The Hulk!  The Silver Surfer!  Namor, The Sub-Mariner!  In days to come, they will be known as the core of the Defenders, but at the dawn of the 1970s, they were merely the Titans Three!  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Sub-Mariner #35 awaits!

Submariner35CoverSUB-MARINER #35
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Jim Mooney
Letterer: Jean Izzo
Editor: Stan Lee
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 15 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $44.00

Previously in Sub-Mariner: In the earliest days of the Marvel Universe, the team options were as follows: Five guys got to be X-Men, four got to be in the FF, and between four and seven were allotted to the Avengers.  That left a of lot Marvel stalwarts with no official team-up options.  Spider-Man got around it with his lengthy stint in ‘Marvel Team-Up’, as was as his unofficial role as “new-hero-greeter” in the second or third issue of any new hero’s book.  After his own book’s cancellation in the late 60s, Doctor Strange appeared first in the Sub-Mariner’s book, then the Hulk’s to fight the menace of The Undying Ones, forging bonds of camaraderie between the most individualistic heroes in Marvel’s arsenal.  Those ties came into play in the previous issue of Sub-Mariner, as Namor, faced with the problem of a weather control device that threatened his Atlantean kingdom, called upon his gamma-irradiated ally and the melancholy sentinel of the spaceways known as the Silver Surfer, bringing the fourth member of what would become the core of the Defenders into social (you should excuse the expression) orbit with the others…

Descending from the night sky like a shirtless three-headed comet, the Titans Three arrive at the hidden island that houses the weather-control station.  As is his wont, The Hulk grows impatient with all the talky-talk and leaps from the Surfer’s board to deal with the threat in his own straight-forward manner…


As an aficionado of the under-appreciated pencils of Sal Buscema, I’m very pleased to see how smooth they look in this issue, paired with the inks of veteran Jim Mooney.  Tempers flare for a moment, and it seems that Namor and The Hulk will come to blows, but the Silver Surfer reminds them of the reason for their alliance: safely stopping the NUCLEAR WEATHER CONTROL device before Namor’s people are wiped out (or at least, glow in the dark.)  Unfortunately, the surface-dwellers in question aren’t a group of super-villains or Hydra rogues, but an actual United Nations contingent with the ability to call for backup…

SERIOUS backup.


Meanwhile, somewhere in New York City…


Captain America’s instincts pay off quickly, as the U.N. emergency call summons the on-call Avengers (who are, not coincidentally, the three most powerful heroes on the team) to the Caribbean to face the threat of what seems to be three of their compatriots gone rogue.  On their trip, the trio reminisces how The Hulk was originally one of their founding members, while Thor reports on his collision with the Surfer (in the classic Silver Surfer #10 some months before) and all three men worry about the hair-trigger might of the legendary Sub-Mariner.


Back at the atoll, Namor successfully calls in his science team to examine the station (remember, Atlantean super-science is light-years ahead of the average joe at this point in the game) in peaceful fashion, or at least as peaceful a fashion as Prince Namor is capable.  The sudden arrival of a Quinjet brings tensions to a head, though, and once again, The Hulk has no interest in standing by and listening to Thor and Namor parley…


In his defense, both Thor and Iron Man have a history of dropping out of the sky and walloping Hulk for reasons his brain isn’t quite able to fathom, so you can’t blame him for his distrust.  Iron Man takes to the air against the Surfer, and Golath wades into the Sub-Mariner’s savage punches, while The Hulk’s swift-and-blinding violence actually gets the better of the Thunder God.

Sadly, his strategy for taking Thor down is stymied by Asgardian magic…


Tony Stark and Norrin Radd meet head-on, a collision that leaves both men nearly unconscious, while Clint Barton discovers that guts and a giant-sized right cross are of little use when you’re drowning…


The most important thing to take away from this issue: Had they really meant to harm The Avengers, the Titans Three could have left all three of their foes D-E-A-D, rather than just nursing bruised egos.  (Even Thor might have fallen if The Hulk waited a few more seconds and took a shot at the all-too-human Donald Blake.)  The battle is brought to a halt when Namor’s chief scientist discovers that, with only the slightest stress, the station’s machinery could overdrive and explode, leaving the island (and a large chunk of the ocean, including Namor’s Atlantis) a radioactive ruin for centuries.  The Avengers realize why Namor has acted and stand down, while the U.N. and the Sub-Mariner agree to more study before activating the device.

This does not go over well with the Green-Skinned Goliath…


Though their alliance is broken, it wouldn’t be more than a year before Namor, The Hulk and Doctor Strange officially formed The Defenders, with Surfer floating in and out of the non-team as his nomadic nature allowed, and thus did the Marvel heroes least inclined to working with others find kinship together.  I gotta say, this issue looks AMAZING, even allowing for the 45 years worth of changes to comic production and art styles, with Buscema and Mooney meshing incredibly well (and Clint’s Goliath suit looking as good as I’ve ever seen it.)  Namor even gets to be the voice of reason here, though it is his book, and Sub-Mariner #35 balances out to be one heck of an entertaining ride, making it clear why the Defenders became a thing sooner rather than later and earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. 

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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

1 Comment

  1. I loved this issue. Iron-Man hitting the Surfer with a repulser ray just as his started his monologue was great. As well as Namor knocking out giant man with one punch and then having to save him right after.

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