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Namora (Golden Age Marvel Timely Comics)

Namora

(Golden Age versions)


“Meet the golden-haired girl of the sea who blends clever wit and strength with the mighty Sub-Mariner, as they wreak vengeance on the diabolical perpetrators of the underseas massacre ! This the story of… the Coming of Namora !”


Namora

Namora is an amphibious super-strong Atlantean, like Namor. She appeared during the late 1940s at Timely Comics – primarily as a friend of Namor, and in his stories. However, she also briefly had her own comic book.

This profile covers this era, as well as her scattered 1950s Atlas Comics appearances and her 1960/70s Marvel Comics appearances. It stops before her return in Agents of Atlas though. The Agents era is covered in a separate, modern Namora profile.


Background

  • Real Name: Namora
  • Other Aliases: Aquaria Nautica Neptunia (birth name), Jack McGoon, The Sea Beauty, The Sea-Woman
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Father (name unrevealed, deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Adventuring partner of Namor
  • Base Of Operations: Formerly a “peaceful underseas kingdom” under the Pacific ; later Betty Dean’s New York City apartment
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 175 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blonde


Powers and Abilities

Namora has a, errr, watered-down version of 1940s Namor’s abilities. This means human-level strength and durability while on the surface, but great strength underwater. She’s fully amphibious, can talk and hear underwater without any hindrance, and can swim visibly faster than a contemporary powerboat.

Outside of water, she’s often daring but lacks physical power. A common solution is for her to grab something she can use as a club to hit harder, but she does that less often when she’s depicted with greater surface strength.

Golden Age Namora swimming on a white background

Neither Namor nor Namora were powerhouses in the late 1940s books. They were superhumanly strong when immersed or very wet, and fully amphibious, but that’s about it. Most of the time, they were closer to being pulp-ish adventurers with a minor power. A solid blow to the head would reliably knock them out — that happened several times in most stories.

Competence level

Early on, the sea princess is just Namor’s sidekick and obviously has low Hero Points . In RPG terms she has to rely on her Attributes and the roll of the dice, making her overall performance a bit erratic but generally modest. She can take on some mooks, but big and strong thugs will normally be too much for her to handle.

However, Namora’s power and competence came to vary dramatically.

During much of her vintage appearances she’s a 1940s Timely girl sidekick, comparable to Sun Girl or Golden Girl. But she also has something of a girl sleuth, similar to the 1940s version of Nancy Drew . Of course, investigations in 1940s super-hero comic books were usually closer to a Scooby-Do episode than an intricate mystery.

Namora sometimes demonstrates some specialised skills. These include operating a wireless telegraphy emitter, driving trucks and sailing all sorts of human-made boats. Presumably it was Namor who taught her since those are things he’s also good at.

Namora further has some exotic princess skills, like the use of the Atlantean smallsword or dagger, and is pretty good with a spear.

As something of a genre note, the bad guys seldom recognise Namora (or Namor, for that matter). They often think that they’ll get rid of her by tying her up and throwing her into nearby water to drown. Honest people, on the other hand, usually recognise her (especially if they need help). Given how often the aquatic duo gets knocked out and captured, this is an important feature.


History

Aquaria Nautica Neptunia grew up the daughter of the king of a small, peaceful Homo Mermanus  community under the Pacific. Though she’s almost certainly a mutant hybrid of Homo Sapiens Mermanus and Homo Sapiens Sapiens and has Caucasian-coloured skin, her parentage was never detailed.

Her home was presumably a colony of the Kingdom of Atlantis, since Prince Namor referred to the inhabitants as his subjects.

Blood under the waves

One day, as Aquaria was still fairly young, surface world mobsters with special diving suits and machineguns raided the small underseas community. The handful of guards with melee weapons were soon overwhelmed.

The ruthless murderers invaded while the locals were having a big party for the king’s birthday. They killed almost everyone and took the pearl jewelry the natives were famous for from the bodies. The king and his daughter were both gunned down before they could truly react.

