Marvel Masterworks: Sub-Mariner – Volume 3
Pros: Some really good artwork, action
Cons: Storytelling has rough spots, some people may not care for Namor
Namor the Sub-Mariner has just suffered a defeat to an enemy by the name of Destiny, which lead to the man escaping with the Helmet of Power which grants him superhuman abilities. Namor is in a destructive rage as he sets off after Destiny vowing revenge. -summary
Namor is one of the more under-appreciated characters under the Marvel banner and always has been. I have two guesses to this; one is probably because many people never really grew a liking to his underwater fantasy adventurers because his rogues gallery was kind of lacking when compared to many other characters. Plus, like Dr. Strange his world does feel quite different from the city roaming heroes. The second is more than likely due to his attitude. Namor feels more like an anti-hero, and to a certain degree a villain when looking at some of the company he kept; but Namor’s attitude was definitely an issue because his temper either caused his problems or made them worse. He wasn’t the goody-goody Cap or Spidey type, and that put people I know off. In any case, he was a character that I felt much later on, but coming back to some of these older stories helps me appreciate his earlier run. This TPB collects Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner issues 2 – 13, and continues his own running series, in which he earlier shared the Tales to Astonish title with the Hulk.
Namor’s character is either a like or don’t like for the most part. He seems more driven by personal pride and issues, and sometimes even hesitates to bother helping mankind because he simply cannot stand humans; his inner musings are some times hilarious as he goes off about things concerning his enemies, and even how mankind gets on his nerves with polluting their own waters. I really couldn’t turn too many pages without being thoroughly entertained in some way. The plot follows Namor as he begins his search for Destiny, which lands him in encounters with Plant-Man, as well as one of the Inhuman named Triton. These first issues are fun with a pretty good fight between Namor and Triton that begins underwater then makes it to shore.
The story arc concerning the Helmet of Power takes up the entire book which finds Namor in a slugfest with the Thing. Then later one of his future nemesis’ makes his debut in the form of Tiger Shark, and this is some really good slugfesting fun.
While the story is fairly well paced with plenty of things happening, it gives off a rather madcap like feel, as if writer Roy Thomas is just making up things as he goes along. At times it feels unfocused even though there’s a path leading somewhere; but I really can’t knock it much since it was rarely boring for me.
John Buscema, Marie Sullivan, and Gene Colan deliver some entertaining pencils with nice underwater backgrounds, fairly decent character designs, and some good hard hitting action. While the battle with the Thing has gone down as a classic, and one of the greatest slugfests to many. I lean towards the fight with Tiger Shark as being my favorite of the two. The art displays him as being quite powerful and I found it to be better written as a good confrontation.
This is a TPB that I can definitely recommend and it’s a pretty good starting point. However, unlike let’s say the early Thor (especially), Iron Man, and Fantastic Four volumes. I would recommend going back to the earlier volumes at some point, especially to see Namor’s memorable clash with the Hulk in the last volume, which took place in Tales to Astonish issue 100. If one still has no interest in Sub-Mariner but wishes to read that fight, it can also be found in Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk Vol. 3.