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Comics You Should Own – Namor, the Sub-Mariner #1-25

Handily enough, Marvel has just released the first part of this in trade, so it’s easy to pick up! How about that?

Namor, the Sub-Mariner by John Byrne (writer/penciler, issues #1-25; inker, issues #4-21, 24-25; letterer, issues #8-21, 24-25*), Bob Wiacek (inker, issues #1-3, 22-23), Glynis Oliver (colorist, issues #1, 3-19, 21-22, 24), Brad Vancata (colorist, issue #2), Mike Thomas (colorist, issue #20), Joe Rosas (colorist, issue #23), Pat Garrahy (colorist, issue #25), Ken Lopez (letterer, issues #1-7), and Clem Robins (letterer, issue #22-23). * No letterer is credited for issues 8-11, 13, 15-17, 19-20, 21, and 24, but it’s fairly obvious that it’s Byrne lettering the pages.

Marvel, 25 issues (#1-25), cover dated April 1990 – April 1992.

I suppose there are SPOILERS below (I do spoil the ending, but it’s fairly unimportant), but not about the major plot points. As always, click on the images to embiggen them!

John Byrne tends to bring a high level of craft to pretty much every comic book he works on, especially back in his 1980s/early 1990s heyday, so it’s no surprise that his run on Namor is so good. There are a few writers who write excellent superhero comics within the framework of a shared universe, and Byrne is certainly one of those – he has a deep and thorough knowledge of what has come before, and he is able to blend that continuity pretty much seamlessly into his grander narrative. He’s also not absolutely obsessed with history, as he constantly pushes his characters forward even though he makes sure they remain recognizable in the context of their pasts. He’s also able to embed his stories within the history of the characters without being too obscure, which has bedeviled other writers of his ilk before. In Namor, for instance, he uses quite a bit of Marvel’s history to inform the main stories, but his deft touch with writing and Marvel’s liberal use of footnotes (a practice that has only intermittently come back into fashion, unfortunately) makes sure that readers who aren’t familiar with, say, Warrior Woman (like this reader), can understand perfectly what’s going on.

The early 1990s were probably the last time Marvel writers could conceivably reference events that occurred during World War II and not strain credulity with regard to the length of time since the 1940s, and as Namor is linked very specifically to World War II, Byrne is sure to get in a story that links the two time periods. Namor, of course, is one of the many Marvel characters who were at least teenagers during the war but never seem to age (he was born, in fact, in 1920), but Byrne uses other characters who could have been around in the 1940s and could be still alive in the early 1990s to good effect. He doesn’t do this too much – the return of the Invaders plot only comes to the fore in issues #10-12 – but because Namor has such a long history, Byrne is able to use it quite a bit, and without using the vague time frames that later writers were forced to use. When he wants to show why Warrior Woman was left in suspended animation while Master Man remained awake, he can reference the building of the Berlin Wall without too many problems. The return of Master Man and Warrior Woman give Byrne an opportunity to allow the characters to discuss the reunification of Germany in the early 1990s, which seems benign these days but did trouble many people, especially those who had been alive during Hitler’s rise to power. Byrne uses Namor, among others, to voice these concerns, and it adds a nice touch of “realism” to the plot of evil Nazis reviving from suspended animation.

