Namor the Sub-Mariner

Cover of Sub-Mariner #1, textless variant.
Art by Michael Turner.
Publication information
Publisher Timely Comics
Marvel Comics
First appearance Motion Picture Funnies Weekly (April 1939)
Created by Bill Everett (writer / artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Namor McKenzie
Species Atlantean/Human Mutant hybrid
Place of origin Atlantis
Team affiliations Invaders
All-Winners Squad
Deep Six
The Cabal
Dark X-Men
The Order
Heroes for Hire/Oracle, Inc.
Phoenix Five
Partnerships Namora
Notable aliases Namor the First, The Avenging Son, Imperius Rex, The Sub-Mariner
Abilities Aquatic adaptation
Superhuman strength, speed, agility and reflexes
Mild invulnerability
Flight via tiny wings on his ankles
Telepathic control over sea creatures
Ability to copy the powers of sea creatures

Namor the Sub-Mariner (/ˈnmɔːr ðə ˌsʌbˈmærənər/) (Namor McKenzie) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Debuting in early 1939, the character was created by writer-artist Bill Everett for Funnies Inc., one of the first "packagers" in the early days of comic books that supplied comics on demand to publishers looking to enter the new medium. Initially created for the unreleased comic Motion Picture Funnies Weekly, the Sub-Mariner first appeared publicly in Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939) – the first comic book from Timely Comics, the 1930s–1940s predecessor of the company Marvel Comics. During that period, known to historians and fans as the Golden Age of Comic Books, the Sub-Mariner was one of Timely's top three characters, along with Captain America and the original Human Torch. Everett said the character's name was inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner".[1] Everett came up with "Namor" by writing down noble sounding names backwards and thought Roman/Namor looked the best.[2]

The mutant son of a human sea captain and a princess of the mythical undersea kingdom of Atlantis, Namor possesses the super-strength and aquatic abilities of the Homo mermanus race, as well as the mutant ability of flight, along with other superhuman powers. Through the years, he has been alternately portrayed as a good-natured but short-fused superhero, or a hostile invader seeking vengeance for perceived wrongs that misguided surface-dwellers committed against his kingdom. The first known comic book antihero,[3] the Sub-Mariner has remained a historically important and relatively popular Marvel character. He has served directly with the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Invaders, the Defenders, the X-Men, and the Illuminati as well as serving as a foil to them on occasion.

Publication history

Golden Age

Namor the Sub-Mariner first appeared in April 1939 in the prototype for a planned giveaway comic titled Motion Picture Funnies Weekly, produced by the comic book packager Funnies Inc.[4] The only eight known samples among those created to send to theater owners were discovered in the estate of the deceased publisher in 1974. When the giveaway idea fell through, creator Bill Everett used the character for Marvel Comics #1, the first comic book by Funnies, Inc. client Timely Comics, predecessor of Marvel Comics.[5] The final panel of the earlier, unpublished eight-page Sub-Mariner story had included a "Continued Next Week" box that reappeared, sans lettering, in an expanded 12-page story. The series Marvel Comics was retitled Marvel Mystery Comics with issue #2 (Dec. 1939).

Namor's first cover appearance: Marvel Mystery Comics #4 (Feb. 1940). Art by Alex Schomburg.

In his first appearances Namor was an enemy of the United States. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "Namor was a freak in the service of chaos. Although the Sub-Mariner acted like a villain, his cause had some justice, and readers reveled in his assaults on civilization. His enthusiastic fans weren't offended by the carnage he created as he wrecked everything from ships to skyscrapers."[6] Everett's antihero would eventually battle Carl Burgos' android superhero, the Human Torch, when in 1940 Namor threatened to sink the island of Manhattan underneath a tidal wave.[7] When the U.S. entered World War II, Namor would aid the Allies of World War II against Adolf Hitler and the Axis powers.[8] Supporting characters included Betty Dean, a New York City policewoman introduced in Marvel Mystery Comics #3[9] (and later known as Betty Dean-Prentiss), who was a steady companion, and his cousins Namora and Dorma.

Namor starred in the Golden Age comic book Sub-Mariner Comics, published quarterly, then thrice-yearly, and finally bimonthly, from issues #1–32 (Fall 1941 – June 1949).[10] A backup feature each issue starred the detective-superhero the Angel. Along with many other Timely characters, Namor disappeared a few years after the end of World War II and the decline in popularity of superhero comics.[11] He briefly fought crime as a member of the post-war superhero team the All-Winners Squad, and, through a 1970s retcon, was given a history of having fought with the Allies during World War II in the superhero team the Invaders. Both these super-groups were built around the core of Namor, Captain America, and the original Human Torch.

