Robot 6

Six Seven by 6 | Seven Seas, Seven Superheroes

MTV Geek recently ran a list of their 7 Best Superheroes of the Seven Seas and it got me thinking, as these things are designed to do. I love ocean-adventure comics and appreciate the topic, but on a list of superheroes, I think we can do better than One Piece and Last Airbender. Those are great characters; they’re just not superheroes. Superhero comics are full of fantastic, undersea heroes, so this is my list. To open up spots for some lesser-known (if not exactly obscure) characters, I decided to leave off the obvious Sub-Mariner and Aquaman. We can agree that they deserve to be here; I’m just not confident that I have anything new to say about them.

I worried at first about picking seven characters for a Six by 6 column, but since the precedent has been set…here they are in reverse order:

7. Triton

The Inhumans are a weird, mixed bag of characters. Medusa and Lockjaw are awesome, but Gorgon and Karnak? Not so much. Others – like Black Bolt and Crystal – are entirely dependent on who’s writing them. Triton’s one of the great ones though. An outsider amongst outsiders, Triton wears his strangeness right out there where it counts: on his skin. There’s something awesomely underdoggy about characters who can’t blend in with “normal” people and Triton gets props for not only being a fish-man, but looking like one too.

6. Marineman

In contrast to Triton, Marineman blends in with human society almost too well. Writer/artist Ian Churchill is still revealing the origins of his creator-owned hero, but what we do know is that Marineman (aka Steve Ocean) has worked hard to keep his powers from even his closest friends by hiding in plain sight as it were. He’s a popular marine biologist/activist with a reality TV show, but until recently everyone thought that was all he was. Everyone, that is, except for his mad scientist dad and the top-secret military group that they both work for. It’s a combination of that drama with the sheer awesomeness of the environments that Churchill’s designed (the undersea base, the marine research facility that supports Marineman’s public research, the ruins of Atlantis, etc.) that earns Marineman a spot on this list.

5. Sea Ghost

Sea Ghost is probably the most obscure character on this list, but he’s also one of the coolest. Spinning out of Jay Piscopo’s The Undersea Adventures of Capt’n Eli, Sea Ghost is as an homage to Space Ghost and other classic Hanna-Barbera characters and concepts.

Piscopo’s put a lot of thought into Sea Ghost and Capt’n Eli’s world. Though it’s a relatively new series, the allies and villains all have back-stories that give everything a sense of grandness, like every story is a special event. Even if you don’t know who Commander X and Lord Hydro are, seeing them team up with or fight against Sea Ghost is almost as exciting as if you’ve grown up with these characters and been waiting for this battle your entire life.

4. Mera

When I was growing up, Mera had a bad reputation for sitting at home in Atlantis and whining that Aquaman was neglecting his duties as husband and king. And there’s a certain amount of justification to that perception, because once they got married, she was written that way. But in Mera’s earliest appearances, she was a partner with Aquaman on his sea-trotting adventures. I’d say “equal partner,” but that’s not accurate. With her ability to control water, she was way more powerful than he was, making her post-marital sidelining even more criminal. Fortunately, Geoff Johns is working hard to return her to her former status as a true, fellow soldier in Aquaman’s mission.

3. Namora

Speaking of soldiers, how cool is Namora? She’s a total badass without all the douchery of the Sub-Mariner. Don’t get me wrong, I love Namor’s jerky side. It’s part of what makes him such a fascinating and enduring character. But rather than mimicking that with breasts, Namora’s her own woman. She’s tough, powerful, and enigmatic, but also able to work well with others, which opens a lot of great, unpredictable story possibilities.

2. Marrina

John Byrne once made a dismissive comment about Alpha Flight’s only reason for existence being to survive a fight with the X-Men. That’s been quoted a lot, but the John Byrne who said it seems like a very different person from the man who wrote the first 28 issues of the series. A lot of thought and care went into these characters and none more so than Marrina.

Her story is tragic in more ways than one. Found as an egg on the beach by a loving family of lighthouse-keepers, her quick development of underwater powers landed her a spot in Canada’s Beta Flight program. Her promotion into Alpha Flight however brought horrible consequences when – on her very first mission – she learned her true origin. Her sweet, shy demeanor was a product of the nurturing she’d received from her human family, but her true nature as a member of an alien race of world-conquerors was vicious, as Puck learned the hard way.

Even when she thought she got that under control and entered a romantic relationship with the Sub-Mariner, Marvel writers couldn’t leave her alone. They continued to bring up and manipulate her alien DNA whenever they didn’t know what else to do with her, which was all the damn time. Ultimately, she was unceremoniously killed, but like with Mera there’s hope that Marrina will get some interesting stories written around her in Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak, and Dale Eaglesham’s upcoming Alpha Flight mini-series. Her nature/nurture conflict deserves to be explored, not exploited as a cheap way to propel someone else’s plot.

1. Abe Sapien

This one has it all: Triton’s fish-man looks; a mysterious background like Marineman; the tragedy of Marrina; a fully-realized, but self-contained world to explore and lots of great team-up possibilities like Sea Ghost; the toughness and power of Namora. Abe may have started as just a cool-looking sidekick for Hellboy, but thanks to some one-shots, mini-series, and of course BPRD, he’s become nobody’s sidekick, but a hero and a respected leader.

So that’s my list. What’s yours? Any great, sea-based superheroes that I didn’t mention?

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Comments

38 Comments

Awesome list, and glad my 7 superheroes thing inspired yours – I’m slapping my head that I didn’t include Abe Sapien at least. And between you, me and The Internet, I personally love Marrina, but left her off to make way for Namor :)

Imperious Rex!

Personally, I wouldn’t be able to choose between Namor and Abe.

