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Imperius Rex! [1]

He’s one of Marvel’s oldest characters and, boy, can he never support his own book.

Prince Namor The Sub-Mariner is a Marvel Comics character. He's an aquatic, superstrong Anti-Hero who rules the Marvel Universe's version of Atlantis. He should not be confused with a "submariner" which is a person who crews submarines (though he has fought some of those!)

Namor first appeared in "Motion Picture Funnies Weekly" #1 (April, 1939), created by Bill Everett. The magazine was a one-shot publication by Funnies Inc. The character was then offered to publisher Martin Goodman, who was about to launch his first comic book magazine. Namor made his second appearance in "Marvel Comics" #1 (October, 1939), the very first publication of Timely Comics. He quickly became one of the most popular characters in Timely's stable.

The character has had occasional billing as "Marvel's First Mutant" (although in the chronology of the 616 timeline the title is just as often give to Apocalypse). Namor McKenzie is a Half-Human Hybrid, the son of American ship captain Leonard McKenzie and Princess Fen of Atlantis; however since this romance was forbidden by her people, Fen had to raise Namor (who was born with pink skin, unlike the normally blue-skinned Atlanteans) away from the surface world.

Given to self-righteous rages, Namor attacked New York City, blaming humans for damage that Atlantis had suffered. This led to the first comic book superhero battle between him and the Human Torch. Fortunately, Namor had a weakness for beautiful, noble women. Fair Cop Betty Dean convinced him to halt his attacks. In addition, he eventually realized that it was the Nazis who were the true menace and ended up joining a team (The Invaders, which included both the Human Torch and Captain America (comics), among others) in order to battle them. This group would be renamed the All-Winners Squad after the war. (Note that this is a Retcon; the AWS did have their own short-lived series in 1946, but it was writer Roy Thomas in the 1970s who established that they had been The Invaders previously; they did star in their own series then.) He had a companion in his cousin, Namora.

Namor had his own magazine "Sub-Mariner Comics" which lasted for 32 issues (Fall, 1941-June, 1949), and also appeared regularly in various anthologies. But by 1949 the character was defunct. The character was revived a few years later in the pages of "Young Men" #24-28 (December, 1953-June, 1954), and "Sub-Mariner Comics" #33-42 (April, 1954 - October, 1955). Most of the stories were again written and drawn by Bill Everett. Who managed to update Namor, Namora, and Betty Dean for the new decade. Everett also created tales exploring Namor's childhood and teenage years. But once this run was over, Namor became another fond memory for older readers.

Namor returned during The Silver Age of Comic Books in Fantastic Four #4 (May, 1962), after a chance meeting with the (new) Human Torch awakened his memories (lost after an enemy with mental powers erased them; he ended up as a homeless man for decades, apparently he ages very slowly.) Namor then ended up once again in a villainous role, though (once again) a beautiful woman (The Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four) convinced him to change his mind. Namor soon got his own series again, where he mostly had adventures under the sea. He fell in love with an Atlantean named Lady Dorma, though she eventually was killed. (Part of this series was adapted in animated form in the Marvel Super Heroes TV show.) He also became a founding member of The Defenders and met Namora's daughter, Namorita (of the New Warriors.)

In the 1990s, Sub-Mariner again had his own comic book series by writer/artist John Byrne, who reinvented Namor as a shrewd businessman after establishing that his rages were caused by an imbalance of oxygen in his blood that could be treated. Namor bought a surface company called Oracle using treasures rescued from the sea. This series lasted for 62 issues (April, 1990-May, 1995). Since then the character mostly appears in team books and the occasional mini-series.

Even today, Namor continues to vacillate between hero and villain; for example he has been a member of both The Illuminati (a conspiracy of Marvel heroes) and later, their Evil Counterpart (eviler, to some), The Cabal. He has recently started embracing his mutant heritage, becoming first a part of the "Dark" X-Men and then the X-Men proper.

He received another ongoing, Namor: The First Mutant, which seems to have been quietly cancelled in favor of a Fear Itself tie in starring some of the classic The Defenders cast and at least one of their legacies, followed by a new The Defenders ongoing which debuted in the winter of 2011.

Tropes used in Sub-Mariner include:

Namor McKenzie / Sub-Mariner

A part-mutant and part Atlantean who oined the X-Men when he betrayed Norman Osborn and the Dark X-Men.

