The Usual Suspects #53
Welcome back for another edition of The Usual Suspects. This week I wanted to take a look at Namor, the Sub-mariner. This whole idea of Namor as a possible antagonist in a Black Panther sequel has me excited. This is all rumor and speculation, but I love this idea. I’d like to shout out our own Valiant Dale Horton for bringing this to my attention months ago. If you haven’t already, go check out his First You May Have Missed column.
But that interest was renewed last week as I could see our man Keanu Reeves being in the mix for the role. I know a lot of folks like him for Moon Knight (myself included; see Usual Suspects #51 from last month for more details); but this is another strong possibility for John Wick in the MCU.
Let’s look back at these rumors again really quick. A few months ago, rumors started that Marvel was interested in bringing Keanu into the MCU. At the time everyone speculated he would be joining Angelina Jolie in The Eternals, either as a hero or possibly as the villain.
Then the Eternals announcements started rolling out and filming is set to begin soon, and still no word on Ted Theodore Logan’s involvement. So speculation shifted to other projects, including Moon Knight. While I again, think he would make a great MK, I still have my doubts that a 54-year-old Johnny Utah would want to suit up in a cape, mask, and hood beating up criminals.
He’s John Wick, I get it. But why have someone with Keanu’s popularity right now wasted on a character whose face we don’t see for ½ of the movie? Wouldn’t make much sense to me.
That’s why, I could foresee him fitting into Namor. He would be King of Atlantis, commanding armies before him. He could play hero or villain, but mostly just the self-interested, suave ruler of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis. Namor needs someone with a certain level of gravitas, and yet approachability.
Someone who can be a bit of a d*ck and yet you want to root for him. A sympathetic heel of sorts. I mean, can’t you just see Neo trying to cozy up to Emily Blunt’s Invisible Woman, while Jon Krasinski’s Reed Richards looks on in jealous disapproval. He can use some of his Jim Halpert faces.
And I am a big fan of those two in a Fantastic Four in the MCU, but we’ll save that for another time. Fingers crossed though.
But before we get to that, couldn’t you just see T’Challa and Keanu’s Namor going head to head in both battles, as well as what could be kingly negotiations? I said, antagonist earlier, because Namor doesn’t have to be the “villain” per se. A disagreement or difference of opinion could be enough to spark a war. Perhaps its technology based and Atlantis blames Wakanda for stealing. Or maybe Wakanda’s technology is somehow poisoning the oceans. I don’t know, I’m sure better minds than mine can come up with something to make this work, but I really hope they do as I would like to see it.
And it doesn’t have to be Keanu. I just like the fit. Another actor I had pitched as a possibility would still work for me, and that’s Luke Evans. Again, I already pitched this idea a couple months ago in Usual Suspects 45.
He’s played hero and villain as well, and I think he could strike that balance of being a likeable and yet obnoxious character. Along the lines of Hiddleston’s Loki.
That all said, I think the rumors may prove true. And that Namor is on the way; despite whatever ownership/development rights hurdles that need to be cleared by Marvel/Disney. So, with that in mind…let’s dive in.
So you aren’t likely to find this 1st appearance at your LCS. The book is 80 years old after all. Yes, you read that correctly; Eighty. But it still has to be noted as this was one of Marvel’s very first characters. Well, really, he predated Marvel, but you get the point.
That said, I had this book already as a Person of Interest note in my “Who’s the next Big Bad of the MCU?” article in Usual Suspects #45. Again, feel free to go back and take a look.
But I don’t have much I can really say about a book from 1939. A cursory review of my research shows that Motion Picture Funnies Weekly was a 36-page promotional book that was given out to movie theaters in April 1, 1939. It was the very first comic publication associated with what would later become Marvel Comics.
If you’d like to check it, this story has also been reprinted multiple times:
- “Here Is the Sub-Mariner!” reprinted in
- Invaders #20
- The Golden Age of Marvel Comics
- Marvel Milestones: Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Sub-Mariner & Hulk
- Sub-Mariner Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1
This story was also reprinted in Marvel Comics #1 from 1939. And that book has reprints of its own as well:
- Marvel Comics Re-Presents: Marvel Comics 1 (1990)
- Marvel Masterworks – Sub-Mariner (2002)
- Marvel Masterworks – Golden Age Marvel Comics Volume 1
- Marvel Comics 70th Anniversary Edition #1
Market Analysis: Seriously? You know there’s nothing to talk about for this book. 99% of us will not see one in person. And less than that could afford one, even if we did.
This is a big book, and it’s seeing a lot of action of late. Despite solid gains in all grades, I dare say it’s still undervalued. That 1st Golden Age appearance might as well not exist. This 1st appearance in the Silver Age is something that is at least attainable if you have deep pockets.
It can’t be said enough, how much gold was there in that early Kirby/Lee FF run. New character after new character, those 2 geniuses built the foundations of media empires that are still dominating popular culture over 50 years later. I got an article on that topic on the way. We’re talking multiple billion-dollar franchises here.
Like I said, I will be going back to that run again in the coming months because there is so much there still worth looking into. I mean we can all only take so much of the new “it” character of the week, right?
I’d personally much rather go back and look at the 1st appearance of the Super Skrull in FF #18 than read more about Star in Captain Marvel or Wolverine’s newest daughter in Marvel Comics Presents.
