Sunday, January 26, 2014

Readers' Write (15): Who's the Best...Sub-Mariner Artist AND Version of a Character With Multiple Versions?

While Karen and Doug are on vacation in January, our readers have been entrusted with carrying on the daily conversations.  Today's "Who's the Best?" is a do-it-yourselfer.  As we've done in the past, the first commenter gets to pick today's topic of conversation.

Generally speaking, "Who's the Best?" is for historical topics.  For example, in the past we've started conversations such as "Who's the Best -- Thor Artist?" and "Who's the Best -- Frankenstein Monster?"  Start a conversation that is broad enough to elicit an ongoing conversation, and that even might lend itself to tangential musings.

Thanks for holding it down for us!

I'm going to exercise a bit of editorial control today.  Reader M.P. brought up the topic of the Sub-Mariner, which we discussed at length a few years ago.  However, frequent commenter Rip Jagger took M.P.'s mention of Jack Kirby's treatment of the character and turned the conversation toward Who's the Best... Sub-Mariner Artist?  That's a worthy topic, and one I don't think we've covered in the past.

Then our pal Osvaldo Oyola suggested a topic that plays off one we ran about 18 months ago when he asked Who's the Best... Version of a Character With Multiple Versions?

So that's what we're doing today -- two topics for you to mull over.  Thanks, everyone, for your participation over these weeks in January.  Karen and I return with new material next Saturday!



Anonymous said...

I'm not suggesting this as a topic for general discussion, but talking about favorites, I always thought Kirby's version of the Sub-Mariner was the classic version.
Hey, now that I'm thinking about it, why not have a discussion about Namor? Probably Marvel's most interesting character.
But if somebody else has a better idea, I won't be offended!

Rip Jagger said...

Subby has had some very distinctive looks.

Kirby's certainly redefined him for the Silver Age, but the definitive look to my mind must be Bill Everett's interpretation.

I fell in love with Everett's lush lines and elegant storytelling when I found those old Subby stories tucked away in various reprints. Subby stories were a good size for emergencies and seemed to get used a lot, and thanks to Everett they still looked good.

When I first started on Marvel, John Buscema was the guy in charge of Subby's look and he was giving him a more bullet-headed look. That stayed with Marie Severin, who I consider maybe the best of the Silver Age artists on the character.

Subby got back his mildly triangle-head look when Sal Buscema came to the title, likely an editorial mandate and he kept that most of the time since, though I noticed John Byrne didn't care for it.

So for my money Bill Everett is definitive all time, Marie Severin is best Silver Age, and after that I find I like an assortment including but not limited to Sal Buscema and Ross Andru, both of whom drew him in Defenders.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

I always liked Subby because he was the epitome of the short fuse, he would get in fist-fights with the Hulk, and occasionally punch out Iron Man!
It seemed like those two guys just didn't get along!

mr. oyola said...

How about who's the best version of a superhero with multiple versions?

I was inspired by all the folk who kept saying that Clint Barton as Goliath was best.

Edo Bosnar said...

With all due respect to Everett as the character's creator, by far my favorite Subby artist is John Buscema. Usually when I think of Namor, the first image that comes to mind is something drawn by Big John, either from the solo series or even later in the 1980s, when he was a member of the Avengers during Stern's run on the title.

As for the best version of a multiple-version superheroes, since Osvaldo mentioned Goliath, my favorite Giant Man/Goliath is Bill Foster, just because I always had a soft spot in my heart for him.

Here's a few others I'll throw out:
My favorite Captain Marvel: Mar Vell - he just has the best history, and nothing beats those stories by Starlin, or the later material by Englehart and Moench. I really like Monica Rambeau, but I don't think she should have had the hand-me-down name.

Favorite Red Tornado: Ma Hunkel - I really didn't like the android at all.

Favorite Red Guardian: Tania Belinsky - introduced during Gerber's outstanding run on Defenders, she was just a fascinating character. And I also liked the friendship she struck up with Luke Cage. It's too bad nobody but Gerber ever made good use of her.

Anonymous said...

Mar-vell was the best Captain Marvel. Maybe besides that Shazam guy, the big red cheese. But the multiverse is big enough to handle two Captain Marvels.
But that deal where Hawkeye became Goliath for no good reason was plumb dumb. That made no sense at all.

Teresa said...