Namor stumbled upon the carnage as he swam back from an adventure. He found Aquaria the sole survivor – the bullets had just grazed her and knocked her out. She immediately volunteered to help Prince Namor avenge her people.

The Golden Age Namora battling thugs at a sawmill

While they swam out, Aquaria agreed with his suggestions that she change her name to Namora now that they were partners. This may sound puzzling until one remembers that “Namor” means “Avenging Son” and “Namora” means “Avenging Daughter” in Atlantean.

(Since she changed her name at the suggestion of her king, “Namora” is usually considered to have become Aquaria’s “real”, official name.)

Namor and Namora eventually captured “Stoop” Richards and his gang, the killers of Namora’s people. Since Namora was now homeless, Namor asked his friend reporter Betty Dean for help. Betty agreed to share her Manhattan apartment with the sea princess. The two soon became friends.

Maritime times

Namora continued to share some of Namor’s adventures. She fought killers and criminals and brought them to justice as an outlet for her adventurous nature. The swimming duo often stumbled upon crimes, usually solving them with the help of Namor’s police contacts.

No civilian activity was mentioned for Namora. Still, one assumes that she may have followed some classes appropriate for her age when not hanging out with her liege lord or acting as a sort of private detective along with him.

The Golden Age Namora swimming

Namora also had a largely-undocumented career as an international adventurer, with or without Namor. Documented adventures included capers in China, Hawaii (including the discovery of the lost civilisation of Mu), an undisclosed Southern or Latin American country, Turkey, Egypt, and the like.

As noted in the “Mobilis in mobile” section of our game stats, these solo adventures might have occurred during the 1950s.

Namora’s adventures were chronicled with some regularity from the spring of 1947 to the spring of 1949. After that she vanished in the editorial upheavals that sunk the classic Timely characters for many tides.


In between days – the 1950s

There were later attempts at reviving said Timely characters (Captain America, the Human Torch, Namor the Sub-Mariner, etc.). These occasionally featured Namora.

Golden Age Namora hitting the Viking with a small club

The first such attempt took place in the 1950s, when Atlas Publishing used some Timely properties during the gap between the Golden and the Silver Age. This mostly took place between 1953 and 1955.

The 1953-1955 material

The material during this ’lost age‘ is oft difficult to reconcile with the continuity of Timely before it and Marvel after it. Yet it wasn’t ignored. Later Marvel writers would come up with clever tricks to integrate some of it.

The best known is probably the fake Captain America (later the Grand Director) along with the fake/Communist Red Skull (Albert Malik). Another famous instance is the “1950s Avengers” What-If (later called the G-Men, then destroyed by Immortus, then indirectly returning as the Agents of Atlas).

The events in those stories were also often world-altering. For examples of this see our Marvel Boy (Bob Grayson) (Classic) entry. In the first story where Namora is brought back, all the water on Earth is stolen by aliens, triggering a global catastrophe. In the second, much of the Midwest is ravaged by the flames and many major cities are destroyed.

Those are difficult to reconcile with Marvel Earth being roughly like our own. The simplest approach if you want to draw from these stories is that they occurred on a much smaller scale. Say, only the water of the Great Lakes was taken, and for but two days or so.

This era was also dominated by an anti-Communist obsession – nearly half the villains are Communists of some ilk. Even when they’re space aliens.

1953-55 Namora, part 1

In the Atlas continuity, Namora is the same age as Namor, and is his cousin. She has been named after Namor – her birth name is Namora, not Aquaria. They meet at age 15 (though they behave more as if they were 9). At least three Atlanteans are known to be amphibious – Namor, Namora and their cousin Byrrah.

The Golden Age Namora captured by thugs

Except for Namor and Namora, the appearance of the characters tend to change between alien features and human-like features. Byrrah sometimes seem human and sometimes as “alien Atlantean” features, Fen sometimes has human eyes and sometimes the huge black eyes of “alien Atlanteans”, etc.

Namor and Namora are the two who are consistently depicted with human features and a Caucasian skin tone. Howbeit in a reprint Namora ends up with light blue skin (see the illustration below – in the original story she has Caucasian pink skin), and her hair is sometimes brown.

