SUB-MARINER: Page 2 of 19

Publication Date: 9th Nov 2022
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: Dean Clayton.

Biography - Page 2

When he was eighteen years old, Namor encountered the surface men again. As they came of age, Namor and Byrrah's competition to be Thakorr's heir became more open. Thakorr placed Namor in charge of a salvage team recovering materials from a sunken surface vessel, and Byrrah tried to undermine his cousin's command. Namor demonstrated his nobility by ending Byrrah's rebellious behavior and not reporting any of it to his grandfather. However, in his haste to finish the work under Byrrah's interruptions, Namor had left his knife at the sunken wreck. A gift from Thakorr, he returned alone to retrieve it.

Namor chanced upon a diving team from a surface vessel looking over the wreck and mistook the strangely-garbed men as robots sent to attack his undersea people. Namor cut through the divers' air lines, thinking them to be electronic control cables for the robots. He brought the "automatons" back to King Thakorr as a prize, only to be shocked by the drowned men inside. Byrrah was present at court and saw how shaken Namor was by the accidental murders. He pushed Emperor Thakorr to renew their war on the surface-dwellers and send forth their "Avenging Son". Under royal command, Namor had no choice but to obey. His young and smitten friend Dorma caught Namor on the outskirts of Atlantis and joined him on his quest. They destroyed an isolated lighthouse together before Namor pressed onwards alone to the true sanctuary of the surface-dwellers. [Marvel Comics #1, Sub-Mariner Comics #33, Sub-Mariner (1st series) #38, Saga of the Sub-Mariner #2]

Swimming to New York City, Namor made himself known to the people of America, causing chaos as he rampaged through the streets in a demonstration of his power. Hoping to snare the strange fish-man, the Harbor Police decided to set a trap for him. They arranged for young policewoman Betty Dean to patrol the docks in search of Namor. When she spotted him, Betty faked a swimming accident to draw Namor in close, then got the drop on him with her pistol. Namor was amused but impressed by her tenacity, and left Betty adrift on a marker buoy in the water. Before he could address her further, Namor spotted a German U-Boat attacking a British commercial transport coming into the harbor. The Sub-Mariner disabled the U-Boat and got the British safely to shore. The captain and Betty Dean explained to Namor the growing tensions between the soon-to-be Allied countries and the forces of Nazi Germany. [Marvel Mystery Comics #2-3, Sub-Mariner (1st series) #38, Saga of the Sub-Mariner #3]

Fueled by his respect for justice and his growing attraction to Betty, Namor brought the forces of Atlantis into tentative alliance with America. Namor stopped Nazi U-Boats from interfering with British-American naval trade routes, although he technically vowed to destroy any warship that targeted a civilian craft, regardless of nationality. After his work at sea, Namor also returned to New York and was captured by the police. He and Betty Dean convinced the commissioner he wanted to atone for his past actions. [Marvel Mystery Comics #4-5]

The commissioner appreciated Namor's help on several criminal cases, but reluctantly insisted Namor must still abide by the rule of law. The crimes he committed when he first came to America had to be answered for, before a jury of the people. Because of his vast strength, Namor didn't take the humans' cells seriously, but was bemused enough to go along with a trial, since Betty told him it would be the most expeditious way to prove himself to his father's people. Namor was found guilty by the jury (mostly because they feared he would turn against humanity again). When he had had enough and tried to leave by force, Namor also found himself powerless, as the commissioner had the foresight to drug his food while Namor was in confinement. Namor was sentenced to death in the electric chair, but the electricity actually proved enough to burn the drugs out of his system, allowing Namor to escape. While Betty Dean knew nothing about the drugs, Namor felt he could no longer trust her. Feeling bitter and betrayed, Namor once again held a vendetta against humanity. [Marvel Mystery Comics #6]

[Note: Several differences exist between Namor's earliest appearances and the retellings from Sub-Mariner (1st series) #8 and #38, and Saga #2-3. Namor clearly killed the divers in the original story, bringing their corpses into Thakorr's throne room before removing their helmets to discover they weren't robots. In the first updated version of the Marvel era, the airless divers were recovered by their vessel, leaving their fate ambiguous. Saga #2 restored Namor's accidental murder of the divers. Namor deliberately brought war to the surface-dwellers in Marvel Mystery Comics, committing acts of sabotage and murder before meeting Betty Dean. Sub-Mariner #38 recast him as an arrogant emissary who caused a ruckus, but no actual deaths were depicted. Issue #8 explicitly said no deaths had occurred before his first encounter with the Human Torch. So, while the trial from Marvel Mystery Comics #6 explicitly charged Namor with murders among other crimes, it seems likely his rampages no longer officially caused any deaths. It also bears note that the trial was not mentioned in Saga of the Sub-Mariner, so it may not have occurred in official Marvel history at all.]

