Friday, October 06, 2006

Mayhem is... The Men-Fish! (Marvel comics)
Marvel Team-Up #14 When: October 1973
Why: Len Wein How: Gil Kane

The story so far...
When an innocent tourist is set upon by thugs in a New York City night, a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man is more than willing to intervene in the name of good. But Spidey and the crooks didn't count on one thing!

The stranger turns out to be none other than Namor the Sub-Mariner, and interested only in his own objective, it's Spidey who soon becomes the victim as Namor attempts to fight his way through the suspicious web-slinger.

With their differences resolved, Spider-man agrees to aid the noble Sub-Mariner in a quest for Tigershark - the vile villain responsible for murdering Namor McKenzie's frail, human father.
Events lead the two to track Dr. Dorcas who has teamed with Tigershark, and apparently prepared a trap to welcome to the two heroes...

Previous Form:
Sub-Mariner (#162): Namor has struggled to gain victory, going down to Wolverine and Aquaman.
Spider-man (#2): Successful team ups with Iron Man and the Avengers have led Spidey to second-top.
Tigershark & Dr. Dorcas: This is the first time these characters have been featured.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Sub-Mariner 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Dr. Dorcas 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Sub-Mariner (Marathon Runner)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Sub-Mariner 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Dr. Dorcas 2 (Projectile Weapons)

Well, it's pretty clear from the get-go: Spider-man and Sub-Mariner have a victory coming their way. This can be ascertained not just from the statistics listed above, but from the fact that one of the villains' names is Dorcas.
Dorcas; not to be confused with Dr. Dorkus or Dr. Dork-ass.

While Dorcas certainly weighs in on the obligatory intelligence meter, he does so with the burden of a deranged obsession - the hallmark of a reputable intelligent villain. In this particular case, his interests and foibles revolve around the sub-aquatic.
He does bring mutated Men-Fish to the table, which he calls The Aquanoids, and also the technology which managed to capture SM/SM before this fight.

I... Pardon me?!Tigershark, though not well respected and lacking entries both on Wikipedia and Marvel's own wiki system, is actually a formidable opponent.
Tigershark is probably about as close as you come to an arch-nemesis for the Sub-Mariner, and even then, the two somehow managed to put their differences aside somewhere in the mid-nineties.

That said, Tigershark possesses strengths and abilities comparable to that of the Sub-Mariner himself. If anything, Tigershark may have the edge as an average joe, relatively devoid of pomposity and verbiage.
Of course, balancing the equation is Namor's capacity for rage and the inexplicable powers, like eel-style electric charges... I tend to prefer to ignore those.

However, Namor's strength is worth noting.
While I clock it at a strong five, Sub-Mariner can frequently extends himself to duel and even best the likes of the Hulk, Thing, and many other characters that would be considered invulnerable [6].

So, what about Spider-man? Well, we all know Spidey by now.
We can assume Sub-Mariner can handle Tigershark, and Dr. Dorcas really isn't too much a problem. The Aquanoids? They aren't even considered worthy enough to have individual names, so I think this one's a given.

Average: Sub-Mariner & Spider-man 27 (+7.5)
Overall: Sub-Mariner & Spider-man 54 (+15)
The Pick: Sub-Mariner & Spider-man

A giant of a different kind?!? Just what kind of a comic is this?!...What went down...
Having utilized the... sea-cock to lash the unconscious Namor with rehydrating ocean spray -- the team are quickly back in business, Namor swatting through the glass that encased Spider-man like it were a child's bug jar.

Upon returning to their evil den, Dorcas and Tigershark proceed to crap their pants. Dr. Dorcas exclaims his disbelief in such an escape, to which Tigershark remarks, "Yeah -- you just keep tellin' yourself that, Dorcas. Me -- I'm getting outta here!"

Quick! Somebody call the Street Sharks!!!Subby takes flight in pursuit of his mortal enemy, leaving Spider-man to deal with Dr. Dorcas. An apparent mismatch, until Dorcas springs forth his mighty Men-Fish, collectively called - THE AQUANOIDS.

