of the Atlantean as a Young Man...
writers: Bill Jemas and Andi Watson
artists: Salvador Larroca and Danny Miki
staring balefully from the cover of Namor may bear
a passing resemblance to the Savage Sub-Mariner, but nowhere
within its pages will you find that guy. Unlike some of the
other projects under the Tsunami rubric, this book isn't adding
a manga feel to existing Marvel Universe properties. If anything,
Namor strips the Marvel Universe away to leave a decent
that fit with a manga mandate? I really don't know and couldn't
care less. Because Namor just has a good story to tell.
Wonder of wonders, if you didn't know better, you'd have no
idea this is a superhero book.
Namor always has been a little to the left of the capes and
conceived by Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner was no do-gooder.
Despite his half-human heritage, he was determined to wreak
havoc on the surface world for perceived crimes against his
people. Even in 1940, the company that would become Marvel
was doing things a little bit different.
hatred toward air-breathers shifted focus with the advent
of World War II. Teaming with erstwhile enemy The Human Torch
and Captain America to fight Nazis (first as the All-Winners
Squad, then retroactively as The Invaders), Namor evolved
into a more standard comic book character.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revived Namor in the pages of Fantastic
Four, it was strictly as a villain again, albeit with
the mighty Marvel touch. One could almost commiserate with
him as he searched in vain for a sign that his people might
still be alive rather than destroyed by atomic testing. Almost,
anyway, until he blew on a giant conch and unleashed a giant
whale beast on Manhattan.
then, he's reformed almost as many times as Metamorpho, been
declared bipolar by John Byrne, then called Marvel's First
Mutant, and been a member of both The Defenders and The Avengers.
Despite some back-up Tales of Atlantis in the sixties,
though, nobody has really thought to explore the "hero" as
a young man.
now. And I have to eat some crow, because it not only seems
to be the brainchild of Bill Jemas, but it's a good read.
has "story" credit, while the script appears to be written
by Andi Watson. How the idea-making actually divides up, well,
that's a matter for press releases and fans to argue for years
start in the early 1920's, on a beach under a Maxfield Parrish-soaked
sky. (Special kudos to J.D. Smith's incredible coloring -
this is a book that proves how crucial color can be.) For
a few pages, we get a very humanizing look at young Namor
making friends with a human girl named Sandra.
out very realistically, considering that one of these kids
is from under the sea. The twosome play tag, and teasingly
argue over what a sandcastle should look like. Only when adults
barge in does the fun end. (Always the way…)
the beachgoers' backs are turned, Namor slips into the sea,
and the rest of the book is devoted to exploring his culture.
Though it flashes forward "years later," the book never returns
to the surface. Indeed, the surface doesn't matter, because
Jemas and Watson are busy fleshing out a very rich undersea
Making it really work, Larroca and Miki give us an Atlantis
both familiar and different. The city life has been richly detailed,
and compared with recent appearances, you can believe that the
culture has changed over the years.
the standard Marvel Universe view, this Atlantis has not yet
become a militaristic society with vague renaissance overtones.
If anything, it has a strong Persian flavor to it while maintaining
Everett created his version of Atlantis, Namor stuck out,
not just because of his pinkish skin. The Atlanteans had a
much more fishy appearance; even Kirby exaggerated their features
and made Namor himself look coldly inhuman. Larocca seems
more determined to give them all an elfin look, which makes
Captain McKenzie's attraction to the Atlantean Princess Fen
we get a whiff of McKenzie (Namor's father) here. This story
seems very removed from continuity without violating any of
it. Sure, there are dark events brewing, but they come more
out of the trials of living in the vast ocean depths than
at the low low price of twenty-five cents, Namor is
not your absolute best bargain of the week. Honestly, that's
what Free Comic Book Day
is for. But the timing is right. When you go in to pick up
some freebies, give this book a look. Spend that quarter.
spend a couple and get two, because this is a book that just
might hook kids that aren't into superheroes. Not only is
it appropriate for all ages (in the best sense), it may have
a particular appeal for girls, and neither Marvel nor DC have
many books you can say that about.
this one man, I'm going to give the second issue a shot. And
at full price to boot.