comics

Oldest Surviving Piece of Marvel Comics Original Art Stars Namor

Marvel SVP and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort shared an extraordinary find: the oldest documented piece of Marvel comic art. The piece is a black-and-white version of the last page of the original Sub-Mariner story from Marvel Comics #1, which was published on Aug. 31, 1939.

Aside from the lack of color, it’s relatively unchanged from its published counterpart and even features writer/artist Bill Everett’s signature. On the page, Prince Namor and his cousin Dorma are surrounded by sailors on a lighthouse and, as a means of escape, they jump to a nearby plane. Namor then knocks out the pilot and instructs Dorma to wreck the plane before diving back into the water, a behavior pattern that would help define the character as an early example of the comic book antihero.

This piece is amongst a number of rare comic images Brevoort has posted on social media to help entertain comic fans during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While the artwork feels fluid and kinetic, the dialogue shows its age in a few places, most notably how the final panel text frames Namor’s agenda as a “crusade against White Men.” Nevertheless, Brevoort’s unveiling of this post coincides quite well with the March 11 release of Sub-Mariner: Marvels Snapshot, the first in a series of specials about Marvel’s Golden Age heroes from its Timely Comics days.

That said, a rumor about Marvel Studios’ upcoming film The Eternals depicting the sinking of Atlantis could hint at Namor’s live-action debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These rumors have yet to be confirmed, though fans are still hoping the mutant King will make an appearance soon.

 BEN WASSERMAN

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