Thursday, September 6, 2012

A "Marvel" of the Marvel Age

One of the hardest working talents in Marvel's stable of artists during the Silver Age of comics was also one of its most unsung--Marie Severin, a stalwart who mainly drew Sub-Mariner and the Hulk (the latter both before and after he segued to his own title), but also notably Dr. Strange, as well as Iron Man, Spider-Man (don't ask me why Spider-Man got a hyphen and Iron Man didn't), Daredevil, et al. The image you see here comes from near the end of the original Tales To Astonish, a title which the Hulk and Sub-Mariner shared in back-to-back stories and which Severin had drawn for many issues. The two characters finally met in battle (thanks to the Puppet Master) before the series ended, with Severin continuing to draw the Hulk as Tales To Astonish was subsequently renamed The Incredible Hulk.

Interestingly, Namor decides to seek out the Hulk because of this reasoning:
"In the undersea realm, none are more powerful than I! And, upon the accursed surface world, the green-skinned Hulk is mightiest of all! Together, we will be invincible!"
What seems to slip Namor's mind is that they didn't prove so invincible (or so congenial) a pairing in Avengers #3, published four years prior, when they joined forces against that team. They bickered throughout the fight, with Namor at the end thinking the Hulk deserted and betrayed him. In fact, this little scene from that story should sum things up, which took place shortly after their alliance was formed:

Not an encounter, or an experience, that Namor was likely to forget. Yet in this newer story, it's like he's meeting the Hulk for the first time.  Talk about bygones.

Severin's art was always a little too stiff for my taste--and the smaller the panels, the more warped in appearance her characters seemed to become. Yet she was definitely the go-to person you wanted when you needed to get the work out. In contrast to other artists, she was less subtle. Her images got right to the point--lots of reaction expressions and poses, and quickly setting the pace for the story which probably made it very easy for the writer to step in and script. With characters like Namor and the Hulk, who never did a whole lot of deliberation before charging off to battle, her style was naturally suited to them.

During her time as an artist (she retired around 2005), I never read of any of her peers who didn't have the highest opinion of her talent. And by all accounts, she's one of the most wonderful people you could know. She was there when Marvel was just coming into its own--and her work always brings back good memories for me.

Here's a look at Marie Severin's expressive self-portrait.

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