Jonathan, son of Kevin:
The Small Lebowsky:
Issue(s): Namor #42, Namor #43
This is obviously a very exclusive form of outrage that not many people can share. I tried to tell my partner Min about it, but she couldn't get past "Ha ha, Dr. Dork-Us", which was not helpful. But Dorcas was a minor evil scientist type character who died back in the 1970s. There would be no reason to bring him back as a goofy super-villain.
Anyway, as it turns out, this is really a robot duplicate of Dr. Dorcas. This is revealed at the very end, through some art that isn't all that clear. I half-wonder if the script was revised to make him a robot after an editor decided that they didn't want Dorcas brought back, but a) it's not like editors cared about stuff at this point and b) it's not like anyone but me would think it was a bad idea to bring him back.
So the Dorcas-bot kidnaps Diane because he's apparently obsessively in love with her and wants to turn her into a weaker version of Tiger Shark so they can be together. Stingray goes to Namor for help. They fight Dorcas...
...and then Orka. It's all depicted in art by M.C. Wyman where he seems to be trying to out-Image Image (could be Orka's fin, but the art reminds me of a bad Erik Larsen).
Orka is described as by being "restored to life" by Dorcas, which makes it sounds like he hasn't been appearing regularly over the years. Maybe it was meant to be a clue that Dorcas was a robot, but Namor's surprise indicates otherwise.
At one point Namor punches Orka in the teeth, smashing them.
But his teeth seem fine later.
The one good thing i will say about the art is that Wyman isn't trying to imitate Jae Lee the way previous post-Lee artists have been doing. Namor has retained his long hair - in a pony tail now - but he otherwise is recognizable as the Namor of old (assuming you filter for the 90s).
As for the writing, only Roy Thomas can have a character make a bad pun like this:
How convenient that the "precise extent" of Stingray's voltage lines up with a relevant novel title. Generally, though, you can write off all the bad characterization of Dorcas as being because he's a robot. So the story really falls into the "mostly harmless" category. Which isn't to say it's any good. It's actually really strange to have a long dead very minor villain show up and then reveal he's just a robot, and then kill it off.
Orka is knocked out, and he falls on Dorcas, crushing him. This parallels Dorcas' original death, when he was crushed by an "Octo-Mek". This Dorcas' story was that after he was seemingly killed, his Octo-Meks rebuilt him as a cyborg. But it's now that Namor discovers that he was really a robot that thought it was the real Dorcas.
For a while now we've been seeing Atlanteans talk to each other while underwater via something like thought bubbles. I've never been clear on whether it's some sort of telepathy or some Atlantean language. I've even theorized that it's partially a mix of body language and gestures and the like. But in this story Namor is able to communicate to Stingray (who is using some kind of loudspeaker himself).
Not sure if that proves anything but i wanted to put it out there.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Next issue is an out-of-continuity adaptation of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and isn't included in my project.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Of course Dorcas was eventually brought back to life for real in 2012, in an issue of Thunderbolts. No one ever stays dead at Marvel.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 23, 2017 4:44 PM
#42 was my first issue of a Namor or Sub-Mariner series. I remember wondering if Dorcas was the same guy who piloted the Mech. Taco in the Avengers arcade game (which is an octopus, by the way, not a food item). I wrote him off as a half-assed Doc Ock regardless, though Orka made a positive impression.
Posted by: Mortificator | February 23, 2017 5:24 PM
Umm... on the splash page of issue 43 Diane totally isn't wearing any pants. The CCA clearly was asleep at the job here. Not that I'm objecting...
Posted by: Andrew | February 23, 2017 7:25 PM
Shit, no, i think someone was having fun with whoever scanned my digital copy. I've replaced that image with a scan from my hard copy.
Whoever did that did it to all the images of Diane in issue #43, and i avoided using those shots but missed that one. She's barely wearing anything anyway, so they might have been making a point or were just taking advantage of it.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 23, 2017 7:36 PM
Aww... you ruin all my fun...
Posted by: Andrew | February 23, 2017 7:49 PM
Note that Stingray and Diane have kids this story- the first time that's been mentioned.
Posted by: Michael | February 23, 2017 8:52 PM
I picked up these issues last year in order to complete my collection of Stingray appearances but cringed at the covers. Diane Arliss Newell went from being eye candy during her Avengers appearances to your stereotypical, Image-ized Hot Babe in Undress by the time the 90s had hit the industry. I do have to admit that Roy Thomas adapted to the times quite flawlessly.
Posted by: Clutch | February 24, 2017 10:56 AM
Another way they are out-Imaging Image here, Dorkus is clearly a Ripclaw/Warblade ripoff, who themselves were ripoffs in the first place.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | February 24, 2017 10:58 AM
What is it with 90s comics and everyone having either ponytails or the Gideon look of shaved heads with ponytails?
Posted by: Bob | February 24, 2017 11:45 AM
@Bob: Maybe because ponytails were "kewl", but regular hair was hard to draw. So they just combined the cool hair with the easiest-to-draw hair (ie none)?
Posted by: Austin Gorton | March 2, 2017 9:28 AM
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