…the origin of Homo Mermanus?

Homo Mermanus

It is known that Homo Mermanus appeared around 10,000 years ago, however, their origins have never been definitively told.  We know their oral history begins around 6000BC when their tribal leader, remembered as Kamuu, discovered the throne and sword of his royal Atlantean namesake and settled his people in the ruins of the sunken capital city from which his own race would therefore take their name.  Legend tells of this nomadic barbarian leader Kamuu receiving a vision from the fallen Atlantean king, after which the new Atlanteans adopted many of the trappings and traditions of their sunken home.

The first of the mysteries about Namor then is the mystery of the origin of his people.  My best guess for the origin of Homo Mermanus would be the Deviants: a slave race bred from humans to harvest geothermal energy from volcanic rifts around their subterranean Lemurian Kingdom to serve their ever-greater energy needs, and then set adrift when the Second Host of Celestials destroyed it.  They were not savages so much as refugees.

The Antarctic waters became their semi-ancestral shelter, since escaping the hell of what was Lemuria, Antarctica was actually one of the closest destinations. And the hunting was plentiful. They were also attracted to the suboceanic heat sources from the Savage land.

As they prospered, the obvious places for Homo Mermanus to expand to were the floor-spread areas and their undersea vents. Hence Atlantis. Some decided to go back to the Lemurian area, which was viewed with horror by the rest, which lead to a schism.

But as for physiology and all that, in keeping with my Deviant idea, the Atlanteans are, in fact, humans with stuff added on – not a cross. They are interfertile – although an Atlantean male impregnating a surface woman would not work.  Rather than divergent evolution, Mermen are humans with numerous genetic add-ons. This would also explain the mutant readings: Subby’s genome would not read like a different species, but as modified human – especially reinforced by his father’s genes. He is, though, a hybrid and not a mutation.

This also explains how Atlanteans can gain pink skin and the ability to breathe air simply by breathing a gas. This was built in to the slave race as a useful feature: they could come out of the water, but only under specific chemical stimulation and only for a short time: they are actually amphibious but their ability was blocked to prevent rebellion. Namor’s parentage broke the block.

But the best way to design an entire race with certain strictly-defined characteristics would be, rather than shoving things into the chromosomes, would be to create separate organelles, like mitochondria or chloroplasts in plants.  Mitochondrial inheritance is constant, going on asexually through the female line.  It would keep it safe from the reshuffling that goes with sexual reproduction, making sure that no strange cross inactivates the security precautions. Thus chromosomally the Atlanteans would be completely human, the extra organelles would be supplied by an Atlantean egg. Namor (or Krang or Attuma) could impregnate a surface female, but the child would be a surface human.

It also fits in with the legends of the selkies and other mermaid legends. This way, female Atlanteans are the ones to be exogamous, breeding with surface humans and always having mer-babies. It also gives the Fen-McKenzie romance not only a tradition but a biological nudge behind it.

Pigmentation, moreover, is usually caused by cellular organelles, whether melanin bodies or chloroplasts. The blue skin is therefore not a sign of ability to breathe water but inability to breathe air.

And as for the time gap between the Great Cataclysm and their emergence as a tribe of kelp farmers, they spent many thousands of years as a tiny population mainly in the Antarctic water, sieving krill and losing their memories. 9000BC may just be the first evidences of wandering Atlantean tribes on the continental shelves.

Postscript: I’d further reveal that when the Deviants were selecting candidates for this slave race, they realised that only people with very particular psychopatholgies, perpetrators and/or victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, were suitable to stand the claustrophobic, almost lightless deep-sea environment without going crazy.

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16 Responses

  1. As a huge Namor fan, I’m glad to see someone considering the origin of Marvel’s Atlanteans, however, I’m not fond of your hypothesis. The Deviants were a retcon, and their Lemurian ties never seemed to quite fit what was already in place. I’ve seen references to Neptune for the origins of the Atlanteans, and they have mystical ties to pre-Cataclysmic Atlantis, with Kammu and Cleito.

    There’s a few things in your post that are contradicted by what’s in print. Subby has the X-gene, so he is a mutant and a hybrid. There are non-hybrid Atlantean mutants. Also, Namora is the result of a male Atlantean and a female air breather. Have you read the Agents of Atlas story with Namor? It states that there has been a secret program of genetic breeding with air breathers for quite some time. It’s a retcon I’ve found less than logical, but it’s out there.

    Thanks for some interesting reading and ideas. Definitely food for thought.

