This week we get our first wave of the new era for The Defenders. Namor: The Best Defense #1 brings readers up to speed on the king of Atlantis. IMPERIUS REX!
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
The best stance for a king of the sea to possibly take in today’s world is one against those of us on the surface world. From their perspective, we provide nothing but constant dumping of trash and poison into their oceans while we do nothing fight amongst ourselves and seek destruction.
This is a concept that writer Chip Zdarsky leans into hard, as did Jason Aaron recently in Avengers. Namor works best when he’s at odds with the surface dwellers. Which makes for an interesting starting place for a character who’s about to star in a Defenders book alongside a handful of air-breathers.
Here we see King Namor trying to form an allegiance with the Vodan, another underwater nation, against those upon the surface. Diplomacy does not agree with Namor and he finds himself in a savage fight against the other king.
In a time when DC is heavily promoting their own sea king with Aquaman‘s theatrical release around the corner, Marvel reminds us why Namor is superior. It makes for a nice contrast between the two, having so much Aquaman content coming out to compare one’s rule of Atlantis to the other.
Namor: The Best Defense reacquaints readers with the classic Marvel character, original Defender, and first mutant. It’s a pleasing refresher course on our favorite Atlantian asshole. Zdarsky navigates his complicated mindset successfully and takes us through his thought process like a classic Marvel comic.
There’s not much color given to the other characters in this issue, although it appears to be on purpose. If the Vodan are to matter in the future, it will be under new leadership as the old guard had nothing to bring to the table.
The strength of this issue is Zdarsky’s voice for Namor. It’s a perfect balance of smug king asshole and desperate leader working outside his comfort zone for the betterment of his people. Going into this new Defenders series not knowing how Namor fits into it makes for an interesting starting point.
The cosmic reveal at the end of the issue is a puzzling one, as well as the hooded ghost slasher mid-issue. Given that Silver Surfer is also on a member of this classic Defenders lineup, this issue’s cliffhanger raises plenty of questions. One thing is for certain, you’re definitely going to want to see where this goes.
Carlos Magno’s pencils are a joy to experience. They’re a heavily inked, unpolished style that does a service to the landscape. The sea creatures, kingdoms, and action sequences all have a certain flair to them. Magno also makes sure not to look too similar to the Aquaman designs we’ve been seeing in promos recently, which is going to be important for Namor in the future.
Ian Herring’s color elevates these pages even further. The contrast between the undersea trek and Namor’s war flashbacks is beautiful. The subtly in which the ocean backgrounds change color along with the story is eye catching.
Namor: The Best Defense functions as a catch-up issue with a classic character before joining a new team, but with much more to offer. Be sure to check out The Defenders: The Best Defense to see where these mysteries go.