Friday, February 19, 2010

Peril in the Surface World

Season: 1
Episode Number: 1a
Season Episode Number: 1a
Production Number:


Voices: John Vernon (Namor), Bernard Cowan (Narrator, Lord Vashti), Peg Dixson (Lady Dorma), (Mrs. B), (Freddie), (George), (Police Officer), (Police Captain), (Helicopter Pilot).

Plot: A strange compulsion draws Namor to the surface world. A mysterious old woman has has him tracked down by her two stooges.

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Namor is not my favourite superhero. I find that I can't really identify with him, and most of the time he is portrayed as a jerk. But this episode paints him in a bit of a different light, which I will talk more about in chapter three.

I tried my hardest to find out which comic this episode was taken from, but I couldn't find it. I even asked a few people whom I consider to be Sub-Mariner experts, but no luck. Namor has been around since Marvel Comics #1 in 1939, back when Marvel Comics was called Timely Comics. He had his own title throughout the 40s and 50s, but by the look of the drawings in this series, it would be his adventures in Tales to Astonish in the 60s that would be adapted to animation.

My guess is that this episode was made specifically for this series. They may have lifted drawings from issues here and there, but the compositions of the frames, the beautiful backgrounds, and the increase in the amount of animation make the Sub-Mariner segment stand out above the other segments of the Marvel Super Heroes and lead me to believe that this is new content. Plus there is the matter of Namor's attitude toward the surface, which I'll mention in chapter three.

If anyone can correct me on this and point me toward the comic this episode is from, please leave a comment!

Back to Episode Guide


Anonymous said...

FYI: There's an article about the Marvel Super Heroes show in the December 2009 issue of Alter Ego magazine (#90). It suggests that new Sub-Mariner stories may have been written by Marvel specifically for the show because they didn't have enough stories to adapt for that character. It also mentions that at least one story may have appeared on the show before it ran in the comics!

One thing the article doesn't mention is Mark Evanier's claim that Spider-Man was originally going to be one of the five characters featured on the Marvel Super Heroes show, but he was replaced by Sub-Mariner before the show went into production. See this post on his Web site:

This might explain why the show's producers were scrambling around to get Sub-Mariner stories written. Maybe the Subby/Spidey swap was an eleventh-hour decision, made before anyone realized that they wouldn't have access to the original art for anything but a handful of Tales to Astonish stories.

Anonymous said...

Here's a pretty clear example of a story that appeared on the MSH TV show before it happened in the comics: The character Byrrah first appeared in the comics in Tales to Astonish #90, cover-dated April 1967. According to Wikipedia’s article about “cover dates,” American comics at that time appeared on the newsstands two months prior to their cover date. Therefore, comic readers first saw Byrrah in February of 1967. But Byrrah is the central villain in the Sub-Mariner cartoon episode “To Conquer a Crown,” which supposedly aired in early October, 1966!