    • @Rheged: So glad another huge Namor fan dropped by:) I’m in agreeance and was never comfortable with the retconning of the whole Eternals cosmology into the Marvel Universe proper.

      I’m aware of the ties to pre-Cataclysmic Atlantis through Kammu, but Cleito was a much later edition that was quite confusing and never resolved itself properly.

      We know their oral history begins around 6000BC when their tribal leader, remembered as Kamuu, discovered the throne and sword of his royal Atlantean namesake and settled his people in the ruins of the sunken capital city from which his own race would thereafter take their name. Legend tells of this nomadic barbarian leader Kamuu receiving a vision from the fallen Atlantean king, after which the new Atlanteans adopted many of the trappings and traditions of their sunken home.

      Tied in with this was the intervention of Greek deity, Poseidon, who for a time appears to have lived among the sub-sea Atlanteans, guiding and shepherding them so that he is still remembered reverentially to the modern age.

      This is all the more interesting when one considers Roy Thomas’s weaving of Robert E. Howard’s stories into the history of Atlantis, since Lemuria’s people were revealed as the sons of Poseidon, who were evolved from sea creatures, and not apes like the remainder of humankind. While appearing as humans, during the pre-Cataclysmic Age, they still had vestigial scales and could swim for hours beneath the water.

      According to Robert E. Howard, Lemuria provided the written language of Mu and exported Poseidon’s worship to the crimson cities. Mu reciprocated by exporting the worship of Xultha, complete with its demonic aspects to the Lemurians, as well as Atlantis and the Thurian continent.

      The people of Mu shared the same alphabet as the Lemurians, and presumably the same alphabet. History tells of a religious war, where the nation’s god, Poseidon, was flung down and the worship of the First God, Xultha, was reinstated. High up in the mountains of Valla, a new capital is built, called Na-hor, the City of the Crescent Moon. From this city, priests of Xultha were sent to the Seven Empires, Atlantis, and a place called “The Islands of the Sea”. After a time, the god Poseidon returned and submerged the continent, so that only the tops of the mountains of Valla remained above the sea. The city of Na-hor flourished for several ages, at last falling into ruin near the end of the Hyborian Age.

      Can anything be implied from the fact that Na-mor is etymologically similar to the capital Na-hor?

      While you don’t like the Deviant retcon, the X-gene was another retcon that didn’t fit the character either, and my breakdown of his genealogy is a much more comfortable fit.

      I’ve not had the chance to read Agents of Atlas since my sight exited over a decade ago.

      However, while you don’t like the Deviants it could just as much have been the Lemurians who created the slave race through their alliance with the Serpent-Men.

      This connection with Lemuria might also resolve their connection with the Serpent Crown since it was with the Serpent-Men that Lemurian alchemists crafted the Serpent Crown.

      With Homo Mermanus only appearing about 10,000 years ago, this would connect with the final cataclysm during which the Hyborian continent, the isle of Poseidonis, last remnant of Atlantis, and Mu were all destroyed.

      I’ll readily admit that the above Sub-Mariner continuity makes my head hurt. Part of it is the vastly different approaches of Bill Everett and, well, everybody else. And Roy wrote his massive continuity-fixer-upper when I was on my way out the door. So any ideas I might have might easily be contradicted by other stuff.

      BTW, Hal Clement, that hardest of hard science fiction writers, did a novel – Ocean On Top – based on the principle that if you equalise the internal and external pressures of a human body (filling the lungs with an oxygen-enriched liquid, it’s perfectly feasible for human beings to walk around on the bottom of the ocean. No ultra-strength needed to deal with the immense pressure – it’s only pressure differential that is deadly.

      • Namor was originally revealed to be a mutant by his creator Bill Everett in the story “Wings on his feet” from 1954. The story tells of how the wings manifested when Namor entered puberty. Although it is not directly stated, it seem probable that this story was in Stan Lees mind a few years later when he created the X-men (who almost immediatly tried to recruit Namor)

  2. One argument against the Deviants playing such a role is that it’s hard to imagine the Deviants developing even the rudimentary Human Stone Age level understanding of heredity necessary to breed other creatures. Deviants by definition never breed true; I wonder if they might even find something repellent or unnatural in the very idea of other species doing so?

    I could imagine Deviants swiping the idea from early humans, once they observed us domesticating animals and plants. But even then…in the Twentieth Century we see them dealing with particularly nonfunctional specimens of their own kind by carting them off to be incinerated (in one of the most ghastly scenes Kirby ever drew). These are not the sort to pursue a scientific understanding of biological mechanisms, or doing the kind of methodical trial and error that our species does.

