Who is Namor in Marvel? Marvel’s first superhero was Namor the Sub-Mariner, the haughty prince of Atlantis. A strong-willed leader with impressive powers, Namor has been a Marvel mainstay since his debut in Marvel Comics #1, written, penciled, and inked by Bill Everett.
Namor is a heroic character whose arrogance and desire to protect Atlantis have historically led him into conflict with a few Marvel superheroes. Namor’s greatest foes stand on both sides as he’s also been seen as a hero and a villain over the years. The Atlantean antihero’s MCU debut raised Namor’s notoriety to levels not seen since the 1940s.
Updated on April 27, 2023, by Scoot Allan: The MCU reimagined the classic character of Namor the Sub-Mariner for his live-action debut in 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The sequel explored the ongoing rivalry between Namor and Black Panther that fueled the war between their kingdoms. Of course, Black Panther isn’t Namor’s only enemy in the comics.
Who is Namor in Marvel?
A fictitious character called Namor the Sub-Mariner can be found in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The mutant offspring of a human sea captain and a princess from the fabled underwater country of Atlantis, Namor is endowed with several superhuman skills in addition to the superstrength and aquatic prowess of the Homo mermanus race. He also has the ability to fly.
Author-artist Bill Everett developed Namor, who made his screenplay debut in Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 (April 1939), a publication that was never made available to the general audience. In Marvel Comics #1 (October 1939), the first comic book published by Timely Comics—the business that would later become Marvel Comics—he made his public appearance.
Namor is a complicated, frequently contradictory figure. Though he has a great affection for the surface world, he is also extremely proud of his Atlantean ancestry. Throughout the years, he has alternated between being a hero and a villain based on his own objectives and the needs of his people.
One of the strongest characters in the Marvel Universe is Namor. In addition to swimming over 300 miles per hour, he can lift more than 100 tons. He is also resistant to the majority of physical injuries.
Namor is a member of the Illuminati, a covert organization of superheroes that decides crucial matters pertaining to the future of the planet. In addition, he was a founding member of the superhero team known as the Defenders, whose job it is to defend Earth against supernatural dangers.
Namor is an intriguing, multifaceted guy with a lengthy past. Being one of the most recognizable superheroes in the Marvel Universe, he still has a significant impact on the narratives that Marvel produces.
The Atlantean Origins of Marvel’s Namor the Sub-Mariner
Namor made his first appearance long before the MCU or Black Panther 2 was even a thought. Namor first appeared in Marvel Comics #1, published in August 1939. His creator was legendary writer/artist Bill Everett, who would later co-create Daredevil with Stan Lee nearly 25 years later. That issue also saw the introduction of the original Human Torch, who was often Namor’s rival, and also a frequent ally. This makes both Namor and the Torch Marvel Comic’s first superheroes, predating Captain America by a full year.
Namor’s origin story tells that he is the son of a human sea captain, Leonard McKenzie, and an escaped Atlantean princess, Fen. (So yes, Namor’s full name is Namor McKenzie). Due to his hybrid DNA, Namor possesses a slew of powers. Among Namor’s abilities is the power to breathe underwater like an Atlantean, though his skin is not blue like theirs. He is also ten times stronger than any Atlantean or human and has telepathic control over sea life and even his own soldiers. Unlike Atlanteans or humans, he can fly, thanks to the wings on his feet.
But since Atlanteans raised him, he didn’t see himself as human and rejected that side of his heritage. Nevertheless, because of his non-blue skin, he faced prejudice from his fellow Atlanteans as a child, giving Namor a massive chip on his shoulder. And an attitude to go with it. He had one companion in this predicament, his cousin Namora. She was also of mixed heritage and made Namor feel less alone. An MCU-version of Namora will also appear alongside Namor in Black Panther 2, but we don’t know too many details about the role she’ll play.
Namor the Sub-Mariner Enters World War II
In his first stories, Namor was an angry crusader emerging from the depths of the ocean who would attack American sea vessels without compunction. He hated the way “surface dwellers” were polluting the seas and took violent action against them any chance he got.
He even nearly flooded all of Manhattan once, but the original Human Torch stopped him. His costume, for lack of a better word, was just a pair of skimpy swimming trunks, which was pretty risqué for the time. We’re glad to see the MCU kept Namor’s classic look for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Once America entered the war effort, Namor began to battle the Axis powers with other heroes, thus making him officially a “good guy.” Aside from appearing in anthology books like Marvel Mystery Comics, he also headlined his own Sub-Mariner series.
As part of the All-Winners Squad, he fought alongside Captain America. This forged an unlikely friendship between these two polar opposites that lasted decades. But after the war, superheroes lost their luster. Many superhero books lost sales, and Namor went away in 1949. Aside from a brief revival in the ‘50s, Namor was MIA from comics…until the Marvel Age began in earnest.
The Marvel Age of Comics and Namor the Sub-Mariner
Although there were titles named “Marvel Comics” going back to 1939, the publisher kept changing names. They were known as Timely Comics, then Atlas. In 1961, the publisher officially became Marvel Comics with the publication of Fantastic Four #1. In the fourth issue, Johnny Storm, the new Human Torch, found a bearded homeless man with amnesia he recognized as Namor. By tossing him in the ocean, he restored Namor’s memories, and the Sub-Mariner was back in business.
Namor often fought the Fantastic Four and even teamed up with their arch-enemy Doctor Doom. But he also helped them out on several occasions too. He was definitely romantically interested in Susan Storm, the Invisible Woman. But as she was engaged to team leader Reed Richards, she always rebuffed his advances despite clearly being attracted to the handsome Atlantean Prince. (That never stopped him from trying, though). This flirtation would go on for decades.
In 1968, Namor proved so popular in his revival that he earned his own series again, Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, which lasted until 1974. Here, Marvel Comics expanded his mythology significantly. He got a modern roster of villains all his own, like the Atlantean warlord Attuma, Krang, and Tiger Shark. Attuma would become Namor’s biggest enemy, coming to blows with the Atlantean Prince on several occasions. During this era, Namor even received a battle cry, shouting “Imperius Rex!” like a cinematic Roman soldier. This all fit because Namor’s name was the word “Roman” backward.
Is Namor a Hero or Villain in Marvel Comics? Why Not Both?
The Sub-Mariner became one of the most valuable characters in the Marvel universe from that point forward. He was a lead character in Doctor Strange’s team book The Defenders for much of that title’s long run. There, Namor forged a unique bond with the Hulk since they both hated humanity in equal measure. Then in the ‘80s, he was also an Avenger for several years. While on the team, he often butted heads with fellow member (and equally arrogant royal) Hercules
But Namor also menaced the Marvel Universe whenever he was in a foul mood and teamed up with villains if it suited him. He co-headlined the series Super Villain Team-Up with Doctor Doom. Sometimes, he’d work with Magneto, then turn on him on a dime. You just never knew where Namor was going to land in the hero/villain spectrum, which made him an exciting wild card.
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