Undersea hero makes movie debut

From the Nov. 11, 2022, edition of The Oklahoman


One of Marvel Comics’ very first heroes finally makes his debut in a Marvel film with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Namor the Sub-Mariner, is played by Tenoch Huerta in the film.

In the film, Namor is at odds with Wakanda, as many of the characters from the first film seek to protect the African nation from intervening world powers. 

In the comics, Namor has been hero, antihero and villain, depending on one’s point of view, since his debut back in 1939.

Bill Everett was the writer-artist who created the Sub-Mariner. Everett was said to be a distant relative of poet William Blake, among other notables, and years later co-created the Marvel Comics character Daredevil with Stan Lee.  

Namor was the leader of an undersea nation and was one of Timely Comics’ most popular characters. In the 1940s, Timely’s top draws were Sub-Mariner, Captain America, and the original Human Torch. Timely later became known as Marvel Comics.   

Namor frequently sought revenge on the “surface dwellers” when pollution or other mishaps endangered his undersea kingdom. But he also fought on the side of the heroes at times. The 1970s series, The Invaders, was set during the 1940s and featured Namor working with the Human Torch, Captain America, and others to defeat the Nazis.  

Namor’s super strength and flight abilities make him a devastating foe on land; under the sea he is even more of a challenge for heroes and villains alike to overcome.  

In the 1960s Marvel era, Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four found a lost and amnesiac Namor wandering the streets. Regaining his memory and identity, he became first an antagonist to the Fantastic Four to eventually a sometime ally and member of the Avengers, Defenders and X-Men. 

His creator, Bill Everett, returned to draw some of the character’s adventures. Namor appeared both as a co-lead of “Tales to Astonish” with the Hulk, and later in his own title, which ran 72 issues, eclipsing the 42 issues of his Golden Age run. 

The 1980s saw Namor as an Avenger and as the star of two mini-series. 

In the 1990s, noted writer/artist John Byrne (“Uncanny X-Men,” “Superman”) took on the Sub-Mariner for a new series, “Namor,” in which the character mixed superheroes with being a corporate titan aiming for environmental policies. 

In recent years, Namor has bounced between his own series and teaming up with the X-Men. 

In his latest comic series, “Namor The Submariner: Conquered Shores,” it’s a century in the future and much of the planet is underwater following a war with the alien Kree empire. Now, Namor, who rules all that is undersea, is essentially the world’s monarch in this series by writer Christopher Cantwell (“Iron Man”) and artist Pasqual Ferry. While he wants to save what’s left of humanity, not everyone wants him to succeed. 

“Conquered Shores” #2 hits comic-book stands Nov. 16.  

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” opens in theaters this week. 

Matthew Price, matthew@matthewLprice.com, has written about the comics industry for more than two decades. He is the co-owner of Speeding Bullet Comics in Norman.

Namor the Sub-Mariner, played by Tenoch Huerta in the film, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” [Disney]

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