    Also, I agree with the sentiment that there’s Bill Everett’s Atlantis, and everybody else’s. (But mainly Roy in the latter category, and since I’m not that familiar with REH, his Atlantis never did much for me.)

    • @Richard: Re: the Deviants playing such a role being hard to imagine, recall that Roy Thomas & Peter Sanderson revealed they had engineered the Gortokians as a slave race to help them excavate the subterranean tunnels to create their new empire after the sinking of the Lemurian continent.

      With regard to them dealing with particularly nonfunctional specimens of their own kind by carting them off to be incinerated, recall this was a ruse by the Deviant priesthood as Walt Simonson revealed that they were amassing their own private army in the event the empire turned on their rule. That plus recall the above slave race eventual evolved into the Moloids after generations of in-breeding and they didn’t seem intent on having them wiped out.

      I loved Everett’s Atlantis, and have a fix I developed years ago that develops extra layers to Namor’s origin that utilises real-life events Bill experienced.

      Plus I loved Roy’s tying in of Robert E. Howard’s Atlantis to the Marvel Universe and secretly fancied the idea that Namor was akin to a modern-day Conan.

      • Huh, I didn’t know about either one of those!

        If it’s been established for a reason, I can live with Deviants doing breeding and even genetic engineering on other species, though it’s not what I would have chosen for them. I can even see a possible rationalization: they’ve had powerful reason for tens of thousands of years to try and figure out genetics and heredity — what they learned had useful applications elsewhere but didn’t do anything to help the Deviants themselves. However, the Simonson thing just doesn’t sit right. That scene by Kirby isn’t just some random bit: it was crucial to his conception of the Deviants and spoke directly to how their creator saw them. Taking that away feels like gutting something important about what the concept meant, and reduces them to more generic bad guys. (Which, granted, they basically become anyway once they’re deprived of their singular nature and plopped into the Marvel Universe.) I certainly don’t say that the intent of the original creator has to trump all other considerations, but it needs to be done very carefully.

  3. @Richard: Yeah thought you might have missed the Gortokian reveal;)

    The only reason I went for the Deviant reveal is because the above had already been established so long ago, but I agree I’d love to have not seen the Eternals cosmology made part of the Marvel Universe. I think it hurt the Marvel Universe by imposing a cosmology on it that didn’t fit terribly well (hence my reply to Rheged’s initial comments:)

    I still think it doesn’t fit all that well, and the additional linking of Marvel’s classic monsters to Deviant experimentation weakens that aspect of the Marvel U. also – they should either be the offspring of Elder Gods, a direct follow-up to H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness – same goes for Godzilla. Another alternative is my hypothesis that the artificially created dinosaurs and other unusual giant creatures were likely to have been bred by the Lemurians for use as formidable bio-weapons against the Atlanteans, whom they often vied with for control over the world many millennia ago, as well as pure exercises in learning to control and manipulate biological evolution. Perhaps these creatures were created by Lemurian science for the purpose of being used as mighty beasts of burden, which may indeed have been true in some cases, but I doubt this can serve as an explanation for every, or even the majority, of instances behind these genetically engineered animals from being created, because the many dinosaur and other gigantic life forms produced by Lemurian science were just too diverse for such a simple purpose IMO, and their often inherently aggressive nature. Also, certain creations of Lemurian science were clearly designed to be a powerful bio-weapon for the purpose of warfare. I also have my own related theories regarding the scientifically inexplicable occurrences of giant insects, arachnids, and crustaceans often seen in the Marvel Universe, and how such creatures can exist when science says they can’t for several reasons related to arthropod physiology, without having to rely entirely upon the simple explanation that asserts “the laws of physics are different in those universes” (even though this is certainly the case). Time for Toho joke to lighten the treatise: in 1954 lone feral dragon, “Gojira” hatches years earlier from long-preserved egg, parentless, mutated by radiation, rises out of sea and attacks Tokyo. People are so frightened their lips move out of synch with words.

    What did you think about my idea for the traits of candidates chosen for the experiment?

  4. Hey Nathan. Cool theory, as usual. There’s a lot to be done with reconciling the various Atlantis-es that have been introduced. It seems we’re stuck with the idea that Kamuu’s Lemuria being the same as the Deviant version even though as both you and Rheged point out above, it’s a bit of a shoehorn. Your theory helps smooth out the rough edges there.

