Thursday, June 9, 2011

Character Spotlight: Namora

Marvel Mystery Comics #82
(May 1947)
My first character spotlight falls on the Atlantean princess Namora (kissin' cousin of Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner).

Arguably one of the best golden age revivals of recent years is Jeff Parker's original Agents of Atlas (2006), which features six largely forgotten characters from the late 1940s (Timely Comics) and early 1950s (Atlas Comics). And the best of those returning characters is Namora (don't bother debating that point with me).

Namora debuts in the Sub-Mariner story in Marvel Mystery Comics #82 ("The Coming of Namora," May 1947). In true super-hero fashion, her origin story involves the death of her father and vengeance against the criminal responsible. Despite a few salty tears (more so for being shed under water), she is just as tough and brave as the Sub-Mariner.

If a tear falls in the ocean,
does anyone see it?
Notably, she is not identified as Namor's cousin but simply as a member of the royal court -- one he doesn't know. Only later will their familial relationship be established, going so far as to make them childhood playmates. Namor doesn't recognize her right away in Marvel Mystery Comics #82 because they haven't seen each other in many years.

The story is also the only time she uses her real name -- Aquaria Nautica Neptunia -- during the Golden Age. She chooses to call herself Namora (an Atlantean word meaning "avenging daughter") when the Sub-Mariner agrees to work with her to track down her father's killer.

Namora #1 (Aug 1948)
Over time, we learn that Namora, like her cousin, is a human/Atlantean hybrid. As a result, she has enhanced strength and stamina, distinctive ankle wings (sometimes interpreted as fins) and the power of flight. She is fiercely loyal to her friends and allies but prone to violent outbursts. Her passionate nature is evident in both love and war. Her known suitors, past and present, include Talan (her only known husband), Sergei Kravinoff, Hercules, Namor and Jimmy Woo.

Following her initial appearance in Marvel Mystery Comics #82, she becomes a steady presence in Sub-Mariner Comics, generally appearing in at least one story per issue. She also guest stars in many Sub-Mariner stories in Blonde Phantom Comics, Captain America Comics, Human Torch, Men's Adventures, Young Men and more issues of Marvel Mystery Comics and headlines her own short-lived series in 1948.

Namora as fish out of water
in "Doomed in the Desert"
(Namora #2, Oct. 1948)
While her first chronological appearance is published in May 1947, the Sub-Mariner story in Human Torch #29 ("The Pirates of the China Sea," Winter 1947) suggests an earlier time frame. Namora is already Namor's partner in the flashback sequence, which occurs "almost two years" before the framing story, placing the start of her partnership with Namor as early as 1945. (Yes, I'm a continuity freak. Don't hold it against me.)

Namora figures prominently in one of the longest running myths about the Golden Age. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide includes, as it has for many years, a notation claiming that Namora, Golden Girl and Sun Girl share a crossover adventure in Marvel Mystery Comics #88. I have a copy of the issue in question, and no such story is included. But wouldn't it be nice if someone produced that "missing" story?

The Avengers Initiative
(1959 vintage)
Namora's final Golden Age appearance consists of a single panel in Sub-Mariner Comics #42 ("Invasion!!", Oct 1955). She will not be seen again until 1972, in Sub-Mariner #50 ("Who Am I?", June 1972), and only then as an ice-entombed corpse. The circumstances of her death are revealed in the following issue, in a brief flashback sequence. For the next 34 years, she is relegated to flashbacks, alternative realities and retroactive continuity (retcons) -- until she makes a big comeback with the Agents of Atlas. (Like any Golden Age character worth their salt, she wasn't dead after all, merely in suspended animation.)

Five years into her revival, Namora is firmly ensconced in modern Marvel continuity. She crosses paths (and locked horns) with Avengers, X-Men and Thunderbolts and always holds her own. She joins the Renegades in supporting the Hulk went he goes to war against the world. And a recent retcon in New Avengers reveals her involvement with the previously unknown Avengers Initiative, a group of post-war Nazi hunters whose first mission has implications in the present.

While not appearing in a current ongoing series, she and the other Agents of Atlas do appear in the first four issues of Fear Itself: The Home Front.

What does the future hold for Namora? Given her growing connections to the heavy hitters of the Marvel Universe, the possibilities seem endless.


