The noble Sub-Mariner, huh?

After the events of New Avengers #21-23, it will be hard to categorize Namor as either a hero or an anti-hero. His actions are so atrocious that I can't see any of his allies not trying to bring him to justice. Or have him executed for war crimes. Marvel's Oldest Hero has become its newest villain and that, my friends, is a crying shame.

Don't get me wrong. I never minded the obnoxious, arrogant, holier-than-thou Avenging Son. For the most part, he had justifiable reasons for his anger, not to mention biological. But he always was willing to do the right thing and for all his bluster, he had no problem joining forces with others: the Invaders, the All-Winners Squad, the Defenders, the Avengers and even the X-Men. And he was also a king/ruler of his people like Doctor Doom, the Black Panther and Black Bolt. He had responsibilities and agendas and protocols. He had hardships, tribulations and trials. He has seen family, friends and lovers murdered in front of him. He never considered himself a "super-hero" thus making him someone that you didn't want mad at you. I never had any trouble picturing Namor slaying his enemy if that was what he thought was warranted. "Imperious Rex!"

The Sub-Mariner has committed act of war before from Fantastic Four Annual #1 to Civil War #7 but they were always either forgotten or forgiven. He was a war hero during WWII, saved the day hundreds of times and could be considered Timely Comics' Superman. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby knew how important and different he was from any other character, featuring him in most of their Silver Age titles until he once more had an ongoing title in Tales To Astonish. Marvel has kept him in the spotlight with at least seven or eight different series from 1968 to today.

But now, all that has changed as Namor has admitted to twice trying to eradicate Wakanda and all its citizens in New Avengers #22 and destroyed a parallel Earth to save his own. And has formed his own evil Cabal (including Thanos!!!) to continue to do so. He's one of the stars of the All New Invaders but with the events of New Avengers, Captain America and Original Sin, I'm not sure how long that book will last.

There are many crimes that one can be absolved of but genocide? I don't know where Marvel is going with this but eventually there will be a reckoning. The Avengers will not Namor and his Cabal at all costs and a Marvel Legend and one of the Greatest Golden Age Heroes will be forever diminished. I won't say that he will be killed because why bother? Nor will I say that he'll never be a hero again. Because we all know better. But whether readers accept him again is another thing altogether.

But why do this to the Sub-Mariner in the first place?

My theory has to do with Marvel's principle priorities right now: movies and character ownership.

There has been many rumors about a Sub-Mariner movie or TV show for decades but nothing came from them. Universal was said to own the movie rights though Marvel claims to have them now. But what direction could a Sub-Mariner film go? One rooted in his 1939 version attacking NYC, with presumably no Human Torch to combat him. Or his Silver Age return, presumably without the Fantastic Four but again attacking NYC. Either way he's not coming off very heroic or sympathetic and if they show his reasons for attacking the Surface World then we become the villains of the movie! That's a hard sell either way.

Also, you would a mostly naked man in the starring role and that might make some people...uncomfortable. Which is why it's been years since they've made a Tarzan movie.

And the Sub-Mariner has an acknowledged creator, Bill Everett. This is undisputable even by Marvel. There is no committee/editorial input/multiple creator excuses. Bill Everett created the Sub-Mariner. Sadly Namor has been ignored by the producers of Disney XD's Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble and Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated heroes where credit was given to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Captain America so we don't know if Everett would have credited as well.

Still, if Universal or Marvel did produce Sub-Mariner: The Movie, they would have to credit Wild Bill because they would have no choice because the fans, comic historians and come creators past and present (hopefully) would demand that they do. This isn't a Bill Finger situation. Legally, since Marvel has already acknowledged it, they would not be able to ignore him. Then there would be the outcry for the Everett estate for financial remuneration, if none were offered. It could even lead to losing the rights to the character as a worst case scenario for Marvel since Namor wasn't specifically created for Marvel/Timely.

It would probably be more grief than it's worth as the Sub-Mariner is neither an important Avenger nor X-Men.

The madness of Namor's current path has no positive spin. It may create drama and may lead to a good story but at what cost?

Comments?

