Issue(s): Sub-Mariner #44, Sub-Mariner #45, Sub-Mariner #46
This three-parter (or two-and-a-half parter, i guess) concludes the quest for Namor's father, which he's kinda sorta been on since issue #39. We all know that Sub-Mariner quests never happen in a straight line - don't ever go on a road trip with this guy or you'll be stopping at every rest stop and scenic overlook on the way - but at least this ends with a much more conventional story than we've been seeing in the book lately.
To be clear, i'm not advocating that Marvel books ought to always be conventional, but when early Gerry Conway is writing, the simpler the plot the better.
As it is, issue #44 is mostly set-up, with Johnny Storm arriving in Boston to "get away", and acting like an ass to a poor hippie.
Namor is meanwhile still on the run from the police, but he's not in the right frame of mind to interpret the appearance of the Human Torch as a positive development.
Then Tiger Shark and Llyra (and Tiger Shark's loyal henchman, Lymondo) raise a sea monster named Krago ("he who sleeps"), who Namor has apparently faced before but this is its only published appearance...
...and the Human Torch interferes again, and gets beaten back by Llyra's spacecraft.
Tiger Shark is losing his powers, and needs Llyra's Lemurian technology, and Namor's body, to revive them. But their relationship isn't exactly cordial.
They do have a nifty signal light, though.
While Namor goes back into hiding, Johnny meets up with Diane Arliss and learns that Namor is looking for his father.
When Llyra lights the Lemurian signal, though, Namor goes after her spacecraft. Johnny weirdly shows up saying "Namor, don't do it! There's gotta be a better way, man!". Namor is fighting back against a weird UFO that previously attacked the Torch. I don't understand why the Torch has a problem with that.
Anyway, that distracts Namor enough for the Tiger Shark to shoot Namor...
...and then the villains kidnap Diane and probe her mind, learning about Namor's father. As Namor inevitably turns on the Human Torch...
...Johnny thinks to himself "Lord, now I know how the others feel about me!" and "This is what makes the others angry -- this crazy inability to listen!". It's meant as character development for the Human Torch, but since it's the Torch's actions that are inexplicable here - Namor's anger is perfectly justified - it works better as irony. Johnny isn't really learning anything here.
While Namor was beating the crap out of the Torch, Tiger Shark and Lymondo were locating and kidnapping Captain MacKenzie. Diane Arliss is then released to bait Namor.
Namor arrives on Llyra's ship...
...and initially refuses to let the capture of his father cow him. He winds up in a fight with Tiger Shark. It turns out that Llyra wasn't aware of Tiger Shark's power loss, because she attempts to help by pushing the fight into the water...
...where his loss of powers becomes apparent.
Ultimately, though, Namor is captured and put into the machine that restores Tiger Shark's strength.
It temporarily drains Namor's strength as well, although not as much as everyone anticipated. The very old Leonard MacKenzie does get a few moments with his son.
Meanwhile, the Human Torch decides to cut his losses and return home.
But Walter Newell, who had been helping Diane Arliss look for Namor's father, gets into his Stingray costume...
...and heads off to help Namor.
However, in the final battle, Namor's father is killed by Tiger Shark.
Namor's response is not quite what you'd expect...
...and we'll learn in the next arc that the trauma from his father's death (which, remember, is right on top of the death of Lady Dorma) has pushed him over the edge and given him amnesia.
I guess keeping Namor's father alive would have been a bit of a dead end plotwise (he made Aunt May look spry), but it seems cruel to bring him into the series only to kill him, and equally cruel to Namor. The whole concept of having Namor connect with his human heritage now that he's given up Atlantis seems to have been abandoned.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Human Torch references his appearance here in Fantastic Four #117, placing this between FF #116-117.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
These issues do a good job of establishing Llyra as Namor's ultimate nemesis. She causes the deaths of Dorma, Namor's dad and Namora in rapid succession. It's a pity she's not used as a Namor foe more often.
Posted by: Michael | February 24, 2013 4:41 PM
Llyra also makes for a good foil to Namor, since she's more apt to use manipulation than brute force and originally had a schizoid split between her "human" and "Lemurian/Atlantean" sides. Technically, she's a U.S. citizen, assuming her "Laura Morris" identity is still a secret. (As I haven't read most of her appearances, could someone tell me whether Llyra's split personality gimmick was ever reused or resolved?)
It's kind of a shame she ended up getting tangled with the whole "worshipper of Set" thing and later being overshadowed by Llyron, who's much more of a flat "evil Namor" concept.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | March 28, 2016 3:24 PM
AFAIK, Llyra's split personality gimmick was never reused after her first appearance.
Posted by: Michael | March 28, 2016 8:22 PM
That ending seems rushed and when isn't storyline development cruel to Namor? Whether it's this issue or when Dorma is killed, or when Byrne puts him through the ringer, writers always give Namor a reason to be sullen.
Posted by: Wis | November 23, 2016 4:56 AM
Did Gene Colan draw the story with Capt. McKenzie's death scene? It occurs to me that Colan's infamous habit of having to rush the ending to tie up the plot may have forced the script to make it more abrupt, if that makes sense....
Posted by: Wis | January 13, 2018 12:01 AM
Yes, Capt. McKenzie dies in #46 which is drawn by Gene Colan.
I wonder if Llyra might be the most murderous villainess to date, at this early point in Marvel continuity. She's not nice.
Posted by: Holt | January 13, 2018 12:24 AM
What I mean to say is, fnord observes how abrupt and quick the ending is with Namor's reaction to his Father's death. I believe this is an example of Colon's habit of not looking at the script in advance and stretching out the story with splash pages- therefore, needing to rush to the story's conclusion. In reality, Namor's reaction to his father's death should be much longer than three panels, you'd think!
Posted by: Wis | January 13, 2018 2:42 AM
I know what you mean and it does make sense. Odds are this story was plotted according to the Marvel method, without a full script, leaving Colan solely responsible for all or most of the pacing considerations and decisions. Some artists were better at this than others. If I was in Colan's place, I'd want to plot the story out in advance, either with throwaway thumbnails or short page descriptions, but this would take time, and artists often had deadline rushes to contend with. More focused artists like Kirby could probably plot the whole thing out in their heads before drawing anything, but not every artist could do that so effectively. This may be part of the reason why the Marvel method ultimately didn't become more popular-- I don't think many comics are still produced that way nowadays.
Posted by: Holt | January 13, 2018 9:03 AM
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