In my estimation, Bill Everett is the most underrated talent of the Golden Age. His style continued to improve right up until his untimely death. Back in the ‘90s, I bought five sets of five issues each of GA Marvel Comics on microfiche just so I could read Everett’s Sub-Mariner serial in its entirety, not just in dribs and drabs here and there. With the release of Marvel Masterworks Marvel Comics Vol. 6, I can now continue where I left off, and read Sub-Mariner stories I have never seen before. The ones in #21-24 aren’t as serial in nature as previous stories have been, but there’s still a certain amount of story-to-story continuity, more than in most of the other features.

#21: Namor and Betty infiltrate an American group of Nazi airline saboteurs (in a comic book cover dated July 1941, well before Pearl Harbor).

#22: Namor invents a miniature jeep for the U.S. army using Atlantian steam-driven technology, then he must keep the Nazis from stealing it.

#23: Laying off the Nazis for an issue, Namor must thwart the plans of a mad scientist who is experimenting on escaped asylum inmates to create a race of sub-mariners.

#24: Namor returns to Atlantis only to discover that the throne has been usurped by Daka, one of his uncles, and has allied Atlatian forces with the Seal People and (who else?) the Nazis. My favorite story of this volume.

There are other noteworthy stories in this volume as well (including a prose origin story written by Stan Lee for Simon & Kirby’s Vision), but I always read the Sub-Mariner ones first.

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My admiration for Bill Everett has really been growing over the last decade or so.  Awhile back, I managed to get ahold of his entire run in the early 70's, none of which I had ever read before.  I was stunned.  I think of that as possibly his best work ever.  Which makes it all the more criminal it tok so long for it to happen.  A letter printed really said it all, when the person writing said, "After 49 unreadable issues, at last the book got good!"  Of course, they also had some letters saying the exact opposite... but what do THEY know?  Looking back at early-70's Marvel, I found Everett's year on SUB-MARINER a totally refreshing change from what their output had mostly become... bad writing, bad art, directionless storytelling, downbeat, depressing stories.  Evertt's stuff was well-done on every level, exciting, and most of all, FUN.  He may be the only person in the whole of the 70's who unashamedly showed Namor as a HERO, even to certain surface people!

 

I suspect Roy Thomas' lifelong obsession with origins caused him to feel Namor should ALWAYS be like he was in his earliest appearances-- angry, destructive, and thought of as a menace to the surface world.  (It's kinda like those who prefer Batman BEFORE Robin became his partner...)

I remember thinking DC's WONDER WOMAN ARCHIVES finally "got it right", when, instead of reprinting stories acording to magazine, they collected ALL her appearances from various books-- ALL-STAR, SENSATION and her solo book.  Which is what they should have done with SUPERMAN and BATMAN in the first place.

 

So I figured, Marvel had the chance to "do it right" with SUB-MARINER... but they fumbled the ball.  I have ZERO interest in reading anything else that appeared in MARVEL MYSTERY, and would have to buy 3 Masterworks books just to read the first storyline in its entirety!  Insane.

 

What blew my mind a year or so back was discovering that Marvel has put out close to 2 DOZEN Masterworks books all featurine Golden Age Sub-Mariner stories.  Isn't that nuts?  From nothing to way too much.  No way I can afford any of that stuff right now...

Man, don't even get me started on Batman and Superman archives! I quite agree with your high estimation of Everett's early '70s run on Sub-Mariner. I would really like to see it collected as a Marvel Premiere Edition. I'll bet there are a lot of people who would enjoy it who have never even read it. Marvel Comics Masterworks notwithstanding, I've long been pulling for a comprehensive tpb reprint collection of Everett's GA Subby.

Someone suggested to me that, since DC did a chronological BATMAN collection (about 15 years after the separate BATMAN and DETECTIVE hardbounds), Marvel may do the same with Subby.

 

I think the difference with Marvel is, and I say this based on having read the 2 books of THE GOLDEN AGE OF MARVEL COMICS, 80-90% of their output back then was junk.  Maybe some of it was fun, but the stuff Everett & Kirby did was so far above and ahead of everything else, it makes these comprehensive anthology collections seem like a rip-off.  (I wish the SA Marvel site was still up... you should see what I was doing with the "Reprints" pages.)