The far larger plot of Byrne’s Namor is, strangely enough, the resurrection of Danny Rand. Byrne, of course, had worked on Power Man and Iron Fist in the 1970s, and by the time that series had run its course with issue #125 (1986), Danny Rand had changed quite a bit and, of course, was killed off. Byrne decided to bring him back, and the second half of the Namor run (issues #13-25, although Byrne seeded it even before that) deals quite a bit with Namor’s quest to find Danny Rand, with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing riding shotgun. Why Byrne felt the need to do this in a comic starring the Sub-Mariner isn’t clear, but that’s not the point. The point is that Byrne, with his encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel history, performs a retcon that works by using events that have already been printed and turning them to his advantage – in this case, the final six or so issues of Danny and Luke’s series, which he interprets to fit his agenda. Byrne had done this before – most famously with Jean Grey – but he’s good at it, so it’s interesting to watch the machinations. Plus, unlike many writers these days, he doesn’t invent things and slip them into breaks between issues or even between pages, so that Danny’s resurrection feels far more natural than, say, Gwen Stacy banging Norman Osborn. Byrne is clever enough to use the vast tapestry of Marvel comics to create new stories and rescue characters from oblivion, rather than simply using the character and making up the justification as he goes along. It’s an important distinction, because it’s a reason that Marvel comics of the 1970s, 1980s, and even into the 1990s, while they varied in quality, “felt” more “important” – the writers were less interested in glorifying themselves and more interested in writing a good story that fit into the grand narrative of Marvel history.

Now I need to get off my soapbox and discuss some of the other nuts and bolts of the run. Byrne begins by having Namor snag some buried treasure (a ploy he used long ago in Fantastic Four) and buy a company. Yes, it’s the Adventures of Namor, CEO! The idea of a superhero/businessman isn’t new, of course, but most of the tycoons of the Marvel and DC universes were born into wealth, so the idea of Namor taking over a small company, renaming it (to Oracle, Inc.), and making waves in the world of high finance is intriguing. Byrne doesn’t get as much out of it as he might have, but he does give us Phoebe and Desmond Marrs, twin empire builders who vex Namor for a great deal of the run. The Marrs siblings are bombastic and somewhat silly villains, prone to grand, even Byronic gestures like suicide (we first see Desmond holding a gun to his head, bored because he’s conquered everything, and he only gets his mojo back when he realizes his new foe is Namor), but they provide interesting foils for Namor – Desmond is his opposite in terms of business dealings, while Phoebe contends with Carrie Alexander as Namor’s love interest. Early on in the run, Byrne actually seems interested in having Namor deal with “real-world” issues – in a comic-book way, of course, but still – as in issues #4-5, when he has to clean up an oil spill in New York harbor, and even in issues #6-7, when he must fight a genetic mutation gone horribly wrong. Byrne can’t keep the superheroics out of his treatment of Namor’s business, however, and in issues #8-9, he has to fight the Headhunter, who has made deals with various businessmen over the years that keep their businesses afloat for a time … until she arrives for payment, which is mounting their heads on a wall and stealing their financial advice. It’s a silly idea, made even sillier by the fact that the Headhunter doesn’t actually decapitate her victims, just makes it appear she does (like almost all other comics of this era, it’s a kid-friendly book). Even during the Danny Rand epic, Byrne makes interesting points about the exploitation of the Savage Land and continues to check in with the Marrs twins – he was writing Iron Man at the time, so Desmond Marrs tries to take over Tony Stark’s company, and when he failed miserably, it had dire consequences for him back in Namor. While the business aspects of Byrne’s Namor are never fully developed, it’s an interesting way to get Namor back into the Marvel universe and allows Byrne to bring in some environmental ideology without being too obnoxious about it.

Another reason these are books to own is the artistic choices Byrne makes throughout the series. Whether or not you like Byrne’s clear, precise, almost old-fashioned line work will go a long way toward whether or not you like Byrne’s comics, because while his art is not flashy, it does have a distinctive style. Issues #1-3 of this series are inked by Bob Wiacek, another old-school artist who embellishes like we’d expect – a bit of definition of the muscles, not a lot of soft shading, very black-and-white. Then, in issue #4, the art style changes. Byrne begins to ink himself, but what makes the art so interesting is that he begins to use Duo-Shade (as Terry Kavanaugh explained in the letters page of issue #7, contrasting it with Zip-A-Tone, which one letter hack thought he was using). Duo-Shade, for those who don’t know, is a pattern printed onto the Bristol board. An artist could pencil and ink onto the board, then treat the board with a chemical that would reveal shading lines or dots (as opposed to Zip-A-Tone, which is a plastic film laid over the finished artwork). What this does is allow Byrne to shade in a much softer tone, giving him freedom to add more subtle shading to muscles and facial expressions while also turning the water scenes in the comic (which are, after all, kind of important) into things of beauty. He can turn a simple scene of Namor in the pool into a wonderful contrast between the air and the water (from issue #4, page 7):

