Marvel’s celebration of the seventieth anniversary of Timely’s publication of “Marvel Comics” #1 continues with this issue celebrating the avenging son of Atlantis — Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. With three tales, this book offers a range of options for any Namor fan.
The feature story in this issue is from September of 1940 and focuses on Namor’s internal struggle to determine which of the marshalling forces he should ally himself with. Roy Thomas returns to script this soul-searching tale of Namor. Thomas jumps right in without missing a beat. His Namor is conflicted yet resolute in his decision and rationale. This is the same Namor who spent time fighting alongside Captain America and joined forces with Dr. Doom. This is Namor, the same who is part of the Illuminati and Osborn’s Dark Cabal. Thomas does not pretend to offer explanation nor investigation into Namor’s decision-making process, but does supply the reader with clear rationale from the Prince of Atlantis regarding his decision, which ultimately makes sense for the half-breed son of Leonard McKenzie.
Breitweiser’s art is well-rendered, colored apparently straight from the pencils which, in this case, provides the art with a rustic feel. Breitweiser is a splendid choice for artist on this story as his work instantaneously recalls the art that once graced the covers of pulp mags from yesteryear. That said, there are areas where his figures are stilted and overly posed, losing drama for the sake of anatomy, but that’s a good problem to have, in my opinion. The coloring, already mentioned in passing, is well matched for the story and the era — garish when it needs to be and soothing in other instances. The artistic combination of the Breitweiser couple is well-suited for this tale; from the dimly lit German bar Namor spends his doubloons in to the Atlantic coastline where he makes his fateful decision.
This issue also includes a “lost” story by Mark Shultz and Al Williamson that plays to the strengths of a simpler time for story-telling and plot devices. Also set during the dawn of World War II, this story feels like an underwater “Flash Gordon” adventure. Williamson beautifully over-renders this tale, much to the benefit of the reader. While there is not much substance to be squeezed out of this story, it does provide additional relevance for Namor.
Finally, “The Sub-Mariner” from October 1939’s “Marvel Comics” #1 is reprinted here, perfectly rounding out a celebratory tribute to one of the oldest four-color legends Timely/Atlas/Marvel has offered up.
Tagged with a hefty $3.99 price, this issue might get overlooked by some, but it does provide a nice reminder of what makes Namor a compelling character and an integral part of Marvel’s success.