Spotlight On… Sub-Mariner #51

Namorita‘s second appearance ever is in Sub-Mariner #51! Nita appears on 16 pages and is a major factor to the plot. The issue contains her origin and a flashback to the “death” of her mother Namora. A pretty crucial issue to Namorita’s history. (Rather timely that we should be taking another look at this issue. Agents of Atlas #1 was released this week, featuring the return of Namora.)

sub-mariner-51Sub-Mariner #51
“Armageddon — At Fifty Fathoms Full!”

July 1972

-Writer: Mike Friedrich
-Penciler: Bill Everett
-Inker: Bill Everett
-Colorist: unknown (uncredited)
-Letterer: Jon Costa
-Cover artists: Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia
-Editor: Stan Lee (uncredited)
-Publisher: Martin Goodman (uncredited)

Cast:

Namorita, Sub-Mariner, Prince Byrrah, Brother Royale, mutant crabs, Badoon, with Namora & Llyra (in flashback only)

In Brief:

Prince Byrrah returns to rebuild shattered Atlantis under his rule, with or without Namor and Namorita’s help! And he’s brought friends – the conquering aliens, the Brotherhood of the Badoon, who are after the oil-springs beneath the ruins of Atlantis. Plus: the origin of Namorita!

Summary:

Prince Byrrah fired a warning shot over Namor and Namorita as a final warning to follow his commands in helping him rebuild Atlantis. Pushing Nita aside, Namor attacked Byrrah, disarming him. Nita joined in, but Namor feared she would get hurt and again pushed her out of the way. Without warning, Byrrah vanished. With a moment to rest, Namorita followed Namor to the oil spring that had swallowed up Llyra (in Sub-Mariner #50). He had hoped to find comfort in the death of his wife’s murderer, but found none. On their way back to the Antarctic ruins of Atlantis, she explained her past.

Soon after Namorita was born, Atlantis was destroyed by atomic fire from the surface world. Namor was missing and Nita’s father died in the carnage. Her mother Namora drifted for weeks with Nita, searching for a place to live. She found the Pacific kingdom of Lemuria, and met Llyra and Prince Merro. The affection of Merro soon became a source of great tension between the two women.

As Nita grew, she often saw them fight, and soon decided that love was not for her. One day, Namora died from poison. Nita suspected Llyra, but had no proof. During her mother’s funeral, Nita felt Llyra’s eyes on her, as if to challenge her to reveal her suspicions. She didn’t, and Llyra later married Prince Merro, who died just as mysteriously. Llyra inherited the throne and became Empress. Two years later, Byrrah arrived as an exile from Atlantis, and the two forged a pact: she would take him as her consort and the two would forge an empire after defeating the Sub-Mariner and conquering Atlantis. Nita heard them plot and wondered who Sub-Mariner was and why they hated him. Often she heard his name cursed by them.

One day, the two brought her and her mother’s body to the Atlantean ancestral home beneath Antarctica. Here, Nita stayed with Byrrah, her cruel ‘stepfather’, who set up mysterious machines he had gotten from a secret source. Llyra, who was eventually deposed as empress of Lemuria, would visit often to supervise the progress of Nita’s training. A month ago, she returned and ordered Nita to carry out her mission: travel north and find the Sub-Mariner or her mother’s body would be destroyed. She searched endlessly, eventually falling asleep from exhaustion, and even too fatigued to recognize her cousin when he found her adrift. She soon gave up her search and returned to Byrrah to become a hostage (again in Sub-Mariner #50).

Namor was impressed by her courage. As they passed the ruins of Atlantis, he was drawn to the imperial throne room and once again sat in the throne. Nita looked on and became awe-struck at her cousin’s regal presense. She thought that if this were love, she might like it after all.

Suddenly, a nearby oil spring began to erupt. Namor clogged it back up by shoving a large column into it. But without warning, Byrrah returned, again offering to join forces as he hid behind a protective force-field, powered by his force-belt. He told Namor of his allies, powerful aliens from space offering power in exchange for oil. Namor again declined and Byrrah again vanished.