The Sub-Mariner experienced a brief revival in the mid-1950s at Atlas Comics, the 1950s iteration of Marvel. Along with Captain America and the original Human Torch, he was revived in Young Men #24. Soon afterward, Sub-Mariner Comics was revived with issues #33–42 (April 1954 – Oct. 1955).[12][13] During this time, Namora had her own spin-off series. A planned live-action television program starring Namor did not appear and the revival of the comic book series was cancelled a second time.[14][15]

Silver Age and after

Namor returned in Fantastic Four #4 (May 1962), where a member of the titular superhero team, Johnny Storm, the new Human Torch, discovers him living as an amnesiac homeless man in the Bowery section of Manhattan.[16][17] Storm helps him recover his memory, and Namor immediately returns to his undersea kingdom – identified, for the first time in the Marvel canon, as Atlantis. Finding it destroyed from nuclear testing, Namor assumes his people are scattered and that he will never find them. He again becomes an antihero during this period, as two elements – a thirst for vengeance and a quest for identity – would dominate the Sub-Mariner stories of the 1960s. He was both a villain and a hero – striking against the human race who destroyed his home, but showing a great deal of noblesse oblige to individuals.[18]

Silver Age Sub-Mariner #1 (May 1968). Cover art by John Buscema and Sol Brodsky.

Initially, Namor variously finds himself allied with the supervillains Doctor Doom and Magneto, but his royal nobility and stubborn independent streak make these alliances-of-convenience short-lived. Namor's revival was a hit with readers, but Marvel could not give him his own title due to publication and distribution restrictions that would not be lifted until 1968.[3] Instead, Namor was given numerous guest-appearances – including in Daredevil #7 (April 1965), a rare superhero story drawn by comics great Wally Wood – and a starring feature in the split-title comic Tales to Astonish (beginning issue #70, Aug. 1965).[19] By now, during a period fans and historians call the Silver Age of Comic Books, he is more authoritative, arrogant and solemn than the impetuous youthful character of the 1940s and mid-1950s, speaking in neo-Shakespearean dialogue rather than the more colloquial speech of his youth, often shouting his battle cry, "Imperius Rex!".

He was spun off into his own title, the 1968–74 series Sub-Mariner.[20] The super-villain Tiger Shark was introduced in issue #5 by writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema[21] and the super-hero Stingray in issue #19 by Thomas and Bill Everett.[22] Some of the later issues of this Sub-Mariner series are notable for having been written and drawn by the character's creator, Bill Everett, shortly before his death; as well, they reintroduced a now-older Namora, and introduced her daughter, Namorita Prentiss. By now more of a reluctant superhero "the Sub-Mariner was perfect for the Marvel Age of angst-ridden protagonists. Noble yet misunderstood, powerful yet thwarted ... [he was] portrayed as a regal monarch – a king without a country."[23] The final issue, #72 (Sept. 1974), was written by Steve Skeates and featured an unofficial intercompany crossover with the last issue of DC Comics' Aquaman series.[24] A five- to six-page backup feature, "Tales of Atlantis", chronicling the undersea kingdom from its ancient origins, appeared in issues #62–66 (June–Oct. 1973), written by Gerber, with penciling by Howard Chaykin and later Jim Mooney.[20] After the cancellation of Sub-Mariner, Namor co-starred with Doctor Doom in the Super-Villain Team-Up series.[25] The series suffered from mediocre sales due to its lack of a stable creative team,[3] and following issue #13 Namor was dropped from the co-star spot.

Following a four-issue miniseries a decade later, Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner (Sept.-Dec. 1984), by co-writer J. M. DeMatteis, penciler/co-writer Bob Budiansky, and inker Danny Bulanadi, the 12-issue maxiseries The Saga of the Sub-Mariner (Nov. 1988 – Oct. 1989) provided a retrospective of Namor's past adventures while tying up loose plot threads and resolving contradictions that had accumulated over the character's decades of published history.[3] Namor again received an ongoing series in 1990. Namor, the Sub-Mariner, which ran 62 issues (April 1990 – May 1995), was initially written and penciled by John Byrne who took over the inking as well from issues #4–21.[26] From #26–38, the series' penciler and eventual penciler-inker was then-newcomer Jae Lee, with Bob Harras scripting from #33–40. Thereafter came a variety of artists and writers. This series followed Namor as CEO of Oracle, Inc., a corporation devoted to reducing pollution, particularly in the oceans, and provided the stage for the return of the 1970s martial artist superhero Iron Fist, who had been presumed dead.