The Sub-Mariner returned to New York City with a vengeance, claiming the Statue of Liberty as his throne as he began a campaign of harassment and destruction in the surface world. The New York Police Department summoned their new special agent, the android called the Human Torch. Although Betty Dean still believed she could reason with Namor, the Torch prepared to battle the Sub-Mariner. He lagged behind Namor at first, cleaning up the chaos the Sub-Mariner caused in his attacks. When they battled each other, Namor and the Human Torch reached one stalemate after another, with neither fighter able to claim absolute victory over the other. Despite their conflict, Namor came to develop a begrudging respect for the Human Torch. [Marvel Mystery Comics #7-10, Saga of the Sub-Mariner #4]

The Sub-Mariner would return to menace the surface world several more times in the months that followed, and occasionally fought rematches with the Human Torch in the process. One day in early 1941, Namor overheard sailors talking about President Roosevelt and realized the American seat of power was not New York City, but Washington D.C. Namor flew to the capital and stormed into the White House. He kidnapped FDR in a plan to force America to remain above the Antarctic Circle, leaving Atlantis in peace. As luck would have it, the new super-soldier Captain America was at the White House receiving an award from the president and he opposed Namor. The Sub-Mariner struck aside the tenacious hero, and made off with Roosevelt. Cap followed Namor to a small island where the sea prince awaited America's answer to his demands. Despite their antagonism, Namor became impressed with the courage and spirit demonstrated by both Roosevelt and Captain America. When a Nazi U-Boat intercepted Namor's transmitted demands and tried to kidnap Roosevelt themselves, Namor and Captain America joined forces to recover the president. Out of respect for the two men, Namor abandoned his plans to ransom FDR. [Captain America (1st series) #423]

Adolf Hitler and the Nazis could not abide the existence of the Atlanteans in their bid for domination. The Fuhrer ordered a pre-emptive blitzkrieg against Atlantis to prevent the aquatic kingdom from entering the war against the Axis Powers. The U-Boat bombing that followed killed many Atlanteans, devastating their Antarctic colony. Namor led a counterstrike against the Nazi U-Boats, coordinating the Atlantean military with Captain Krang in a series of skirmishes that wiped out their attackers. Hitler's attack had the opposite result that he intended, for now the Avenging Son was a sworn enemy of the Axis Powers. [Sub-Mariner Comics #1, Saga of the Sub-Mariner #5]

Back in Atlantis, Namor discovered Emperor Thakorr had been knocked into a deep coma by the attack. Fen announced her son would be Acting Emperor in Thakorr's stead, but Byrrah attempted to claim the throne as Thakorr's step-son. Fen brought the matter before the people of Atlantis, who cheered for Prince Namor in response to his bold counter-attack. In his fight act as ruler, Namor uncovered information that Meranno --his childhood playmate, now a research scientist -- was in contact with the Nazis. Although Meranno curried favor with the Acting Emperor, he secretly planned to build his own power base in connection with the Axis Powers. It was Meranno who fed information to the Nazis about Atlantis's location, causing the attack. Namor exiled Meranno for his treasonous activities. [Invaders (1st series) #4, Saga of the Sub-Mariner #5]

The old adage "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" proved true, as Namor's relationship with the Allied Powers thawed now that they shared a common foe. To forge new friendships, Sub-Mariner sought out the Human Torch after discovering Nazi plans for an invasion of America in the wreckage of the subs that attacked Atlantis. The Nazis intended to dig a tunnel across the Bering Strait from Siberia to Alaska, allowing their troops to march into the United States. Working as allies for the first time, Namor and the Torch flooded the tunnel-in-progress, foiling the plot. [Marvel Mystery Comics #17, Saga of the Sub-Mariner #5]

