Comic Book: Sub-Mariner

aka: Sub-Mariner
Imperius Rex!

"Hes one of Marvel's oldest characters and, boy, can he never support his own book."

Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner is a Marvel Comics character. He's an aquatic, superstrong Anti-Hero who rules the Marvel Universe's version of Atlantis. He should not be confused with a "submariner" which is a person who crews submarines. (Though he has fought some of those!)

Namor first appeared in "Motion Picture Funnies Weekly" #1 (April, 1939), created by Bill Everett. The magazine was a one-shot publication by Funnies Inc. The character was then offered to publisher Martin Goodman, who was about to launch his first comic book magazine. Namor made his second appearance in "Marvel Comics" #1 (October, 1939), the very first publication of Timely Comics. He quickly became one of the most popular characters in Timely's stable.

The character has had occasional billing as "Marvel's First Mutant" (although in the chronology of the 616 timeline the title is just as often given to Apocalypse, who also isn't the first mutant). Namor McKenzie is a Half-Human Hybrid, the son of American ship captain Leonard McKenzie and Princess Fen of Atlantis; however since this romance was forbidden by her people, Fen had to raise Namor (who was born with pink skin, unlike the normally blue-skinned Atlanteans) away from the surface world.

Given to self-righteous rages, Namor attacked New York City, blaming humans for damage that Atlantis had suffered. This led to the first comic book superhero battle between him and the Human Torch. Fortunately, Namor had a weakness for beautiful, noble women. Fair Cop Betty Dean convinced him to halt his attacks. In addition, he eventually realized that it was the Nazis who were the true menace and ended up joining a team (The Invaders, which included both the Human Torch and Captain America, among others) in order to battle them. This group would be renamed the All-Winners Squad after the war. (Note that this is a Retcon; the AWS did have their own short-lived series in 1946, but it was writer Roy Thomas in the 1970s who established that they had been The Invaders previously; they did star in their own series then.) He had a companion in his cousin, Namora.

Namor had his own magazine "Sub-Mariner Comics" which lasted for 32 issues (Fall, 1941-June, 1949), and also appeared regularly in various anthologies. But by 1949 the character was defunct. The character was revived a few years later in the pages of "Young Men" #24-28 (December, 1953-June, 1954), and "Sub-Mariner Comics" #33-42 (April, 1954 - October, 1955). Most of the stories were again written and drawn by Bill Everett. Who managed to update Namor, Namora, and Betty Dean for the new decade. Everett also created tales exploring Namor's childhood and teenage years. But once this run was over, Namor became another fond memory for older readers.

Namor returned during The Silver Age of Comic Books in Fantastic Four #4 (May, 1962), after a chance meeting with the (new) Human Torch awakened his memories (lost after an enemy with mental powers erased them; he ended up as a homeless man for decades, apparently he ages very slowly.) Namor then ended up once again in a villainous role, though (once again) a beautiful woman (The Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four) convinced him to change his mind. Namor soon got his own series again, where he mostly had adventures under the sea. He fell in love with an Atlantean named Lady Dorma, though she eventually was killed. (Part of this series was adapted in animated form in the Marvel Super Heroes TV show.) He also became a founding member of The Defenders and met Namora's daughter, Namorita (of the New Warriors.)

In the 1990s, Sub-Mariner again had his own comic book series by writer/artist John Byrne, who reinvented Namor as a shrewd businessman after establishing that his rages were caused by an imbalance of oxygen in his blood that could be treated. Namor bought a surface company called Oracle using treasures rescued from the sea. This series lasted for 62 issues (April, 1990-May, 1995). Since then the character mostly appears in team books and the occasional mini-series.

Even today, Namor continues to vacillate between hero and villain; for example he has been a member of both The Illuminati (a conspiracy of Marvel heroes) and later, their Evil Counterpart (eviler, to some), The Cabal. He has recently started embracing his mutant heritage, becoming first a part of the "Dark" X-Men and then the X-Men proper.

He received another ongoing, Namor: The First Mutant, which seems to have been quietly cancelled in favor of a Fear Itself tie in starring some of the classic The Defenders cast and at least one of their legacies, followed by a new The Defenders ongoing which debuted in the winter of 2011. He was a key part of Avengers vs. X-Men as one of the "Phoenix Five" and later goes on to join the casts of New Avengers and All-New Invaders.