The 12-issue miniseries Namor (June 2003 – May 2004), credited to co-writers Bill Jemas (then Marvel's president) and Andi Watson, and penciled initially by Salvador Larroca and later by Pat Olliffe and others, explored Namor's youth, charting his teenage romance with a young American girl in the early 20th century. A six-issue miniseries, Sub-Mariner vol. 2 (Aug. 2007 – Jan. 2008), by co-writers Matt Cherniss and Peter Johnson and, primarily, artist Phil Briones, introduced Namor's heretofore undisclosed son, Kamar.

Namor was featured in his own ongoing series, Namor: The First Mutant, in 2011.[27] The series was cancelled after less than a year into its publication.[28]

Never fundamentally either a hero or a villain, Namor has protected his kingdom and sought vengeance on the surface world only when he feels his realm is threatened. Although he has served alongside, or even as a member of, superhero teams – most notably the Defenders,[29] a "non-team" in which he was allied with Doctor Strange, the Hulk, and the Silver Surfer; the Avengers; and both the World War II and modern-day versions of the Invaders – Namor remains an outsider.

Marvel revived the series The Defenders, with Namor on the team, in December 2011.[30] The series was cancelled after 12 issues.

He became one of main characters, along with the other Illuminati members, in the third volume of New Avengers beginning in 2013.

Fictional character biography

As related in Marvel Comics #1 (cover-dated Oct. 1939) and subsequent, expanded retellings of his origin story, Namor was born in the capital city of the initially unnamed Atlantean empire, then located off the Antarctic coast. His mother was Emperor Thakorr's daughter, Fen, and his father an American sea captain, Leonard McKenzie, of the icebreaker Oracle; they had fallen in love and married aboard ship while she was, unbeknownst to him, spying on the human intruders. When Fen did not return, Atlantean warriors attacked the Oracle, evidently killing McKenzie, and returned Fen to her kingdom. The pink-skinned mutant Namor was subsequently born among the blue-skinned Atlanteans. He became the Prince of Atlantis, and a warrior for his people against the "surface-dwellers". He became friends with New York City police woman Betty Dean in Marvel Mystery Comics #3 (Jan. 1940), and when World War II broke out, he began fighting the Axis powers. In flashback stories beginning in the 1970s, he was retconned as a member of the Allied superhero team the Invaders, consisting originally of himself; Captain America and his sidekick Bucky; and the original Human Torch and his sidekick Toro.

Namor was injured after the war, and in Fantastic Four #4 was shown living in the flophouse Bowery district of Manhattan as an amnesiac derelict. Regaining his memory in this story, he became enraged upon learning that the original site of Atlantis had been destroyed by nuclear testing, its inhabitants evacuated. Namor vowed revenge on humanity, but after several attacks thwarted by superheroes, including in Fantastic Four #6, 9, and 14 (Sept. and Dec. 1962, May 1963), Strange Tales #107 (April 1963), he found his people and launched an unsuccessful invasion of New York City in Fantastic Four Annual #1 (1963).[31]

Sub-Mariner #67 (Nov. 1973), introducing the short-lived mid-1970s costume. Cover art by John Romita and Mike Esposito.

Namor Mackenzie returned to Atlantis to marry his royal cousin, Lady Dorma. In Sub-Mariner #37 (May 1971), the evil princess Llyra of Lemuria, another undersea culture, kidnapped and replaced Dorma at the wedding, hoping to usurp Namor's kingdom. Though Namor's marriage to Dorma was still official, she died as a result of Llyra's machinations.[32] Namor quickly went through another trauma in issues #43–44 (Nov.-Dec. 1971) when he finally met his father, long thought dead, only to lose him when McKenzie gave his life in battle against the supervillain Tiger Shark.

Namor allied with the "non-team" the Defenders initially in Marvel Feature #1–3, Dec. 1971 – June 1972, then in the series The Defenders. After being deposed from his throne, Namor joined the superhero team the Avengers.[33] He was briefly married to Marrina,[34] an aquatic alien and a member of the Canadian super-team Alpha Flight. She was later presumed killed,[35] but she was later revealed to be in a coma,[36] of which Namor is unaware.

Father-daughter oceanographers Caleb and Carrie Alexander, theorizing that Namor's propensity toward rage was due to his half-human half-Atlantean blood chemistry, equipped Namor with a monitor to warn when Namor had to seek either air or water. This allowed Namor to control his metabolism. In his 1990–1995 series Namor, the Sub-Mariner, he collected sunken treasures to finance his secret purchase of a corporation he renamed Oracle Inc., which he turned to conservation and environmental purposes. Later, Namor lost his ankle-wings during a battle with the animated garbage-monster Sluj,[37] but they were later restored. While continuing his business endeavors, Namor traveled to the dimension of K'un-L'un, where he found and brought back the superhero Iron Fist, who had been presumed dead for many months. He reunited with his mother, Fen, who died defending her son from an attack. Namor once again ruled Atlantis, and Oracle began sponsoring the charitable super-group Heroes for Hire.[38]

In the one-shot New Avengers: Illuminati (May 2006), Namor is revealed to have been a member for several years of the clandestine policy group the Illuminati, with Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Professor X, and Black Bolt. In the series Sub-Mariner vol. 2, #1–6 (Aug. 2007 – Jan. 2008), he discovers his long-lost son Kamar, who attempts to usurp the throne of Atlantis but is killed by the supervillain Nitro.

