Comics

Namor and Captain America: Frenemies for Life

Deciphering the dynamic between Cap and the Sub-Mariner over the years!

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Captain America’s agenda to create a Hydra world order in Secret Empire has brought him into conflict with many former friends and allies—and in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #18 on June 21, it happens once again as Namor arrives.

As one of Rogers’ oldest allies, the Sub-Mariner has proven both friend and foe in the past, as the antihero and King of Atlantis always has his own agenda. Take a look back at the highs and lows of this friendship as you prepare to find out which side Namor will join during Secret Empire!

Golden Age origins

Captain America and Namor the Sub-Mariner both pre-date the modern Marvel Universe, debuting respectively in 1941 and 1939. MARVEL COMICS #1, published by Timely, featured the first public appearance of Namor, while the appropriately named CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 brought Steve Rogers into the world. The duo also appeared together as members of the All-Winners Squad, a short-lived team from the 1940s that served as a blueprint for another Marvel team that would come many years later in real time—but in the Marvel Universe debuted before them—the Invaders.

The Invaders

Subby and Cap served together during World War II as part of the Invaders, a team that also included the Original Human Torch, Bucky, Toro, and others. Together they helped the Allies fight the Nazis and superhuman villains like Master-Man and Baron Blood. After World War II, the members would go their separate ways, with Rogers believed dead, but actually frozen in an ice block. Namor later lost his memory. But the bond formed between the team proved strong; with many of the heroes still alive, revived or replaced by descendants in the modern era, the Invaders rose again on several occasions, most recently in 2010’s INVADERS NOW! limited series and the 2014 ALL-NEW INVADERS.

Modern revival

With the birth of the modern Marvel Universe in the 1960s, both Namor and Captain America returned to action. Namor’s memory returned thanks to some help from a different Human Torch, Johnny Storm, while Captain America’s escape from his icy prison came about thanks in part to the Sub-Mariner himself. When the King of Atlantis came across a group of Inuits worshiping a man frozen in ice, Namor—not knowing who he lifted over his head—ended up throwing Captain America into the ocean, leading to the ice thawing and the Avengers rescuing the WWII hero.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #18 cover by Elizabeth Torque

Avengers Assemble!

AVENGERS #262, published back in 1985, found the team confronting a down-in-the-dumps Namor. Hercules’ solution? Brawl! After the two fought, Captain America offered something besides fisticuffs: namely a place on the team. Namor officially became an Avenger, serving on and off for years, and even replacing their meeting table, which he broke, with one from Atlantis, out of respect for his friend, Steve Rogers.

Fallen Son

When Captain America apparently died in 2007, following the events of Civil War, the FALLEN SON series detailed the various reactions to his demise, by Wolverine, Hawkeye, and many others. After the funeral, Iron Man, The Wasp, and Hank Pym revealed that they took his body to the Arctic, to drop it into the sea once again. Namor showed up and told them, “… as long as I rule these oceans, Steve Rogers’ rest will go undisturbed.”

AvX

Rogers eventually got better, returning to life and the Avengers. Namor, meanwhile, billed as “Marvel’s First Mutant,” made it official and joined the X-Men. When the threat of the Phoenix returned, aiming for Earth and seemingly the mutant girl named Hope, the Avengers confronted the X-Men, leading to a battle between the two teams. The Phoenix ended up possessing five mutants, including the Sub-Mariner, who went on to wage war against Wakanda. Captain America led a team of Avengers against his friend, making him the first of the Five to fall.

Illuminati

For years Namor served with another team, the Illuminati, which included Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and other members working behind the scenes to keep the world safe and sometimes making hard decisions in doing so. Captain America eventually found out about it, and for a very brief time even worked with them. But when the group wanted to create a weapon to destroy an alternate Earth on a crash course with their own, Cap refused, and his friends turned on him, wiping him of his memory. Namor eventually formed the Cabal, a group dedicated to stopping these incursions by any means possible, while Cap would get his memory back…

What will Secret Empire mean for the duo? Find out in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #18 on June 21!