I like joey Weiser’s Mermin! And I liked Steve Pugh’s Shark-Man, although that seems to have disappeared. Oh, and Shark-Boy from that terrible 3-D movie was kinda cool…maybe the only cool thing about that movie, come to think of it…

Poor Namorita. Totally overshadowed by her mother.

Hopefully, these guys will fall on your radar before the end of the year:

http://www.vitodelsante.com/?p=559

I LOVE that Mera’s on this list. She’s always been my favourite Aquacharacter.

And kudos for having Namora on here too! Love her!

Lori Lemaris never turned into a giant sea monster who tried to eat Superman.

Therefore, Lori Lemaris > Marrina.

No love for The FIn? Or Subbie?

Personally, I consider *any* character with superhuman abilities -and who uses them for the good of others- to be a super hero. Things like costumes and secret identities are just genre cliches, interesting but not truly needed. And in fact, many of the characters in this list would not count as superheroes to many people, other than by appearing in comic books.

I’m NOT glad that Johns is writing Mera, since he seems to be focusing on her angry side. I don’t recall Mera being specially angry, not as if she were DC’s Incredible Hulk.

And Namorita was SO much better a character than Namora, indeed.

Poor Marrina sure got screwed over by the writers, but then so has the whole Alpha Flight. Let’s hope Marvel corrects this mistake.

I like Abe Sapien a lot, but his stupid mistake in the second movie -I know love makes fools of men, but I expected him to especially be aware of not trusting a villain (he’s an empath)- brings him down a little.

Other water-based comics characters I like: Fathom, Tsunami.

black manta trumps ‘em all.

I kind of like Lagoon Boy, but I can understand why he didn’t make the list.

Aw, no love for Stringray? He has one of my favorite costumes.

Well I guess that was to be expected…

That being said, AQUAMAN is the most original, iconic, awe-inspiring hero that should be at the top of this list.

Why?

He is father, husband, ruler, and above all, HERO in the true sense of the word–and that’s why he trumps Namor.

Oh, and he did star in the best selling comic book of 2010 btw.

Finally some love for Marrina! She and Alpha Flight have been so ill-used by Marvel for far too long. Here’s hoping FVL, Pak, and Eaglesham change all that with their new Alpha Flight maxi-series.

Marineman, seriously? He is an obvious riff on Aquaman from Batman: Brave and the Bold.

Now there is an OUTRAGEOUS underwater character!

7 Super Sea Heroes who should be on the list but are not (Good call for Namora and Mera though!)

1. Aqualad from Young Justice & Brightest Day
2. Tempest
3. Dolphin
4. Neptune Perkins (if you want to be obscure)
5. Aquagirl (Lorena Marquez)
6. Namor
7. Aquaman

I don’t understand why Aquaman and Namor aren’t there.

you forgot Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy

To Michael:
Oh man. You are NOT going to like me as much after my upcoming article this Wednesday… (cue ominous lightning/thunder)

To anto33:
He explains it right at the beginning.

Another fan for Stingray here. Also Fathom from the Elementals.

Namor and Aquaman are obvious, hence why they were left off the list… but I find it hard to believe that Aspen Matthews from Fathom got left off this list (or Cannon or Kiani from the same series)…. Mera I completely agree with, but Aspen definately sits ahead of a couple of these on this list…

Silkie from Dave Cockrum’s the Futurians was interesting.
And Manowar from Kurt Busiek’s New Thunderbolts looked really cool.
But for more established characters, I vote for Tempest – Phil Jimenez’s mini was fantastic.

I’m with caleb, Steve Pugh’s Shark-Man should be on this list and Sea-Witch!

No love for King Shark?

any list with Triton is a great one. He’s had some of the coolest scenes with rescuing Reed from the negative zone in FF (I think a couple times, is that right????), leading the Marvel/Wildstorm teams in the 13th issues of the Heroes Reborn run and meeting his ‘cousins’ in the Secret Invasion Inhumans series. that said, any list with recent aquaheroes MUST include Shark Man from Steven Pugh’s awesome Image series. LOVED that book and I was sad to see Pugh get pulled away to work with Ellis rather than give that hero another series.

Love to see an Abe Sapien / Shark Man cross over. What do you the chances are?

Should have had some Man From Atlantis on there.

I second the vote for Bill Willingham’s Fathom (not to be confused with Michael Turner’s Fathom). It’s time for an Elementals omnibus to come out!

Didn’t Namor recently fight the devolved sea serpent version of Marrina and throw her giant severed sea serpent head through a skyscraper window at Osbourne and Doom to make a point of what he’d do to someone he once loved and what that meant about what he’d do to them? I gotta see how she comes back from that.

good list. it omits the wonderful seaguy, by morisson, though…

What about Man-Ray from TMNT?

What about One piece fishmen like Jimbei,
Im with Manuel Pitt , Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are more famous than those guys except for aquaman of course

U left out Davy Jones,Undersea Agent.fomerly from Tower Comics and a Thunder Agent

Dolphin
Hydroman (By Bill Everett) ? seen only limited pages of him
Namorita
Marine Boy

Namora has always been a favorite, glad she was on the list.

@Bubbles – you beat me to it! haha… He was one of my favorite supporting characters in the Archie Adventures universe!

Dolphin from Peter David’s Aquaman was a personal fave too.

No Seaguy? How about Rocketo, would he qualify? Ditto Dolphin & Namorita. We’re gonna need a bigger list! ;)

Lots of great suggestions here (and fodder for future reading), but a special thanks for the reminder about Shark Man. That was an awesome book and he should’ve made my list.

And Nuv, I know how you roll. I’ll look forward to writing you an angry letter. :)

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