Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Oil, that is. Black Gold. Texas Tea.

OR: "Prince Over A Barrel"

In the 50th issue of Sub-Mariner, we saw that Namor's creator, artist Bill Everett, had stepped aboard to help the sea prince make a course correction and get his book back on track--which began with Namor's return to his south polar home, where he met for the first time his young cousin, Namorita, and faced the twin menaces of Llyra and Prince Byrrah. Upon seeing the former usurper of the throne of Lemuria, Namor overcame his loss of memory which he'd been afflicted with, and at long last fatally dealt with Llyra, who had been responsible for the murder of his beloved Lady Dorma.

But apparently Namor didn't get the memo that this was a two-part story--and he and "Nita" have forgotten all about the second half of that deadly alliance, who by no means has forgotten about them:

Again Byrrah insists that Namor help to rebuild their ruined royal city--but what's his angle? Why has he gone to such trouble to lure Namor back to his ancestral home? Why did he form an alliance with Llyra? And how did he come to find Nita and use her as a hostage?

We'll learn all of that and more--but first, a battle royal battle of royals!

Now that Namor has his memory back, he seems to have much more on the ball in the fighting department--so he swiftly disarms his once-rival for the throne. But it looks like Byrrah has been spending a little time at the gym, to Namor's surprise--and the battle is on!

Byrrah has always been something along the lines of Namor's Loki as an antagonist--looking for ways to cause difficulty for Namor in their youth, and becoming his fierce rival and nemesis in adulthood. It's clear that Byrrah has lost little to none of his bitterness toward his cousin--but it's doubtful Namor ever anticipated a maneuver like this:

But we're not so limited as to Byrrah's whereabouts, and we're witness to a meeting which shows that Byrrah has struck another alliance--this time, with hostile aliens who have visited Earth before:

Brother Royale seems amused at Byrrah's assertiveness; frankly, I'm delighted by it. Despite his ambition and resourcefulness, Byrrah hasn't been successful at advancing behond his station or making much headway in his plans--but here he not only attempts to stand on equal ground with the Badoon, but also implies that he's basically in the driver's seat as far as being the only one who can get them what they've come to Earth for.  And that, as we've just learned, is the oil reserves that Byrrah has discovered near his ruined homeland. As to the reason why, Brother Royale only provides us with partial disclosure for now:

Rest assured, that scheme will be revealed as we go along. For now, we need to learn a few other things--and the best person to give both ourselves and Namor the answers is Namorita, who begins her story with the ill-fated meeting between her mother, Namora, and the evil Llyra:

Llyra's power play led to the alliance with Byrrah, and further plotting:

Which brings us up to the point where Nita encountered Namor in the previous issue--the "task" that Llyra spoke of, to find Namor and return with him. Yet Nita was too exhausted to realize she'd indeed crossed paths with him, and so returned in failure and became a hostage to ensure Namor's cooperation. Llyra paid for that plan with her life--while Byrrah's part in this drama is still unfolding.

During Nita's recounting of her story, the pair come across a location well familiar to Namor. Yet it also serves as a reminder to Namor that his abdication was not without good reason:

Byrrah then returns amidst an eruption of the oil-spring, to repeat his demands of Namor. But this time he tempers his words and presents them as more of an offer, as well as now letting Namor know that he doesn't act alone. Namor's response is what you might expect:

As you can imagine, Brother Royale is not pleased at Byrrah's lack of progress. And in giving Byrrah a final veiled threat, he alludes to the importance of the oil beyond a strategic sense:

So it's time we found out about this oil, and why it's affecting everyone's decisions and actions. We know from Namor that it's become irradiated--but how? A sunken wreck gives us the answer, and also reveals how those killer crabs that attacked Namor became mutated:

It becomes clear to Namor that the oil in the underground caverns must be sealed, and the springs capped. Luckily, there's always another sunken wreck around when you need one:

Unfortunately, Byrrah sees what Namor is planning, and he has no intention of letting his hybrid cousin destroy his meal ticket with the Badoon. But, on the verge of Byrrah ordering his mutant crabs to the attack, Namor catches him and deprives him of his Badoon weaponry. At this point, Brother Royale has had it with Byrrah and his delays--and in his rage, reveals just why he's taken such steps to secure the oil, just before launching an attack of his own:

However, again, Byrrah is full of surprises. And Badoon meets crab, in a very one-sided battle:

All of which gives Namor the chance to once and for all dispose of the reason for all the fighting:

Byrrah, evading Namor's vengeful retribution thanks to Nita, departs to lick his wounds and fight another day. And our other villain of the story gives a classic villain "you haven't seen the last of...!" declaration on their way out of the solar system:

With the next issue, we'll see that Namor hasn't quite finished turning up old figures from his past. But this one will turn out to be a pleasant reminder of days gone by--even though the reunion will bring about another clash of fire vs. water! Who's steamed up at Namor this time?

Sub-Mariner #51

Script: Mike Friedrich
Pencils and Inks: Bill Everett
Letterer: John Costa (a/k/a John Costanza)


Anonymous said...

Boy, Byrrah and that Badoon guy look like they fell out of The Ugly Tree and hit every branch on the way down. Yikes.

Iain said...

Curious I thought Byrrah was blue skinned like other Atlantians, I swear he was blue in a Tales to Astonish appearance i remember.