How Did Namor Get His Ankle Wings Back?

In every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without actively retconnng away the previous story. Feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Washington F., we look at how one of the major events of John Byrne's run on Namor the Sub-Mariner was reversed.

After his longest-running solo series ended in 1974, Namor had been without a solo series for all of that time. He was one of the more notable Marvel characters not to get another shot at a regular series. He DID get a miniseries in 1984 by Bob Budiansky and then Roy and Dann Thomas did a Sub-Marienr maxiseries in 1988, but that was it until John Byrne took over the character with a new series that launched in 1990, with Bob Wiacek inking Byrne, who wrote and penciled the series.

Now, you see, one of the things (if not THE thing) that made Namor a mutant (one of the first known mutants in the Marvel Universe, as there were not a whole lot of mutants running around during World War II, although obviously those numbers have consistently increased over the years) was the fact that he had these wings on his ankle that somehow allowed him to fly. Yeah, it doesn't really make any sense, but come on, when you really try to dig into the logic of comic book superpowers then you realize that almost no one makes sense. Except Banshee. He makes perfect sense. Just him.

In any event, Byrne cleverly played up this fact on the covers of the series, which boasted about how Namor was the first and mightiest mutant! This must have been a special kick for Byrne, who obviously became a star while working on this other book about mutants. The E-Men, I believe (E for the "Extra" powers they each possessed).

One of the things that Byrne decided to play up a bit with Namor was his concern for the environment. After all, he WAS the kind of the seven seas and humans sure do pour a bunch of gross stuff in to the ocean, ya know?

In Namor #7, Namor fought against a literal walking pile of, well, sludge called...well, you know, Sluj...

This was actually a kid who had been experimented on by his scientist parents, but the same basic effect was that he was picking up sludge from the ocean to form into a giant mass. Namor unleashed a viral agent that destroyed Sluj, but the process also burned off his ankle wings, as seen in Namor #8 (inks by Byrne himself), depriving Namor of his ability to fly...

Okay, so Byrne then remained on the title and Namor and his buddies had all sorts of adventures, including a super-long arc where Byrne brought Iron Fist back to Marvel (after Iron Fist was seemingly killed five years earlier). At the end of that arc, though, Byrne set up a new era in the series, one where Namor would lose his memory and now be a Savage Sub-Mariner. During this period, Byrne was only going to write the series, with young artist Jae Lee joining the book as the new artist...

Byrne did not last long as the book's writer, however, leaving after #32. Marvel, though, knew that they had found a new star in Jae Lee, so when Bob Harras took over writing the book temporarily, they wanted to capitalize on their star artist, which led to the one sign that Marvel was behind your comic book - a special cover for no reason!

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