Yes, much of what Marvel published in the Golden Age was junk. It's interesting from an historical perspective, and also because so many of their one- and two-shot characters are being brought back in series such as The Twelve and All-Winners Squad: Band of Heroes. I have those two GAoM tpbs, too, and I was initially suprprised at how much of that material (at least 50%, I'd say) has been reprinted elsewhere before (as if those were the only stories worth reprinting).

 

I can see how DC started down the road of two (or more) separate Batman and Superman archives, but I wish they'd merge them going forward.

The website The Unabridged Marvel has reviews of very many early Marvel issues.
I would love to see TPBs of the Golden Age Sub-Mariner and Human Torch but I would like to see more Whizzer, Miss America, Destroyer, Angel and Vision tales reprinted as well. Yes, a lot of Timely product is trite, dated and downright bad but I would be very interested in reading some of the lesser known ones. We have so much Golden DC collected that it stands to reason that we think they're superior to Timely but let's get Everett and Burgos and the rest more exposure. They deserve it and readers and historians deserve to see them.
You know, The Bill Everett Archives has been solicited for November 30 release.
Ever since I first found out about him, I've wanted to read the Blazing Skull stories in Mystic Comics #5-9.
Henry said:

Looking back at early-70's Marvel, I found Everett's year on SUB-MARINER a totally refreshing change from what their output had mostly become... bad writing, bad art, directionless storytelling, downbeat, depressing stories.  Evertt's stuff was well-done on every level, exciting, and most of all, FUN.  He may be the only person in the whole of the 70's who unashamedly showed Namor as a HERO, even to certain surface people!

 

I enjoyed Everett's work on the Sub-Mariner stories in the new Essential Sub-Mariner.  The were good comics, and a change of gears indeed.  I'd have to say that Stan Lee did not present Everett's work in the best possible light.  He seemed to be overly self-consciuos that Everett's style was old-fashioned and outdated, and he virtually apologises for it on the first page of Everett's stint.

 

He was setting Everett up for a fall, in leading the readers to expect something 'not as good' as the then current house-style Marvel comics.  For myself, I wouldn't have noticed that Everett's style was so different.  It wasn't just Everett's drawing style Stan was referring to, but the well-paced plot-driven story (rather than angst-ridden) that he was probably referring to.  Perhaps if Lee had actually plotted and written it himself he could have put his name to a storytelling style that he was more comfortable being associated with, and wouldn't have to apologise for a great creators work!

 

Henry said:

I suspect Roy Thomas' lifelong obsession with origins caused him to feel Namor should ALWAYS be like he was in his earliest appearances-- angry, destructive, and thought of as a menace to the surface world.  (It's kinda like those who prefer Batman BEFORE Robin became his partner...)

 

That is addressed in that 1970s Rolling Stone article we looked at elsewhere:

 

I thought about Dorma, the Sub Mariner's blue-skinned love. She and Subby had been planning to get married ever since I could remember. And Roy Thomas, who writes Sub Mariner, had just told me of poor Dorma's fate. Roy had let them get married because they'd been planning the wedding for so long, but they didn't even get as far as their wedding night. Roy arranged for a green-skinned girl who was in love with the Sub Mariner to kill Dorma, and he said he was never going to bring her back again. He said he felt that Sub Mariner should be a lone wolf and he didn't like the idea of his having such a stable home, a Lois Lane situation. Now the broken-hearted Sub Mariner would be even more hostile, and roam the seas alone. I felt very sad that the blue-skinned Dorma was gone.


That very much ties into the prescient themes in the article that the 'Fan elite' were taking these heroes down darker and darker paths. (Although, as you say, Namor was very dark at the start of his career, anyway.)

"I'd have to say that Stan Lee did not present Everett's work in the best possible light.  He seemed to be overly self-consciuos that Everett's style was old-fashioned and outdated, and he virtually apologises for it on the first page of Everett's stint. He was setting Everett up for a fall, in leading the readers to expect something 'not as good' as the then current house-style Marvel comics.  For myself, I wouldn't have noticed that Everett's style was so different.  It wasn't just Everett's drawing style Stan was referring to, but the well-paced plot-driven story (rather than angst-ridden) that he was probably referring to.  Perhaps if Lee had actually plotted and written it himself he could have put his name to a storytelling style that he was more comfortable being associated with, and wouldn't have to apologise for a great creators work!"

