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Underwater Superheroes: Who is King of the Seven Seas?
Isn’t it funny how ¾ of the earth is water and yet we only have two underwater superheroes? I’m talking about Aquaman and Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. There have been others but none have been able to survive the tidal waves of time like these two. As a matter of fact most people have never even heard of the other underwater or aquatic superheroes unless they’re true comic book fans and have done some research.
Prince Namor, the Sub-Marine
Namor, the Sub-Mariner was created by Bill Everett and made his first appearance in Motion Picture Funnies Weekly in April 1939. However this comic book was never released to the public. Later in October of the same year Marvel Comics #1 was released making this Namor’s first public appearance.
Born of a human sea captain and a princess from Atlantis, Namor had incredible abilities that surpassed those of humans and Atlanteans. He was basically the “superman” of Atlantis. His abilities included living in and out of water, superhuman speed, and he could adapt to freezing cold water. Namor’s superhuman strength has allowed him to stand toe-to-toe with the Hulk and live to tell about it. He also has the ability of flight, which is due to the little wings on his ankles. Because this characteristic is neither human nor Atlantean, Namor is considered Marvel’s first mutant.
Later he becomes the Ruler of Atlantis.
The one problem with Namor is that it’s hard to tell which side he’s on. He has fought beside the likes of Captain America and other heroes, but he has also allied himself with villains like Dr. Doom and Loki. Even fighting against the Fantastic Four can be put on his resume.
But one thing is clear: no matter which side he is on, the security of Atlantis and its citizens are always his priority.
Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger brought us Aquaman in November 1941. DC’s sea king made his first appearance in More Fun Comics #73. Aquaman’s origins have changed three times over the years and his appearance and powers even more.
The Golden Age Aquaman was the son of a famous sea explorer. His mother died when he was a baby. His father discovered an ancient underwater city that he believed was Atlantis. He studied the city’s technology and secrets and used them to turn his son into a human that could live under the sea.
Aquaman of the Silver Age was the son of a lighthouse keeper and Atlanna, an outcast from Atlantis. The Modern Age version has Aquaman’s parents as Queen Atlanna and a wizard named Atlan, who abandoned young Orin (Aquaman) on Mercy Reef because of his blond hair, which was considered a curse. Left to fend for himself young Orin, who has the ability to breathe under water and communicate with sea life, is raised by dolphins. Years later Orin is discovered by a lighthouse keeper who takes him in and names Orin after himself: Arthur Curry.
Whichever origin you prefer one thing is certain Aquaman becomes King of Atlantis.
Aquaman’s powers and abilities are similar to Namor’s. Aquaman can breathe under water, and swim super fast. He has superhuman strength but it has never really been measured to give us an idea if he’s as strong as Namor. And even though at one point Namor could communicate with sea life it was an ability that he lost, while Aquaman has had this ability from day one until now. Aquaman also has enhanced sight and hearing.
At one point Aquaman loses his left hand to a school of piranha and replaces it with a harpoon tip; later it is replaced with a more majestic looking gold harpoon/hook with extra features. And then again his hand is finally replaced by a hand made of water, possessing magical qualities.
Other Aquatic Heroes
Throughout the decades there have been other aquatic heroes that never made the cut. Here are a few:
· The Fin (1940’s)
· The Pirana (1966)
· Undersea Agent (1966)
· Shark-Man (2006) (Rob, 2009)
There have also been some sidekicks like Aqualad who later became known as Tempest, but none have ever been known as King of the Sea or King of Atlantis.
What About the Shark?
Who? You say. Who is the Shark?
The Shark was created by cartoonist Lew Glanzman and his first appearance was in October of 1939 in Amazing Man #6. Some say that this makes him the first underwater hero.
The Shark’s abilities are similar to both Aquaman’s and Namor’s. He could live under water and on land; he has super strength, and could swim super fast. But he possessed two other unique abilities: he could transport himself from one body of water to the next closest body of water and he could at times become water. His father was Neptune and the Shark was considered to be King of the Sea. (Skiver, 2010)
So who is your favorite Sea King?
Rob. (2009, July 29-31). Underwater Heroes. Retrieved December 14, 2010, from The Aquaman Shrine: www.aquamanshrine.com
Skiver, W. (2010). Forgotten Aquatic Hero. In The Shark (p. 47). Hazelwood: Age of Adventure.