  • Affirmative Action Legacy: His Ultimate Universe version is drawn as Asian, not that Namor didn't always look vaguely Asian in the mainstream comics despite neither Fen nor Leonard looking remotely Asian.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Namor used to have the ability to mimic any aquatic life, fitting him into this trope. That is no longer the case since the power has been long forgotten.
  • Anti-Hero/Anti-Villain: Type III to V Depending on the Writer - Retconned as a chemically induced fictional mood imbalance (bipolar disorder doesn't work like that) during Byrne's run on Namor's own book.
    • He is a member of the Illuminati (a council of powerful heroes which includes Professor X, Iron Man, Reed Richards, and Doctor Strange) and the Cabal (its villainous counterpart). He claims he doesn't see the difference.
  • Anything That Moves: And we do mean anything
  • Apparently Human Merfolk: Aside from pointed ears (and the wings on his feet that grant him flight) he looks fairly close to human, as unlike full blooded Atlantians his skin is not blue.
  • Atlantis Is Boring: So much so that Marvel went out of their way in one of his previous mini series to have him spend nearly the entire story AWAY from Atlantis, and ended the series blowing it up and moving his people to Latveria of ALL places. Although as of the new series Atlantis is recovering.
  • Canon Welding: For Marvel Comics, started with the Namor/Human Torch battle.
  • Captain Ersatz: Some might call him one of DC Comics' Aquaman, but Namor came first by a few years. Meanwhile Black Adam's characterization has often been compared to Namor's. As have his looks in recent years. Adam was rather less attractive originally, but now they practically look like twins.
  • Catch and Return: Namor once caught Ares' axe and embedded it in Iron Man's armor on the return throw.
  • Catch Phrase: "Imperius Rex!" No one's entirely sure what it means, but it sure sounds cool.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Especially when he's on the villain's side. During Dark Reign, after finding himself allied with Namor again, Dr. Doom resurrected General Attuma, in secret, to send him against Namor in case of his betrayal, as too often their past alliances ended with Namor switching sides in a middle of the battle.
  • Dating Catwoman: Had a brief relationship with Emma Frost while she was with the Hellfire Club. This is a Retcon written after her Heel Face Turn (and set between his Face Heel Turn and his Heel Face Turn - in other words, they were both villains when it happened and both heroes when it "came to light"). A better example might be his romantic tension with Sue Storm/Richards of the Fantastic Four back when he was a villain.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Namor used to have powers based on sea creatures like the puffer fish and the electric eel. The power to control and redirect electricity is the only artifact left over from this period.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: One of Namor's most effective tactics underwater is to trap his opponent in a whirlpool until he or she runs out of air.
  • Evil Chancellor / The Usurper: Longtime Namor antagonist Warlord Krang, who recently returned from limbo as a member of Joe Casey's 'Last' Defenders team and during the pages of Namor's last solo attempted ANOTHER coup for control of Atlantis only at the end for both to enter into a Enemy Mine situation.
  • Fair Cop: Betty Dean, his Golden Age love interest.
  • Fantastic Racism: In his youth he was a pariah in Atlantis due to, being, well, white - where normal Atlanteans are blue. They called him "pale crab." He's happy to note that they don't do that anymore, but the Blue Marvel thinks they just don't do it to his face.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: When he first met the Incredible Hulk, shortly after Hulk's falling out with the original Avengers, they fought to a draw and then decided to team up against all humanity for a minute. Though they've both obviously stepped back from that goal, they've remained loyal friends ever since. (Namor was the only one to object to the Illuminati's plan to send Hulk into space.)
    • With Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch. The two had their famous battles, but they later fought side-by-side in World War II in the Invaders. Namor later referred to Hammond as someone he respects (and for a guy like Namor, that's quite a compliment).
  • Fish People: Imperius Fish!
  • Flight: He has small, fin-like wings on his ankles (echoing the mythological example of the Greco-Roman god Hermes/Mercury). These work equally well to propel him through air and water.
  • Flight, Strength, Heart: Namor has super strength, can fly, breathe both air and water, can charge his body with electricity, has telepathic control over undersea life... and at one time could puff himself up like a puffer fish.
  • Flying Brick: Namor's power set.
  • Flying Seafood Special: His other power set.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: To put it plainly, most everybody on Earth hates Namor – the people on land, the superhuman community, even his own belligerent undersea nation. Even Captain America cannot stand the guy, and he's one of Namor's oldest, most trusted confidants going as far back as WWII. Moreover, The Sub-Mariner is well aware of all of this; he practically lampshades it in his appearances. He just doesn't give a crap, likening it to What Measure Is a Non Super as he compares himself to the rest of the caterwauling grounded lame brains or other so-called superheroes whom he often finds himself serving alongside of and/or protecting from the calamity of the week; be it his own subjects or the humans whom he has incredibly little love for to start with.
    • The fact that he could make one of his oldest human ex-friends, Steve Rogers, hold his old war buddy in contempt shows that the sea king has gone too far and crossed too many lines. In the second issue of All-New Invaders, Captain America flat-out stated nobody on Earth would shed a tear for the Submariner after he got abducted by The Kree; not even crocodile tears. To be that universally hated by your compatriots is pretty heavy. (Of course, after what The Illuminati heralded by Tony Stark had done to him in Original Sin, it's understandable why Steve would coldly rebuke him afterwards.)