During the Fear Itself storyline, Namor enlists the aid of Lyra, Loa, Silver Surfer, and Doctor Strange after he is ousted from his kingdom by Attuma, who was transformed into Nerkodd: Breaker of Oceans. They later get attacked by the Undying Ones, demons who break through Earth's dimension as a result of the global panic weakening the barriers between the dimensions and who make a deal with Nerkodd to help them take over Earth.[39]

When the X-Men relocated to Utopia off the coast of San Francisco, Namor decided to assist them due to his sympathy with their status as outsiders. As a result, he sided with the X-Men during the subsequent war with the Avengers over the coming of the Phoenix Force to Earth, eventually becoming one of the 'Phoenix Five' when the Phoenix Force was fractured between himself, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus and Magik.[40] Captain America attempted to arrange a meeting of the Illuminati to talk with Namor, but the rest of the group left before Namor arrived, and Namor refused to stand down when Rogers tried to appeal to him.[41] He was eventually defeated by a mass attack from the Avengers when he attacked Wakanda, becoming the first of the Phoenix Five to fall.[42]

Having recovered his senses after his time as one of the Phoenix Five, Namor rejoins the Illuminati when Black Panther calls for their aid – Beast replacing the deceased Professor X – in dealing with an incursion event as an alternate universe threatens to collide with their own.[43] Although they were forced to destroy the other Earth to protect their own, the Illuminati resolved to continue protecting their Earth from such events, only for Namor to act against the other members when he detonated an anti-matter device to destroy another Earth when the others could not bring themselves to do it.[44] Believing that the Illuminati's morality was holding them back, Namor assembled a new Cabal to deal with the incursions,[45] but despite the team achieving legitimacy as Earth's protectors, Namor grew weary of the wholesale slaughter they carried out in the name of preserving their universe. Although he collaborated with the Illuminati in a plan to destroy the Cabal by trapping them on the next Earth to be destroyed, the Black Panther and Black Bolt left him behind to die with the Cabal, disgusted at his earlier actions.[46] Unbeknownst to the Avengers, that world had a second simultaneous Incursion happen, allowing Namor and the Cabal to escape to the third Earth, in the Ultimate Universe.[47]

Eight months after the events of the 2015 Secret Wars companywide crossover, the members of the new Squadron Supreme evacuated and destroyed Atlantis after deeming it to be a threat to world peace. Hyperion decapitated Namor in retaliation for the worlds destroyed by the Cabal, killing him, then also killed Attuma and other Atlantean soldiers present.[48]

During the Civil War II storyline, Modred the Mystic told Warrior Woman about his visit to Ulysses Cain. He mentioned that Warrior Woman would rule the world with Modred the Mystic's Mytiad ans the Atlanteans on her side.[49] This leads to Warrior Woman's plans to revive Namor.[50]

Powers and abilities

Because of his unusual genetic heritage, Namor is unique among both ordinary humans and Atlanteans; he is sometimes referred to as "Marvel's first mutant", because, while the majority of his observed superhuman powers come from the fact that he's a hybrid of human and Atlantean DNA, his ability to fly can't be explained by either side (Atlanteans are an offshoot of "baseline" humanity); though, in terms of in-continuity chronology, there were many mutants in existence before Namor. Namor possesses a fully amphibious physiology suited for extreme undersea pressures, superhuman strength, speed, agility, durability, flight, and longevity. Namor has the ability to survive underwater for indefinite periods, and specially developed vision which gives him the ability to see clearly in the murky depths of the ocean.

Bill Everett, in his first Sub-Mariner story, described the character as "an ultra-man of the deep [who] lives on land and in the sea, flies in the air, [and] has the strength of a thousand [surface] men". No other powers were mentioned. When the series was revived in 1954, Namor lost his ankle wings and with them the power of flight; they, and his full strength, were restored in Sub-Mariner #38 (Feb. 1955), in which Everett additionally wrote a flashback story, "Wings on His Feet", detailing their appearance on Namor at age 14. This story was twice reprinted during the Silver Age of Comic Books, in Marvel Super-Heroes #17 (Nov. 1968), and in the book Comix by Les Daniels.

Namor possesses wings on his ankles to which he attributes his power of flight. On occasions when they have been lost or badly damaged, he has experienced a loss of flying ability. He could not fly as a child, and the power only manifested when the wings developed in adolescence.

