Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Carlos Magno with Butch Guice
Colorist: Alex Guimarães
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Evan Maroun
Whenever I see Namor, I wanna punch him in his perfectly angled jaw. I mean, I’d probably break my hand, I am aware. It doesn’t quell my urges though. I am what he refers to in this issue as a “Bag of Water,” and I don’t take kindly to that. However, Namor has had his moments — I’ll give that to him. A notoriously unlikable dick to some and an arrogant hero to another. The best handlers of the character find a way for you to see both sides of this complex character while introducing new elements to his mythos. BUT If you’ve been following Jason Aaron’s Avengers, well you know that Namor is not exactly on our heroes’ side anymore. I’ll admit, that may be an understatement…as the war on the surface world is about to begin.
So with The Sub-Mariner featured prominently on the debut issue of Chip Zdarsky’s new Invaders series, I was cautious yet curious to see where he goes with the character. Whenever I think of Zdarsky’s work, I almost immediately think humor. His voice is often tailored to the comedic, and if you follow him on on twitter, I don’t need to tell you this. With Invaders, however, he seems to have reeled it in for the story he is trying to tell. There are a couple of small humorous moments, but overall this issue takes a more serious tone. As none of the characters are inherently funny in their personalities, it makes sense.
The issue opens with a traumatic flashback to WWII from Namor’s perspective. Waking up in what I only assume would be a cold sweat, if he weren’t underwater. Elsewhere, Cap is in talks with the OG Human Torch himself, Jim Hammond. Jim is trying to research and write a book about The Invaders as a group. Although this B-story becomes a vital part of the plot by the end of the issue, The Submariner is really the point of focus here. It seems the War has taken more of a toll on him than previously thought. By intercutting these flashbacks of the team, Zdarsky is effectively giving us a better look at how this happened. Namor hasn’t always been the villain he has become and I look forward to seeing this exploration of the character taken further. It could serve as a good juxtaposition between the “then” and “now” of the team. Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that despite being part of the team, Bucky seems like an afterthought here with not much to do this issue. I will say, if you aren’t up to speed with these characters as of late, you may miss some of the finer details and be a little left in the dark when it comes to Namor’s overall motivations. If you decide to just accept “okay, he’s evil now” then you should be alright.
The highlights when it comes to the art on display here reside in the flashbacks. They are distinctly designed with a white gutter and the colors are made to appear faded, like a memory. These pages are clean, crisp, and have this overall classic vibe to them. As for the present-day stuff, it’s unfortunately hit-or-miss. Some of the faces here, particularly Cap’s, look downright ugly at times. Even with some of the angles, the characters are drawn in a way that seems to be unflattering for no particular reason. Yet, when it comes to portraying Atlantis and it’s elements, it’s quite the opposite. The Bioluminescence pops against the deep greens and blues of the ocean thanks to Guimarães, and it’s hard not to be impressed by some of the detail.
Verdict: Wait and See.
Unless you’re a big Namor fan, this one is hard to recommend just yet. The story seems to have a solid direction to it, but Zdarsky’s unique voice feels rather subdued here. I understand why nobody is cracking jokes, but, by the end of the issue, I felt satisfied but not exactly dying to know what happens next. This one could take another issue or two to fully see if it earns a full-time spot on the pull list.