Speaking of which, whatever happened with Wolverine’s new daughter. Everyone was all over #6, but no one cares about #7? Has the door closed that quickly on her?
Market Analysis: But that other nonsense aside, this is still not a cheap book. Looking for a CGC 9.8? Too bad. None exist in the census as of yet. Highest grade in the census are the 7 CGC 9.6’s but none have sold of late. But you pick between two CGC 9.4’s currently on the market for the low, low cost of $45k.
So, you can grab yourself a 2019 BMW 3 Series or this comic in CGC 9.4. Choice is yours. I’m not much of a car guy, but $45k ain’t no joke.
Want a cheaper Graded copy? Then you could get a coverless CGC 0.5 for $800 or a CGC 1.0 for $1,100. Rather go raw? Then you could get a Fine copy for about $4k. Or you could get an incomplete beater copy for $575.
Follow his appearance in Daredevil #7, Namor joins the Hulk to share headlining duties on Tales to Astonish #70, replacing Hank Pym’s Giant Man. The character of the Sub-Mariner is expanded upon in this series as much of his supporting cast and history is revealed in this run that lasts until issue #101.
The ideas of King Neptune and his trident are first shown in issue #70 when Namor fights a Giant Squid.
As this series progresses, we get characters like Seaweed Man, Zantor, and the Faceless Ones. They’re kinda like the Trench from Aquaman. And Seaweed Man looks like a re-colored version of Gossamer from Looney Tunes. Truthfully there are a lot of similarities between Namor and Aquaman, but Namor actually came first and is Marvel’s first official superhero.
Market Analysis: Compared to the last 2 books, this one is quite affordable. A CGC SS 7.5 signed by Stan Lee is ending with a starting bid of $400 as I write this. Or an old school CGC 9.0 Blue label is only $245. That’s pretty much the same price as a high grade raw offered at $260.
But you can grab a pretty decent lower grade reader for under $10. That goes for most issues in this run before it ends at #101 and begins as Hulk Vol 2 with issue #102. The only exception may be issue #93 which is a Silver Surfer issue that goes for a bit more than the rest.
This is the book that everyone thinks of with Namor. This is his 1st solo title in the Silver Age, and the only really affordable one to speak of. Classic cover image, and really the book that I would like to own for Namor.
Outside of his 1st appearance in 1939’s Motion Picture Funnies Weekly, The Sub-Mariner had a solo title that ran from 1941-1955 under the Timely Comics imprint. Again, these Golden Age books are ridiculously hard to find, so outside of showing some of those covers below, I’m not gonna look at them too closely.
But going back to our Silver Age #1, this story picks up immediately after the events of Iron Man and Sub-Mariner #1 which bridges the gap between the Takes to Astonish series and this solo title.
But this series would continue to build the characters as we know it and introduce and spotlight many of the more classic Marvel Aquatic villains, like Tiger Shark and Attuma. But more on them later.
This series would also give us a prelude to the Defenders series with issues #34 and #35 with 3 of the 4 members teaming up. This can be looked at in the same sense as Detective Comics #850 is seen by some as the 1st Gotham City Sirens or Swamp Thing #49 is the 1st Justice League Dark. Not an official 1st, but more of an implied or defacto 1st appearance.
Market Analysis: There’s a lot of movement on copies of this book. There are no CGC 9.8’s available on eBay at the moment, but a 9.6 will run you about $3,500 to $4K.
You could score a decent raw from anywhere between $100 and 4500, depending upon what grade copy you want. Cheap readers are getting harder and harder to come by at a decent price as you might end up spending over 450 for a detached cover with water damage in this market.
If you just want a cheap copy to read, then you might as well grab a Tales to Astonish #1 Vol 2 which reprints this issue and series.
Following up on my comment about the defacto 1st team up in Sub-Mariner #34 & #35, this issue brings us The Defenders in their 1st title series together. But this also isn’t the 1st appearance of the team. This issue is listed as the 4th appearance of the team.
For the 1st official appearance of The Defenders team, you would have to look at Marvel Feature #1 released in Dec. 1971. The appeared as a team in this series for 3 issues before getting their own title. That Marvel Feature series would then go on to spotlight Ant-Man and finally The Thing in the last 2 issues before ending with issue #12.
But this Defenders title would run from 1972-1986 spanning 152 issues. This was a classic marvel series featuring an unlikely team up, and yet it ran for well over a decade.
I also enjoyed the 5-issue mini-series in 2005 from Giffen, DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire. This group had a classic Justice League run and I thoroughly enjoyed the hijinks they brought to marvel in this series. Kevin Maguire’s drawn expressions are priceless.
Market Analysis: Another book with plenty of copies to be found. High end shoppers can’t get a CGC 9.8 on eBay at the moment, but a CGC 9.6 can be had from between $745 and $1700. That’s a big window, but that $1700 copy is an old school CGC label which I know some folks are fond of.
But if you don’t want to spend that much, you can grab a raw low-grade reader for as low as $20 which isn’t bad at all. And copies in all grades, shapes and sizes in between are out there. So, find one that meets your budget and pick one up if you are so inclined.
Ok that’s it for this week. But before I let you go; I have a selection of other good first appearances, variant covers and other Namor odds and ends. So, with that, let’s get into it.
…And that’s all we have this week. Later Chocki….