    There’s also Goliath/Gigantus and Titan the Amphibian, both 1960s Monster Age creatures that were shown to come from separate races of creatures living in “Atlantis”. I suppose both could also have been Deviant creations, maybe early attempts at making the slave race that went horribly wrong, and the “Atlantis-es” they were living in were separate attempts at reconstructing the kingdom.

    Then there’s the fact that in the Ka-Zar the Savage series in the 80s revealed that there was a larger offshoot of the Savage Land called Pangea that was built by pre-Cataclysm Atlanteans as a resort. The history of Atlantis provided in that series doesn’t fit well with the Kamuu version (they seems much more technologically advanced, and the description of the Cataclysm is very different), but i don’t have a good explanation for the differences.

  5. @fnord12: Again nice to see you:) If I could I’d have avoided the Deviants (and never liked the Kamuu reveal either) but I felt I had to use what was there and reconcile them.

    I’d much prefer to have seen Roy Thomas fix it, since I’m sure he’d have taken more the Robert E. Howard route which would be my own preference.

    In my theory I’d suggest all the “Monster Age creatures” were engineered by the Deviants to provide their slaves with giant-steeds to help breach difficult areas deep under the ocean to better access the energy resources they required (and don’t you just love the idea of a war breaking out where they ride these creatures – it could really look awesome too).

    Yeah, the Pangaea-stuff was also a bit of a mish-mash (Bruce Jones’s attempt to bring in Pelucidar, etc. so a score for effort at least:)

  6. Otherwise the alternative to the Deviants is that the Skrulls may have not only had traffic on our lunar system when they set that competition for the Kree & Cotati, but perhaps also set-up shop upon the Earth’s surface and had engineered a Skrull-Human race who’d come to conquer the terran Lemuria before the Great Cataclysm.

    The Kree, still jealous and enraged at their former loss against the Cotati perhaps allied themselves with the pink-skinned Antilleans and helped engineer the undersea race, hence why the pure undersea Atlanteans are blue-skinned.

  7. Namor, is a hybrid, true, but it’s his ankle wings that make him a mutant.

    • So we were told from the Silver Age.

      However, we still don’t know the true origins behind Namor’s title of Sub-Mariner, so it could could could have other origins.

  8. There could also be a Kree/Inhumans influence involved with the Atlanteans- we know many Inhumans develop aquatic characteristics.
    It may be that the aquatic types splintered off from Inhuman society and established Lemuria as a breakaway colony- which would explain the bit about an Atlantean breathing a gas to develop the ability to breathe air- it could be that the gas is a Terrigen gas of some weaker variety.
    It’s also possible that the Terrigen Mist’s effects are lessened in a seawater medium, only gaining their full mutagenic potency when a person is exposed in an oxygen environment. It’s also worth pointing out that humans have been exposed to this atlantean mystery gas and gained not only water breathing but blue skin (see Rom #35)
    You could go so far as to have the Kree establish Lemuria as an undersea version of Attilan to guard the oceans against a possible Skrull (or other extraterrestrial species, like the Polodex) foothold on Earth.

    No need to lose the Deviants from the backstory here either- as many Deviant aquatics would have naturally fled their society to the Inhuman Lemuria.
    An Inhuman origin would also establish how Atlantis has such an advanced technology- and why here was never an Industrial Age leading up to it (which would have damaged the oceans and been visible to early human civilizations).

    Cross-cultural pollination between aquatic Inhumans and Deviants would establish where some Deviant technology and knowledge of genetics stems from- we know Deviants had built great cities with high levels of technology (see the recent SHIELD series by Hickman) but internal strife and occasional betrayals by humans have resulted in their civilization falling into ruin several times.

    This drops all the Hyborian/Conan content, which is possibly just as well for copyright issues.
    There are also unresolved issues with Atlanteans and magic- we know they have adepts and oracles, but almost never see those used in stories.

    • If going down a different path, one could always explain the human Atlanteans in Sub-Mariner#62, 63 and 66 coloured with blue skin, being a result of a Kree-offshoot, and Lemurians such as the green-skinned shape-changer, Llyra, being engineered by the Skrulls.

      • Or possibly, Lyra’s people desend from those aquatic Ihumans- which are almost always depicted as green.
        It could even explain the coloration of some Deviants- and explain some of the cross species mating taboos the Inhumans have with the Deviants-
        Malestrom’s origin being the obvious example.

    • Now there’s a crossover I’d love to see – Llyra teaming up with Malcolm Stromberg. Never were a couple more suited methinks:)

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