REVIEW: ‘King in Black: Namor,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 4 minutes

King in Black Namor #2 - But Why Tho?King in Black: Namor #2 is a Marvel comic that is a tie-in to the “King in Black” event. Written by Kurt Busiek with art by Benjamin Dewey. Colours by Tríona Farrell and the letterer is Joe Caramagna. 

This series is set long ago when the Sub-Mariner was young. As an Atlantean visiting party traveled to another kingdom to propose a treaty between them, Namor, as well as a teenaged Lady Dorma and Attuma meet an elite Atlantean strike force named the Swift Tide. The three young warriors aid them in battle as insurgents attack the visiting Atlanteans. As a reward, they are all permitted to join them on a mission. They must venture even deeper into the ocean to retrieve the Unforgotten Stone, an ancient relic.

The trio of young Atlanteans joins their new mentors on their mission. They fight alongside them, actively involving themselves in dealing with enemies. As they progress on their mission they encounter huge monsters, before settling down to feast. The children discover the secrets of the Unforgotten Stone. But their pursuit will lead them towards the surface, and into danger.

The structure of the story is straightforward as it is a journey through the ocean towards a specific destination. There is a sense of danger constantly building as the warriors get closer to the Unforgotten Stone. This fear has been building, as something awful is due to happen, thanks to the present-day scenes in the first issue. There were also the first indications of what year these events take place when the surface world is revealed, providing some chronological context.

The involvement of the surface world has always been a theme in Namor comics, as it is often humans that disturb the peace underwater. But the relic the Swift Tide hunts for has links to the larger “King in Black” event. King in Black: Namor #2 details a history at the bottom of the ocean before even Atlanteans existed, as well as backstory for the main villain of the crossover. Busiek is one of the best writers available to create these secret origins within the Marvel Universe. As the story is being told, the dialogue and imagery bestow a feeling of grandeur upon the reader.

The ending is very unexpected, as the secret of what happened to the Swift Tide begins to come to fruition.

All of the members of this mysterious group of soldiers are unique and interesting. They act as a traditional superhero team, all having different abilities and personalities. There are suggestions at backstories and connections among the group. Sycorax, the magic-user of the group, is the one that regales a story about who ruled the oceans first. And Kharsa, their leader, comes across as honourable and kind. I have not known them long enough to feel distinct emotions towards them, but I definitely want to know more about this elite squadron. 

Each member of this sizeable group has been given a stunning and intricate design by Dewey, doing more to build their characters and readers’ opinions of each of them than the writing does. The big characters like Mountain and Garanna have memorable visuals that make them stand out among other Atlanteans. Sycorax has very striking eyes: pupilless and jet black.

Another character that deserves mention is Attuma. As Namor’s nemesis, he has often come across as this one-dimensional villain. But Busiek gives the character’s younger self some small pieces of vulnerability. After they vanquish bandits attempting to steal food from a farming village, Attuma is sympathetic towards the villains. He recognizes that they were doing so to survive, often starving. It hints at his own past, giving some weight to how he ends up in the future. The fact that Namor is unaware of this also speaks to his privilege. 

Dewey’s art elsewhere in the book is phenomenal. The underwater combat is well-choreographed and laid out. Each member of the Swift Tide moves and fights differently, showing off their talents. But the younger fighters also display their power, such as Namor and his torpedo-like style of attacking. Not once in King In Black: Namor #2 does the artist forget that the story takes place underwater. The movements from getting punched or recoiling from a shockwave reflect this, always maintaining realism.

The monster designs, in both Sycorax’s history lecture and the main story, are eldritch in nature. Each one is horrifying but awesome to look at.

The colours are stunning. Farrell keeps the textures clean and smooth, aside from the flickers of light reflecting on the faces of the Atlanteans from the surface. The world below the sea looks idyllic and beautiful. But all of this changes when the humans and the Unforgotten Stone get involved. 

The letters are dynamic and very easy to read. Caramagna doesn’t use a variety of word balloons, but it is also clear who is speaking in panels full of characters. 

King in Black: Namor #2 is another brilliant deep dive into the history of Marvel’s first superhero. This comic is not just a tie-in for a larger event, but it is also proving character development and the beginnings of relationships we thought we had known everything about.  Not only is the Sub-Mariner’s past revealed, but also that of the wider crossover. The art perfectly suits this underwater setting and the character designs are fantastic. The main concern one has is just how many newer Marvel readers will be interested in this story. But the murky mystery of what happened to the Swift Tide is starting to clear.

King in Black: Namor #2 is available where comics are sold.

King in Black: Namor #2
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TL;DR

King in Black: Namor #2 is another brilliant deep dive into the history of Marvel’s first superhero. This comic is not just a tie-in for a larger event, but it is also proving character development and the beginnings of relationships we thought we had known everything about.  Not only is the Sub-Mariner’s past revealed, but also that of the wider crossover. The art perfectly suits this underwater setting and the character designs are fantastic. The main concern one has is just how many newer Marvel readers will be interested in this story. But the murky mystery of what happened to the Swift Tide is starting to clear.