Bill Everett's version gave Namor an exotic almost alien look. The first time I saw a reprint of Namor I thought his look was creepy and menacing.
But my favorite contemporary look is by George Perez. Yeah GP is good at everything. However GP excels at rage face! Namor needs an artist that can express his Bipolar swings.

My favorite Multiple Version character? Iron Man. Specifically all his different suits. Narrowing it down further, the Bob Layton era. He was more super agent with mission specific gadget armor. Iron Man is the only character that pulls off consistently changing his appearance. Wasp does it in a more superficial manner.

Yeah we can throw War Machine in there too. But that wasn't the angle I wanted to take.

mr. oyola said...

I don't know about different artist's take on Namor to have an opinion on that.

As for favorite versions of characters:

Captain Marvel: Mar-Vell, of course, but I do feel split on the whole Monica Rambeau/Carol Danvers Captain Marvel name thing.

Green Lantern: John Stewart

Goliath: Hank Pym. I want it to be Bill Foster, but his character is just not developed enough.

Iron Man: Arno Stark, Iron Man of 2020. He's a profiteering bad-guy with savage looking armor, and as far as I'm concerned the more honest version of what the Tony Stark Iron Man was all along.

Hulk: Green child-like Hulk

Beast: Blue-furred Beast

Doug said...

Put me in the "Subby by Big John Buscema" camp. His first run on Namor's solo book is beautiful. It's my goal at some point to do a "Doug's Favorites" on Sub-Mariner #8 (Namor vs. the Thing) -- I have it in a Marvel Treasury Edition.

If I didn't already say it a few days ago, I've been reading the tpb of Avengers Forever over the past several days. Hank Pym never looked better than in the blue-and-yellow togs of Goliath!

Beast? George Perez version, yes.

I'll take my Spider-Man as good ol' Peter Parker, MU version. Thank you.

I've warmed to Mar-Vell, not because I ever had any negative feelings toward the character but because I've read so much more of his adventures only recently. I liked Monica Rambeau well enough, but wish they'd have just gone with something like Photon from the beginning.

I may come back with others later.


Doc Savage said...

The best Captain Marvel is Billy Batson. None of the Marvel versions do anything for me except Monica Rambeau was a good character when handled by Roger Stern.

Best Green Lantern is Hal Jordan by Broome & Kane.

Best Batman is Adam West.

Best Flash for me was Barry Allen by Bates & Infantino, one of the first comics I actively sought out and am trying to reacquire.

Anonymous said...

Best Subby artist for me is a tie between Bill Everrett and Big John Buscema, with Our Pal Sal Buscema runnerup.

Best multiple version superhero has to be Green lantern, whichever persona he is.

- Mike 'multiple personality' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Subby used to have a triangle for head! I never understood that. He also used to squint a lot.
I'm just glad he's wearing pants now.

Anonymous said...

I meant "for a head" up there. Rather unfortunate omission.
Apologies from the world's worst typist.

William said...

My answer to most "Who's The Best Artist?" questions is usually John Byrne, if he's ever drawn the character for any length of time. And J.B. wrote and drew and "Namor" in his own series for a couple years, and I liked the book quite a lot. Byrne used the title to bring back some of my favorite classic characters like The Invaders and (most importantly) Iron Fist. So, I'll officially say that John Byrne is the best Sub-Mariner artist (IMHO).

As for characters with multiple versions, I'll go with Ted Kord as the Blue Beetle. Both the classic Ditko version and the version that appeared in Justice League International.

I also very much favor the Mar-Vell version of Captain Marvel.

Hey, I just realized those are two characters that Marvel and DC have killed that are apparently going to stay dead.

Bruce B. said...

I'll join the chorus of John Buscema as my favorite Namor artist. His mid-1980s Avengers run with Roger Stern is a high water mark on that book for me.

In a related note, I always liked the Monica Rambeau Captain Marvel better than the Mar-Vell version. Cosmic characters don't do much for me in general, and the new Captain's powers were really neat and original. Unfortunately, she wasn't used nearly as well by subsequent writers as she was during Stern's tenure.

Greg said...

John Buscema for me, on Subby.Just a classic look. Sal Buscema is close though, I don't have a lot of the old Sub Mariner series but I see a Masterworks is coming out soon covering issues 25-38 or something like that. I believe Sal is the artist for some or all of those issues, and I'm looking forward to picking that up. I've liked his version of Subby when I've seen it.

I'd also like to echo the commenter who mentioned the Layton run as best Iron Man version. Just loved that era for ol Shellhead.

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