The Duo-Shade takes some getting used to, as it blurs Byrne’s powerful lines a bit. But Byrne’s use of it, along with Glynis Oliver more muted palette (I don’t know if she deliberately changed her style when Byrne started using the Duo-Shade or if the paper itself mutes the colors), turns Namor from a typically well-drawn Byrne comic into a far more subtle and interesting work of art. The shading itself seems to move the book into a more morally compromised universe, as well as making things like Sluj (the genetic monster from issues #6 and 7) more of a slimy muck than it would be otherwise. The Headhunter, who had shown up in the earlier, Wiacek-inked issues, becomes a more malevolent force thanks to the softening of her edges – it’s very interesting to contrast her at the end of issue #8, when she lures Namor and Phoebe Marrs into her red-tinted lair, and issue #9, in which Byrne does not appear to use the Duo-Shade, as she looks far creepier in the former issue rather than the latter. Duo-Shade was a long-time favorite of editorial cartoonists (it’s not made anymore), and Byrne shows that in issue #10, when Namor reads the newspaper and a cartoon reflects the fears people felt about German reunification. Meanwhile, Oliver’s coloring continues to evolve throughout the course of the book, as she is able to spruce up some of the primary colors more (the original Human Torch’s fiery red costume, for instance) while still keeping the rest of the book somewhat muted. It makes the book feel more “realistic” – the spandex of the original Human Torch or Union Jack constrasts well with the regular clothes most of the cast wears. Of course regular fabric would look duller in comparison to the brightly-clad heroes, and Byrne’s technique helps in that regard by adding more “folds” to the regular fabric while keeping the costumes wrinkle-free. The Duo-Shade also allows Byrne to cast Namor in fog in issue #15 simply by revealing the lines on the board without, it appears, even inking his very light pencils. Just the patterns on the board is enough to make Namor’s ride on the Griffin look truly as if he’s flying through thick clouds:

Byrne seems to have abandoned the Duo-Shade after issue #17 (he obviously didn’t use it on issues #9 and 16, for no clear reason), and while the artwork remains as sturdy as ever, it’s a shame that he didn’t stick with it. The editors don’t give any reason for it, either. According to some sources, it’s faster than “normal” drawing, but I don’t know if that’s true. Late in the run, Byrne was obviously pressed for time – he needed Wiacek back on inks, and issue #22, for instance, looks very heavily finished by Wiacek, to the point that a few panels don’t look like Byrne at all. Perhaps Byrne very much wanted to write and draw his entire epic, but 25 consecutive issues was pushing him hard. Either way, while the other issues are well drawn, issues #4-8, 10-15, and 17 are the artistic highlights of the run. Byrne has done art like this in other places (OMAC most notably, as well as on one issue of She-Hulk), but according to him, with improvements in comics coloring, it became unnecessary. That’s an opinion I don’t share.

For the most part, Namor is a grand adventure that is firmly set within a shared universe, and Byrne has a lot of fun with it. He gives a new lease on life not only to Danny Rand, but to Spitfire and the original Human Torch as well, all done with aplomb and an eye toward the history of the Marvel Universe and the “comic-book science” that operates within it. Namor may seem like a standard superhero book, but a few thing elevate it: Byrne’s marvelous work with established history, the twist of having Namor more involved with business, and the experiments with the art. These innovations make Namor far more memorable than a run-of-the-mill superhero book. As with so many of Byrne’s work, the story doesn’t end with issue #25, even though Byrne wraps up many loose ends. In saving Danny Rand from the H’ylthri – the plant people of K’un-L’un – Namor incurs the wrath of Master Khan, who wipes Namor’s memory and teleports him away at the end of issue #25. Byrne continued to write the book for a time, and Namor does manage to defeat Master Khan, but not until issue #33. So why aren’t those Comics You Should Own?

