King in Black: Namor is a five-issue miniseries that unsurprisingly ties into the King in Black. The story blends flashbacks to Namor’s youth before he was a king with today’s current events. Creators Kurt Busiek and artists Ben Dewey and Jonas Scharf reveal a different side to Namor while supplying a story that shows Knull and his Symbiote threat may have been on Earth far longer than we thought.
Namor fans are likely dying to see one of Marvel’s oldest creations in the MCU, but they’ll certainly be satisfied with this book. Seeing Namor a bit slimmer and more innocent in the flashbacks helps redefine the mostly angry hero as a regular person. He’s just learned to grow a temper due to events that transpired like in this issue. As the story goes on, we get a lot of color around Atlantis and the rich cultures that live underwater. There’s a lot of world building and potential for more to be revealed proven by this book.
Possibly the biggest reason to pick this book up might be the art. Dewey draws the flashbacks filling every inch of the panels with creatures, characters, and interesting environments. It’s quite something to see how much he sticks into every panel, though it won’t be much of a surprise if you liked his series Tooth and Claw, which he also worked on with Busiek. Scharf draws the scenes taking place in the present, and he renders Namor in a way that’s much darker in tone. Namor is rippling with muscle, but also in his newer cool costume and mostly swimming about in total darkness witnessing the war with Knull coming soon.
Both artists are backed up by color artist Triona Farrell, who lays on the bright colors in the flashbacks further making this world come alive. You’d think the underwater world was a disco with how much color is used and it gives the flashbacks a more hopeful feel. This juxtaposes well with the scenes taking place now with darker blues and greens permeating the darkness.
One of the bigger faults of this book lies in the fact that it’s not really a tie-in at all. It’s a bit surprising since the marketing made us believe it mattered to King in Black, but really it’s a lost story about Namor’s past. Even the scenes taking place in the current timeline add very little. There’s a foreboding feeling for sure, but it’s entirely skippable if you’re reading this simply to get the full King in Black experience. Likely it was the hook to get it made, but fans might have gravitated to this more if it was in a prestige format or sold as its own tale.
Fans should pick this book up if they love Namor and the rich world of Atlantis that’s rarely explored at Marvel Comics. It holds a lot of potential for one of Namor’s strongest stories and acts as a promise for more; we just need to keep buying stories like this.
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