Namor has the ability to swim at superhuman speeds, even by Atlantean standards.

Namor has greater longevity than a normal human being. He is well over 90 years old as he was born in 1920 in the Marvel timeline, but has the appearance of a male in his prime. His identity as a pre-World War II superhero is well-established, making him less subject to the sliding timescale of the Marvel universe.

During Namor's original fight with the Human Torch in Marvel Mystery Comics #8 (June 1940, and the first fight between superheroes to appear in any media), Namor was able to forcibly expel water from his body to extinguish fires, although it proved useless against the Torch.[51]

After he was revived yet again in the 1960s by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Namor demonstrated powers of various sealife that had not been shown in earlier stories. An editorial note in Marvel Tales #9 (July 1967), stated explicitly that "nautical Namor has since lost his power to imitate the characteristics of fish..." According to one of Sub-Mariner's scripters, Roy Thomas: "As for Namor's electrical and other sea-creaturely powers. They were used in one or two stories in F.F. and the Human Torch series in Strange Tales, then dropped – as one of Stan [Lee] and Jack [Kirby]s early (and quite forgivable) mistakes. The explanation, given in a reprint of a Torch/Namor bout a few years later, was that he had these powers only for a short time and then lost them."[52]

In all his incarnations, Namor possesses superhuman strength and, with the possible exceptions of Orka and Tyrak at their full sizes, is the strongest Atlantean ever known. The exact level of his strength is dependent upon his physical contact with water, in which he needn't be submerged. It has been shown as sufficient to effortlessly toss a water-filled ocean-liner, despite the underwater viscosity.[53] His strength diminishes slowly the longer he is out of contact with water, though an extended period on land does not result in his death, as it would for a typical Atlantean, and his power is retained in full as long as he keeps himself wet. Namor possesses superhuman stamina and resistance to injury due to his hybrid nature. Namor's strength level is such that he has held his own in hand-to-hand combat with beings as powerful as the Hulk in the past.[54]

Some stories have mentioned that Namor has gills for breathing underwater, e.g., in Namor, the Sub-Mariner #5, Namor thinks "this New York river water burns my gills and scalds my lungs".[55] and artists such as Salvador Larroca have drawn him with gill slits on either side of his neck.[56] In The Sub-Mariner #18–22 (1969–70), beings from outer space surgically closed Namor's gills for a time, leaving him with the ability to breathe air but unable to breathe underwater. Other sources have stated that his lungs contain oxygen diffusing membranes that allow him to breathe underwater.

Namor possesses a telepathic rapport with all forms of marine life. He is able to mentally communicate with most forms of marine life and can mentally persuade them to do his bidding. Namor can mentally communicate with other Atlanteans and give mental-telepathic orders to all his men.[57]

Due to a unique aspect of his hybrid nature, not shared by Namorita, it was theorized that Namor is vulnerable to oxygen imbalances in his blood that trigger manic-depressive mood swings; he can prevent imbalances by regular immersion in water.

Namor gives off a sense of charisma which most women tend to find captivating. Many of the ladies that have entered his life made clear their attraction to his masculine, slightly alien personality in ways both subtle and blatant. He reacts to such advances with gratitude tinged with a slight distance born of monarchical etiquette.

Namor is a natural leader, trained by the royal family of Atlantis as befitting an heir to the throne. He has historically led troops into battle with expert success. His typical interpersonal behavior with both subject and friend borders on the aloof; this is more a sense of regal noblesse oblige rather than snobbishness.

Namor was given possession of the Time Gem.[58] This gem allows the user total control over the past, present, and future. It allows time travel, can age and de-age beings, and can be used as a weapon by trapping enemies or entire worlds in unending loops of time. After the Hood attempted to steal the Gems, Namor briefly helped Thor recover the Gem from the bottom of the ocean to prevent the Hood acquiring it, before being entrusted with the Power Gem as the Gems were divided amongst the new Illuminati – Steve Rogers replacing Black Bolt – once again.[59]

Namor was educated by the royal tutors of the Atlantean court, and speaks English, Atlantean, and Lemurian. He is a highly skilled business executive.

Formerly depicted abilities

In The Fantastic Four #9 (Dec. 1962), Namor states, "I have the powers of all the creatures who live beneath the sea! I can charge the very air with electricity – using the power of the electric eel!" In the same issue, "the radar sense of the cave fish from the lowest depths of the sea" enables him to sense the presence of Sue Storm when she is invisible. He uses "the power to surround himself with electricity in the manner of an electric eel" again in Strange Tales #107 (April 1963), and #125 (Oct. 1964); in the former he manifests the power to inflate his body like a puffer fish. These extra powers were ignored, when Marvel gave Namor his own feature beginning in Tales to Astonish #70 (Aug. 1965).