In Sub-Mariner: The Depths, he terrorizes a rescue team looking for a lost group of explorers. Said explorers had been looking for Atlantis. Until they found Namor.

As a result of legal issues, the character has been stated to be Exiled from Continuity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So don't expect to see him showing up in an Avengers sequel anytime soon.

Tropes associated with the character:

Namor McKenzie / Sub-Mariner

A part-mutant and part Atlantean who joined the X-Men when he betrayed Norman Osborn and the Dark X-Men.

  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Namor used to have the ability to mimic any aquatic life, fitting him into this trope. That is no longer the case since the power has been long forgotten.
  • Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: Type III to V Depending on the Writer — Retconned as a chemically induced fictional mood imbalance (bipolar disorder doesn't work like that) during Byrne's run on Namor's own book. He is a member of the Illuminati (a council of powerful heroes which includes Professor X, Iron Man, Reed Richards, and Doctor Strange) and the Cabal (its villainous counterpart). He claims he doesn't see the difference.
  • Apparently Human Merfolk: Aside from pointed ears (and the wings on his feet that grant him flight) he looks fairly close to human, as unlike full-blooded Atlantians his skin is not blue.
    • The non-canon Sub-Mariner: The Depths series gives him a terrifying design overhaul, with inhumanly pale skin and piercing Black Eyes of Evil.
  • Atlantis Is Boring: So much so that Marvel went out of their way in one of his previous miniseries to have him spend nearly the entire story AWAY from Atlantis, and ended the series blowing it up and moving his people to Latveria of all places. Although Atlantis was recovering... until Fear Itself, which dealt a serious blow to Namor's self-confidence.
  • Blade on a Stick: His signature weapon is a magical trident given by the god Neptune to the Atlanteans two thousand years before Namor's time. It can control water, fire energy blasts and healing beams, and set up forcefields. It's also partly made out of adamantium.
  • Canon Welding: For Marvel Comics, started with the Namor/Human Torch battle.
  • Captain Ersatz: Some might call him one of DC Comics' Aquaman, but Namor came first by a few years. Meanwhile Black Adam's characterization has often been compared to Namor's. As have his looks in recent years. Adam was rather less attractive originally, but now they practically look like twins.
  • Catch and Return: Namor once caught Ares' axe and embedded it in Iron Man's armor on the return throw.
  • Catch Phrase: "Imperius Rex!" It sure sounds cool. Namor's saying he's top dog, pretty much. Imperius is power, empire, while rex means king. Stan Lee did his homework.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Especially when he's on the villain's side. During Dark Reign, after finding himself allied with Namor again, Dr. Doom resurrected General Attuma, in secret, to send him against Namor in case of his betrayal, as too often their past alliances ended with Namor switching sides in a middle of the battle.
  • Dating Catwoman
    • Had a brief relationship with Emma Frost while she was with the Hellfire Club. This is a Retcon written after her Heel-Face Turn (and set between his Face-Heel Turn and his Heel-Face Turn — in other words, they were both villains when it happened and both heroes when it "came to light").
    • A better example might be his romantic tension with Sue Storm/Richards of the Fantastic Four back when he was a villain.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Namor used to have powers based on sea creatures like the puffer fish and the electric eel. The power to control and redirect electricity is the only artifact left over from this period.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Namor may be willing to bed almost anything with a pulse and hit on a married woman, but he shoots down Hope's flirtations because she is underage.
    • In the Incursion storyline, Namor is willing to destroy inhabited alternate Earths to save both universes resulting in killing billions of humans, but saving far, far more lives that would be ended if both universes were destroyed. Yet, he draws the line at his "Cabal" of villains assembled to help him who not only destroy the alternate Earth, but engage in unnecessary wholesale sadistic slaughter and torture of the population before hand instead of quietly planting a world-destroying bomb and leaving.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: One of Namor's most effective tactics underwater is to trap his opponent in a whirlpool until he or she runs out of air.
  • Evil Chancellor/The Usurper: Longtime Namor antagonist Warlord Krang, who recently returned from limbo as a member of Joe Casey's 'Last' Defenders team and during the pages of Namor's last solo attempted ANOTHER coup for control of Atlantis only at the end for both to enter into a Enemy Mine situation.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: As of this incident Namor has officially been upgraded from Really Gets Around to this trope.