While Spidey finds himself ensnared in an octopus-like tentacle, Namor catches up with the dirty rat who killed his father.
The two exchange insults before coming to blows, but when they finally hit, they go at it like a couple o' bulls.

The two titans of the sea fight their way into the back area of the underwater lair, but the edge so swiftly taken by the Sub-Mariner begins to lessen as he finds himself dehydrated under the extreme lights.
He realises this all too late as Tigershark unloads a devestating assault, kicking him through what appears to be an emtpy set of shelves!

No! Not my outfit! It distracts the eye from my face!Ever the tenacious warrior, Sub-Mariner fights on whilst pondering how Tigershark is able to keep his cool.
Through tussling, he realises trickery lies beneath the surface and tears away at the orange and purple costume of the Tigershark -- revealing a reserve of life-giving water!

With his plan foiled, Tigershark suffers one mighty punch from the Atlantean ruler that knocks him all the way into a load baring wall. As Namor watches on, the very structure they stand in begins to crumble upon his enemy's unconscious body.

Meanwhile, Spidey is making light work of the quartet of mutant Men-Fish, using various uppercuts and acrobatics to do away with them.

With the structure crumbling around them, Sub-Mariner hurries his ally into the tube which brought them to the depths via a decoy ship.
The two diver overboard, making a swim toward some nearby rocks. They have premium seats as the ship explodes, signifying the destruction of Dr. Dorcas' lair.

But now that it's over and we've royally fucked the place up, I can't help but wonder if my father would've preferred peace... Eh... Easy-come, easy-go. Everyone back to the palace for cheese and twister!Gazing upon the glorious fireworks, Namor wonders if perhaps his father would have preferred a peaceful resolution. A question that may never have an answer.

The hammer...
Ha! Never have I had a greater pleasure than crowning Namor and Spidey victors over Dr. Dorcas, Tigershark and the Aquanoids!

This at least makes up for the loss to Wolverine, which I kinda feel may have been a harsh and possibly incorrect judgment.

Never the less, the updates continue with only twelve days left of 2006.
I can't imagine catching up before the end of the year, but I'm gonna give it a red hot go anyway, for you. The readers! Shucks.

To facilitate that I'm working on the fly with issues that grab my attention, and enthusiasm. A bit of a hiccup part way through this one, but still an all-time favourite issue of mine.
Not just a favourite, but a childhood favourite.

Sub-Mariner's one of those characters I consider 'mine,' and this is probably one of the issues that really helped define the character for me. I couldn't really say what it is about the issue, either.
Like Daredevil #132, this seventies book distinctly lacks the qualities of highbrow poetry. Yet, somehow, there's a resonance with this issue that really rings true to this day.

Perhaps it's the pathos of the Sub-Mariner character, who despite great power, seeks to avenge a death he can never change. The fact that this awful event brings him to the streets where he comes into conflict with Spider-man, and therein even admits the follies of previous occasions when he came to the land with war on his mind.
The issue really highlights the duelling qualities of Namor as the original Marvel loner, but also as the 'Kevin Bacon' of the Marvel universe, as he teams with Spider-man. A trait he and fellow pseudo-loner Spider-man have in common.

Plus, even away from the story, full credit to W. Howard and Glynis Wein who take care of inks and colours, respectively.
Gil Kane lays down masterful pencils, but what really sells the issue for me is the flat, vivid colouring and solid inks. Something you may have come to realise I'm a big fan of.
These two pieces of the puzzle really help drive a truly graphic story, willfully indulging in the cartoony qualities, without sacrificing respect for visual accuracy and tone.

The opening scenes where a trenchcoat/hat Namor is attacked by thugs in a back alley, while littered with purples, blues and yellows, still manages to have the urban grit just such a scene demands.
It's got it's weaknesses, but this is still a great comic, and I think those street scenes in particular have impressed an idea of Namor upon me that is perhaps not well recognised anymore.
Lest we forget he spent quite some time on the streets of New York as a vagrant.

That's about enough from me, though.
Hopefully you'll be hearing from me again very soon. Cheers, happy holidays!

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 4.5

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