BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME
FB@ The Comic Blog
The Namor rumors have returned thanks in large part to a blurry screenshot of supposedly leaked concept art. Take that for what it’s worth, but it is fueling a new round of Namor collecting.
This could be much ado about nothing, but where’s the fun in that? The news circulating social media is that Marvel is indeed bringing the Submariner into the MCU. Take this with a grain of salt as the source of the speculation is a grainy piece of supposed concept art for the Black Panther sequel, Wakanda Forever. Although the details are intentionally sketchy, the figure who appears to be dressed in green underwear with gold bracelets and shoulder guard does vaguely look like Namor.
A blurred image that is unconfirmed concept art does not amount to much. Then again, many of those Marvel rumors and “leaks” (I use quotations here because you can’t convince me that anything sneaks its way off the set without Marvel and Disney knowing about it) have panned out. Three Spider-Men, Daredevil, and the Green Goblin in No Way Home? Confirmed. The Illuminati in Multiverse of Madness? Done. Mister Fantastic, Black Bolt, and Professor X in the Illuminati? Affirmative. The speculation track record is improving, which makes us take more notice of the latest gossip.
What adds validity to the supposed Namor image is another rumor. Just last year, word spread that Marvel Studios had found its Submariner in Tenoch Huerta, star of the streaming series, Narcos. While nothing came of the casting rumor, Marvel didn’t deny it, either. Put the concept art with the Huerta casting, and many bloggers are taking the gossip as facts.
Granted nothing has been made official on the Namor situation, let’s assume Huerta is the MCU’s Submariner. Like the infinite branching timelines of the Multiverse, that possible casting has created a new theory. In the comics, Namor’s origin is tied to the sunken island of Atlantis of Greek mythology. Given Huerta’s Latin heritage, there is speculation that Marvel is changing the story for the big screen. Instead of Atlantis, Namor’s undersea kingdom will be traced to Ancient Mayan mythology and a similar story of an island city that was dragged to the ocean depths.
Before anyone cries foul and complains of “woke” culture, this change could be a way for Marvel to make its undersea champion different from DC’s Aquaman. The two characters follow a very similar trajectory with both being half-human heirs to the Atlantean throne. Since DC beat Marvel to the punch for once, Disney may want a character unique to the MCU who wouldn’t be viewed as a copycat by the casual, non-comic-reading moviegoer. By utilizing a comparable story from a different part of the world, it allows Marvel to accomplish just that. As we saw in Moon Knight, they’re also looking to establish other world mythologies in the MCU. Giving Namor a Mayan origin adds a new mythology to the lineup that already features Norse, Egyptian, and Greek. We’ve already seen Zeus and Bast in the Love and Thunder trailers. Who’s to say we won’t see someone of Mayan origin as well?
A LONG TIME COMING
Marvel’s King of Atlantis is one of the company’s oldest characters, introduced way back in 1939 under the publisher’s predecessor, Timely Comics. His first appearance and origin story were reprinted for the holy grail of keys, Marvel Comics #1. He’s only a year younger than the timeless Superman, and he was created the same year as Batman. Over his 83 years in comics, he’s never been featured in live action.
The story goes that his television and movie rights are complicated. Like many of Marvel’s intellectual properties, the Submariner’s rights were sold during the company’s many years of financial woes. Since then, reports have circulated that Marvel wanted a Namor movie from the beginning of the MCU. The problem was the complicated IP rights, which the studio has been attempting to traverse ever since. However, Feige left fans with hope, saying that he believed a deal would be reached someday.
Since then, Marvel’s massive audience has been waiting for any sign of Namor. It began with Endgame. Black Widow asks about tremors off the coast of Africa, to which Okoye responds, “It’s an earthquake under the ocean. We handle it by not handling it.” That led to a wave of theories about Namor and Atlantis.
From there, the focus turned to Wakanda Forever. Well before the movie’s official title was released, there was ample gossip about the antagonist. At first, there was talk that Kraven the Hunter would challenge T’Challa, though that theory fell to the wayside after Chadwick Boseman’s death and the temporary Sony-Disney split. That’s when the attention turned to Namor, which was logical. In the comics, Namor and T’Challa have a storied rivalry, and Black Panther manages to impale Submariner on his trident. Bringing a Wakandan-Atlantean war to the big screen would make for great moments with plenty of massive CGI battles.
Then came the Huerta talk, which slowly faded into the background until now. Could it be that all those rumors were true in the end?
This could very well be the coming of Namor. Again, it’s all based on rumors and speculation, so don’t misinterpret it as facts. Nevertheless, collectors and investors are latching onto those Submariner keys beginning with these issues.
MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #82
One bonus for a character with such a long comics history as Submariner is that he has many keys to collect. Unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars - perhaps millions - to invest, his holy grails from the 1930s are well out of reach. Being Golden Age comics, even the most mundane of Submariner comics will fetch a hefty price, especially in higher grades. That’s why it could pay dividends to look at some alternatives.
If we will see Namor in Wakanda Forever, that could mean Namora is coming along for the ride as well. She first appeared in 1947’s Marvel Mystery Comics #82. Given the comic’s age, this was already an expensive investment, at least compared to younger key issues. In the event that Namor’s cousin appears in the MCU, that will amplify those prices, which were already high. Last year, a graded 9.4 from the Promise Collection sold for over $40k in November. In March, a 4.0 sold for $6,700, which isn’t unexpected for a Golden Age first appearance.
