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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
One of the better late Silver Age Marvel offeringsAug. 22 2009
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By about 1968 Stan Lee had hit the wall as a comic book writer. The titles he still wrote, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Captain America, etc were becoming increasingly stale and repetitive. They were still for the most part quite readable but the energy and imagination from the middle years of the '60s were missing.
Fortunately, Lee had brought aboard Roy Thomas to do the writing on some of the "lesser" Marvel titles, like Avengers, Dr. Strange, Sgt. Fury, X-Men, and Sub-Mariner. These titles helped keep Marvel afloat creatively when comic book sales started a precipitous decline in the late '60s.
The Sub-Mariner was never one of my favorite Marvel characters. His problems always seemed largely self-inflicted due to his arrogance and temper making him difficult to sympathize with. I always thought he worked best as the "noble villain" rather than as a "flawed hero". I didn't really think he could carry a title.
The comics in this volume, Sub-Mariner #2-#13 from 1968 and 1969, largely proved me wrong. Thomas sets up an interesting story arc involving a mysterious helmet. But we have plenty of diversions along the way as Namor runs into the inhuman Triton, meets an old enemy Attuma and a new enemy Tiger Shark, picks up some more supporting cast in Diane Arliss and old friend Betty Dean Prentiss, and finally finishes up with Lemuria, Karthon, and Naga.
There are a few missteps along the way. Thomas offers up the obligatory heroes fight each other (Namor and Triton) before combining against the villain (Plant Man). Namor has his usual counter productive and self defeating outbursts of temper. The main plot thread (the helmet) does show signs of being made up as it goes along.
But all in all this is a fast paced 12 issue romp that keeps the reader involved. John Buscema's art is terrific and Gene Colan and Marie Severin do not disappoint either. There is even a bonus parody story from Marvel's humor title Not Brand Echh. Finally, the reproduction is superb.
In short, this is as good a title as Marvel had in the late '60s, with the possible exception of the Avengers. Highly recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Classic Thomas and Buscema Stories.Sept. 1 2012
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This book is a gem of the Marvel Masterworks series. The Sub-Mariner has always been a somewhat minor character in the Marvel cannon---a hot blooded antihero or quasi-villain who has often rubbed fans the wrong way. Writer Roy Thomas loved the character as a kid and these stories reflect his admiration expressed during a time period that witnessed Thomas surpass Stan Lee as Marvel's premier writer. Thomas creates a fascinating back story that bridges sword and sorcery ideas into Marvel's superhero universe. For seven of the 12 issues included in this volume, he is joined by perhaps Marvel's premier draftsman, John Buscema, who adds a dynamic power to the stories. Buscema would later make his work more Jack Kirby like to attempt to appeal to a broader audience, but these stories showcase his work at the most dynamic. His rendition of Namor's would be queen, Lady Dorma, is a revelation of how a blue skinned female can exude such breath taking beauty. This volume recounts the start of the Serpent Crown, which has become an important part of Marvel mythology. It also collects Sub-Mariner # 8, which is an example of all the craftsmanship that Roy Thomas can bring to the comic book medium. I highly recommend this book to all comic fans.
A Powerful Period for NamorMarch 1 2015
- Published on Amazon.com
Collects Sub-mariner 2-13, with material from Not Brand Ecch #9 as bonus.
The way John Busema draws Namor, you can believe he's one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe (while under water). Namor wrecks havoc on machinery in the first panel. Buscema also excels at the underwater scenes and creatures. Page 3 panel 2 has Namor knifing into the ocean with a trail of bubbles following his plunge. Admittedly, Plantman is not a worthy foe for Namor, but Plantman tricks Triton into battling the exiled Prince of the Depths. As Namor explodes out of the water on page 10, I had the impression of an orca erupting out of the ocean. Frank Giacoia does an excellent job inking Big John in the first four issues.
Buscema turns in some iconic covers in this volume: Triton vs Namor in 2, Namor vs Attuma in 4, Namor vs Barracuda in 5 and 6, and Namor vs Thing in 8.
The Attuma and Gorgul story is a highlight in this volume, in my opinion. I would've liked if the crazy seer role of Saru-san was explored in more depth, but the story doesn't suffer for it. The battle with Attuma is one of Namor's better matches with his long-time nemesis.
Issues 5 and 6 have the first appearance of Diane Arliss, her tragic brother Todd, Dr Dorcas and the marauding Tiger Shark, another one of Sub-mariner's best adversaries. I love the powerful sequence from page 90-91. If Sub-mariner had more of that in his long run, the title might have ranked near the top and still be going!
In 7, the Man Called Destiny, started in Tales to Astonish 101 finally concludes.
In 8, Subby goes toe-to-toe with the Thing. Torch and the Avengers make brief appearances (as well as an old friend!) This issue ends Big John's brief run. These issues and their covers are well worth the price of the Masterworks, but, as they say on the TV ads, there's more…
You also get the Serpent Crown Saga. Karthon, the first appearance of Naga, and Barracuda.
Marie Severin and Dan Adkins do a good job filling in on #9. Issues 10-11 are done masterfully by Gene Colan. personally, I like John better for Sub-mariner, but Gene adds a murkiness and moodiness to the story while still maintaining much of the potency in action. I'm awe-struck by the shear fury of page 200, with Namor shooting out of a cresting wave to strike a ship. This full-pager was made to be a wall-sized poster!
Issue 12 has the weakest art, with Marie Severin handling all the chores. Possibly they encountered the dread deadline of doom and she was a last-minute fill-in. This was the start of regular pencilling on the title for her, but this issue looked rushed.
Issue 13 was solid with Joe Sinnott providing strong inks to Marie's pencils. Gargantos the giant octopus provided Namor a tough battle to conclude the Serpent Crown Saga.
There's still more… as a bonus, we have Bulk vs Prince No-More battling in the pages of Not Brand Ecch #9.
As always Roy Thomas' writing is strong throughout and his introduction adds perspective to the collection.
One question I have is who did the coloring for this volume? The coloring was first-rate (for 1968) and the Masterworks restoration is, again, top notch.
This is a volume essential to any collection, especially fans of Namor. The price has been creeping up and stocks appear to be dwindling. Do yourself a favor a pick this one up from a reseller while the price is still low.