1953-55 Namora, part 2

This version of Namora is a faithful helper of Namor and a competent pilot and adventurer, despite her youth. She also seems to be an agent and courier for Fen and for the emperor of Atlantis (Namor’s stepfather). Namora is depicted as being brave, determined and adventurous.

She is also kinder than Namor, who is quite often a complete jerk. Namora can usually persuade him to stop being such a meanie. Use the 1947/1948 game stats, but with a full Vehicles Skill at 05 APs.

A 1955 story is particularly interesting. It features an American prospecting ship being trapped by hostile Atlanteans pushing icebergs, and using explosives to free itself. The displaced icebergs create an avalanche that destroys the Atlantean capital. At one point Namora is sent to sabotage the American ship but gets captured.

A new version of this story, with Fen instead of Namora, will become Namor’s origin in the Marvel Universe.

Golden Age Namora in an acrobatic swimming demonstration


In between days – year of the rat

1972 marks the muted return of Namora in the modern Marvel Universe. An amnesiac Namor returns to the ruins of the Antarctic site of Atlantis (destroyed by Paul Destine). There a crab-like creature called Salamar the Sustainer shows him a coffin with the body of his cousin Namora. She is of indeterminate age, blue skin and brown hair.

Namorita is also introduced as Namora’s daughter. Namor remembers Namora as a childhood friend, and Byrrah (featured in the story) is back to the green skin and “alien Atlantean” facial features.

Though its continuity status is not wholly clear, this story is the seed for the modern appearances of Namora.


Description

Note the little wing-like or fin-like appendage on her ankles. On the surface, she tends to walk on her tip-toes in a way that would be impossible for most persons. Presumably this is because she’s used to moving in a much denser environment and seldom had her weight rest on her soles during her life.

Unlike her cousin, Namora has something approaching a wardrobe. Still, the variations are mostly in colour, details and accessorisation. As can be imagined, what Namora wears usually looks like common 1930s and 1940s all-in-one, corset-like swimsuits, though the one with wide crossed straps over her chest was a bit more risqué.

Some feature broad shorts, culottes or a miniskirt. Those that look like they include a microskirts to modern readers actually feature a “modesty apron” that cover the buttocks and crotch.

She also has a variety of headbands with accessories on the side of her head, some belts with a red N logo, and sometimes sports a short cape.

Namora swimming up a river during the Golden Age

Namora nearly always wears a swimsuit. When that would be awkward, such as the streets of New York City, she wraps herself into a long red cloak. Unlike Namor, she doesn’t usually wear American-style clothing, even on formal occasions. The main exception is when she’s in disguise for an undercover investigation.

When she does wear surface clothing, she’s fond of a black sweater with a large yellow “N” on front (Namor has a similar sweater, but with a S). She’s also borrowed surface dresses when there was no other choice.

Namora is very occasionally depicted as being about half a head taller and significantly more athletic than most women around her. The height and weight listed in our Background block go for that approach even though that’s not the usual one in the art.

Namora’s beauty is oft-commented upon and might occasionally play in her favour – such as the evil Pharaoh deciding to keep her around as a concubine rather than kill her.


Personality

Namora’s personality tends to fluctuate (nec mergitur, of course. That was a joke.).

Generally, she’s obviously young — probably a teenager — and unfocused. She goes from just sitting pretty to showing a level of initiative that is reminiscent of classic girl sleuth characters, such as the contemporary Nancy Drew.

In her own title she behaved differently. There she was an experienced adventuress, comparable to characters such as the Blonde Phantom.

Compared to similar characters such as Sun Girl, Namora has a tad more of a hint of aggressiveness (while always being Namor’s faithful sidekick, of course). She also occasionally quips, a bit like 1940s Robin. Unlike many 1940s super-heroes, she will not normally let her villains die – though it’s not always possible to rescue them either.

A young Namora at a party in Atlantis

In all versions, Namora really likes to swim fast. She will be happy to race pretty much anything in the water, starting with Namor, and as often as possible. She has a clear competitive streak when it comes to her underwater speed and grace.

