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Sub-Mariner vs. The Original Human Torch

In Tales to Astonish Starring the Sub-Mariner, Issue #14, 1981, Prince Namor takes on the original Human Torch (not to be confused with Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four).

In this age-old battle of fire vs water, the Human Torch attacks Namor by surprise. Torch gets the upper hand and is being commanded by the Mad Thinker to deal the final blow. The Torch tries to resist the command, only intending to capture Namor, not kill him.

The Mad Thinker berates the Torch, levelling the rather insulting words: You were never more than an Android! In the Torch’s conflict to act, which seems to be influenced by the collar he’s wearing, Namor makes an escape.

This time it’s the Sub-Mariner’s chance to take his opponent by surprise and douses the Torch’s flame by creating a swirling whirlpool. In doing so, Torch’s collar/amulet is damaged and he can think for himself, no longer under the command of the Mad Thinker.

Both of them then decide to pay the Thinker a visit, after which the Torch gains clarity about his true origins.

In this issue is artwork of Sub-Mariner vs The Original Human Torch, originally published in Marvel Mystery Comics #9 in 1940. What’s clear in the artwork (below) is the difference in how superheroes were portrayed between the 1940s and 1980s. In 1940, Namor and the Torch look like regular people, albeit regular people with superhuman powers. Within a few decades they are portrayed with huge muscles, reflecting a change in body image trends that celebrated the bodybuilder-style look (which also helps explain why comics in the 60s, 70s & 80s were sprawled with muscle-building products and courses such as Charles Atlas’ Dynamic Tension).

Sub-Mariner vs. The Original Human Torch, 1940

Then in 1989 Marvel Comics published a twelve-issue limited series of The Saga of The Sub-Mariner, with issue #4 having Sub-Mariner once again go against The Original Human Torch.

Sub-Mariner vs. The Original Human Torch

Namor goes to New York to wage war on the air-breathers / land-dwellers. The Human Torch, who is part of New York’s police force, is dispatched to bring him to his senses. Torch tells Namor he’s being arrested; something Namor isn’t too pleased about.

A fight ensues until Namor is able to douse Torch’s flame, which makes him retreat for the time being. The Human Torch finds Namor after a television broadcast in order to commence round 2 of their fight. During an explosion, Torch is busy trying to contain the flames, which gives Namor the opportunity to trap him in an air-tight tube. This gives them both an opportunity to talk thing out and they leave each other on somewhat friendly terms.

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