Two Staple Gold: Savage Sub-Mariner #72
So here’s the scoop, I’m a massive Swamp Thing fan. For my money, all other monsters pale in comparison. Anytime a cruddy creature pops up in a comic with “Thing” as part of it’s moniker it piques my interest. As far as the titular character, other than John Byrne’s take in the early 90’s, Namor has never made waves for me. But the moment I saw the cover for this one, It became a must read. This is also the last issue of the series so I had a feeling the ankle wings were free to fly and some wackiness may be in store.
“Just use that cinnamon bun you call a fist to call somebody who cares”
Before we get started on the story, here are the fine folks who fished this out of their imaginations.
Out of college, writer Steve Skeates started his career as Stan Lee’s assistant performing proof reading duties. It was quickly discovered that editing wasn’t his forte and he began writing for Marvel and every publisher in the industry. Working in multiple genres, he’s had notable runs on Aquaman, Plastic Man and is the co-creator of Hawk and Dove.
Artist Dan Adkins worked primarily in advertising prior to comics. In the 60’s he joined the Wally Wood studio and later landed inking and penciling jobs for a slew of companies. In the 2000’s he illustrated products for Parker Brothers.
Without further ado, it’s time to slap on your bikini and take a dip into The Savage Sub Mariner #72 “From the Void It Came”! Cover dated September 1974.
We surface dwellers are a bunch of a-holes. It’s true, just ask Namor. He’s swimming through our rubbish and hating on humans. It’s like a PSA reminding people that carelessly throwing a sneaker away really ruins one’s day. Well, in all fairness Namor is already pissed about the annihilation of Atlantis that occurred in a previous issue so a spare tire is just the skin on poo poo pudding.
“Hey, quit bitching and pick that crap up!”
Let’s travel back in time. Two years according to the writer. As we will come to find out, he likes adding arbitrary details into the plot. An alien life form that looks like space snot floats into a satellite. In the next panel a mysterious hand discovers a destruct button he seemed to misplace. It’s clearly labeled but I suppose working around doohickeys takes it’s toll and the boom key starts to resemble the on switch for the television. The satellite explodes and the galactic goo goes for a ride.
“The brochure says Cacophonous Caverns is quite the vacation destinat…KABLOOIE”
The debris plummets into the ocean. Settling at the bottom of the sea the booger from beyond admires the aquatic life and decides to form a body. It takes the entirety of those aforementioned two years but it’s successful in creating a humanoid form. This got me thinking. As far as we know it’s never seen a person but has a hard on for fish. So why would it have our characteristics? I would’ve paid to been part of the design meeting. For the headset alone. Yes, this thing decided to use some wreckage as a fashion statement and it’s friggin’ glorious. It’s actually referred to as a “wild party hat”. That’s my kind of shindig! Check it out:
“RISE and enjoy he splendors of AM/FM radio!”
Cut back to our sulking Sub Mariner pondering his disdain for humans on a dock. There, he’s spotted by two dudes, one of whom happens to hate hybrid species and doesn’t want any “fish men” hanging around. Our next PSA is about prejudice brought to you by Adolph Hitler. No joke. This is a final issue so I understand the impulse to say “fuck it” but quoting the most despised despot from the 20th century is more than a little odd. Anywhoos, the main goon named Bruce goes all Chuck Norris and sucker kicks Subby. Apparently this guy also can’t stand buttons.
“Pop collar kick! Heeyaa!!”
I’m going to refer to the mysterious membrane as Slime Thing now as touted on the cover considering he’s rocking extremities and I’ve run out of funny phlegm references. Slimey has been watching the hostilities from the water like a creepy ex in your bushes waiting to witness tubby time. His first impression of our species won’t be favorable as Namor socks Bruce in the kisser, killing him. Bruce’s boy toy by the bay proceeds to tackle the Sub Mariner causing everyone to fall into the sea. Subby comes face to face with Slime Thing and the pal in polyester swims after Bruce’s lifeless body.
“The Sub Mariner has a psychiatrist for a narrator”
When encountering a monster in the murky depths your first instinct is to punch the hell out of it right? That’s all fine and dandy for some superhero sluggery but I would be inclined to warn him that electronics and H2O are a bad combo. Sure it looks rad to have all that gear on your dome but toasters would make horrible galoshes y’know.
“Well, there goes the neighborhood…er…reef”
Namor isn’t the advice giving kinda guy like yours truly so they proceed to pound the ever livin’ porpoise out of each other. We do get a nifty little tidbit during the throw down though. Did you know 62% of explosions in fictional orbits are caused by shrouded figures in the Motor City? Me neither, considering I just pulled that stat out of my ass. For no reason whatsoever we are told that was the detonators location. So be weary of the digits in Detroit, they are capable of dastardly deeds!
“Meanwhile, a hand in Vancouver picks lint from a navel”
Slime Thing emanates flashes from his eyes that blind Namor, yet he continues to fight. This show of will and determination is shocking to his gunky opponent who basically decides “Screw this, I’m out!”. So while Namor has him in an awkward hug, he blows his own head off. Pop goes the weasel baby, ditching one of my favorite looks in the history of comics. Fear not, he didn’t commit suicide but rather reverted to his original form and made course for wherever he originally came from. While traveling through the sky, it proves to be loving ooze, using it’s power again, resurrecting Bruce from the dead. More Like a kid who got his tonsils out compared to someone who just received a new lease on life, Bruce thinks reading a wrestling magazine is the best way to celebrate. Way to go Duchey McDingle.
“The most unintentionally erotic page of 1974”
Namor is all bent out of shape now he’s been robbed of his vision and realizes if only he tried to understand the creature instead of treating it like a soggy pinata he would still be able to wax his own eyebrows. Possibly feeling guilty, the alien flashes again as it passes through our solar system and restores the sight he had stolen. Lesson learned just in time for the end of the run.
I loved this book. Seriously. I will buy every copy I come across in the wild. Is the story THAT good? Nope. The art is pretty iffy and if it wasn’t for the inks by the legendary Vince Colletta, this may have been a tough read. It’s just so zany, I can’t help but dig the crap out of it. I also have a radical idea.
Marvel should totally bring Slime Thing back. I firmly believe the concept and character is more interesting than Man-Thing. Yeah, I said it. Manny is so damn boring, I would prefer Slime Thing with his crown of circuits any day of the week. Take your stupid elephant trunk and dull continuity elsewhere.
This was his only appearance. One and done. How nobody thought a shape shifting alien with untapped abilities and shitty fashion sense was usable all these years is beyond me. He’s been collecting dust for 43 years. Couldn’t he at least have been tossed in somewhere as cannon fodder or even a punchline? Shame really, I find him quite fun. If anyone at the House of Ideas reads this, call me. I have some great ideas for my new BFF.
To my fellow prowlers of the back issue bins, reel in a copy of this for your collections. If for nothing else than the awesome cover that has zero to do with the actual plot of the book or if you want to get hooked on some classic Namor.
David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.
images are rights of Marvel Comics