Like Namor, Namora likes making up improbable exclamations involving sea life. A few are jotted down below to give you ideas – but two of my favourites are “Suffering sea shells !” and “Turtle soup !”.


Quotes

Namora (In many period appearances)

“I wish to go with you ! I’ve got no home now, anyway ! I’m strong, and I can swim faster than an arrow ! I’ll show you !”

“Listen kids, I’ve got an idea for getting out of this !”

A young Namora in Atlantis

“I’m insulted ! Nobody’s afraid of poor little me !”

“Jumpin’ Jonah ! She’ll roll off the shelf !”

“Skimming seagulls !”

“Namor, I enjoy fighting crime with you… but I’m also a woman ! At times, I think I’d like to dress up and go out to a place where there is music and dancing !”

Namora (In her own title)

“Here’s an entrance in the back of the statue — and a stairway… now to try a few tricks I learned from my friend, the Sub-Mariner !”

“I don’t have time to stop and talk this thing out !” (SHPOW !)

“I could escape by the Nile, but I can’t let these people die !”

“Yipe ! Trapped like a dumb fish ! This smells like a Viking trick, all right !”

“How DARE you disturb my beauty nap ?” (KLUNK !)


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

The Avenging Daughter

Dex: 04 Str: 08 Bod: 06 Motivation: Thrill of Adventure
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Adventurer
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 12 (13) HP: 010

Powers:
Swimming: 06, Ultra-vision: 05, Water freedom: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:
Ultra-vision cannot spot Invisible beings and items

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing): 04, Acrobatics (Dodging): 03, Artist (Artistic diving/swimming): 08, Vehicles (Land, Sea): 03, Weaponry (Melee, Improvised but not exotic melee weapons): 04

Advantages:
Language (Atlantean)

Connections:
Namor the Sub-Mariner (High), Betty Dean (High)

Drawbacks:
Attack Vulnerability (-1CS OV/RV vs. Blindside Attacks), Loss Vulnerability when not in water (see below)

Equipment:
Knife [BODY 07, EV 03 (more w/STR)]. Namora often produces a diving knife (presumably kept hidden between her back and her clothing). It is almost always used to cut ropes, never as a weapon, but is obviously kept sharp enough to excel at this.


I cover the water front

Like Namor, Namora’s strength and durability vary dramatically depending on exposure to water. Her Loss Vulnerability usually works along the following principles:

  • One Phase after she leaves water, her STR drops to 04 and her BODY drops to 05.
  • Two Phases after she leaves water, her STR and her BODY drop to 03. These are long-term levels – she retain those values until she can immerse herself again.
  • Partial exposure to water (say, being splashed) will increase her STR and RV by 2 to 5 APs for that Phase, depending on how much water touches her skin.

Jumpin’ jellyfish, there are too many of them !

The late 1940s corresponds to a low, well, ebb in Namor’s might – and correspondingly of Namora’s. Several important Genre rules reinforce this :

  • Practically everyone has an Attack Vulnerability toward Blindside attacks. Technically, this is more elegantly expressed as variant Blindside/Surprise attack rules for the Genre. But since this appears in so many older comics we usually write it as an Attack Vulnerability of the Character so this important story element is not forgotten.
    People get knocked out after they are hit on the back of the head *all the time*, no matter how fit they are. This, of course, never has any medical consequences.
  • Goons routinely get to Team Attack – which is rare in more recent genres. A hero against a goon is a one-sided fight, but so is a hero against a half-dozen goons — and this time it’s in the goons’s favour. Surprise and psychological warfare (even if it’s just scaring the goons so they can’t muster a Team Attack) are thus important tools for heroes who hope to take on a small band of goons.
  • Some thugs can have unusually high stats for their kind (say, DEX 04 STR 04 BODY 04), which seldom happens in other genres when it comes to no-name mooks. Those strong specimens are usually very clearly typecast. They will be caricatured hobo types, African savages, dockers, and other oh-so beastly blue collar types.