    Hope: Ick ick ick!
    Namor: You are only showing your parochialism and prejudice. There are many forms of beauty. She is the dignified queen of a noble people. Namor is nothing if not cosmopolitan in his tastes.
  • Fair Cop: Betty Dean, his Golden Age love interest.
  • Fantastic Racism: In his youth he was a pariah in Atlantis due to, being, well, white - where normal Atlanteans are blue. They called him "pale crab." He's happy to note that they don't do that anymore, but the Blue Marvel thinks they just don't do it to his face.
  • Fire-Forged Friends
    • When he first met the Incredible Hulk, shortly after Hulk's falling out with the original Avengers, they fought to a draw and then decided to team up against all humanity for a minute. Though they've both obviously stepped back from that goal, they've remained loyal friends ever since. (Namor was the only one to object to the Illuminati's plan to send Hulk into space. And warned them that it was an incredibly stupid idea that would inevitably backfire.)
    • With Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch. The two had their famous battles, but they later fought side-by-side in World War II in the Invaders. Namor later referred to Hammond as someone he respects (and for a guy like Namor, that's quite a compliment).
    • Namor met the Blue Marvel after mistaking him for another invader from the surface world. The two engaged in a fierce struggle, and emerged as close friends.
  • Fish People: Imperius Fish!
    • But technically, Namor is too human-looking to qualify as a true Fish Person.
  • Flight: He has small, fin-like wings on his ankles (echoing the mythological example of the Greco-Roman god Hermes/Mercury). These work equally well to propel him through air and water.
  • Flight, Strength, Heart: Namor has super strength, can fly, breathe both air and water, can charge his body with electricity, has telepathic control over undersea life... and at one time could puff himself up like a puffer fish.
  • Flying Brick: Namor's power set. Or most of it, at least.
  • Flying Seafood Special: His other power set.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Among the general Marvel hero establishment. In All-New Invaders, even Captain America admits that if the vast majority of superheroes heard that Namor was being held prisoner by the Kree, they would say the Kree can keep him. The exception is the Invaders themselves, whom Namor fought alongside in the war. Since Original Sin and the whole 'mind wiped by Illuminati' thing came out, even Steve has gotten to the point where he can't stand Namor. When Captain America himself is openly passive-aggressive and refusing to forgive you, you know you've crossed a line.
  • The Good King: Namor loves Atlantis and will do anything to protect it. Those who try to harm his city or his people will deeply regret that decision.
  • Jerkass: He occasionally has his genuine non self-serving Pet the Dog moments, but those are very, very rare. On most occasions, his "nice" moments are just ploys to butter people up into giving him what he wants, and he's generally one of the biggest douchebags in the entire MU.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: One notable example is an issue of Fantastic Four in which Reed Richards had returned after it was believed he was dead and found that Namor and Susan Richards had shared a kiss. Furious, Reed attacked and Namor purposefully lost the fight and pretended to be knocked unconscious so that Reed would feel better and regain his confidence. For a guy as proud as Namor, that was really sweet.
    • And note that being a jerkass made him one of the very first comic book superheroes to actually have a personality.
  • Kick the Dog: During Avengers vs. X-Men he sank Wakanda. While he could be excused for that, because he was possessed by the Phoenix Force at that time, his unwillingness to apologize to Black Panther during New Avengers was really a dickish move. After Wakanda retaliated with an equally devastating attack on Atlantis, Namor really crossed the line by willingly allying himself with Thanos' forces in order to strike Wakanda even harder than before.
  • Kissing Cousins: With Namora. They almost married in Agents of Atlas.
    • His late wife Lady Dorma was also apparently a cousin. And Namora's daughter Namorita did at one point hope to have this with Namor when she was younger, but eventually got over her crush. Atlanteans obviously don't have a cousin incest taboo.
