Namor #34-40 (1993): The post-Byrne reboot

John Byrne’s run establishing this series was kind of a train wreck but at least he brought back Iron Fist.  Now, Bob Harras takes over and seems to want to take the book in a different direction, but has a string of artists and inkers assigned to the book, which makes it feel very disjointed and unplanned.  And everybody gets new costumes.  On the cover to #34, above, Namor almost looks grotesque.

Harras brings Namor back to Atlantis for a war against undead Atlanteans, abruptly moves Iron Fist, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing out of the book (even though they’ve been major characters), mostly drops the “Namor as corporate leader” shtick, gives Namor his footwings back.

As you can see, the art is highly stylized.

Lee is a distinctive artist, and his shadowy, monstrous work sets a creepy tone for this book as it moves back into (and under) the Ocean.  The problem is, he doesn’t’ stay with the book, and the switches in tone don’t help elevate the mediocre writing.  It feels jumbled and purposeless.

By the end of this arc, Namor has freed Atlantis from corrupt leadership (again) and nearly everything Byrne did is undone.  Byrne’s work on Namor wasn’t great, so it’s not like I’m sad to see this reboot, but this work isn’t great either.  Like Byrne’s run, it’s just a little above average.

There are some interesting interactions with sea life–an attempt to create a universe, I am assuming. Jae Lee’s art is very helpful.

Art by Jae Lee (pencils and inks through issue #38), Jae Lee on pencils with inks by Jimmy Palmiotti on #39, then Palmiotti takes pencils with assistance from “Howard Rourke” (who appears to really be Bill Sienkiewicz) on both pencils and inks, and finally we move to Scott Kolins doing the art on #40.  All artists with very different styles.

Jae Lee does some character cards at the end of #34. They’re trying to rebrand Tiger Shark as Arlys Tigershark. For no reason, but I admit it’s cooler.

1 thought on “Namor #34-40 (1993): The post-Byrne reboot”

  1. Jae Lee’s artwork is just WAY too artsy-fartsy for me. I’m not interested in artists who are trying to make statements, regardless of what those statements may be. I can’t believe you think this run on the series is superior to what John Byrne was doing five years earlier. At least Byrne gave the series direction, with the “Oracle” crusade against ocean pollution, etc. As you noted yourself here, there IS no direction to these Sienkiewicz/Harris issues. It’s just free-associative drivel. Marvel can’t keep decent talent on their various ‘Sub-Mariner’ efforts, and yet, publicly whine about why the character can’t hold a series! Yeesh!! I will say the above profile-shot of Namorita is absolutely gorgeous. I could use that as a life-sized poster on the wall, right next to my Psylocke wall-poster. As much as I enjoyed Byrne’s early-Nineties take on the series, I was disappointed at his unnecessary resurrection of Iron Fist, a grade-D character, at best, who has NO commercial marketability, born of a Seventies fad which has been dead for decades, with little hope of ever returning! One ‘Master of Kung Fu’ in the Marvel Universe is MORE than enough! And, for THAT matter, WHY have Iron Fist and Shang-Chi never met on the field of battle?? Probably the same reason why it took Superman and Thor so long to mix it up! Because both characters have their fan bases, and Marvel won’t risk disenfranchising the fans of the loser! Cowardice, if you ask me! Give us a winner! A TRUE holder of the title of ‘Master of Kung Fu’! But, anyway, Iron Fist, Colleen Wing, and Misty Knight WERE all dropped from this title rather abruptly. The appeal of Namor and Namorita is that they move back and forth between the ocean world and the surface world with equal facility, and the ‘Heroes For Hire’/’Daughters of the Dragon’ bunch can’t exactly join our submariners in their sub-sea adventures. In the first few issues of this series, Byrne tried to give us a father-daughter marine-biologist duo as supporting characters, but they washed out, as did the Mars siblings, who all annoyed me, for some reason. If/when Marvel tries again with a new ‘Sub-Mariner’ series, I would recommend the following characters as a supporting cast: Sting-Ray, ( Dr. Walt Newell ) his sister Dianne Arliss ( is she still married to Tiger-Shark-??? ) Namorita, as scantily-clad as possible, and put them all back aboard Hydro-Base, so they can cruise the world having cool, ocean-based adventures! ( ala “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s” Seaview ) Keep the whole bunch OUT of Atlantis, as the whole ‘Atlantis’ angle is pretty played out! DC’s ‘Aquaman’ series was never more interesting than when they moved THAT cast out of their version of the sunken realm. Give the series a SOLID artist, not some artsy-fartsy Jae Lee-type shit, and for villains, Dr. Doom ( in a carryover twist from the ‘Super-Villain Team-up’ era ) and Attuma is always good, because as nasty as he is, he does seem to have Atlantis’ best interests in mind! Namor is, as Attuma alleges, an “absentee monarch”- who needs THAT??? I can actually see Attuma’s point on this one. So-Attuma would make a good political opponent for our absentee monarch. And, just for shits and giggles, find a new reason why Namor has to go back into the awesome mid-Seventies black sub-sea disco suit! We could say a relapse of the condition which made it necessary in the first place! I LIKED it- I thought it was smart, and I thought it made Namor look smart! ( see all of Namor’s mid-Seventies appearances, especially Marvel Two-In-One#2, and Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up#1 ) So- those are my considerable thoughts on how Marvel Comics can resuscitate the ‘Sub-Mariner’ series, and make it WORK this time!! Ex-celsior!!


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