sounding whale body part), Orka sets out against the Sub-Mariner.

Namor can’t defeat the monster and the book ends with Orka and his killer whales going to kill Namor’s on-again/off-again cousin/love interest Dorma (yes you read that right). Can the Sub-Mariner save Dorma and stop the sea-dwelling scoundrels? Your guess is as good as mine; I don’t have the next issue!

Art in this issue is by Marie Severin, who is really one of the most underrated artists from this period at Marvel. She is definitely a master of several genres, including fantasy like this, horror comics, humor and straight up super hero work. She even pencilled Marvel’s A-Team adaptation!

Comic Con ruminations

Walking Dead plush

Assorted Walking Dead merchandise at San Diego Comic Con 2011. Photo courtesy on

So apparently there was a San Diego Comic Con this weekend. Did I miss anything important?

Usually I wind up geeking out in front of the computer, constantly refreshing the web browser to find all the latest gossip. So here’s a recap of SDCC, with what I’m excited about.

  • Matt Fraction’s new Defenders book—This is going to be cool. I’m a fan of Fraction’s writing, and this team up of Namor, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Red She Hulk and Silver Surfer just seems like a can’t miss. Did I mention it’s going to be drawn by Terry Dodson?
  • EC Comics—Everyone’s favorite horror comics from the 1950s are going to be reprinted by Fantagraphics next year. I can’t wait to get to read some vintage Wally Wood.
  • More Marvel Television—Sometimes it’s just as much fun to watch comics on the television show. I’m really looking forward to Hulk and the Agents of SMASH, a cartoon show featuring Hulk, She Hulk, Red Hulk and Skaar going around, smashing things and helmed by Paul Dini. I also can’t wait for aka Jessica Jones, an adaptation of Alias.
  • Hawk and Dove Teasers—Yes, I love Rob Liefeld and I love DC’s characters Hawk and Dove. Some of the newly released art has already been adapted into wallpaper for my computer.
  • New Marvel Universe toys—Everyone may have been excited about the return of the Marvel Legends toy line from Hasbro, but I’m still enjoying the smaller Marvel Universe figures, especially the She-Hulk, Scarlet Witch and Punisher. However, the Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure Armin Zola figure is amazing. And while we’re at it, some of the new He-Man and Thundercats stuff makes me very nostalgic.

So what was your favorite part of SDCC?

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.