Friday, October 26, 2018

Arrrr... I Be The True Sub-Mariner!

When it comes to formal occasions or matters of court, we can probably picture the Sub-Mariner not only wearing his crown but also decked out in royal raiment, while also including perhaps a pendant or two along with his trident; otherwise, he can almost always be seen au naturel amongst his subjects or even when traveling to the surface world. But in early 1973, his fellow Defenders didn't even bat an eye at a new accessory he began sporting on his left earlobe:

Aye, matey, a single earring, which materialized out of the blue in the middle of an adventure without explanation--or, rather, an explanation that the other Defenders would be privy to.

And so our ear is turned to another piercing

Marvel Trivia Question

What was behind Namor's decision to don an earring--and what became of it?

We can trace Namor's earring back to writer/artist Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner's original artist who stepped in to handle the scripting and art on the character's book for a brief period in the early 1970s. It was then that Everett introduced Namorita, Namor's young cousin who was used by his enemies (Llyra and Byrrah) to lure him into a trap. After the pair of villains were defeated, "Nita" developed a harmless infatuation for Namor before he arranged to leave her in the care of his dear friend, Betty Dean Prentiss; but before they parted, Nita wanted Namor to have a memento of their time together.

That took place in November of 1972; consequently, a few months later, Namor was seen wearing the earring as he battled with the Defenders:

We learned later that not only did the earring have mystic properties, but it could also be used to provide two-way communication between Nita and Namor--a feature which Nita took advantage of often enough, since she had a habit of finding herself involved in situations that her fellow college students somehow were able to avoid.

Mystical properties or not, the earring had its limitations--while Nita also overlooked giving her cousin a copy of the instruction manual for the thing.

By the time the earring began appearing in The Defenders, Everett had passed away at the age of 55; and those writers and artists who succeeded him on Sub-Mariner apparently had no wish to continue having either the earring or Nita make appearances. The earring's background was never explored (at least at the time), and so its only apparent function--providing a link between Namor and Nita--would be rendered moot once Nita's role in Sub-Mariner was reduced. By that time, other artists in the book were turning in work that didn't feature the earring at all.

Though for awhile, if you looked closely, you could see where the book's later artists placed a stud on that earlobe, which seemed a very thoughtful gesture that in a way paid homage to the character's creator.

The earring continued to appear in Sub-Mariner until July of 1973 (when Everett's posthumous work for the book had been exhausted), and in The Defenders until the following month.


Anonymous said...

Back in the '90s an ear-ring was quite popular among young men in this country - they were a common sight. Nowadays I never see any young men wearing earrings so I assume they went out of fashion. Perhaps all those earrings were actually communication devices and all the wearers were in contact with each other - as the internet and smartphones became popular it was no longer necessary to wear an earring to contact somebody else so earrings fell out of fashion.

How can Marvel make a Sub-Mariner movie now? They'll be accused of copying the Aquaman movie.

dbutler16 said...

Amazing. I never knew that Namor wore an earring.
and I think Colin may be onto something with his theory.

Comicsfan said...

Well, dbutler, if Colin is right and we tossed out those earrings in favor of mobile phones, I consider that taking a huge step backward! Nita can reach Namor in the depths of the ocean, loud and clear; but degradation of signal strength with our surface wireless carriers remains a fact of life, even decades after this story saw print.

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with an earring, but Namorita could have also suggested Subby put some pants on, for cryin' out loud. Sheesh.