NAMOR versus AQUAMAN
"The Showdown of the Century!"
Where: Marvel versus DC #2 When: March 1996
Writer: Peter David Artist: Dan Jurgens
The story so far...
Life in the DC and Marvel universes has always been tough, but when cosmic events conspire to endanger both, the heroes of both Earths face a secret crisis that could destroy them all.
Before time two cosmic entities existed, sexless brothers representing the two sides of all that is, was, and will ever be.
Turmoil between the two brought about an end to things as they once were, but in the aftermath their energies were dissipated into space, becoming part of the multi-verse.
Cosmic instabilities, as a result of the actions of various beings of different realities, created instabilities. After eons of recollecting their fragmented thoughts, the two brothers turned, and remembered their existence.
Now they pit their warriors against one and other.
Tale of the tape...
What a delicious way to continue the Marvel versus DC reflection.
I think of all the fights held this has to legitimately be the most worthy of controversy. I might be getting a little ahead of myself there, though.
Conceptually the fight is pretty straight forward; the two kings of Atlantis in their respective universes - ill tempered, mutated scions of the seas - facing off to name one grand Atlantean. A fair enough concept - or is it?
With Marvel comics' most popular characters emerging in the nineteen sixties during the Stan Lee era, it's understandable that many have a misconception about Sub-Mariner's origins. Though making noteworthy appearances in early issues of X-Men, and the Fantastic Four [alongside Golden Age revamp, The Human Torch], Namor's first appearance came in 1939, in the aptly titled Marvel Comics #1. The book published in October was from Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel.
In November 1941, National Allied Publications, which would later become DC comics, published More Fun Comics #73, which introduced the similarly aquatic themed hero of Aquaman.
Like Namor, Aquaman was the son of a human and an Atlantean, who would grow to assume the Atlantean throne.
Strength: 5 (Super strength)
Intelligence: 4 (Tactician)
Speed: 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: 4 (Athlete)
Agility: 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: 1 (None)
Though thematically similar, the characters diverged considerably in attitude and super powered feats. The Sub-Mariner would be a renegade sub-aquatic superman, while the gentler Aquaman would be at peace, and have a greater connection to the marine life around him.
Strength: 3 (Trained Athlete)
Intelligence: 4 (Tactician)
Speed: 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: 5 (Marathon Runner)
Agility: 2 (Normal Human)
Fighting Ability: 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: 2 (Projectile Weapon)
So, in a fight who would win?
Namor almost certainly has Aquaman out gunned on land and at sea with his raw strength, and his overall superior maneuverability, which includes flight.
Though both masters of their domain, it has been shown over the years that the water increases Namor's already impressive power exponentially.
Of course, Aquaman has one very interesting trait Namor doesn't. Aquaman can telepathically communicate with, and control aquatic life.
Now, even assuming the powers worked on Namor, it has been documented in the past that Namor's will is so strong, he can resist potent telepathic attack.
However, even Namor can't fight an entire population, and in any universe, Aquaman potentially has every Atlantean man, woman and child at his disposal, along with all the other fishes in the deep blue sea.
Ultimately, I think Sub-Mariner's strength and direct approach would curb any potential for this strategy on Aquaman's part. I also think Aquaman, essentially a good natured character, would never resort to potentially endangering that many lives. So, realistically, Aquaman would just get the tuna beat out of him until the Justice League showed up.
What went down...
Not surprisingly, Namor takes the initiative, swinging wildly at Aquaman, who playfully avoids his punches while taunting.
Of course, Aquaman makes the dangerous mistake of assuming the Sub-Mariner's muscle renders him a slower target. A lesson is learned, as Sub-Mariner cuts him off mid-sentence and sends the ruler hurtling out of the ocean.
Aquaman comes to land in an aquatic theme park, where a friendly killer whale is nice enough to warn him of Namor's speedy arrival.
Bursting out of the waters, Namor scoffs Aquaman's claims as an Atlantean king.
"I am neither amused, nor impressed by you!"
Aquaman commentates on Namor's lack of personality (while also poking fun at his own grim and gritty period), before attempting to snare the flying mutant with his harpoon hook.
Believing the fight to be won, Namor does little to avoid the "unbreakable" cord, and is further baffled as Aquaman makes light of the situation.
"What are you? An idiot?!"
Ultimately it's Namor's own single-minded attitude toward the cosmic events that are his downfall. As he verbally bashes his opponent, Aquaman is able to call upon the aid of the killer whale seen earlier, who does the fighting for him.
"That's your weakness, Namor. You're too noble to cheat."
Having judged quite harshly against the Invaders in their battle with Wolverine, it pains me to say Namor is yet to get a win on the board. Aquaman, though he did so through dishonorable means, walks away victor from this long pondered match up.
It's interesting to note that each of the Atlantean characters have suffered a successive drop in popularity; more so Aquaman than the Sub-Mariner, who although not fronting an on-going series, has probably maintained a more consistent presence in his universe.
I've heard it said that Hollywood generally avoids underwater pictures these days, as they are considered fairly guaranteed flops. I tend to wonder if there's a similar psyche in the opinions of underwater tales in comic books.
Personally I think both characters have been at their best away from their responsibilties as monarchs of Atlantis, and operating on the surface world.
Part of this opinion is certainly driven by the rather vanilla handling of each undersea kingdom. However, I think there probably is a very real disinterest in the ocean as it's relevence to travel diminishes, and it's mysteries become fewer.
Each character is enjoying a new life, but I do tend to watch with an air of scepticism for the longevity of these new efforts, and the direction they're going in.
I think again Namor will inevitably maintain the greater success, with his current big push being part of the Illuminati storylines, that band together some of the greatest minds and characters from the Marvel Universe. In that respect, I tend to think of Namor as Marvel's Kevin Bacon, in that the degrees of seperation between he and every other character at Marvel, are few.
Aquaman's revival is perhaps more dramatic than Namor's, and more in keeping with DC's approach to reviving certain properties. An all new man has taken the mantle of Aquaman one year later, [after the Infinite Crisis], with Arthur Curry apparently taking on a mentor-like role.
It looks like the title will steer more toward the mysticism and legend of Atlantis, and unlike Namor, bring Aquaman back to the ocean. Which should be an interesting choice to watch.
The Fight: 2 The Issue: 3
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