REVIEW: ‘King in Black: Namor,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 4 minutes

King in Black: Namor #3

King in Black: Namor #3 is published by Marvel Comics. Written by Kurt Busiek. Art by Benjamin Dewey in the main story and Jonas Scharf in the present-day sequence. Colors by Tríona Farrell and letters by Joe Caramagna.

Most of the story had taken place in the distant past when Namor was young. He, Lady Dorma, and his future nemesis Attuma encounter the Swift Tide, a team of elite Atlantean warriors. They meet them during a potential merger between Atlantis and another city, members of Attuma’s community. After helping the Swift Tide against a sudden attack, the group invited the trio to join them on a mission: recover the Unforgotten Stone, a mysterious artifact. Namor and his allies aid them and gain their respect, also learning much from their tutelage. The heroes discover that the Unforgotten Stone is in possession of the humans, who unleash the stone’s power into the water. A black cloud of eldritch energy radiates across the ocean, catching the Swift Tide within the smoke. When the young Atlanteans reach them, they have been changed by the stone…

In this issue, we see just how badly Knull’s power has corrupted the former heroes. Their forms, personalities, and abilities have been altered as they start massacring Atlanteans around them. Namor, Dorma, and Attuma attempt to calm their former mentors down but are easily overwhelmed. When they wake, the Swift Tide is gone, leaving destruction in their wake. The three teenagers must catch up to them fast because they are heading home. Attuma’s people are in grave danger…

The tone of the story has flipped as the mystery of the Swift Tide is realized. There was always this unnerving feeling in the last two issues as the reader knew something bad would happen.  But there was also positivity that sprang from Namor that still had some innocence within him. But now their mentors have been changed by the God of Symbiotes all there is fear and darkness and dread. There is a sense of shock within the characters that also affects the reader as they struggle to accept the sudden change. The pace feels like it doesn’t move fast enough at times, but that is intentional. The heroes are desperate to reach the Swift Tide but are always too far behind. 

There are many emotional gut punches in King in Black: Namor #3 as so much of what the trio strived to achieve is plummeting away from them. The ending is a culmination of all of them and features a huge surprise for one of the characters.

Not only is this a huge turning point for the story, but it’s also one for the characters too. The huge loss forces them all to show their true selves. Namor reveals his determination and natural strength as he takes the lead. Lady Dorm experiences serious loss and trauma in the aftermath of the attack, going very quiet. The best-written character of the series is Attuma, as Busiek has used the comic as an origin story for him. He shows more signs of his future self here. He seems to have a more tactical mind than the prince, but he is more savage with his rage. All three of the youngsters show intense bravery battling the Swift Tide.

The Swift Tide themselves have gone from cool heroes to terrifying villains. The Unforgotten Stone didn’t attach symbiotes to them; it permanently changed them. They have merged with weapons and steeds, their powers increasing. And they are gleeful in murder. 

There is a present-day scene that takes place during the King in Black event in the present. This connection between the points in time reminds the reader of why this story is being told. One of the fascinating things about the scene is you can see that the darkness that started on that day within Namor has stuck with him all his life. Still, one could also find it interesting that his companion has changed from Lady Dorma to Andromeda. It shows the passage of time and just how much else the Sub-Mariner has lost.

The art is terrific, with specific emphasis on the redesigns of the Swift Tide. Dewey’s original designs for them made them look like badass soldiers. But the Unforgotten Stone transformed them completely so that now they look like monsters. They still resemble some facial features, but many of them have had complete redesigns. The biggest of these, literally, is Mountain. He was initially a hulking brute, but his new form is a beautiful but terrifying sight. He now resembles his name more after seemingly combing with the ocean floor and controlling the molten lava underneath.

The warriors start soldering some of the Atlantean forces in cruel and violent ways. The fight scenes are chaotic but easy to understand, and Dewey choreographs them very well. He can illustrate just how out of their depth the protagonists are.

Scharf’s present-day Sub-Mariner isn’t given a huge scene in King in Black: Namor #3, but the difference between the two versions indicates how much time has passed. The transition between the timelines helps the reader to see this. The King Namor seems angular than his younger self, chiseled after so many years of fighting and training.

The colors by Farrell continues to be stunning and emotive. Most of the Swift Tide members go darker tone-wise, Becoming sickly green or gray over their armor and bodies.  But the vibrant colors in the landscape around them seems to have also drained. This is an indication of how the mood has changed within the series. Everywhere the monsters reach is bright and full of different colors. But when the youngsters catch up, the areas are dark and lifeless. 

Caramagna changes the word balloons of some of the now evil characters, so they have white lettering against a black background. These are a little harder to read sometimes, but it implies that even their voices have changed as well as every other part of them.

King in Black: Namor #3 connects the past and present tragically and heartbreakingly.  Busiek utilizes the event to add important and revealing backstories to these characters. It was a clever idea to leave Swift Tide’s transformation until the third issue as it allowed the reader to see just how much the three young Atlanteans hero-worshipped these warriors. This makes the shock of what happens to them and what they do even sadder. 

While Namor is always going to be the lead for this story, Attuma is also a star of the series. How he acts and what he experiences is almost Shakespearean in nature. And there is even more to come.

King in Black: Namor #3 is available now wherever comics are sold.

 

 

King in Black: Namor #3
5

TL;DR

King in Black: Namor #3 connects the past and present tragically and heartbreakingly.  Busiek utilizes the event to add important and revealing backstories to these characters. It was a clever idea to leave Swift Tide’s transformation until the third issue as it allowed the reader to see just how much the three young Atlanteans hero-worshipped these warriors. This makes the shock of what happens to them and what they do even sadder.