 

Of course, the way Stan put it, HE WAS doing the plots. Stealing credit AND pay and getting away with it on a monthly basis. He did the same thing with Wally Wood, in DD #10, making out like he was doing Wally a favor by "letting" him write a story, then afterwards saying "Now that he got it out of his system", and also claiming (at least to Wood) that he "had to rewrite most of it". Wood said Stan changed maybe 5 sentences in the entire book.  I'm gonna guess maybe not for the better. And that's really nerve, saying he "let" Wood write that story when Wood was plotting ALL his stories entirely on his own and not getting pay or credit for them.

 

It gets really tiring after awhile when, just becuase something works on one book, someone feels EVERY book should be like that.  "Angst".  Who needs it?  Just another word for "soap-opera".  It's so much easier to just have characters be miserable all the time, and never let their lives or anything else grow and develop, and never have to actually END any stories you're doing, just have them go on and on and on. No need to worry about story structure or anything. Actually getting in the way of story structure when the natural climax and ending of a storyline is derailed by tacking on an uncalled-for cliffhanger ANYWAY (see CAPTAIN MARVEL #16).  I wonder if Stan was offended that when Everett came in to plot his 1st new Sub-Mariner episode in ASTONISH, he actually (GASP!) brought that 9-part ramble to a close?

 

Everett wound up doing 4 episodes on his own (but with Lee writing the dialogue and claiming he wrote the whole thing), followed by one inked by Dan Adkins, then a 2-parter pencilled and inked by Adkins.  (And, presumably, PLOTTED by Adkins-- he sure was getting plot credit on Dr. Strange at the time.) Next you had one with Thomas & Everett.  Presumably, Roy actually DID plot, or at least, co-plot, since unlike Stan he actually did like to write. What followed was a 5-part morass... Part 1 was credited as plot by Roy, dialogue by Raymond Marais, pencils by Everett & inks by Colletta.  Was the plot REALLY by Everett & Thomas? Probably... Part 2 was without Thomas (too busy?) but again the credits would suggest Marais plotted it solo, when I'd bet it was Everett plotting solo. And that was it.  Next thing, Werner Roth came in for 2 episodes (both inked by Adkins), with Thomas no doubt on plot and dialogue (my impression was that Roth was one of those guys, like Mooney or Tuska, who preferred working with an actual writer-- so Thomas-Roth made for a more logical team than Everett-Thomas). Inexplicably, Part 5 was by Goodwin & Adkins (possibly co-plotting, but who can say?)  This is no way to do a 5-part story.

 

The next episode had Lee & Marie Severin, but it was really a book-length HULK which happened to guest-star Subby.

 

Next up was Goodwin, Colan & Adkins, followed by Thomas, Colan & Giacoia, and THEN we got Thomas, Buscema & Giacoia. Buscema also preferred woirking with "real" writers, I think, although he was a bit more acclimated to contributing to plots than Mooney or Tuska apparenbtly were (since those 2 NEVER worked with Lee unless someone else was involved in the plotting stage-- like Kirby, or Romita).

 

This run was even treated badly when it was reprinted in the 70's. For 12-page episodes, they often had 2, 3 and sometimes 4 pages cut!  How do you cut 4 pages from a 12-page story and expect it to make any sense?

 

Imagine the CREATOR of a long-running charcter getting edged out that way, and hardly anyone noticing...

 

Over the years, Roy has complained bitterly about the horrible treatment some of his characters received from other writers.  But the more I think about it, ROY started the trend they followed, both with his own characters and other people's.  (And Roy seems to have been following Stan's lead to begin with.)

 

What Roy did to Sub-Mariner over the years (on his own and thru his pal Gerry Conway) reminds me of what Kevin Dooley did to Hal Jordan-- then, had the nerve in a GL ARCHIVE book to refer to himself as "Green Lantern's Number One Fan".  YEAH RIGHT.

Kind of ironic if it was decided Lady Dorma had to die to bring Subby back to his roots since she was there in the very first installment. Another volume or two on Silver Age MMW and we'll undoubtedly get to hear Roy Thomas' side of the storyu behind that decision.

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