Well, they’re not all that good, unfortunately. Byrne begins with a bang, continuing the environmental theme he had explored when Namor ran Oracle, Inc., as he put the “savage” Namor in the Pacific Northwest and threw him into a showdown between environmental terrorists and loggers. But, like with many of his projects, Byrne seemed to lose interest in that and the overall title quickly, and he even left the book after issue #32, leaving Bob Harras to script the big finale. This brief story is notable only for the artwork of Jae Lee, getting his big break at the age of 19 after some work on Marvel Comics Presents. Lee’s art, while very much of the Image school of the early 1990s, shows a huge amount of skill and energy, and it makes the meandering story read better than it ought to. But it’s not enough to make them worth your while. Although issue #25 ends on a cliffhanger, most of what Byrne wanted to say he had already done so. The follow-ups are okay if you can find them cheap, but nothing really to dig for.

Marvel, unlike DC, appears committed to collecting some of their 1980s/1990s work in trade paperback, and as I noted at the beginning of this post, the first nine issues have recently been collected in a “Visionaries” trade. (The next one, if offered, will probably be issues #10-18, and the last will be issues #19-25, unless Marvel gives up on them.) They do, however, read very well in single issues, because Byrne, like other writers from that era, was very good at writing single issues, even as he was seeding the pages with scenes that didn’t pay off until much, much later in the run. We get cliffhangers in almost every issue, which makes it an odd experience to read in one sitting but makes it stronger when you have to wait a month between installments. I deliberately left out a lot of the plot developments of Byrne’s story because I hate to ruin it for you and because it is fun to see how everything fits together when Byrne gets around to explaining it all, but trust me – this is a heavily-plotted series that, like the best comics of this era, managed to pack plenty onto each page. I’m not sure how hard the single issues are to find, but with Marvel reprinting the first part, perhaps it’s best to wait until the rest is released in trade. It’s entirely up to you!

Be sure to examine the archives of these posts. You never know what you might find!

34 Comments

Just want to say that I enjoy this feature a lot, so thanks for keeping up with it. I picked up this run last summer and now I’m *really* looking forward to reading the whole thing!

I actually own all of of these issues along the subsequent Jae Lee drawn ones. Also several of the No. 1 issues are signed by Byrne. This makes me nostalgic for Byrne. Wish he and Quesada would kiss and make up, so Byrne could return to Marvel with Terry Austin as inker.

I have a few of the early issues. I found the storylines a little on the dull side, but not really bad, and I love the inking with the Duo-Shade. I never knew how it worked until I read about it in an earlier column here. I don’t think the inking has aged well, though– and I mean that literally. A lot of Marvel books from that time have smeared or faded somewhat over the years; I guess it was because of the printing process they used at the time.
I have the issue where Misty and Colleen first spot Danny on TV, but that’s the only one I’ve read dealing with that storyline. It’s been bugging me ever since because I still don’t know how he returned. (I plan to get the issues and find out someday. I just haven’t found them at the local store yet.)
I’m surprised to see him in a red suit in the pictures you show. Did Byrne colour that issue himself? I remember reading once that Byrne actually thought he wore red when he first worked on his old series.

Iron FIst’s costume became red during the latter part of Power Man & Iron Fist.

This was a favorite Byrne run of mine, but I quit halfway through the Jae Lee drawn issues. The art wasn’t my cup of tea, and like you mentioned, the story meandered a bit.

John Byrne and John Buscema are two of my favorite artists, but I never cared for their versions of Namor. Why? His head is too round.

Namor is supposed to have a triangle-shaped head with a flat top, the way Everett created him and Kirby drew him.

