Tales To Astonish #70-76 (Sub-Mariner)
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #70, Tales To Astonish #71, Tales To Astonish #72, Tales To Astonish #73, Tales To Astonish #74, Tales To Astonish #75, Tales To Astonish #76 (Sub-Mariner stories only)
The epic feel is enhanced by the art of Gene Colan, credited throughout these issues under the pseudonym Adam Austin (but updated to his real name in the reprints).
The story picks up soon after we last saw the Sub-Mariner, in Daredevil #7. In that issue, Krang goaded Namor into a fruitless endeavor on the surface world, and while Namor was away, Krang started a civil war. Namor headed home after he found out that Krang had betrayed him and that's where we start here.
Namor arrives back in Atlantis to learn that Krang is already on the throne...
...and he is captured and thrown into prison (To explain how the much more powerful Namor could be held by regular Atlanteans, he was defeated by a "Hydro-Ray" and the prison was designed by Namor himself).
Namor is freed by Lady Dorma, who is hopelessly in love with him although he does not at this point reciprocate.
Namor's hope is to find the Trident of Neptune, which will prove that he's Atlantis' true ruler and rally his people to him.
Acquiring the Trident requires multiple trials, including a fight with a squid...
...a "Seaweed Man"...
...and a Demon of the Diamonds...
...as well as encountering other oddities...
...and Krang's troops.
Meanwhile, Krang, aware of Dorma's treachery, imprisons her...
...and has her sent to the lair of the Faceless Ones.
Luckily, the final challenge in Namor's quest is to for him to seemingly give up his quest in order to rescue someone who loves him.
Namor returns home to find that his people are already rebelling against Krang, but they are held back by Krang's adorable Robot-Tank.
Namor is easily able to defeat Krang...
...and is restored to his throne.
Along the way, Namor meets an older Atlantean "from the outer reaches of Atlantis". The man tells Namor that most Atlanteans are still loyal to Namor, which bolsters his spirits.
When Namor is restored to the throne, he makes the old man, Vashti, his Vizier.
Krang is exiled from Atlantis.
Several times in this arc Namor's speed is described as being akin to a Tiger shark, interesting since Namor will eventually have a villain with that Name. He's also shown absorbing the strength of the fauna and flora around him (see the scan of him fighting the Diamond Demon above) and using a "human drill" ability.
Generally speaking, though, his powers are kept pretty basic and we don't see any of the strange sea-animal abilities (electric eel blasts, blowing up like a pufferfish) that we've seen in some of his previous Silver Age abilities. He also doesn't use much of Atlantis' advanced technology, which makes sense for this arc but is unfortunately part of a trend that downplays the fact that Atlantis is actually an advanced civilization compared to the surface world.
The story is pretty straightforward, following a standard "quest for several objects and then return to defeat the bad guy" formula, but it's done well and a lot of fun. The stories were reprinted in Sub-Mariner annuals #1-2, which is a convenient way to read the entire saga at once, although i feel bad for readers that had to wait a year for annual #2 to come out after reading the first half of the arc.
The arc ends with Atlantis experiencing earthquakes that Namor assumes are due to nuclear testing by the surface world.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This begins soon after the events in Daredevil #7. This story arc is referenced in Fantastic Four annual #3, saying that Namor was unaffected by Doom's emotion-charger ray due to the fact that he was deep underwater here. Unfortunately, Spider-Man/Fantastic Four #1 throws a monkey wrench in that chronology and instead i'm placing this so that Namor's quest is finished in time for him to appear in Spider-Man/Fantastic Four #1, and he's unavailable for Reed & Sue's wedding for another, undisclosed, reason.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Sub-Mariner annual #1, Sub-Mariner annual #2
Inbound References (6): show
The Diamond Demon seems to be incredibly double-jointed.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 8, 2012 7:06 PM
The Faceless Ones return in the 1990's Namor series, and in those issues, the artist actually drew them with faces.
Posted by: Michael | December 8, 2012 10:19 PM
if you ask me, everyone single person in Atlantis has been affected by some sort of emotion-charger ray. both Namor and Dorma are pretty insane in this run, swinging back from one extreme to another.
first, Namor shows up saying he's got to find Dorma. but when he finds her, he is a dick and tells her to get her hands off him.
oy. i think these two gave me whiplash.
in the end, he's naming Dorma as one of those whose loyalty has been proved and would never betray him. er...short-term memory a problem for the Sub-Mariner, is it? forgot all about how she betrayed you to Krang when you rejected her? yeah, she's totally not a bunny-boiling stalker.
Posted by: min | March 25, 2013 9:09 AM
These stories are better than the Giant-Man stories that they replaced.
Posted by: Steven | May 16, 2015 8:12 PM
@Steven - I agree they're way better than the Giant-Man stories, which were possibly the worst superhero comics Marvel was putting out at the time (rivaled only by Daredevil IMO). The scripting and art was just pedestrian in every way and the constant bickering between Hank and Jan was intolerable.
Posted by: Robert | February 16, 2016 1:42 PM
...It's hard to put a finger on, but there was something DC, in a bad way, about those early Ant Man/Giant Man features...
Posted by: BU | February 17, 2016 10:21 AM
Namor has gained a lot of weight. Here we've totally lost the look and feel of Kirby's Atlantis. Wish they could have put Wood on this. His Namor looked great in Daredevil #7.
Posted by: James Holt | August 22, 2016 12:41 AM
I liked this quest storyline, thinking it was a good way to launch Namor in his own series. I like Colan's work usually but this was not his best.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 1, 2016 7:55 PM
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