Another ability unknown in the Golden Age and rarely displayed is his empathic rapport with many forms of marine life. He had a limited empathic rapport with Namorita. But, only as a result of being given one of her "magic earrings" (which has long-since disappeared).

An editorial note in Marvel Tales #9 (July 1967), which reprinted the story from Strange Tales #107, stated explicitly that "nautical Namor has since lost his power to imitate the characteristics of fish..." His electrical abilities were seen out of comic continuity in 1991's Spider-Man: The Video Game. Furthermore, Namor employed these "lost" powers semi-regularly in his 1990s series, under John Byrne's pen.

"Marvel's First Mutant"

Marvel has repeatedly identified Namor as "Marvel's first mutant", which is true with regard to the order in which the character appeared in print. He is not the oldest mutant within the fictional Marvel Universe timeline. A number of mutants predate him, including Selene (active since at least 10,000 BC), Apocalypse (born in the 30th century BC), Exodus (born in the 12th century AD), Wolverine (late 19th century AD), Mystique and Destiny (dates of birth unknown, but known to have been active at the "Dawn of the 20th century"), the demonic mutant Azazel, and a group of mutants known as the Externals.

In X-Men #6 (July 1964), X-Men leader Professor Xavier and antagonist Magneto each suspect Namor is a mutant and make efforts to recruit him. Later writers in the 1960s and 1970s described him as a hybrid, not a mutant, in order to distinguish him from the mutant X-Men.[60] When the series was revived in 1990, the series title logo carried the subtitle "Marvel's first and mightiest mutant!".

Namor is actually a hybrid of Atlantean and human physiology, although he has principal characteristics that neither Atlanteans (Homo mermanus) nor humans (Homo sapiens) possess. These include his ability to fly, and possibly his durability and strength (which is several times that of an Atlantean).

In the first issue of the five part Illuminati miniseries, after being experimented on by the Skrulls, it was confirmed that Namor is not only an Atlantean/human hybrid but also a mutant.


Namor has joined forces with the X-Men.[28] He claims to have done so out of respect for Scott Summers and because "while there are some who would stand with the many against the few, Namor will never be among them".[61]


Other versions

Marvel Noir

In the Marvel Noir reality, Namor is a captain of a ship named "Dorma".[63] Captain Namor is a widely infamous pirate of the seven seas and an associate of Tony Stark, who pays him for the numerous voyages on his adventures. Namor considers himself as a man of the sea and doesn't share any allegiances to any countries or nations. As part of his tradition as a pirate, Namor marks himself and his crew by slicing their ears to look like shark's fins. He is the captain of the Dorma, an advanced submarine while taking the guise of a fishing trawler.[64]

In May 1939, Namor was hired by Stark in finding the location of Atlantis. He traveled with Stark, James Rhodes, and Pepper Potts on the submersible, the "Happy Hogan", in locating Atlantis and finding the valuable Orichalcum. Upon returning to the surface, Namor and his friends were immediately captured by the Nazis led by Baron Zemo and Von Strucker, and the Orichalcum stolen by them. Namor and his allies were then left to die on his trawler by torpedo; Namor took action in having everyone quickly board the Dorma and escape before the torpedo destroyed the trawler. Namor later rescued Stark following the destruction of Von Strucker's airship fleet, as (in Namor's words) Stark owes him a boat for the destruction of his.[65]


Namor is still active in the MC2 future timeline, and still uniting occasionally for battle alongside the Hulk and Doctor Strange as "Defenders". His appearance, while slightly older looking, is unchanged save for growing a goatee. In Fantastic Five vol. 2 #1 it was revealed that he had held Doctor Doom captive for over ten years, after the mad monarch destroyed Atlantis. Doom subsequently escaped, and in #4, Namor is seen being tortured by him. He is freed after Reed Richards sacrifices himself to send both his and Doom's consciousnesses to the Crossroads of Infinty.[66]

Ultimate Marvel

In Ultimate Fantastic Four #24, the team is surveying the ruins of Atlantis and finds an estimated 9,000-year-old tomb containing the hibernating Namor – an imprisoned Atlantean criminal, considered the worst villain of his time. Reed Richards' translation of the Atlantean language reveals Namor's claims of kingship to be false.[67]

His extreme intelligence allows him to become fluent in English in a matter of minutes merely by listening to S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and the Fantastic Four talking. Confronting the human, Namor withstands full-strength flares from the Human Torch and is strong enough to fight the Thing, withstand Sue Storm's force fields, and stretch Richards (Mr. Fantastic) to near-breaking. He destroys machinery designed to contain the Hulk. Though beaten by the Fantastic Four, he creates a tidal wave in the shape of Poseidon, threatening to destroy Manhattan with it. He is appeased when he demands, and receives, a meaningful kiss from Sue Storm. He then returns to the sea.[68]

Namor reappears at the end of issue #55, rescuing an unconscious Sue after she was attacked by the Ultimate version of the Salem's Seven.[69] Later, he is seen in Latvaria as Doom's prisoner.[70]

Ultimate Namor is a mutant Atlantean with amphibious physiology suited for high water pressure. He has vast super strength, durability, high speed swimming ability, flight, and water manipulation.


