Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sub-Mariner 1968

It was a long, convoluted path for Bill Everett's hero SUB-MARINER to get his own book again.

After being revived in FANTASTIC FOUR #4, he became one of the recurring villains (or was that anti-hero?), appearing in F.F. #6, 9, 14, STRANGE TALES #107, F.F. ANNUAL #1, THE AVENGERS #3 & 4, F.F. #27, X-MEN #6, STRANGE TALES #125, F.F. #33, THE AVENGERS #16, and DAREDEVIL #7, before being awarded his own series in TALES TO ASTONISH #70.

His series in ASTONISH lasted all the way to the end of the title.  In early 1968, Martin Goodman sold Marvel Comics to Perfect Film, and as a result was able to switch distibutors. No longer limited to 8 books a month, Goodman began an expansion, which included taking all 3 "split books", ASTONISH, SUSPENSE and STRANGE TALES and spinning them off into 6 solo titles-- CAPTAIN AMERICA, NICK FURY, AGENT OF SHIELD, DR. STRANGE, THE INCREDIBLE HULK (which continued the numbering of ASTONISH for Postal permit reasons), IRON MAN and SUB-MARINER.  Due to some almost-inexplicable schedule problems, the last 2 were delayed by 1 month, their final half-book episodes appeared together in a one-shot.  Contrary to what the cover might suggest, they didn't meet, team-up or fight on the inside.

art by Gene Colan & Bill Everett   (April 1968)
SUB-MARINER 1  /  art by John Buscema & Sol Brodsky   (May 1968)
SUB-MARINER 2  /  art by John Buscema & Frank Giacoia   (June 1968)
SUB-MARINER 3  /  art by John Buscema & Frank Giacoia   (July 1968)
SUB-MARINER 4  /  art by John Buscema & Frank Giacoia   (August 1968)
More when they get done!

Artwork Copyright (C) Marvel Comics /
Raw scans for #1, 2, & 3 supplied by Barry Pearl /
Restorations by Henry Kujawa


  1. Nice look at the Sub-Mariner, prof. I think in many respects he was under utilized. A shame that Everett wasn't around longer to flesh out the character in his Marvel incarnation.

  2. Thanks. All this recent work on restorations and setting up pages at the blog started when I found the original art for the cover of SVTU #3 (Ed Hannigan & Joe Sinnott) and decided to try both a "re-design" job and re-coloring job on it. I then restored a set of SVTU covers... but decided to put up some ASTONISH and SUB-MARINER covers first. I've so far done 15 ANT-MAN covers in a row... and still haven't gotten around to putting the SVTU page of covers up yet!

    You never know what you'll be inspired by.

    I never realized when I read Everett's new Subby stories in ASTONISH (in MSH reprints in the 70's) that he was the one doing the plots (not Stan, not Roy, etc. etc.). Between Stan & Roy, it seems they did all they could to push Everett aside and restrict him to just inking other artists. A shame, considering how in the 40's & 50's, Everett may have been Marvel's single BEST talent!! Jack Kirby was quoted at least once about some inkers being terrific artists in their own right, and wasting their time and talent inking other artists' work-- and I strongly suspect he was particularly referring to Everett when he said it.

    It was only about 10 years ago that I finally managed to read Everett's entire early-70's run of SUB-MARINER, and it totally blew me away. BEST stuff of his he ever did, I think. They got very divided opinions in the letters pages, but one letter they printed always sticks in my head. Someone said, "After 49 unreadable issues, finally the book got good." YEAH.

    And yet even there, the impression they gave was that Mike Friedrich was plotting, not just writing dialogue on the first few issues. NO WAY! And, from all I've read about writers being "de facto editors" in the early 70's at Marvel, it becomes clear that all the terrific artists helping Everett out on deadlines (Dan Adkins, Alan Weiss, Sam Kweskin, etc.) were brought on board by Everett himself, not the listed editor. Because as soon as Everett passed away, you suddenly had John Romita, Don Heck, and George Tuska. (I only like 1 of Tuska's 3 issues-- SM #70, "Namor Unchained". With Wolfman, Tuska & Colletta, 3 guys who seem totally wrong for the book, it somehow was the only issue that really "worked" and lived up to the promise of Roy's wrong-headed new "SAVAGE" direction.)

    When I did some "fantasy" versions of covers, I put a Tuska-Colletta panel in the corner box on the cover, as it really suited the "explosive" tone it seems Roy wanted, more than the dull pose of Namor just standing there, holding that trident, with the "biker suit" added on.

  3. Who drew Namor on the cover of Iron Man & Sub-Mariner #1? Was it Bill Everett?

  4. Gene Colan, with Bill Everett inks.

    I should point out, on a number of occasions-- most notably when Everett inked GIL KANE's pencils-- Everett would be very true and faithful to most of Kane's pencils, EXCEPT when it came to Namor, when, depending on how far "off-model" he felt it was, Everett would RE-DRAW Namor, sometimes extensively, to bring him back "on-model".

    In the case of this example, looking close, it seems he may have simply redrawn Namor's face. Gene Colan had almost complete redesigned the character when he started the series revival in ASTONISH #70, and that may not have set well with the character's creator. In recent years, I feel the same way. As much as I love Gene's work, I do NOT list him among my list of artists who I feel were "right" for Namor, which included Jack Kirby, Wally Wood, Dan Adkins, Marie Severin, and (surprisingly) Ross Andru.