First among Marvels

Marvel’s old­est su­per­hero turns 75 this year. We pay trib­ute to Namor, the Sub-Mariner.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS - By KALEON RAHAN star2@thes­

BE­FORE Spi­der-Man, the XMen, Hulk, the Avengers, and even be­fore Cap­tain Amer­ica, there was Namor the Sub-Mariner, the first ever Marvel su­per­hero.

Cre­ated by the late Wil­liam Blake “Bill” Everett, the King of At­lantis was cre­ated in 1939, for a give­away comic book called Mo­tion Pic­ture Fun­nies Weekly. While that comic was canned be­fore it was re­leased, Namor’s story sur­vived, and was fi­nally pub­lished in Oc­to­ber 1939’s Marvel Comics #1 (pub­lished by Timely Comics, the pre­cur­sor to the mod­ern-day Marvel Comics).

It marked Namor’s first of­fi­cial ap­pear­ance, to­gether with the orig­i­nal Hu­man Torch, Jim Ham­mond.

Call­ing his cre­ation an “ul­tra­man of the deep (who) lives on land and in the sea, flies in the air, (and) has the strength of a thou­sand (sur­face) men”, Everett drew his in­spi­ra­tion for cre­at­ing the char­ac­ter from Sa­muel Tay­lor Co­leridge’s poem The Rime Of The An­cient Mariner. In the book The Ster­anko His­tory of Comics, Everett says: “I called him the Sub-Mariner af­ter the poem, and for the name Namor, I sim­ply spelled ‘ Ro­man’ back­wards.”

To cel­e­brate 75 years of smash­ing splashes, let us dive deep into the Sub-Mariner’s past to find out the depth of char­ac­ter that has al­lowed him to swim ahead of the tide and keep mak­ing waves all these years. Im­perius Rex!

Who is Namor?

To the pub­lic, he’s known as Namor the Sub-Mariner. To his par­ents, he is Namor McKen­zie, the off­spring of the for­bid­den love be­tween hu­man sea cap­tain Leonard McKen­zie and At­lantean princess Fen.

As a re­sult of his hy­brid At­lantean/hu­man mu­tant genes, Namor (whose name sup­pos­edly means “Aveng­ing Son”) is gifted with a good num­ber of pow­ers, in­clud­ing longevity, su­per-strength, aquatic abil­i­ties and flight (thanks to a pair of, er … cute wings on each of his an­kles).

How­ever, his hy­brid na­ture also left him with a im­bal­anced me­tab­o­lism – which ex­plains his propen­sity for rage. As such, Namor needs to spend equal amounts of time on the sur­face and un­der­wa­ter to ad­dress the oxy­gen im­bal­ance in his blood.

The King of At­lantis by his birthright, Namor is also the CEO of Or­a­cle, Inc – a so­cially re­spon­si­ble cor­po­ra­tion de­voted to ad­dress­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues (cour­tesy of the epic 1990 John Byrne Namor, The Sub-Mariner se­ries, in which Namor utilised sunken trea­sure to cham­pion his pro­tec­tion of At­lantis from a sur­face dweller’s plat­form).

Man of many firsts

Namor is not only Marvel’s first su­per­hero, he is also the first an­ti­hero in comics, thanks to his con­stant skir­mishes with the “sur­face dwellers”.

Namor was also in­volved in the first ever fight be­tween su­per­heroes in any medium, tak­ing on the Hu­man Torch in June 1940’s Marvel Mys­tery Comics #8.

Sur­pris­ingly, Namor, not Su­per­man, was also the first comic book hero with the power of flight! For the record, Su­per­man was only able to “leap tall build­ings in a sin­gle bound” ini­tially, and only started “fly­ing” in 1943.

How­ever, what sin­gles him out most is his sta­tus as Marvel’s first mu­tant, in terms of pub­lish­ing chronol­ogy at least. While there are other mu­tants who pre­date him in the Marvel time­line (i.e. Se­lene, Apoca­lypse, Ex­o­dus and of course, Wolver­ine), Namor is the first one ac­knowl­edged by both Pro­fes­sor X and Mag­neto as a mu­tant ( X-Men #6, 1964).

Fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion came al­most three decades later via Namor’s 1990 reg­u­lar se­ries, which car­ried the sub­ti­tle “Marvel’s first and might­i­est mu­tant”; and 2006’s Il­lu­mi­nati minis­eries then erased all doubt via the Skrulls’ ex­per­i­ment on Namor’s anatomy, which con­firmed that he is a mu­tant.

From Gold to Sil­ver

Dur­ing the Golden Age, Namor formed part of a heroic trin­ity to­gether with Cap­tain Amer­ica and the orig­i­nal Hu­man Torch. Post WWII, how­ever, su­per­heroes went out of fash­ion, and it was only dur­ing the “Age of Marvels” (in the 60s, a.k.a. the Sil­ver Age) that Namor was rein­tro­duced via the pages of Fan­tas­tic Four #4 (May 1962).

In a nice twist, Johnny Storm, the Fan­tas­tic Four’s Hu­man Torch, dis­cov­ered an am­ne­siac and home­less Namor and helped him re­cover his mem­ory. dis­as­trous, of­fen­sive as­sum­ing

for the At­lantis. of a few that re­sulted be­tween Four, as

such Man.


If there’s most num­ber should go Af­ter all,

of (deep the All-Win­ners

Hail to the king, baby: Namor and his at­lantean the Civil War event.

Namor’s first ap­pear­ance, in MarvelComics#1 (1939).

Namor was also the first su­per­hero to be de­picted ac­tu­ally fly­ing, two years be­fore Su­per­man stopped leap­ing over tall build­ings and started fly­ing too.

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