And so it was in December 1941 when Winston Churchill contacted Atlantis and asked the Sub-Mariner for protection as he crossed the Atlantic Ocean to meet with President Roosevelt and discuss the Allied war effort. As one ruler to another, Namor honored Churchill's request and secreted himself onboard the HMS Duke of York disguised as a sailor in case of trouble. Trouble came in the form of the new Nazi Ubermensch, Master Man. Namor defended the prime minister alongside American super-agents recruited by the FBI: Captain America and Bucky with the Human Torch and Toro. When Master Man was defeated, Winston Churchill congratulated the heroes on their fine work and encouraged them to remain together as the Allied Forces' invaders in the war to come. Namor accepted his comrades-in-arms, and the newly-christened Invaders let out their rallying cry, "Look out, Axis -- Here We Come!" [Giant-Size Invaders #1]

The Invaders began their siege overseas, battling the likes of Brain Drain and other Axis threats. They made their way back to Washington D.C. in time for Churchill to end his good will tour drumming up support in America and Canada. Secret Nazi coded messages had been uncovered indicating the Nazis planned to intercept Churchill on his ship back across the Atlantic. Worse, the Nazis were assisted by a renegade super-powered Atlantean codenamed U-Man, whom Namor immediately recognized as the exiled scientist Meranno. Although nominally part of a team, the Sub-Mariner was still a ruler and a loner at heart, and he demanded the right to face his traitorous countryman alone. Namor broke ranks with the Invaders to pursue his vendetta, chasing out to intercept Churchill's ship near Bermuda. U-Man was defeated and Churchill was safe, but the Invaders were all reminded of Namor's imperial unpredictability. [Invaders (1st series) #3-4]

[Note: The Marvels Project #1-8 presented a different version of events from Marvel Comics #1 to Invaders #4. In that series, Namor's first attacks on the surface world were based on Meranno and his Nazi allies striking at Atlantis. Namor blamed the surface world in general, and battled the Human Torch at Coney Island and later New York. Namor was captured by the Torch and Captain America, imprisoned and later released to interrogate an Atlantean collaborator of Meranno's. Namor learned the Americans were innocent of Atlantis's plight, and the heroes uncovered evidence of a plot to attack Hawaii and Washington simultaneously with Nazi, Japanese and rogue Atlantean troops. Despite the efforts of the heroes, the attack on Pearl Harbor still went ahead, albeit with fewer ships. Namor was pardoned by Roosevelt in exchange for him joining the new strike team known as the Invaders. This streamlined version of the Golden Age comics and 70's Invaders retcons has yet to be widely accepted.]

The Invaders continued their good will tour in America for a time, with a parade in their honor used to boost war bond sales. However, the parade was orchestrated by the Red Skull as a trap, and he captured all of the the Invaders other than Bucky. The Skull then used hypnotic nulla-rays to reprogram Namor and the Invaders to be loyal to him. As the brainwashed heroes started attacking American manufacturing, Bucky went on the radio and put out the call for more super-heroes and mystery men, assembling a new team called the Liberty Legion. The Legion battled the Invaders and eventually freed the heroes from the Red Skull's control. With that, the Liberty Legion agreed to continue battling Bundists and Nazi spies on the homefront, while Namor and the Invaders returned overseas to take the fight directly to Nazi Germany. [Invaders (1st series) #5-6, Marvel Premiere #29-30]

Returning to England first, Namor and the Invaders befriended Lord Falsworth and his daughter Jacqueline. Falsworth had been the masked spy-buster called Union Jack of World War I, and he welcomed the new generation of heroes into his home. However, the Falsworths were haunted by Union Jack's brother John, who had become the Nazi vampire agent named Baron Blood. Union Jack joined the Invaders only briefly before his legs were crushed in battle, but Jacqueline was saved from Blood's bite by a transfusion of the Torch's android blood, and she became the super-powered speedster, Spitfire, joining the Invaders on their missions. [Invaders (1st series) #7-11]

Namor and the Invaders continued to fight overseas for many months. They infiltrated the Warsaw ghettos, uncovered a Nazi plot to manipulate British heroes called the Crusaders in an assassination attempt on the king and battled the Fuhrer himself at the wedding of Master Man and Warrior Woman. [Invaders (1st series) #12-21] The Invaders set up a permanent staging ground in the clock tower of Big Ben where they met their American and British armed forces liaisons. Their first mission from Big Ben sent the adult trio of Invaders to battle various Nazi spies and collaborators such as the Hyena, Shark and Agent Axis. While pursuing these fiends, they were sucked up into a spatial vortex that deposited them into a conflict with three other superhumans named Yellowjacket, Black Panther and the Vision. These beings claimed to be from the future and a group called the Avengers, but the battle ended before the Invaders could authenticate their claims. [Invaders Annual #1, Avengers (1st series) #71]