_ Blonde Phantom Comics #14 (Summer 1947) - "The Brain Strikes Back!"
_ Blonde Phantom Comics #15 (Fall 1947) - "Death Deals in Stamps!"
_ Blonde Phantom Comics #17 (Spring 1948) - "Deep Sea Swindle!"
_ Blonde Phantom Comics #18 (Jul 1948) - "Terror of the Tattler!"
_ Blonde Phantom Comics #19 (Sep 1948) - "The Playboy Killer"
_ Blonde Phantom Comics #20 (Nov 1948) - "Science Says No"
_ Captain America Comics #68 (Sep 1948) - "My Son is a Thief"
_ Captain America Comics #70 (Jan 1949) - "Scavengers of the Desert"
_ Human Torch #28 (Fall 1947) - "Case of the Bends"
_ Human Torch #29 (Winter 1947) - "The Pirates of the China Sea"
_ Human Torch #30 (May 1948) - "The Beast of the Bowery Barge"
_ Human Torch #31 (Jul 1948) - "Troubadour of Terror"
_ Human Torch #32 (Sep 1948) - "The Roulette of Destiny"
_ Human Torch #37 (Jun 1954) - "The Rapture of the Depths"
_ Marvel Mystery Comics #82 (May 1947) - "The Coming of Namora!"
_ Marvel Mystery Comics #84 (Oct 1947) - "Case of the Vanishing Venuses"
_ Marvel Mystery Comics #85 (Feb 1948) - "Blackbeard...Scourge of the Seas!"
_ Marvel Mystery Comics #86 (Jun 1948) - "The Case of the Disappearing Watchman!"
_ Marvel Mystery Comics #87 (Aug 1948) - "The Lost Atoll"
_ Marvel Mystery Comics #88 (Oct 1948) - "Black Oil of Doom"
_ Marvel Mystery Comics #90 (Feb 1949) - "War-Cry of the Jungle"
_ Marvel Mystery Comics #91 (Apr 1949) - "Terror at Sea" 
_ Men's Adventures #27 (May 1954) - "The Ship That Vanished"
_ Men's Adventures #28 (Jul 1954) - "Killer Whales"
_ Namora #1 (Aug 1948) - "The Lost City of Yucatan!" / "The Kingdom Beneath the Sea" / "Shadow Over Shanghai!"
_ Namora #2 (Oct 1948) - "Terror in Turkey!" / "Doomed in the Desert!" / "Dressed to Kill!"
_ Namora #3 (Dec 1948) - "The Mystery of the Sleeping Ship" / "The Last of the Vikings" / "Terror Rides the Waves"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #23 (Summer 1947) - "Trophies of Terror"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #24 (Winter 1947) - "Viking's Vengeance" / "The Harbor of Madmen!"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #25 (Spring 1948) - "Firebrand, the Scourge of the Pacific" / "Murder Through the Mind"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #26 (Jun 1948) - "Murder Motor Mart" / "Terror in the Lost Colony"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #27 (Aug 1948) - "The Case of the Frantic Fisherman" / "Monument to Murder"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #28 (Oct 1948) - "A Case of King's Ransom" / "Kids! Kids! Kids!" / "Crime Makes the Writer"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #29 (Dec 1948) - "The Mystery of the Pirate's Cove" / "The Deadly Game of Captain Black" / "The Professor and the Mermaid"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #30 (Feb 1939) - "Doom from the Sun" / "Slaves Under the Sea"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #34 (Jun 1954) - "Betty Dean's Rivalry with Namora"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #35 (Aug 1954) - "Invasion!"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #36 (Oct 1954) - "The Hidden World!" / "War of the Poles"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #37 (Dec 1954) - "Wham!"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #38 (Feb 1955) - "The Sub-Mariner Strikes!"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #39 (Apr 1955) - "The Sub-Mariner Gets a Lesson in Humility from Namora!"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #40 (Jun 1955) - "The Sub-Mariner Meets a New Enemy….Fire!" / "The Sub-Mariner and the Icebergs"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #41 (Aug 1955) - "The Big Freeze!"
_ Sub-Mariner Comics #42 (Oct 1955) - "Invasion!!"
_ Young Men #27 (Apr 1954) - "The Treasure of Captain Derelict"


Namora #2
(Oct 1948)

Namora #3
(Dec 1948)

Sub-Mariner Comics #24
(Winter 1947)

Sub-Mariner Comics #25
(Spring 1948)

Sub-Mariner Comics #26
(June 1948)

Sub-Mariner Comics #27
(Aug 1948)

Sub-Mariner Comics #28
(Oct 1948)

Sub-Mariner Comics #29
(Dec 1948)

Sub-Mariner Comics #34
(June 1954)

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