Namor seeks allies beneath the waves, while something sinister stalks his wingy heels… Your Major Spoilers review of Namor: The Best Defense #1 awaits!
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Carlos Magno
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: December 5, 2018
Previously in Namor: The Best Defense: The Monarch of the Oceans has declared war once more on the surface world in the pages of ‘Avengers’. And if this is a war that Namor means to win, he is going to need allies to stand beside him! The Sub-Mariner’s quest for a lost tribe of sea-dwellers carries him further than he ever thought possible – and to a reckoning both strange and wonderful! And hey, what’s up with that weird apparition in the sheet, anyway?
THE SEARCH FOR THE VODONI
In his search for allies to help in his newly renewed war with the surface world, Namor decides he will set out for Vodon, the home of a lost tribe of Atlanteans. Though his advisors tell him the trip is pointless, Namor swims out into the depths, so deep and so dark that even a true Sub-Mariner cannot see. When he arrives (after swimming through a long and strange trench), he finds a fellow king who has no use for him, for Atlantis or for his declarations of emergency. Namor pleads his case to King Orun, but Orun isn’t interested, reminding him that Atlantis drove the Vodoni away, not the other way around. Even so, at the behest of his daught Vataw, Orun agrees to hear Namor out if the Atlantean will kill a troublesome monster in their waters. Namor is successful, with Princess Vataw’s help, but Orun reneges on the deal and sets upon the Sub-Mariner to murder him in cold blood.
That’s when Namor reveals that he doesn’t NEED an army… he IS an army.
“*I* CAN BREATHE ABOVE WATER!”
There’s a lot of posturing and angry words in this issue, and much of it revolves around Namor’s triangular pointy-eared head. With all the shouting, it is a little bit hard to really get into the story, but I have to admit that it surprised me more than once with strong character moments. Especially wonderful is the moment where Namor grabs Orun, swims for the sky and reveals that he can navigate (and breathe) the air that Orun ignores. That’s also when he finds out that they’re no longer on Earth, a moment that the art completely delivers on. There’s a sketchiness to Carlos Magno’s art that I find weirdly attractive, and unlike many Sub-Mariner artists, it’s clear that everyone in these pages is floating underwater. His use of flowing hair in the currents is particularly lovely, and the final moments of the issue are pretty as heck, if a little unclear in the story-telling sense. The combination of art and story leaves me with a feeling that something just isn’t quite gelling yet, though whether that’s an intentional thing by the creators or just an issue that doesn’t quite stick the metaphorical landing is unclear.
BOTTOM LINE: INTERESTING, BUT A LITTLE BIT STIFF
With The Hulk’s adventure ending with him in possession of the Eye of Agamotto and Namor’s ending with him seemingly possessed of the Power Cosmic, there’s clearly something going on here that isn’t clear yet, bringing the founding Defenders back together. Namor: The Best Defense #1 is a book that looks into the mind of the King of Atlantis (just in time for that other King of Atlantis’ movie!) and shows us Namor at the end of his resources, only to give us a twist that I didn’t see coming, with interesting art, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. I don’t know what’s going on with the strange apparition in the sheet yet, nor how this story and Immortal Hulk’s story fit together, but I’m going along for the ride until I find out.
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NAMOR: THE BEST DEFENSE #1
Maybe it's the strange undersea locations, maybe it's the arrogance of our hero, but something here feels off, even with strong art and some nice dialogue...