PRINCE NAMOR, the Sub-Mariner, debuted in Marvel Comics #1 on August 31st, 1939.
According to the New York Times, “The Sub-Mariner was one of a parade of characters who followed in the wake of the 1938 arrival of Superman, who had comics publishers scrambling to find their big hit. Other characters premiered in Marvel Comics No. 1, but Namor, whose mother is from the sunken city of Atlantis and whose father is human, arguably has the richest history.”
“He was comics’ first antihero,” Mark Waid, a veteran comic book writer and editor, wrote in an email interview. “Namor’s goal wasn’t to rescue kittens or punch criminals — it was to lead an Atlantean army against the air-breathers of America.”
That was true of his origin story, but over the years, Namor, who was created by the writer-artist Bill Everett (who came up with the name from the word Roman, written backward), has also been a hero, a film studio mogul, a corporate tycoon and an environmentalist. His shifting alliances are still explored in comics today. Here are some important issues in his swim-up to his 80th.