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Saturday, April 07, 2012

Sub-Mariner #72 - Sept. 1974

Comics Weekend "From The Void It Came!" by Steve Skeates, Dan Adkins, and Vince Colletta.

For those of you who read the post from earlier today and are here to read Part Two--yes, writer Steve Skeates cheekily decided to follow up his story "The Creature That Devoured Detroit!" from Aquaman #56...in the pages of the Sea King's Marvel Comics counterpart book, The Savage Sub-Mariner!

Of course, there was almost a four-year span between the the two books, making it relatively certain that no one at Marvel caught on. Back in those days, there was much less back-and-forth between the two companies, so continuing a story across two different titles like this would have been verboten. So Skeates had to be a little crafty--even so, we'll see how he pushed the envelope here:
Yep, those last two panels are virtually the exact same panels from the last page of Aquaman #56--that's even the Sea King right there, except his glove is blue, not green. Skeates sidesteps who the Neptune that guy is in the next panel, with a narrator that tells us "Who that man is...and why he wished to destroy the satellite...that need not concern us!"

With that bit of business out of the way, the story takes off on its own unique turn, with the alien glob that has attached itself to the satellite falling to Earth. It lands in the ocean, and starts to work on creating a body for itself, which takes over two years. Now ambulatory, it heads toward land.

Not too far away, two local lunkheads run afoul of the Sub-Mariner, who is watching the water, minding his own business. One of them, the lunkier of the two, decides to challenge Namor to a fight...if you call kicking a guy in the head a "challenge":
This of course enrages Namor, who grabs the guy and hurls him like a rag doll, not noticing the muck-encrusted creature that has shown itself. When the other surface dweller angrily tackles Namor in retaliation, he knocks them all back into the water. The creature then attacks Namor:
The creature uses its powers to stare into Namor's eyes, causing him to go blind! This doesn't stop the Sub-Mariner, who squeezes his foe so hard that it pops the thing's head off, and watches as it hurtles off into space:
Unfortunately, Namor is still rendered sightless, and he gets down on one knee, furious at himself that he rushed to fight the creature instead of trying to understand it. Thankfully, the creature shows mercy, and from thousands of miles away restores it's foe's sight.

Namor decides to head back to Atlantis, where a terrible vision awaits him:
...and with this classic, melodramatic ending, Sub-Mariner as a title ended. Yes, Steve Skeates wrote part one of this story in the final issue of Aquaman, only to do part two in the final issue of Sub-Mariner. What symmetry!

Of course, I can't possibly be objective when comparing these two issues, because I'm always going to pick Aquaman over Sub-Mariner. That said, I really do feel like these two issues reflect each other quite well; "The Creature That Devoured Detroit!" is a very DC-esque story, while "From The Void It Came", with its navel-gazing internal drama, is very Marvel. Its a testament to Skeates' skill as writer that he could write in two different "house styles", not to mention the fact that he was doing it within the same story! (The art, however...well, I think we all can agree who wins that little face-off between the two books)

But regarding the story as a whole: this DC/Marvel "crossover" is wonderfully goofy; having Aquaman unofficially appear in Sub-Mariner, only to tell the reader don't worry about it, let's just move on, is the equivalent of playing a trick on them--but the kind of trick you don't mind being played on you. Nowadays, that gloved character would be given half a book's worth of back story, because a lot modern comics' readers just wouldn't accept not knowing who it was.

Of course, it's a shame that Aquaman and Sub-Marine don't actually meet here; that would have been a bit much to pull off, even for someone as clever as Steve Skeates. For that, fans of the two companies' Sea Kings would have to wait over twenty years!


bribabylk said...

Cool! Something I never knew.

Plus, I think those two dudes that attacked Namor were supposed to be gay.

Richard said...

Rob, you're right on the money with your insight that this is a very Marvel story in precisely the same way the Aquaman issue was specifically a DC story. In fact, I'd like to amend my comment on the previous post to say that Skeates seemed to have set out to create a story that broke every rule of what was supposedly required in a DC superhero story...while still having it work as a quintessentially DC superhero story.

That said, this issue is very much a normal Marvel story of its era, and wouldn't stand out from its neighbors the way the Aquaman issue did.

Unknown said...

Bruce looks a little like Aquaman.