The 1969 version of Namora


Atlantean teen

The stats above are intended to represent Namora during most, but certainly not all, of her period appearances. As often in the 1940s, the continuity and characterisations are very… fluid. There’s not a coherent character to write up, but if one squints hard enough it is possible to distinguish the following logic :

  • There is one version of Namora that exists in all of her appearances except in her own book. This version can loosely be said to grow in competence over the course of the stories. The stats above represent that version of the character during much of her vintage appearances.
    At the early or late ends of these appearances, details-oriented GMs may want to make the following adjustments :
    • During the first year of her career (Summer of 1947 to Spring of 1948 or so, in publication time) Namora tends to be more passive and is clearly a less proficient brawler. Lower her DEX to 02 and her long-term surface STR to 03 during the first months, and use DEX 03 and a long-term surface STR 03 in early 1948.
    • During the last few stories, Namora is a bit more competent than the stats in the main block. Feel free to import a few things from her stats in the “Mobilis in mobile” section, perhaps a bit toned down. It was not terribly coherent, so just pick whatever sounds good.
  • A version of Namora exists outside of this rough curve, and seems to be from a different continuity. This version appears in the 3 issues of the Namora comic, and is covered just below.

Mobilis in mobile

In her 1948 solo series, Namora is depicted quite differently. She is an international adventurer and a woman of mystery, as well as something of a jungle queen. This version of Namora is way more physical, aggressive and competent than the Namora who appears in other books. Even books published at the same time or after the Namora comic book.

Beyond the sizeable differences in stats and characterisation, this take on the character cannot be reconciled with the other ones. By Namora #1 she has obviously been adventuring and developing her skills and contacts for — at the very least — a few years. This is impossible given the chronology of her other appearances.

Of course, since the Golden Age stories have loose continuity, you could always decide that the stories in Namora occurred during the 1950s and change a few details. This is probably the cleanest approach.

Dex: 05 Str: 08 Bod: 06 Motivation: Thrill of Adventure/Justice
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Adventurer
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 15 (16) HP: 025

Powers:
Comprehend Languages: 09, Swimming: 06, Ultra-vision: 05, Water freedom: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:
Ultra-vision cannot spot Invisible beings and items

Skills:
Acrobatics: 05, Animal handling (Riding): 04, Artist (Artistic diving/swimming): 08, Scientist (Analysis, Observation): 03, Thief (Stealth): 04, Vehicles (Land, Sea): 04, Weaponry (Melee, Improvised but not exotic melee weapons): 05

Advantages:
Familiarity (Cutting through bonds using nearby objects), Language (Atlantean).

Connections:
Namor the Sub-Mariner (High), Betty Dean (High) and an undocumented global network of personal contacts (including precious stones experts in Shanghai, daughters of officials in Ankara, or anything that advances the story)

Drawbacks:
Attack Vulnerability (-1CS OV/RV vs. Blindside Attacks), Partial attack vulnerability (-1CS RV vs. dehydration), Loss Vulnerability when not in water (see below), Shadow of the Fish (Namora operates one Genre below the normal Genre for the campaign when Namor is present)

Equipment:
Knife [BODY 07, EV 03 (09 w/STR underwater, 05 w/STR on the surface)]

Notes:
The Loss Vulnerability is much less serious than in other takes. At worst, two Phases after she leaves water, STR and BODY both drop to 04 unless she’s exposed to enough water by being splashed.

Even small quantities of water (or, even better, particularly damp conditions such as a fluvial jungle) can allow her to maintain a STR of 05 or even 06, possibly with a small BODY gain to accompany her STR.

Note that in these tales Namora appears to speak every language on Earth, living or extinct – beyond Atlantean and English she’s fluent in Cantonese Chinese, Turkish, Egyptian Arabic, an unspecified rain forest Indian language, Old Norse, an unspecified Carib language, and others.

This is treated as being perfectly normal in the stories, and never explained. She even knew how to yell the distinctive war cry of another unspecified Carib tribe !

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe during the Golden Age

Helper(s): Capita_Senyera, Azrael, Darci, Gareth Lewis, Ethan Roe

Writeup completed on the 28th of December, 2010.

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