Who won Marvel’s first superhero battle?
Namor and the Human Torch were two of the greatest heroes of the Golden Age, and their clash still resonates with significance.
The golden age of comics was a very different time, and when Namor and the first Human Torch debuted, many stories and tropes familiar to fans today were still in their nascent form. Over the years, Marvel has built a reputation for pitting its heroes against each other, and that tradition dates back to the clash between the very first heroes in the post.
The fight between Namor and the Human Torch of Marvel Mystery Comics The # 8 has earned its place in Marvel Universe history, but the outcome of the match rarely appears. Who really won the famous quarrel?
In 1940, superhero comics were very popular, but Human Torch and Namor were still in their infancy after their debut in 1939. Appearing in the same magazine, Marvel Mystery Comics, their accounts often portrayed them as good pulp heroes who nevertheless found themselves at odds with society. For Human Torch, these odds were often the source of misunderstanding as the android struggled to gain control of its ability to produce dangerous flames. The Aquatic Namor was more deliberately misanthropic, declaring war on the human race with his amazing physical abilities.
It was at the start of the comic that Namor’s War came to a head, angered by humanity’s attempts to execute it before. He started his one-man war in New York City, destroying many famous landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Holland Tunnel before installing his sites on the George Washington Bridge. It was on this bridge that the Human Torch went to meet its adversary for the first time. The two clashed on several occasions from that point on, and their first meeting set the pace for their battles.
With his physical superiority, Namor hurled steel beams at the torch which would then melt any object thrown in its path. When the two came to blows, they crashed into the city, demolishing everything in their path, and their battle eventually extended to the next issue. Their fight came to a head when Namor lifted a two-ton tube to trap the torch, depriving its flame of oxygen. Namor seemed to have won their battle, but he was as prisoner as his opponent.
Leaving the tube unattended would allow the Torch to break free, and opening it would ignite his opponent and begin their fight again. The fight ended in a stalemate, with an unlikely supporting character being the cause of the final conclusion. Policewoman Betty Dean was a supporting actor in Namor’s stories, drawing the attention of the submariner in the NYPD’s attempts to jail her. But her service in the force placed her close to the Torch, and eventually the policewoman negotiated an armistice between the two. Dean assured Namor that the Human Torch would not pursue him if Namor left New York without further problem. The battle thus ended ambiguously and started a long Marvel tradition.
Decades later, such sensational battles between Marvel’s heroes have become synonymous with the brand, and they’ve generally played out the same way. Two heroes would test their strength against each other, eventually end up in a kind of dead end, and cooler heads would eventually prevail. The clash between Namor and Human Torch became the model for superhero battles from that point on and cemented their place in their universe’s lore with titles like wonders describing it as a divine struggle that enabled the citizens of New York to realize for the first time the daring new world they witnessed.
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