FANTASTIC FOUR #4
Because of those GA price tags, most collectors have been aiming their sights at Submariner’s Silver Age keys. Thanks to all the MCU gossip, these have become lofty investments, especially for FF #4, an issue that marked Namor’s SA debut. Of course, he appeared as a villain, plotting to kidnap Sue Storm and make her his Atlantean queen. How she would survive on the ocean floor is another ballgame.
The highest grade sold this year was an 8.0. In April, it was just shy of earning a whopping $20k. Earlier this month, a graded 3.0 brought $3,600. The tale of the tape lies in an incomplete 0.5 that traded hands for $1,150 on May 18.
FANTASTIC FOUR #6
It’s not like FF #6 wasn’t already a highly prized collectible, but the MCU could make it more prestigious. This issue from 1962 marked the first time two Marvel Comics villains teamed together. In this case, it was the FF’s most popular foes, Namor and Doctor Doom. Just like Submariner, there have been a flurry of Doctor Doom rumors making the rounds. The FF’s first MCU movie is in development, and many fans are hoping to see Victor Von Doom grace the silver screen. Actually, there has been gossip dating back years that he would star in his own solo movie outside the FF. One way or another, Doom will be included in the MCU, and it would not be a surprise to see him paired with Namor, and that would add value to what was already an historic Marvel key.
As collectors and investors scramble for those Namor and Doom keys, this is becoming a more popular item to buy. In recent weeks, a 6.0 sold for $4,578. Meanwhile, a 4.5 brought home nearly $2k. In fact, you will have to downgrade to a 1.8 to find anything graded for under $1,000.
FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #1
This is a comic on the rise. There have been multiple record-breaking sales this year, mostly in the mid and lower grades. With the latest Namor gossip, this one is bound to get a boost. What’s important is that on the off chance that Submariner joins the MCU in Wakanda Forever, he could be in line for his own film franchise. That would make the firsts of FF Annual #1 all the more tempting to own.
What is it that makes this issue so special? Besides this being the FF’s first annual, it is here that Namor found Atlantis. This also marks the SA debut of Lady Dorma and the first appearance of another Atlantean possibly with an MCU future, Krang. Those are four reasons why this issue is worth having in your collections, even at a low grade.
Speaking of low grades, that’s where you can get anything under $500. In fact, a 3.0 sold for $475 on May 1.
When Marvel reintroduced Submariner in the Silver Age, they made a huge change to his origin that could resonate in the movies. In X-Men #6, it was revealed that Namor was the first mutant. Since then, he has been linked to the X-Men, and at times has been part of the team. That could have implications in the MCU and the arrival of the X-Men. Along with being on the big screen he could be included in episodes of the animated X-Men ‘97 as well. That could make this issue even more valuable.
The dominoes are beginning to fall as far as fair market value. Consider the 6.0, a grade that averaged $630 in 2021. Earlier this month, another copy sold for $855. Just last month, one sale brought a record $960.
Over the course of Namor’s eight decades’ worth of comic history, he has accumulated many key issues. When I say that 1968’s Sub-Mariner #1 is the single most popular Namor key, that speaks volume. Of course, much of that popularity comes down to price and availability. His Golden Age titles, particularly those from the 1940s, are much harder to find in mid and high grades, thus the lofty price tags. That makes collectors treat him more like a DC original with the Silver Age issues presenting a more reasonable investment by comparison.
In this case, Sub-Mariner #1 is beginning to rival some of those GA keys. This year alone, the graded 9.8 has twice passed the $19k mark after it averaged less than $10k in 2021. On the bright side, you can still own anything up to a 4.0 for $500 or less, but that could soon change given the rumors.
MARVEL FEATURE #1
Since Doctor Strange and the Hulk are prominent figures in the MCU, adding Namor to the mix should lead to Defenders speculation. Minus the Silver Surfer, who would join later, the team debuted in the Bronze Age with Marvel Feature #1 before starring in their own title. They would routinely be at odds with the Avengers, though they functioned as heroes. Since we already saw Defender Strange in Multiverse of Madness, it would add more value to MF #1 if Namor arrives in the MCU.
Compared to the previously mentioned key issues, MF #1 is a dollar-bin find. Last month, a 9.2 sold for $960, and an 8.5 brought under $500. If you are willing to squelch on the grade, you can own anything up to a 5.0 for less than $200.
BLACK PANTHER #11
I fully expect this issue to gain traction in the near future. With an epic cover, this was the first throwdown between Namor and Shuri as the new Black Panther. Rumor has it that Shuri will fill T’Challa’s shoes in Wakanda Forever, and that could set the stage for a Namor-Shuri brawl. In that event, this would quickly become a sought-after key issue.
Thanks to the Huerta casting gossip, the 9.8 spiked last year with a $200 sale. The most recent sale for a 9.8 was in January when a copy sold for $92. However, a 9.2 earned $153 in February, so the next 9.8 should be closer to that $200 price tag.
MAKE LIKE A TREE, AND GET OUT OF HERE
Like everyone else, I am ready for a silver-screen Namor, but let’s not forget who we’re dealing with. Afterall, this is Marvel Studios, a company infamous for deceiving its fan base and laughing its way to the bank. They are the Biff Tannen to comic fans’ George McFly. “Hey, comic nerds! I think I see the X-Men. You’re so gullible.” Remember the time we got our hopes for Evan Peters in WandaVision? Or just weeks ago when we got excited for the Illuminati? What about John Krasinski as Reed Richards? As much fun as it is to think about Namor arriving in Wakanda Forever, it would be on brand for Marvel Studios to reveal the blurry image only for it to be Humbug.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.