Monday, June 06, 2016
It’s fun when I find an issue that ties into an old post here. It’s less fun when that leads to Holocaust references…from 1991, Namor, the Sub-Mariner Annual #1, “Never Again” Written by Scott Lobdell, pencils by James Fry, inks by Erik Larsen.
This was a chapter of another of Marvel’s crossover annual events; as opposed to an annual crossover event; you know what I mean. By this point, instead of one huge event like Atlantis Attacks or Evolutionary War; Marvel was going with smaller crossovers like Lifeform or the Terminus Factor , or on the lower end of the scale, Citizen Kang. Those first two aren’t Watchmen or anything, but they’re pleasant little page-turners with a basic level of quality that some of these absolutely missed. Possibly because at this point, Marvel was just flooding the market; Fry and Larsen are usually pros, but this didn’t seem up to their usual work and I want to say it might have been rushed?
Anyway, Subterranean Wars was a five-parter, which I’m not positive I’ve read all of, involving Brutus and the Deviants (not my garage band, although that’s a great name) versus the Mole Man, Tyranus, and others. And Namor's story is running at a tangent to the others: he's about to go looking for the Avengers, when he's interrupted by the sudden arrival of Lord Vulko. Er, Vashti; Vulko is Aquaman's supporting character, and I've done this joke before because I've been blogging for forty years.
Vashti is there to warn Namor of the possible genocide of the Moloids, who are being murdered wholesale by the survivors of El Dorado. We mentioned the citizenry of El Dorado just wandering off into Subterranea or whatever; there was no indication there that they were going to go nuts, but it doesn't appear there were a ton of them left, either. I suspect Lobdell needed another underground faction, but not a big-name one like the Lava Men or anything: the people of El Dorado would be just one of seemingly hundreds of hidden races in the Marvel U.
Namor initially seems reluctant to help out the Moloids, since he has his own business going on, but an Invaders flashback that's also a holocaust flashback kinda shames him into it. Namor feels guilty that he didn't get involved in World War II until it threatened his people; and wonders if he could have done more.
Look, I love the Moloids too, but I don't know if that equates, there...in fact, the Moloids were facing "genetic cleansing" during the Evolutionary War as well, in X-Factor Annual #3. Again, vile supposition, but I think some of Marvel's editorial staff at the time wanted a more gritty, "realistic" Marvel Universe; and wanted to do away with fantastic elements like mole people and savage lands. With the help of Stingray (who looks weird in a panel yelling for Namor where you can see his mouth!) Namor saves the Moloids, and leaves the El Dorado soldiers to die in a cave-in, rather than killing them himself.
Also, the Invaders scene reminded me of a similiar yet better one in Garth Ennis and Kilian Plunkett's Unknown Soldier mini-series, where the Soldier does not let the German guards off easily...
Namor had four annuals from his 90’s series, and they weren’t great. The Defenders crossover wasn’t awful, even though I think Namor is mind-controlled all the way through that one; and there was the occasional interesting back-up story, like Namor getting his girl took by Baron Blood. That annual also features a very cheesecake-y back-up by Tom Raney with Spitfire that I love to death; probably my favorite from all Namor's annuals, and he's not in it!