How Did Namor Return to His Golden Age Glory In the 1950s? | CBR

This is “Never Gonna Be the Same Again,” a feature where I look at how bold, seemingly “permanent” changes were ultimately reversed. This is not a criticism, mind you, as obviously things are always going to eventually return to “normal.” That’s just how superhero comic books work. It’s just fun to see how some of these rather major changes are reversed. This is differentiated from “Abandoned Love,” which is when a new writer comes in and drops the plot of the previous writer. Here, we’re talking about the writer who came up with the idea being the same one who resolved the change. This is also differentiated from “Death is Not the End,” which is about how “dead” characters came back to life, since this is about stuff other than death.

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Today, we look at how Marvel initially de-powered Namor upon returning the character to comics in the 1950s.

As you likely know, Sub-Mariner had a popular comic book series during the 1940s, as the one time villain decided to join the side of the Allies during World War II…


Namor the Sub-Mariner was extremely powerful and he had these little ankle wings that allowed him to fly. However, his powers didn’t help with the sales slump that hit the world of superhero comics in the late 1940s. Many companies shut down their superhero characters, even as other genres continued to flourish (crime comics, romance comics, horror comics, there were lots of different types of comics that continued to do well in the late 1940s>

So Namor lost his title in 1949, but he was still a powerful hero when it happened…

A few years later, with the success of the Adventures of Superman TV show leading to a slight superhero boom (VERY slight), Marvel (then called Atlas Comics) decided to bring their superhero characters out of retirement.

1953’s Young Men #24 saw the return of Human Torch, Captain America and Namor. Namor’s creator, Bill Everett, was along for the ride. However, for whatever reason, Namor’s wing ankles were now gone and while he still had super strength, it wasn’t nearly to the levels it was in the past…




Sub-Mariner got his own comic book again…


However, you could tell that Everett was missing the classic character that he had done in the Golden Age (Everett left the character during World War II) and so, in Sub-Mariner #38, Everett changed things up…


Namor was captured and subjected to an Atlantean “rejuvenator”…



He now regained his wings and the ability to fly and his super strength was back at its old levels…


He was initially forced to work for the Atlanteans who restored his powers…


but by the end of the story, he was back to being a free agent…


And Namor remained at that power level for the rest of that run and even when he returned in the Silver Age.

Okay, folks, there are tons of examples of major changes being made to characters, seemingly “forever,” that were then reversed, so feel to write in with suggestions for future editions of this column to brianc@cbr.com!


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