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Some responses:

  • According to the 1985 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the population of the Atlanteans is said to be "under ten thousand" which is very low as far as countries go and that they are not all located at the same place. Factoring out the young, the old and ineligible, it's possible that their military forces could only number around two thousand. Hardly a world conquering threat, especially with the Avengers, FF, X-Men, etc. around.
  • The Punisher killing drug dealers....Awesome. Wolverine slicing up marauding HYDRA agents....Badass. The Sub-Mariner knowingly murdering four BILLION people....beyond evil.
  • More to the point, "Awesome" and "Badass" work hand-in-hand with "Cool" and "Wow". Namor's action is neither. There is no "UP" from there, considering that he has aligned himself with evil beings to continue to murder parallel Earths!
  • "Mischievous"?? "Harry has murdered and raped his way through Hogwarts!" "Oh, you little scamp!"
  • Marvel could do this to the Sub-Mariner because they have nothing financial to lose in doing so as opposed to Iron Man (though they had to rehabilitate him after Civil War. "You did terrible things, Tony!" "Well, I don't remember them so it doesn't count. So there!" "Oh, okay, I guess.") or Doctor Strange (who either does or should have a movie in his future).
  • Part of my problem is that there probably will be no long term consequences. In two or three years (if not sooner), someone will want a sexy and suave Sub-Mariner to flirt with the Invisible Woman for the hundredth time or need him for another Defenders revival for the hundred-and-once time and all this will be forgotten or explained away as a parallel Namor or evil clone or Skrull or Space Phantom ad infinitum!

Iron Man committed horrible atrocties, but it's okay because he doesn't remember doing them? How does forgetting what he's done keep him from doing it again? Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

I pick.......Skrull! Do I get a No-Prize?

I'd rather it was THIS guy! YIKES!

Tony Stark (somehow) downloaded his memories, stopping just before the events of Civil War. When he nearly died (again), those memories were restored to his damaged brain thus he has no memory of his actions during CW and, to him, they never happened.

Just in time for Iron Man: The Movie coincidentally.

That's Namor?! They should stop letting people make comics when they're high.

How convenient. And what a coincidence he'd do that just then and actually need them so soon. But how did that make anyone else forget what he'd done? Or undone the harm he caused? Seems that would just have everyone watching him constantly to see if he lost it again. At best he could claim guilty on account of temporary insanity, but he still did it.
 
Philip Portelli said:

Tony Stark (somehow) downloaded his memories, stopping just before the events of Civil War. When he nearly died (again), those memories were restored to his damaged brain thus he has no memory of his actions during CW and, to him, they never happened.

Just in time for Iron Man: The Movie coincidentally.

I'm sure that there will be consequences and they might last a while, but really what should be the consequences for blowing up a world full of people? The problem as I see it is that they keep topping the last one. Tony's actions in cw were nothing compared to Namor's actions here, now what happens when the next writer wants to make an even bigger splash by having a hero do something even worse? You start out by crossing the line a tiny bit, then a large bit and at a certain point you don't even have a line anymore. The Illuminati no longer stand for anything but brutal, naked survival so how if any of the survivors if any come for them with murder in their eyes can the members of the illuminati say 'you can't do that, murder is wrong.'?
I don't think that marvel sees the hypocrisy anymore. For myself I'm wondering why I should root for the Illuminati against the Red Skull in the up comming Axis mini.



Mark S. Ogilvie said:

I don't think that marvel sees the hypocrisy anymore. For myself I'm wondering why I should root for the Illuminati against the Red Skull in the up comming Axis mini.

I'm wondering why you would root for either in a story you're not going to read. I don't root for anyone when the Patriots play the Jets. 

It would be bad enough if they were trying to get their villains to out evil each other. When it's the heroes you wonder what's going through their heads. Did the people in charge enjoy pulling the wings off of flies when they were kids?

Growing up I always wished I could one day work for Marvel. Now I wouldn't want to.

I think that's baked in to the Marvel formula. DC heroes recognize the inherent goodness of each other and team up quickly. (Or at least they used to.) Marvel heroes either don't recognize each other or have a difference of opinion and start beating the snot out of each other. The problem is that the stories have become so blantantly metaphorical about issues that we as adults have opinions on. So when Iron Man sets up Space Guantanamo, grown-ups recognize it for what it is and turn against him. (Or not.) But the Marvel heroes still need a reason to fight, because that's what makes the universe fun.

And of course they can't work out their differences like adults. No one wants to see that. Compromise is a key component of the Anti-Excitement Equation.

Only now they work out their differences by mass murder instead of beating the snot out of each other, Much healthier.

Eh, tomato, tomahto. It's the logical culmination of "comics aren't for kids anymore" while still retaining the childish underpinnings of the superhero genre. 

And frankly, doesn't Namor work better as a villain anyway? Why rehabilitate him? His "destroy-all-surface-dwellers" shtick is part of his charm -- and makes the inevitable team-ups against a common enemy much more fraught with tension.

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