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Sub-Mariner #38, cover art by Bill Everett. Credit: Marvel Comics

Namor: Marvel's speedo-wearing king of the sea

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May 6, 2020, 1:07 PM EDT

Namor was created by comics great Bill Everett way back in 1941 before Marvel was even a gleam in Timely Comics' eye. Widely regarded as the first antihero of comics, this guy waged war on the surface world many a time while remaining immensely popular for WWII-era readers — mostly due to his status as a Nazi puncher-at-large (if we had to guess), but whatever the reason, comic fans were apparently more than ready for a dashing Atlantean with an attitude that won’t quit.

Marvel's first mutant, Prince of Atlantis, and one of comics’ greatest lone wolves, Namor is known by fans as a complex and unpredictable character, but he's known for another thing— flirting with unavailable women while wearing a speedo. Which part of his legacy is more important? We cannot say, but in the spirit of the Merry Month of Bae, we're here today to mostly discuss the latter.

Namor (2003) #8, cover art by Lee Weeks

Namor, the Dreamy Jerk

In 2003's Namor prologue series, we discover that this guy was pretty much a charming rogue who had glaring issues with women from the very start. He befriends a human girl named Sandy, whose father starts drilling for oil right outside of Atlantis. The Atlantean family drama leads to a massive oil spill that requires them to move deeper into the sea. What becomes of Sandy? No idea, but she was a strong-willed blonde with a name that starts with "S," so take note of that, because it turns out our guy has a bit of a type.

Most comic characters in the '40s were more about action than characterization, and Namor was no different; he came to the surface world to throw large, heavy things at troops of Nazis, and the world loved him for it. He also met a woman named Betty Dean during this time, another early long-term relationship for him. Betty would ultimately become another casualty of continuity, but flashbacks have indicated that Namor was not exactly a great boyfriend. In one scene, he shows up after several months of no communication and demands that she get dressed to go on a date. Betty, to her credit, gives him the old what-for and yells, "YOU get dressed!" while walking out of his life.

Even in his early days, Namor was impossible to categorize strictly as a hero. He did definitely threaten to destroy New York with a massive tidal wave, which was barely halted by the original, pre-Johnny Storm Human Torch. This story is retold in epic glory in the first issue of Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ Marvels series, but at no point do Namor's actions make that much sense. Still, he and the original Human Torch eventually do become friends and business partners.

Fantastic Four #4, cover art by Jack Kirby

The Silver Age of Abs

Like fellow hunk Captain America, Namor experienced a period of stagnation and reemerged in the Silver Age, unable to adjust to modern society. When Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four encounters him, Namor is destitute, which does not stop him from having a truly out-of-this-world attitude problem. To make matters more awkward, Namor sets eyes on Susan Storm and decides right then and there that she’s the one for him. Minor problem: she’s already dating Reed Richards. Solution: Namor has no respect for Reed whatsoever and goes for it anyway.

Susan is attracted to Namor but despite his steely gaze and abs that won’t quit, the guy is a bit of a wreck, and kidnapping her and appointing her as his queen without actually consulting her on the matter indicates that he isn't prepared to be a great partner to her. She ultimately convinces Namor to drop it and returns to the FF, but it is not the last time his lust for Susan shows up. Over the years, the two have developed a complex friendship as his respect for her grew.

Namor next became betrothed to his literal cousin, the Lady Dorma, who is almost immediately fridged never to be unthawed. It’s probably for the best not to marry one's cousin overall, so this is a weird relationship, but we do like Dorma and she should have gotten a longer run. A story where they did marry and she ultimately seized power from the entirely too-chaotic Namor would have made for a great saga, but it was not to be.

Alpha Flight #15, cover art by John Byrne

So I Married a Literal Ocean Monster From Space

Namor eventually began a relationship with Alpha Flight’s Marrina — initially a mysterious character, but it was discovered that, rather than being from the depths of the ocean, she was actually part of the alien race called the Plodex, whose M.O. is leaving eggs on various planets to just see how things go. The creature that emerges takes on a physical form that reflects their immediate environment. Marrina’s egg was left on Earth more than 40,000 years prior, but her trajectory was engineered by the villainous Master. Due to her unstable nature, she ultimately became a monster, and Namor slew her with the Ebony Blade. This trapped her soul in a void for all eternity until writer Glenn Herdling realized that was kind of messed up and had him release her a couple of years later. Namor is a cool character, but this is also definitely a guy who completely forgets to free his wife from a Hell dimension for years at a time.

In the end, Namor’s healthiest relationship might have been Marrina after all — who he has definitely killed multiple times now so that kind of puts the kibosh on any reconciliation, even if she does return from the dead. Since then, he's played it a little more casually with his love affairs, and who can blame the guy? He doesn’t have the best track record. He has a highly-charged on-again-off-again affair with Emma Frost, which almost always provides for some great dialogue. In The First Mutant, he briefly begins a dalliance with Abira, who is a very interesting character that just sort of disappears when the arc ends.

Unfortunately, disappearing forever when their initial arc draws to a close is kind of a thing that happens to women who date Namor, so who knows how this guy would fare in a committed relationship? For now, for most of his exes, he must simply remain the bae that got away. Wherever he goes, his abs will remain glistening, and we can take some comfort in that, at least.

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