Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Classics - Sub-Mariner #14

With the resurgence of The Invaders, I started thinking about the earliest "reunions" of the members of that World War II team - the ones that took place before the team was actually (retroactively) created in the '70s.

   When Captain America was revived in Avengers #4, he fought against the Sub-Mariner in that same issue - but neither "remembered" the other.

   This issue was the second encounter between the team members, I believe - as Namor is attacked by an out-of-control Human Torch (but not the teenage member of the Fantastic Four).

   It's a classic fire vs. water battle, as the two fight in true Marvel fashion - and then team up to take on the villains behind the attack.

   This time around, thanks in no small part to writer Roy Thomas being attuned to the Golden Age origins of both heroes, they remember each other - Namor refers to him as "my uneasy ally of 20 years ago." (This issue was published in 1969.)

   The original (android) Torch was revived in the Silver Age in Fantastic Four Annual #4 - but he "died" at the end of that story.

   So this issue finds him revived by the Mad Thinker, the Puppet Master and Egghead, and used to power a weapon that threatens the United States - which puts the Torch in conflict with Namor. There are several other twists along the way, and the ending is a real surprise (though also a bit of a disappointment).

   The art is by Marie Severin with inks by Joe Gaudioso. I've always been of two minds about Marie's art - on one hand, the layouts are dynamic and it's loaded with terrific, action-packed panels. She's also a master at emotional impact. But some of her figures can be a bit rubbery in places. I think  her style was best suited to more comical efforts - but I must admit that her heroic work is a lot of fun, too.

   Perhaps this story struck a spark in Thomas' mind - just seven months later he included The Invaders in a time-travel adventure in The Avengers - and six years later the team received its own title, focusing on their adventures in WWII (eventually Thomas told the story of the fight between the Invaders and the Avengers from the Invaders side of the fight).

   If you love continuity, these are the kinds of stories that made Marvel so much fun to follow!

Grade: A-


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