Friday, October 20, 2017

An All-New Direction

Namor, the Sub-Mariner #1 (Marvel, April 1990, $1)
"Purpose!" Written and drawn: John Byrne, Inked: Bob Wiacek, Colors: Glynis Oliver, Letters: Ken Lopez, Editor: Terry Kavanagh, Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco.

Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner ranks among the earliest of the current Marvel superheroes, dating back to 1939 and Marvel Comics #1 (as well as an earlier free pamphlet distributed at movie theaters!). This series was "an all-new direction" for the character and pulled out all the stops with John Byrne writing and drawing.

Carrie Alexander and her father, Caleb, are somewhere in the South Pacific when they encounter Namor, thought to be dead—and unable to keep his thoughts straight. He interrupts some natives, a cargo cult, perhaps, before meeting the Alexanders, who take him to their boat and help him recover. In turn, he asks for their help starting an environmental protection organization. At the end of the issue, Desmond and Phoebe Marrs are introduced. Wealthy and dissolute business people, the siblings are sure to become foils as the series develops.

Byrne's writing and artwork is well done, and he draws a straight line to the character's history by recounting Namor's origin story. There are also blood rage-fueled cameos by Lady Dorma and Marrina. On the whole, a respectable reintroduction of a storied historic hero.

References: Fantastic Four Annual #1.

Namor, the Sub-Mariner #2 (Marvel, May 1990, $1)
"Eagle's Wing and Lion's Claw" Written and penciled: John Byrne, Inked: Bob Wiacek, Colored: Brad Vancata, Lettered: Ken Lopez, Edited: Terry Kavanagh, Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco.

After the reintroduction of Namor in the previous issue, this edition is a bit of a letdown. A lot seems to have happened between issues, but not much actually happens in this issue.

Carrie is pensive about Namor's affection before the Griffin, "some kind of flying creature," abducts her. Namorita informs Namor, who uses the TV news and geometry to locate the kidnaped Carrie... at the Statue of Liberty of all places. The Griffin proves a formidable opponent. The Marrs siblings make an appearance, as does a mysterious, pale-skinned, bespectacled woman.

Regardless, the issue is predominantly chase and fight scene, an odd pacing choice so soon after #1.

Availability: Namor, the Sub-Mariner #1-2 are reprinted in Namor Visionaries—John Byrne, Vol. 1.

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