The best Namor artist is Sal Buscema. He was able to keep the triangle head, yet still make Namor look “human.”

So, this is all before Byrne cut Namor’s ankle-wings off?
Because that was one classic “Byrne ruins a decent run with one stupid move” incident; maybe not the very first, but one of the earliest in what would become a series of bad decisions that would wear away at his reputation as a trustworthy re-conditioner of characters (see also the Vision/Wanda stuff in West Coast Avengers).

great choice. This is one of my favorite comic runs. I’ve read it over and over again.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I’m sure that the Jae Lee issues would be something to own too.

How many more issues did Byrne write, and Jae Lee did the art before Byrne left the book for good?

Jack: Namor loses his wings early in this run – the Sluj issues, if I remember right. I didn’t mind it – the idea of those wings helping someone fly is asinine. Namorita does it, of course, and it’s silly.

Tom: Lee drew issues #26-33, and Byrne wrote through issue #32, although Joey Cavalieri scripted two of Byrne’s plots during those few. If you’re a big fan of Jae Lee, they’re pretty neat, but nothing special.

“the idea of those wings helping someone fly is asinine”

Well, sure it is; it’s just the idea of Byrne getting all huffy over the fact, and deciding to roll up his sleeves and get to work doing something to “fix” it just makes me roll my eyes and snort.
By this point his belief in his own superior perspective regarding what so many other creators had gotten “wrong” was showing all the danger signs of reaching the point of insufferability that we’ve all grown to know and love so well in the years since.
(One that would reach its nadir in that little essay in the back of Spider-Man: Chapter One.)

Jack– If I remember correctly, Byrne screwed up everything in West Coast Avengers just before he wrote Namor. Otherwise the original Torch wouldn’t have been available.

I like the ankle wings. They help make Namor otherworldly. And don’t mention realism, please. Warren Worthington’s flight is no more realistic than Namor’s. For wings of that size to carry him, Warren would have to weight a lot less.

I like this run, though.

I have mixed feelings about this run. On the one hand, most of it was very well drawn and well written. On the other hand, there were certain things I disliked.

I never understood why John Byrne, after going to all the trouble of bringing back the Golden Age Human Torch and having him join the Avengers, then had him de-powered in the pages of Namor.

The whole thing with the Marrs Twins being the behind-the-scenes manipulators of “Armor Wars II” in Iron Man lead me to expect that we’d get some sort of crossover between the two books. Namor erroneously thought Desmond Marrs was an honorable man and a friend. So I was expecting that Namor and Tony Stark would get involved in some sort of corporate altercation once Stark launched his hostile takeover of the Marrs Twins empire. Didn’t happen.

Then the Punisher showed up once Desmond started dealing drugs in an effort to raise funds to salvage his empire. Again, I was expecting that Namor was going to have a run-in with Frank Castle, but the two never met.

And then, as you said, the whole arc with the amnesiac Namor, Master Khan, Doctor Doom, and the return of Namor’s long-dead mother hit a huge speedbump when Byrne left the series in mid-storyline. I really wanted to see how he would have resolved all of that. That said, Bob Harras did come up with the memorable resolution of Namor, driven to a berserker mode by all he’s been through, ripping Master Khan’s head right off his shoulders.

By the way I’ve observed that Byrne has jumped ship mid-story a number of times in his career. It’s an annoying trait. Obviously I am not privy to the background details on many of these events. But it seems that any time he and an editor have a disagreement, rather than try to work towards a compromise, Byrne just up and leaves. It was doubly frustrating that he did this on both Namor and Iron Man within a few month time.

