Wednesday 1 December 2010

The Sub-Mariner & the fan from Atlantis.

Sub-Mariner #1, John Buscema
Many are the matters a man must put in order before he can prepare to meet his maker. Chief amongst them is deciding just who is his favourite Marvel hero.

It sounds simple enough but how does one do such a thing? There's the everyday drama of Spider-Man, the cosmic shenanigans of the Fantastic Four, the cod-Shakespearean of Thor, the mystic dabblings of Dr Strange and the hanging around in the back garden, talking to insects, of Ant-Man.

Faced with such an impossible task, I suppose the only method I can come up with is to revert to childhood and recall which super-hero I most pretended to be when I was a kid.

Well, I pretended to be most of them at some point - even Ant-Man. It was the cybernetic helmet. I didn't know what cybernetic meant - I still don't - but I knew it sounded like a good thing to have. I'm sort of hoping my fridge is cybernetic. I'd just love to tell people, "Just wait while I get you a beer from my cybernetic fridge."

But there were some characters I pretended to be more than others and, based on this method, I get five names; Dr Who, James Bond, Dracula, Daredevil and the Sub-Mariner. Obviously I can discount Dr Who and James Bond, as they weren't Marvel  characters. And, whatever his charms, Dracula was certainly no hero.

This means it's between Daredevil and Subby. Bearing in mind how little interest I have these days in those early years of Daredevil, it's a bit odd now to remember just how often I pretended to be the Man Without Fear. I even made a billy club from Lego, from which I could "shoot" a piece of string, with a small Meccano grappling hook on the end. I think it was the relative lack of super-ness of Daredevil. It made me feel that if I practised I could do the things he did - as long as my Lego held out.

But the Sub-Mariner was something else. He didn't need Lego. He was a self-contained package of super-ness. He'd grabbed me ever since I first encountered him in the pages of The Fantastic Four, when the Human Torch found him living as a homeless bum and dropped him in the sea to restore his memory. After that he oscillated between being a hero and a villain and, even in hero mode, really wasn't blessed with the greatest of social skills. But I never cared about that.

Or perhaps I did.

Perhaps it was his moral ambiguity that made him interesting.

Unlike Daredevil I'm not a blind man and am therefore aware the Sub-Mariner hasn't always got the love from the average comic fan over the years that some of his Marvel colleagues have but, to me, there's something indefinably appealing about  him and his testy ways. Maybe I can boil it down to this; super-heroes are all about wish- fulfilment and if I could have super-powers there are three I'd want more than all others:

1. Flight.

2. Super-strength.

3. The ability to breathe under water.

And guess which pointy-eared flat-head has precisely those three powers?


Kid said...

What can I say? Apart, that is, from "Sufferin' Shad!"

Steve said...

I do always wonder who Sufferin' Shad was and why was he suffering. For that matter, was he related to Suffering Sappho?

Then again, was he related to Shakin' Stevens?

Anonymous said...

I am also a big Namor fan. That's one the reasons I enjoyed the Defenders and Invaders, because he was a main character. Unfortunately, he does not seem to be much more popular than his DC counterpart, Aquaman. Always getting cancelled. I like Namorita, too. I don't think she ever talked in the same regal way as Namor does. Perhaps due to her younger age and lesser royalty. I like the way Gene Colan drew him.