Monday, January 25, 2016

Sub-Mariner! The Underwater Guy!

1968 was such a great year for comics, and especially for a Marvel Comics fan. This was the year when something changed, distribution-wise, for Marvel, allowing them to launch a spate of new titles spinning out of their "two-fer" books. Tales of Suspense spit out Captain America and Iron Man titles, Strange Tales gave us Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD and Doctor Strange, and Tales to Astonish split into The Incredible Hulk and Sub-Mariner books.

I loved them all through thick and thin, through good stories and... LESS good stories. I was dazzled by Jack Kirby's Captain America run, Jim Steranko's revolutionary SHIELD, Herb Trimpe's Hulk and finally, later in the series, Bill Everett's last stand on Sub-Mariner.

Subby was created by Everett back in 1939, and his art and story made the character something special from the start. When superheroes took a rest in the late 40's, Subby was one of the few to make a short-lived come-back in the 50's, again with Everett at the helm. For the book's solo '60's-70's run there were many fabulous artists, from Gene Colan to John Buscema to Gil Kane, but when Everett himself came back with issue #50, things took a definite turn toward the really great.

Much of this run has just been reprinted in Marvel's long running "Marvel Masterworks" series, Volume 227 (!, and yes, I have them all!). It's hard to describe what makes these so special, but there's a lightness and wide-eyed enthusiasm to Everett's art that was different from the house Marvel style and yet perfect for Sub-Mariner. Roy Thomas's introduction tells the story of Everett's return, sadly cut short by Everett's health problems...

The BW image taken from the original art below is just a hint of Everett's style. It's really great that this material is back in print, in easy to find form. Check it out!  

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