Namorita became concerned about the pollution from the oil springs and took Namor to their source – a sunken naval supply ship from the surface world. Its radioactive cargo had seeped into the caverns and contaminated the oil reserves. Byrrah had discovered this and created an army of mutant crabs from the radioactive oil to serve as mindless slaves. Namor collected the explosives from the ship’s cargo hold and planted them to seal all of the caverns. Using parts of the ship, Namor capped off the springs so the explosion would be focused in the caverns. As they finished, Byrrah returned and led them to his mutant crabs in the caverns. As a battle began, a platoon of alien Badoon soldiers appeared and began shooting at everything in sight, including Byrrah, who was soon shot. Realizing he had been betrayed, he ordered his mutant crabs to attack the Badoon as he passed out. The Badoon were quickly overtaken because they could not stand the depths of the ocean for long. At Nita’s request, they fled with Byrrah to close the final opening to the caverns. Nita tended to Byrrah as Namor set off the explosions, killing the mutant crabs and Badoon soldiers and destroying oil within the caverns. Namor was ready to attack Byrrah again, but Nita convinced him to let him go since he was injured. Namor decides to set up shelter amid the ruins of Atlantis for the night.

(Namorita, last seen in Sub-Mariner #50 “Who Am I?”, appears next in Sub-Mariner #52 “Atomic Samurai!”)

Annotations: (Special thanks to Torch of Imperius Rex! and the Sub-Mariner Message Board)

  • Around the time he created Namorita, Bill Everett’s health was beginning to fail. To help assist Everett in meeting deadlines, Mike Friedrich was called in to assist with writing and scripting for several issues.
  • Namorita and her parents were living in the province of Maritanis when Atlantis was destroyed by earthquakes.
  • This issue was re-presented in Saga of the Sub-Mariner #11, page 15 – page 16, panel 5, from 1989. The mini-series, written by Roy Thomas, was an over-view of Namor’s past which occasionally updated, corrected, or clarified elements of the stories. Namor and Nita’s confrontation with Byrrah and the Badoon is not included or mentioned. Namorita’s origin, however, was given several interesting changes:
    • “I just noticed… you have small wings on your feet, like mine — making you more than the hybrid your mother was. Have you any idea why Namora’s daughter should be — a mutant?” This bit of dialogue contradicts all of Namora’s Golden Age appearances from the 1940s, as well as the few modern day appearances (notably, What If #9, Marvel: The Lost Generation #2 & 3, and the Agents of Atlas mini-series) where Namora was depicted with ankle wings.
    • Namorita’s father is given a name: Talan.
    • After Namor “split for ‘Atlantis South,'” most Atlanteans followed Byrrah north. But Nita’s parents went to live in Maritanis, which was later destroyed by nuclear weapons testing by surface men when Nita was three.
    • Nita’s mother didn’t tell her much about Namor, which was why Nita didn’t recognize him when they first ran into each other during her exhausting searches.
  • The Brotherhood of the Badoon, first appearing in Silver Surfer #2, will also tie into the early appearances of another future New Warrior – Vance Astrovik, aka Justice.
  • Namorita appeared on the cover of this issue, erroneously depicted as wearing a magenta bathing suit and gold necklace.

Reviews:

(from the letter column of Sub-Mariner #55)
To submit a review of your own, use the comments field below!
No postage required!

—-

Thank you for the last two issues (#’s 50 and 51) of SUB-MARINER. For a long while it seemed that Namor was destined, as a character, to continually drift from situation to situation – a seemingly endless and aimless series of events which, though it many instances memorable, left the Monarch of the Deep looking like someone who had wandered out of a Camus novel. Indeed, a great many Camusian overtones are in evidence in Namor’s recent adventures (or non-adventures): Namor the “stranger,” consigned to a meaningless existence, a pawn of outside forces forever finding himself caught up in circumstances not of his making. Namor the “rebel” – striking out at he knows not what, but attributing meaning to his existence by the very act of his rebellion.

But enough! Bill Everett and Mike Friedrich have come along to snatch our hero away from his existential angst, restoring him to that position of grandeur and exaltation that he formerly occupied in the world of comic fantasy. The art and scripting have never been better, and one thinks (and one hopes) that one detects signs that the epic scope that has so long typified Marvel’s many works will again shine in all its majestic splendor through upcoming issues of SUB-MARINER.

Namor sums it up well in his final remark in issue #51: “The night has been long.”