  • Kryptonite Factor: If he's separated from water for too long, he loses much of his strength. He also needs open air from time to time, due to his mixed parentage.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: During Fear Itself, Namor was robbed of his confidence, giving him a bit of payback for seventy years of being a jackass.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Strong enough to slug it out with some of Marvel's heaviest hitters, not to mention terrifyingly fast.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Well known for his pursuit of the married Susan Richards. Which other than his late wife is probably his longest relationship.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In the 2012 Defenders run, a childhood memory of his mother hiding a picture of herself, Leonard McKenzie and Captain Nemo from him, along with the discovery of a copy of the picture within the sunken Nautilus, brought up the question if Captain Nemo might be Namor's father. Not that Namor could care at this stage of his life.
  • Mercury's Wings: Ankle wings are a characteristic of Atlanteans. They work equally well in the water or air.
  • Mobile Fishbowl: Namor can breathe on dry land, but he's a mutant. The other denizens of Atlanta have to wear water bowls when they're above the surface.
  • Monster Modesty: A few examples.
    • Depending on the artist, the blue-skinned Atlanteans will often wear very little. Armored swimsuits and loincloths are common.
    • Marrina, a green-skinned fish girl and Alpha Flight member, was married to Namor for a time and is a rare female example.
    • Looking at his pointy ears and the wings on his ankles, Namor is obviously not fully human. Taking this into account along with his desire to prance around in green speedos, he fits this trope.
    • He averts the trope in Marvels, where he wears nothing at all, even when fighting the Nazis.
  • Mutants: Being a Half-Human Hybrid, Namor is considered one even among most of the Atlantean people. He's a somewhat different type of mutant than the others in the Marvel Universe (as he's an Atlantean mutant rather than a human mutant; his human half is 100% "normal"), but that's usually not considered important. At one point he was lodging with the X-Men on their new artificial island.
  • Offing the Offspring: To be fair, the offspring in question was a long lost and unknown bad seed that tried to kill him and drive Atlantis to war.
  • Older Than They Look: Namor was born in the 1920's, teamed up with Captain America during World War II, and still looks like a man in the prime of his life. Justified due to his half-Atlantean physiology.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: He is part-mutant, part-Atlantean. Pure-blood Antlanteans are also humanoid but have blue skin.
  • Tongue Trauma: Namor ripped out Venom II's tongue after a scuffle, stating that Gargan should talk less while trying to take on somebody out of his league.
  • Underwear of Power: Formerly, and it's scaly!
  • Unstoppable Rage: A lot, but if you really want to see it in full force, refer to any time he runs into Llyra, who killed his first wife and was responsible for the death of his father.
  • Ur Example: Of a lot of things, really, but mostly of the comic book Flying Brick (Superman predates him in publication, but Namor had the power set before Superman did), of the comic book Anti-Hero, of the comic book Anti-Villain... the list goes on.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: For a given definition of "villainous", but he sure sports a distinctive one.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Bucky Barnes have been written this way in recent years. They're mutually antagonistic, but the fact that they fought together during WWII gives them a great deal of tolerance for each others' less than stellar qualities. Bucky muses at one point that there's nothing like an old friend, and people like Namor tend to have nothing but old friends.
  • Warrior Prince: Namor was doing this back when he was still only a Prince (and he's still generally referred to as such, despite being the King of Atlantis). This is, almost without exception, the cause of any perceived villainy in his publishing history: it's all either in the name of protecting or avenging Atlantis.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Most of the time, all he really wants is a blonde and/or cleaner oceans. No matter what he's after, however, he'll always be a total dick about it.
  • With Friends Like These...: No matter how many times one betrays the other, Namor and Doctor Doom usually will always find themselves back in each other's good graces down the line. No one is sure why, because they're both smart enough that they really should know better than to trust each other, ever. It's pretty well-established that Namor is one of the few people that Doom genuinely likes. What's a little betrayal between friends? By now, they probably take it as given. One could even argue that it is a mutual dislike for a certain Mr. Fantastic.
  • Worthy Opponent: As much of an asshole as he is, Namor respects people who can either give him a run for his money or who are just doggedly persistent despite being hopelessly outmatched, as was the case with Daredevil.

Alternative Title(s):

Sub Mariner, Namor, The Submariner