In the Marvel 1602 limited series Fantastick Four, Namor is reinvented as Numenor, Emperor of Bensaylum, a city beyond the edge of the world.[71]

When the characters arrive in his realm he is arguing with his cousin Rita (Namorita) about her reluctance to marry. She suggests that this is because he refuses to find a consort himself. Upon meeting the Four from the Fantastick, he is attracted to Susan Storm, and attempts to woo her, unsuccessfully. He later plots with Otto von Doom to win her, while "disposing" of Sir Richard Reed. Doom turns against him, and Numenor is stabbed with his own trident and dies.[72] Because Bensaylum is not underwater, its inhabitants are portrayed as basically human although they retain the pointed ears.


Namor assisted Doctor Doom, Hulk, Magneto, Red Skull, and Ultron in a plot to take over New York.[73]

Marvel Zombies

In the Marvel Zombies universe, Namor has a cameo as a zombie in the original Marvel Zombies limited series.[74]

House of M

To follow up on Scarlet Witch's alteration of reality, Namor was considered the "first mutant" in the reality that she created under Quicksilver's approval. He represented Atlantis when he was meeting with Magneto.


In Exiles issues 14 and 15, Namor appears as a king who has taken over Latveria.[75][76] Another version of Namor is black and is married to Sue Storm and has a son Remy.[77]

Earth X

In the Earth X series Namor suffers from dementia. He is responsible for the death of Johnny Storm. As a result, Franklin Richards used his powers to cause half of Namor's body to be continually on fire.[78]

Earth 9602 (Amalgam Comics)

Namor is combined with DC Comics' King of Atlantis, Aquaman to create Aqua Mariner.[79]


A Namor from another time appears with the three original Defenders to battle the forces of the Red Hulk and his Offenders, due to a bet made by the Elders of the Universe.[80][81][82]

Mini Marvels

Namor appears in the "Mini Marvels" backup feature in World War Hulk.[83]

Sub-Mariner: The Depths

The character receives a macabre overhaul in this dark Marvel Knights mini-series set in an alternate 1950s. Namor is a fabled being among mariners, said to pursue and kill any searching for Atlantis. Randolph Stein, a man who makes a living debunking modern myths, is hired to find Atlantis and, along with his submarine crew, encounters Namor in the ocean depths.[84][85]


Namor was listed as the 88th greatest comic book character by Wizard magazine.[86] IGN ranked Namor as the 77th greatest comic book hero of all time opining that "With the Atlanteans and X-Men both seeking their place in a dangerous world, Namor's role as leader is more vital than ever",[87] and 14th in their list of "The Top 50 Avengers".[88] In 2013, ComicsAlliance ranked Namor as #16 on their list of the "50 Sexiest Male Characters in Comics".[89]

Collected editions

Title Volume Material collected Pages Publication date ISBN
Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Sub-Mariner 1 Sub-Mariner Comics #1–4 280 June 2005 9780785116172
2 Sub-Mariner Comics #5–8 280 August 2007 9780785122470
3 Sub-Mariner Comics #9–12 240 December 2009 9780785133513
Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Heroes 3 Sub-Mariner Comics #33–42 272 September 2008 9780785129301
Marvel Masterworks: The Sub-Mariner 1 Tales to Astonish #70–87 224 May 2002 9780785108757
2 Tales to Astonish #88–101, Iron Man and Sub-Mariner #1, The Sub-Mariner #1 240 June 2007 9780785126881
3 The Sub-Mariner #2–13 272 August 2009 9780785134879
4 The Sub-Mariner #14–25 240 February 2011 9780785150480
5 The Sub-Mariner #26–38 & Hercules story from Ka-Zar #1 288 January 2014 9780785166191
6 The Sub-Mariner #39–49 & Daredevil #77 280 February 2015 9780785191841
7 The Sub-Mariner #50–60 240 January 2016 9780785199151
Essential Sub-Mariner 1 Daredevil #7; Tales to Astonish #70–101; Tales of Suspense #80; Iron Man and Sub-Mariner #1; The Sub-Mariner #1 504 September 2009 9780785130758
Namor Visionaries – John Byrne 1 Namor, the Sub-Mariner (1990) #1–9 216 February 2011 9780785153047
2 Namor, the Sub-Mariner (1990) #10–18 232 September 2012 9780785160434
Namor: The First Mutant 1 Namor: The First Mutant #1–6 144 February 2011 9780785151746
2 Namor: The First Mutant #5–11 160 September 2011 9780785151760

In other media


Namor, from the Fantastic Four episode "Now Comes the Sub-Mariner".