Oh, yeah, speaking of Iron Man, who the hell was Kearson DeWitt supposed to be anyway? Okay, years later, looking back, I can see that Byrne was using DeWitt to represent all the people who were affected by Tony Stark’s multimillion dollar business dealings, the ones who to him were nameless and faceless, who he had no idea his actions might be hurting, i.e. he signs a contract to open a new factory in Asia, and as a result thousands of workers in the States get laid off. But back then, when Byrne was recapping the events of “Armor Wars II” in subsequent issues of Iron Man, over and over he had Stark agonizingly wondering “Who was DeWitt? Why did he hate me?” over and over, to the point that I was convinced that there was some dramatic revelation that was going to take place any issue, where we would finally find out the shocking truth behind Kearson DeWitt. So when Byrne left the book, not only did he leave hanging the plotline of Tony Stark dying, but i also felt it was a huge letdown concerning what I thought what was supposed to be the huge mystery surrounding DeWitt.

What can I say? Sometimes stuff you read in comic books as a teenager stick in your head and still bother you two decades later.

Ben Herman–the DeWitt stuff got tied up in an Iron Man annual a couple years after, long after anyone really cared all that much and the big reveal was that DeWitt had been ruined by Stark or something. Not exactly the payoff the initial story seemed to promise, which is why they burnt if off in an Annual, I reckon.

But then, I found Byrne’s run on “Iron Man” not all that good, not least because details like this being ignored show up up that it was a bit of a mess. Plus, the whole “cripple/maim Iron Man because that’s how Stan intended him to be and thus must be in perpetuity” is just a stupid story gimmick.

I actually thought the best thing that Byrne did with Namor. aside from bringin back Iron Fist, was explaining why and how Namor bounces back and forth between villian and hero so often. Explaining it as a problem inherit in his amphibious nature…too long in either water of air leaves him prone to rages and erratic behavior.

I enjoyed this series, you picture one page where Sue is pulling Reed out of the water, but prior to that there is a panel where Reed is stretched out and is acting as a boom holding back an oil spill, and his head is up in the air talking to a hovering Iron Man and Namor, whatever reason that panel really grabbed me, it must of it’s been twenty or so years and I still think about it. The early Jae Lee stuff was kinda crazy, I thought it looked more like a horror book when he took over. Later!

I just bought this run on ebay for less than $25. Always wanted to read it but this article finally made me get the run in question. It’s really cheap to get ahold of and now I’m going to have the whole thing for the price of the one trade marvel has put out so far. Excited!

I have the originals of this run, great comics. I’d love to see Byrne back at Marvel.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 9, 2011 at 6:44 am

“I’d love to see Byrne back at Marvel.”

@ entzaberung: I don’t think that’s gonna happen as I seem to remember that Bryne has a hate-thing for Marvel, if I remember correctly.

Namor flying with his ankle wings is only asinine if you mention them. Otherwise, his flying is no more asinine than the hundreds of guys who can fly just because they can.

The facts may not bear it out, but my impression is that Marvel usually put more thought into if and why a character could fly than DC did. A lot of Marvel’s fliers are really credulity-stretching (Banshee, Yellowjacket, Falcon, Nighthawk), but at least they tried.

At DC, if seemed like if you had “powers” you could fly. Especially in the Superman titles. “Jimmy has all my powers!” “I’ve lost my powers!” “This ray will steal your powers!” “Ultra Boy has all my powers one at a time!”

Powers were like car keys around there.

I bought these a few years ago and loved them.

Did Priest mean for Tyrone King to be Master Khan? There’s hints in the latter PMIF issues that something is odd about King, especially when he walks away from the explosion at the end. I’ve got no problem with Byrne reversing that death because a) I liked Iron Fist and b) thought the last issues of PMIF were pretty poor. Priest didn’t seem to get, removing most of the existing backing cast.

and not wanting to sound like a broken record but on the subject of Byrne trades: Marvel, where’s my Alpha Flight Classic v2? Did v1 sell that poorly?

Priest briefly, and obliquely, explains his original intentions concerning Tyrone King on his website…

http://www.digital-priest.com/comics/powerfist.htm

Once you click on the link, scroll down to the info on PM & IF #118. Interesting to note that Byrne checked in with Priest before using the character.