  • The Good King: Namor loves Atlantis and will do anything to protect it. Those who try to harm his city or his people will deeply regret that decision.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Attacked by two Sentinels, Namor tore off one of the robot's arms and used it to smash its companion to bits.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Just try and talk to him without setting him off. It'll be funny.
  • Heel Face Revolving Door
  • Hero Insurance: Thanks to his membership in The Defenders.
  • Hot-Blooded
  • Immune to Bullets
  • Jerkass: Sure, he's demonstrated that he can be a nice guy here and there, but by far and large he's a rude, manipulative, self-centered asshole.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: One notable example is an issue of Fantastic Four in which Reed Richards had returned after it was believed he was dead and found that Namor and Susan Richards had shared a kiss. Furious, Reed attacked and Namor purposefully lost the fight and pretended to be knocked unconscious so that Reed would feel better and regain his confidence. For a guy as proud as Namor, that was really sweet.
  • Kryptonite Factor: If he's separated from water for too long, he loses much of his strength. He also needs open air from time to time, due to his mixed parentage.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Strong enough to slug it out with some of Marvel's heaviest hitters, not to mention terrifyingly fast.
  • Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places: Well known for his pursuit of the married Susan Richards. Which other than his late wife is probably his longest relationship.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In the 2012 The Defenders run, a childhood memory of his mother hiding a picture of herself, Leonard McKenzie and Captain Nemo from him, along with the discovery of a copy of the picture within the sunken Nautilus, brought up the question if Captain Nemo might be Namor's father. Not that Namor could care at this stage of his life.
  • Mercury's Wings: Ankle wings are a characteristic of Atlanteans. They work equally well in the water or air.
  • Monster Modesty: A few examples.
    • Depending on the artist, the blue-skinned Atlanteans will often wear very little. Armored swimsuits and loincloths are common.
    • Marrina, a green skinned fish girl, was married to Namor for a time and is a rare female example.
    • Looking at his pointy ears and the wings on his ankles, Namor is obviously not fully human. Taking this into account along with his desire to prance around in green speedos, he fits this trope.
      • He averts the trope in Marvels, where he wears nothing at all, even when fighting the Nazis.
  • Mutants: Being a Half-Human Hybrid, Namor is considered one even among most of the Atlantean people. He's a somewhat different type of mutant than the others in the Marvel Universe (as he's an Atlantean mutant rather than a human mutant; his human half is 100% "normal"), but that's usually not considered important. At one point he was lodging with the X-Men on their new artificial island.
  • Offing the Offspring: To be fair, the offspring in question was a long lost and unknown bad seed that tried to kill him and drive Atlantis to war.
  • Older Than They Look: Namor was born in the 1920's, teamed up with Captain America during World War II, and still looks like a man in the prime of his life. Justified due to his half-Atlantean physiology.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: He is part-mutant, part-Atlantean. Pure-blood Antlanteans are also humanoid but have blue skin.
  • Pointy Ears
  • Pride: Oh so very much.
  • Refuse to Rescue the Disliked: Or Refuse to Help the Disliked — He has a case of this bad, Namor Mckenzie is so thoroughly unloved by the majority of the Marvel Universe that many of them are either apprehensive or outright rebuke offering their aid to the guy. This was most paramount during Sub-Mariner: The Initiative, where just about everyone he went to for help near flat out slammed the door in his face as an Atlantean Terrorist Cell was trying to instigate war between the Surface and his undersea nation again.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something
  • Sociopathic Hero
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Depending on the Writer Namor has the ability to telepathically communicate with several different forms of sea life.
  • Stripperiffic: Is most well known for wearing basically a green speedo and not much else. In Marvels, he wears nothing. He has the body to get away with it.
  • Super Reflexes
  • Super Strength
  • Superhero Sobriquets: Namor is also occasionally known as "The Avenging Son of Atlantis". His name means "avenging son".
  • The Golden Age of Comic Books
  • Thematic Rogues Gallery: Most of Namor's enemies are related to the ocean in some form or another.
  • Tongue Trauma: Namor ripped out Venom II's tongue after a scuffle, stating that Gargan should talk less while trying to take on somebody out of his league.
  • Underwear of Power: Scaly! Though it makes sense for a swimming character to prefer garments that lie close to the body and don't interfere with the legs.
  • Unstoppable Rage: A lot, but if you really want to see it in full force, refer to any time he runs into Llyra, the Complete Monster who killed his first wife and was responsible for the death of his father.
  • Ur Example: Of a lot of things, really, but mostly of the comic book Flying Brick (Superman predates him in publication, but Namor had the power set before Superman did), of the comic book Anti-Hero, of the comic book Anti-Villain... the list goes on.
  • Warrior Prince: Namor was doing this back when he was still only a Prince (and he's still generally referred to as such, despite being the King of Atlantis). This is, almost without exception, the cause of any perceived villainy in his publishing history: it's all either in the name of protecting or avenging Atlantis.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Most of the time, all he really wants is a blonde and/or cleaner oceans. No matter what he's after, however, he'll always be a total dick about it.
  • With Friends Like These...: No matter how many times one betrays the other, Namor and Doctor Doom usually will always find themselves back in each other's good graces down the line. No one is sure why, because they're both smart enough that they really should know better than to trust each other, ever. It's pretty well-established that Namor is one of the few people that Doom genuinely likes. What's a little betrayal between friends? By now, they probably take it as given. One could even argue that it is a mutual dislike for a certain Mr. Fantastic.
  1. Presumably a dogfish.