-Eric Kimball

—-

I really liked SUB-MARINER #50 and I loved #51! Maybe ten issues of dreary soul-searching set me up for it, but these last two issueswere actually fun to read! Corny a characteras she may be, the girl Nita brings a bright side to the series it never had before – I like her!

Namor is, by his very nature, moody, sullen, imperious, proud and nigh unto self-righteous, but he is also extremely sensitive and emotionally fragile once you get past his protetive outer shell.

Nita, on the other hand, seems unsinkable. She’s impulsive, optimistic, seemingly incapable of self-doubt – a sort of female Doug Fairbanks who’s managed to make it into the seventies intact.

Please don’t tie them up romantically, Namor is too much the visionary; she, too much the perpetual youth, not to mention their age difference and the fact that they happen to be related. But Namor alone is only half a man, he very truly needs a cause to fight for, a principle to defend. She is all he will never be: an innocent at the mercy of a callous world, and, for the time being at least, enough to lighten even Namor’s prodigous load of care.

Don’t turn her into a problem-laden Peter Parker or a dead Dorma – the lady’s in a class of her own!

-Jeffrey A. Brown

—-

The entire atmosphere which Bill Everett conjures is one akin to a dream (i.e., one being experienced by Namor). As an experiment, this style is acceptable. No, as said, B.E.’s style is suited for fantasy of the extreme, and not for the realm of the could-be (if the imagination were sufficiently stretched). But know that I blame the writer equally! Prince Byrrah’s facial type no longer, supposeldy, exists, and all his golden-age look-alikes are today politely ignored as part of the maturing stage of a comic-book. And those crabs! Who can believe their gleeful malevolence as is portrayed in the central panel of page 18? They are funny! And ridiculous as the bungling Badoon warriors (high intelligence? Is this a star trekking race?), as well as the immature, character-lacking, hand-waving, foot-stomping Badoon commander. Starship captains, everywhere, must feel the insult!

But I’m not condemning anyone. If you meant to present an exercise in the Everett fantasy tradition – bravo! But if this work was to be a continuance of the natural SUB-MARINER story flow, it was an extraordinary failure. And this regardless of Namorita, a young female I very much like.

Other than thanking you for bringing back Sun-fire, the X-Men’s oriental one-time foe, I have nothing else to say concerning the Sub-Mariner. And, since this is the case, I bid you vale, and a plea for the serialization of the Squadron Supreme.

-Garnet H. G. Barcelo

—-

Here I sit: chopfallen. I have been astounded, astonished, pleased and, most of all, entertained. Welcome back, Bill Everett! I must confess: I had been one of fandom’s dubious ones when it came to an evaluation of Bill’s current talents. I was sure his time was past – that he no longer fit in. “A 1950’s hanger-on,” I’d be sure to say.

And then came SUB-MARINER #50. Beautiful. I’ll never believe myself again. It was Subby as he should be – proud, bold, and dynamic. Bill’s writing was vibrant and reminiscent of the character’s better, simpler days. In all, a stunning re-emergence of both Namor and Bill Everett.

I now have issue #51 before me. Congrats are due to Mike Friedrich for carrying on so grandly for Bill. A bit of Namor’s regal bearing was lost, but overall Mike handled the story extremely well. (And hey, is it possible that Subby will have a new romantic interest in Nita?)

The highlight of the issue was, of course, Bill’s fabulous art. He combines a delightful Golden Age style with a fine regard for modern panel arrangement and composition. He never leaves any doubt as to who the villains are (I loved the look of the mutant crabs) and his feel for detail and drama is superb. Bill makes the stories genuine delights to read.

As it stands now, it would be a tragic mistake to take Bill off the book. He makes Namor a character I can believe in. What could be better?

-Dave Hogan

—-

This new… er, old… er, nostalgic look of the Sub-Mariner’s mag is good. Just one thing, though – keep away from talking crabs and the like. They make me nauseous. I like Bill’s crisp drawings, Mike Friedrich’s writing is getting better and better. He’s getting away from those cutesy-pie scripts he once wrote. Yes, Sub-Mariner should do well.

-James (taken from the letters page of Sub-Mariner #56)

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Comments

  • hiutopor  On September 17, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    Hi

    Very interesting information! Thanks!

    G’night

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