Mutt, I’ve read in a interview or something that it’s a Stan Lee thing. Stan never liked that Superman could fly just “because.” That is why there is a lot of wings, magic hammers, boot jets, levitation cloaks, telekinesis, surf boards, super-jumps and other stuff like that in early Marvel and almost no “real flight.”

His other pet peeve was teen sidekicks.

I had a few of these, and there’s a lot of cool here (including the duo-tone observation).

That last comment about Stan and the flying characters seems to have
eluded me lo these many years—but yes, there was an agency to most
every instance of flight in silver age Marvel!

I come back frequently to read your posts, Greg. Always been a fan, and you’ve consistently talked about great and often overlooked classics. Keep up the good work!

Thank you, Will. I still have many comics to cover, so I will keep writing!

Enjoyable read, Greg, but I have to take issue with this comment:

The Duo-Shade takes some getting used to, as it blurs Byrne’s powerful lines a bit. But Byrne’s use of it, along with Glynis Oliver more muted palette (I don’t know if she deliberately changed her style when Byrne started using the Duo-Shade or if the paper itself mutes the colors)

I’m not sure if you mean the DuoShade paper that Byrne penciled & inked the comic on, or the newsprint it was printed on, but your comment makes no sense either way. A colorist working in the four-color printing process would not color directly on the original artwork. He or she would do color roughs on a copy of the art & then hand-write out color code labels for the separators. And NAMOR was printed on the same newsprint that Marvel used for everything else at the time. If Oliver’s colors appear more muted to you, it’s either because of her palette choice or the printing, but it would NOT be because of the paper.

Here’s a good rundown of what comic book coloring entailed in the pre-digital age, courtesy of Todd Klein:

http://kleinletters.com/Blog/?p=798

And here you can see what a colorist’s coloring guide looked like:

http://www.comicstripfan.com/comicbook/colorguides.htm

I did a few color roughs with Dr. Martin’s dyes when I was at the Kubert School from ’94-’97, but even then they were quickly becoming rendundant in the digital age.

Duo Tone is the best underwater effect that I have ever seen.

Byrne is such a frustrating creator. He is probably the only Top 20 artist who is also a Top 20 writer in my book. But he gets into feuds and loses interest so easily that it borders on the absurd.

Jonathon Riddle

July 12, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I beleive the reason Byrne spent so much time on Iron Fist in his Namor run was (besides the fact that he worked on ‘Fist back in the day) because both the Submariner and Iron Fist were originally the creations of comics veteran Bill Everett.

Um….. wasn’t Iron Fist created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Fist_%28comics%29

I’d guess it was wanting to “put right” the “damage” done to the character by another writer. And for my money it does just that.

First volume of Byrne Namor is now available as a trade.

But for a while Iron Fist was posing as Daredevil, who was cocreated by Bill Everett. That’s almost the same thing of being created by Everett himself! Well, OK, not really.

Whatever happened with the Griffin in this series? I remember expecting Byrne to do something more with him and Namor both not being one thing or the other. Also, the lack of concern about him regaining his human personality felt wrong, even though his personality had been criminal, and none of our cast really knew him; shades of Byrne’s Lockjaw story in THE THING.

A word about Byrne’s lettering: the interior work was sufficient, but the larger letters needed more practice. The “9 Wives” on the cover of #19 looks awkward, and the issue before and after could use work, too.

In all, I followed it until #23, when a move forced a deep pruning of my buying and a large sell-off of my collection, and I decided it wasn’t a comic I needed to own.

I like Byrne’s Namor run, although I really have an issue with the killing of the Dorma clones in #21, a deliberate and cold hearted murder. Especially given that Namorita is a clone herself and nothing short of a human being. Just because some Atlantean king introduced an anti-clone-policy hundreds of years ago that clearly borders on genocide. Doesn’t help that the reader is told their deaths were “painless”. It is murder nevertheless. Makes the Namor character much less likeable. And why is Namorita going along with this?

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