What’s the Deal with Namor?
As any old-timers are sure to remember, back in the nineties we didn’t really have the internet. Certainty, we didn’t have it in the capacity that we do today, and even in the early 2000s, when I had my comics renaissance and started collecting hardcore again, we still didn’t really have the imediate access to absolutely any and all information that we have today. As a result, I never really knew what the deal with Namor was.
Namor, I have just now learned, actually had his first appearance in Marvel Comics #1, in 1939, before Marvel was even the official name of the company. His fight with the original Human Torch, the android (who is another character I know nothing about, since he is never mentioned these days, and who may or may not have been a predecessor of The Vision if I recall correctly, and who I’ll talk about again when I get a chance to write about Avengers Forever), was one of the first superhero crossover stories. He, along with Captain America, is one of the oldest Marvel Characters. He is sometimes referred to as ‘The First Mutant”, which I always thought was kind of odd, because I was never really sure if he was a mutant or a member of some other race or just a fishy jerk or what.
Who are these goons, and who are these people that he is the prince of? If he’s a mutant, and his powers include breathing underwater and the ability to physically withstand the crushing pressure at the bottom of the ocean, then are all of these blue guys, and in fact, the entire empire of Atlantis mutants? Wouldn’t they just be considered another race at that point, and would Namor not be considered a human mutant? He also has a strong dislike for ‘airbreathers’ and ‘landwalkers’, and wouldn’t be someone who’d be likely to get caught up in the human/ mutant conflict on the surface.
And here, we see that his powers of flight come from those cute little wings on his feet. So what’s his deal? Is he a mutant? Are all of the atlanteans mutants, or another species under the ‘homo’ genus? Well, as my internet research this evening has turned up, the people of the empire of Atlantis are, in fact, a subspecies called homo mermanus, and that the water breathing and resistance to water pressure are abilities unique to their race. Namor is the son of one of their princesses and a human sea captain (isn’t that always the case). Namor’s mutant abilities are his winged feet and fantastic strength. I still think it’s kind of fishy (ha ha) to call him a mutant when he already has the head start of being half mermanus, but pedigree aside, that’s his deal. He’s a half-human Atlantean prince and the first mutant and a first class asshole.
Other than X-Men #6, my most recent experiences with him were in the bits and pieces of Civil War that I read, where he was a member of the ‘Marvel Illuminati’ and still being as much of a jerk as ever.
You know who was a cool Namor? This guy: