He's been confused with Mr. Spock, even though he technically precedes the Vulcan by about 25 years. He's been hero and villain, ally and enemy to much of the Marvel Universe. He's technically one of the first mutants of Marvel. He's been a proud and noble prince, king of a legendary undersea world, and an outcast from the same. And he's got a temper about as nasty as a shark.
His name is NAMOR, also known as the SUB-MARINER, and he was recently a part of a special assortment of MARVEL LEGENDS figures that focused on characters best known for their appearances in the world of the FANTASTIC FOUR.
However, Namor's origins date back much further than that. Let's consider the history of this, one of the earliest Marvel-related characters ever, with a little help from a Wikipedia entry on the Prince of Atlantis.
Namor , regarded as one of the first super-heroes, debuted in Spring 1939. The character was created by writer-artist Bill Everett for Funnies, Inc., one of the first "packagers" in the early days of comic books that supplied comics on demand to publishers looking to enter the new medium. Initially created for the unreleased comic Motion Picture Funnies Weekly, the Sub-Mariner first appeared publicly in Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939) -- the first comic book from Timely Comics, the 1930s-1940s predecessor of the company Marvel Comics. During that period, the Sub-Mariner was one of Timely's top three characters, along with Captain America and the original Human Torch.
Along with many other Timely characters, Namor disappeared not long after the end of WWII and the decline in popularity of superhero comics. He also briefly fought crime as a member of the post-war superhero team the All-Winners Squad, and, through a 1970s retcon, was given a history of having fought with the Allies during World War II in the superhero team the Invaders. Both these super-groups were built around the core of Namor, Captain America, and the original Human Torch.
Namor returned in The Fantastic Four #4 (May 1962), where a member of the superhero team, Johnny Storm, the new Human Torch, discovers him living as an amnesiac homeless man in the Bowery section of Manhattan. Storm shaves the man with his flames, recognizes Namor, and dumps him into the river in the hopes of restoring his memory, which it does. Namor immediately returns to his undersea kingdom of Atlantis, but finds only an outpost destroyed by nuclear testing during his amnesiac years. He assumes that all his people are scattered and that he will never find them. Vowing vengeance on the surface world, he attacks it with an array of sea creatures. As the Fantastic Four battles him, he becomes enamored of team-member Sue Storm, a romantic crush he would carry for years.
Namor is perhaps best described as an "anti-hero". He is first and always committed to the welfare of his people and the undersea world in which they dwell. This has given him a general disdain for humanity, or "surface-dwellers", whom he blames for much of the pollution and other environmental problems of the oceans. He can be both imperious and arrogant, not tomention ill-tempered and short-tempered, and has staged more than one attack against the surface world. Yet he is not truly evil. Although he has occasionally teamed up with super-villains such as Doctor Doom and Magneto, he has, by counterpoint, been a member of the Avengers, as well as the super-hero team called the Defenders. Additionally, it was revealed prior to the events of the Civil War that Namor was a member of the so-called Illuminati, a clandestine group that was arguably the best and the brightest of the Marvel Universe, including the likes of Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Charles Xavier, and several others.
After various early guest-appearances, Namor received his own starring feature in the split-title comic Tales to Astonish (beginning issue #70, Aug. 1965). He was then spun-off into his own title, the 1968-72 series The Sub-Mariner. Some of the later issues of this series are notable for having been written and drawn by the character's creator, Bill Everett, shortly before his death
His most recent individual appearance was in a six-issue mini-series that was published in 2007.
Namor was born of the pairing of Atlantean Emperor Thakorr's daughter, Fen, and an American sea captain, Leonard McKenzie, of the icebreaker Oracle. When Fen did not return from investigating the ship's presence in their Antarctic waters, Thakorr sent soldiers to attack the Oracle, thinking her captured. In truth, McKenzie had taken her as his bride. In the ensuing attack, McKenzie was believed killed, and Fen returned to her kingdom. Nine months later, a pink-skinned child was born among the blue-skinned Atlanteans. He was raised in Atlantis, and when he matured would alternate between living there and adventuring in the oceans and on the surface.
When a new Namor comic appeared in the early 1990's, under the direction of John Byrne, it was finally revealed, in part, why Namor had such a frequently foul temper and seemed to alternate between hero and villain so often. His hybrid system was neither fully suited to life underwater or on the surface. If he spent too long in either environment, the result was a blood and oxygen imbalance, which caused his, shall we say, rather extreme mood swings.
Namor had been believed dead for months in the wake of the worst attack on the surface world yet, caused by rogue elements in Atlantis. Months later in the South Pacific, father-daughter oceanographers Caleb and Carrie Alexander found a nearly mad Namor and nursed him to health. Caleb had long theorized that Namor's "rage" was due to his half-human half-Atlantean blood chemistry, and he equipped Namor with a monitor to warn when Namor had to seek either air or water. This allowed Namor to control his metabolism for the first time. Determined to continue to preserve the oceans and his people, but without revealing himself, Namor collected sunken treasures to finance his purchase of a corporation he renamed Oracle, Inc., after the ship his late father captained, using the Alexanders as proxy buyers. Under the guise of an international businessman, he supported environmental causes.
Namor, although more closely resembling a "surface-dweller" human because of his "pink" skin compared to most blue-skinned Atlanteans, still has certain distinctive features derived from his Atlantean heritage. Among these would be his pointed ears, which have been portrayed at any given time from slightly pointed to almost giving the Green Goblin competition. There is also a likelihood that Namor has gills, although this remains a little up in the air (no pun intended) continuity-wise. Wikipedia says of this: Some stories have mentioned that Namor has gills for breathing underwater, and artists such as Salvador LaRocca have drawn him with gill slits on either side of his neck. In The Sub-Mariner vol. 1 #18-22 (1969-70), beings from outer space surgically closed Namor's gills for a time, leaving him with the ability to breathe air but unable to breathe underwater. Other sources have stated that his lungs contain oxygen diffusing membranes that allow him to breathe underwater.
So, take your pick on that one. Probably depends on the artist and how nit-picky he wants to be.
Among Namor's super-human, and for that matter super-Atlantean abilities, we must first of all consider Namor's prodigious physical strength. The level of his strength is dependent on his contact with water. He need not necessarily be immersed in water for his strength level to increase, but it is a factor. Namor has been shown capable of easily snapping chains, and one time even throwing an entire ocean liner. He's also gone toe-to-toe with the Hulk on several occasions.
Something that doesn't come up all that often is Namor's longevity and apparently radically slowed aging, an apparent bi-product of his mixed heritage. It's been established within the Marvel Universe that Namor was born in 1920, and fought in World War II. This puts him on the high side of 80, and yet he appears to be a man easily in the prime of his life.
Namor's most unusual feature, and arguably the one thing above all else that denotes him as an actual mutant (one of few not to have an "X" in their history...) would be the small, white, feathered wings that appear on his ankles. These are certainly not characteristic of either humans or Atlanteans, and despite their small size, they are sufficient to allow Namor to fly through the air. How much of an aid they are in swimming I'm honestly not sure, and I do find myself wondering, just a bit, what the rationale was in the first place in giving a hero with undersea origins little feathered wings on his ankles.
Let's consider the figure. This is not the first time Namor has appeared in the Marvel Legends line. A Namor figure was part of one of the earliest assortments of Marvel Legends figures produced by Toy Biz. Although the character is reasonably popular, the figure caused a bit of controversy. Namor is best known for wearing -- well, very little, really. He most typically dresses in scaled green swimming trunks, with a fairly ornate gold belt (with a seashell buckle, no less), and gold wrist bands. Granted, it's not much of a costume. But when you spend most of your time underwater and can beat up the Incredible Hulk every so often (who's not exactly a fashion plate himself), who cares how you dress?
Apparently somebody at Toy Biz did, because the first Namor figure wasn't wearing green trunks. The first Namor figure was outfitted with an ornate, largely black costume, that consisted of an open, sleeveless, shirt, and black leggings, all with some gold trim. This was, in fact, a life-support outfit that Namor was forced to wear for a period of time during his initial comic book run, and it hadn't really cropped up much since that time. Toy Biz's reasoning for outfitting their Marvel Legends Namor figure in this partciular costume was unknown. Did they feel that Namor's usual look was too dull? Did they feel it inappropriate to market an action figure wearing basically only a speedo? Who knows?
Fortunately, the Hasbro Marvel Legends Namor corrected this peculiarity. Their Namor is more traditionally dressed in his green swimming trunks. Okay, so it's not much of a costume. Try this -- have Namor tell you about knocking the Hulk halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, beating up Iron Man a few times, let him scowl at you for a while as you try to figure out just how close he is to losing his legendary temper, and then see if you feel like teasing him about running around in his underwear...
Namor was from an assortment of Marvel Legends figures that focused specifically on characters from the Fantastic Four. Along with the Famous Foursome, it featured figures of Doctor Doom, Mole Man, Namor, and had a "Build A Figure" for Ronan the Accuser, a Kree alien that gave the F4 grief on more than a few occasions.
Namor looks just a little atypical for a Marvel Legends figure, compared to some of the others I have around here, from both Toy Biz and Hasbro. I think what Hasbro was trying to achieve with this particular assortment was a series of figures that bridged a visual gap somewhere between the live-action Fantastic Four movies, and their comic book character counterparts. The figures didn't QUITE look movie real, but they weren't quite as exaggerated in physique or appearance as some of the Marvel Legends figures more directly derived from comic book sources.
Namor stands about the same height as an average Marvel Legends figure, about 6-1/4" in height. And yet, compared to some other "standard human" figures in the line, such as Quicksilver, Yellowjacket, or the Hydra Soldier, there are some very apparent differences. Namor's head is proportionately slightly smaller, and his overall body is very slightly more slender. The overall proportions, as a result, tend to look a little more realistic.
I'm generally not one who approves of added sprayovers of paint, and I have been pleased that this is a practice that Hasbro had largely dropped from the line. It figures that just as Mattel starts up an otherwise cool Marvel Legends-ish line based on the DC Universe, they decide to start doing this sort of thing. However, on Namor, there is a bit of flesh-toned highlighting here and there, and in this instance, it works fairly well, although the lower part of his face looks more sunburned than detailed.
Hasbro, either because they wanted this assortment to look a bit more "real", or because they wanted someone who was only wearing a speedo to look as decent as possible with regard to articulation, chose to do their best to hide most of Namor's articulation points. Although this cost him the "double-joints" in the elbows and knees that some figures in the previous standard assortment of Marvel Legends figures had, not ALL Marvel Legends figures have these double points anyway, and the end result in Namor's case is a surprisingly effective result. Yes, the articulation points are there, but except for the mid-torso articulation, which I've only seen work well on Star Wars Clone Troopers anyway, Namor ends up looking truly superb, and remains very highly poseable.
Namor's headsculpt is excellent. One of the trickier things to do in Namor's hair. It has this sort of "V" shape in the front, and some artists have drawn Namor over the years to look almost as though he has a flat head. That tendency has thankfully been minimized in recent years. His pointed ears are large, but not ridiculously so. They look good. His extremely upswept eyebrows, another difficult feature, work very nicely. And you can get a nice effect with Namor depending on how you pose his head. Have the head pointed straight forward and he looks like he's staring at you with a rather imperious frown. Bow the head a bit, and he still looks like he's staring at you...
The Namor figure really is superbly articulated, poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. Most of these articulation points feature multiple points of movement.
On the whole, Hasbro really did a nice job with this figure, whom I'll readily admit is not an easy figure to do. There IS the potential of having him look rather dull, compared to the average colorfully-costumed hero. But Namor doesn't look dull. He looks like Namor.
And let me say this as a general statement. I've been very impressed with how well Hasbro has handled the Marvel Legends line since acquiring the Marvel license. Although the figures have not always been that easy to locate, they have turned out some interesting characters well-deserving of being in the Marvel Legends line, and the figures have generally been of as good if not better overall quality and design compared to the original line. I do appreciate the fact that excessive paint detailing or weathering has been kept to a decided minimum here when it's been used at all. I look forward to seeing what further characters will make their way into the line.
This Marvel Legends Namor is definitely worth it. If you've ever been any sort of fan of NAMOR THE SUB-MARINER, you will certainly want to bring this fine figure into your collection, and he definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!