Filmmaker Philip Kaufman had been in discussions with Marvel Studios to develop Namor: Sub-Mariner in 1997,[93] and courted Sam Hamm to write the script in 1999, but the outing never materialized.[94] Saban Entertainment became involved as a producing partner with Marvel, with a script written by Randall Frakes.[95] By 2001 Namor was set up at Universal Pictures,[96] who hired David Self to write a new script the following year. They hoped for filming to begin in 2003 for a summer 2004 release,[97] but development stalled for two years until Chris Columbus entered talks to direct in July 2004[98] and the release date was subsequently moved to 2007.[99] Columbus departed in 2005,[100] and Universal replaced him with Jonathan Mostow in September 2006.[101] In 2012, Marvel CCO Joe Quesada thought Namor's film rights had reverted to Marvel, but in August 2013 it was revealed by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige that this was not the case, and the rights remained at Universal Pictures.[102] Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter stated in May 2014 that Marvel now has the rights for Namor.[103][104] On June 3, 2014, Kit confirmed that Marvel, not Universal now has the Namor film rights.[103] On July 18, 2014, Feige told IGN in an interview that the Namor film rights are not with Universal or Legendary Pictures, but he explained there are a number of contracts and deals that need to be sorted out.[105] In June 2016 on the podcast Fat Man on Batman, Quesada again stated that, to his knowledge, Marvel owned the film rights to Namor.[106]

Video games

See also


  1. Sanderson, Peter (1998). Marvel Universe. New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 978-0810981713.
  2. Giant-Size Super-Stars 1 (May 1974)
  3. 1 2 3 4 MacIntosh, Bruce (April 2008). "Sub-Mariner: Proud Prince or Perennial Punching Bag?". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (27): 15–22.
  4. Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1939". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 11. ISBN 978-0756641238. Writer/artist Bill Everett originally conceived Namor the Sub-Mariner in 1939 for an eight-page title called Motion Picture Funnies Weekly. Produced by Funnies Inc., this black-and-white magazine was intended to be handed out in movie theaters, but this idea fell through. So when Funnies Inc. packaged Marvel Comics #1 for Martin Goodman, Everett added four pages to his story, which finally saw print in color.
  5. Thomas, Roy (w). "Okay, Axis, Here We Come! (Comic book letter column" The Invaders 20 (September 1977)
  6. Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 27. ISBN 9780810938212.
  7. Weldon, Glen; Kantor, Michael (2013). Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture. New York, New York: Crown Archetype. p. 136. ISBN 978-0385348584.
  8. Sanderson "1940s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 18: "Alex's Schomburg's powerful cover [to Sub-Mariner Comics #1] significantly showed Namor employing his incredible strength to overturn a German submarine full of Nazi soldiers."
  9. Sanderson "1940s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 16: "When the Sub-Mariner attacked New York City, policewoman Betty Dean undertook a courageous scheme to capture him."
  10. Sub-Mariner Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  11. Sanderson "1940s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 41: This final issue [#32 (June 1949)] of the 1940s Sub-Mariner Comics series presented [Bill] Everett's new retelling of [the character's origin].
  12. Sub-Mariner Comics (revival) at the Grand Comics Database
  13. Brevoort, Tom "1950s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 58: "After his popularity in Young Men, the Sub-Mariner was given back his own title."
  14. 1 2 Brevoort, Tom "1950s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 61: "Martin Goodman had been in talks with television executives about turning Namor's adventures into a live-action TV series, reportedly to star actor Richard Egan. However, negotiations wound up going nowhere, and, as a result, Sub-Mariner's extended lease on life came to an end with issue #42."
  15. 1 2 Tipton, Scott (May 12, 2004). "Under Pressure". Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2008. the success of the George Reeves Superman TV series had prompted some TV producers to develop a Sub-Mariner series, which was reportedly to star B-movie actor Richard Egan, who's probably best known for his turn in Walt Disney's Hayley Mills vehicle Pollyana. When plans for the TV series sunk to Davy Jones' locker, so did Namor's new comic book.
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  20. 1 2 Sub-Mariner at the Grand Comics Database
  21. DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 131: "Created by writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema, Tiger Shark was super-strong and had razor-sharp teeth."
  22. DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 139
  23. Benton, p. 100
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