REVIEW: ‘King in Black: Namor,’ Issue #5

Reading Time: 4 minutes

King in Black Namor #5

King in Black: Namor #5 is a tie-in to the King in Black event, published by Marvel Comics. Written by Kurt Busiek. The art in the flashback sequence is by Benjamin Dewey and the present sequence by Jonas Scharf. Colours by Tríona Farrell and letters by Joe Caramagna. This is the last issue in this series.

When Namor was very, very young, he was introduced to an elite fighting force known as the Swift Tide. The finest soldiers under the sea, he, Lady Dorma, and Attuma, were invited to accompany them on a mission to reclaim a mystical item: The Unforgotten Stone. Whilst on that mission, they grew great respect for their mentors. But a human unleashed the Stone’s power into the ocean, the energy of which consumed and changed the Swift Tide. They transformed from noble warriors into savage murderers. They slaughtered everything in their path back to Atlantis, including Attuma’s adopted people. They are now on the edges of the crown city, ready to destroy it.

In the past, Namor is back in the palace with his family and advisors as the Swift Tide begins their assault. The strong armies are trying to hold the eldritch beasts at bay but are being carved apart. Namor’s grandfather, the current emperor, is reluctant to let his heir fight them head-on. The key to defeating the Swift Tide rests with Lady Dorma and The Unforgotten Stone. In the present day, Namor unleashes two of the Tide in a desperate move to defeat Knull, the emperor of the Symbiotes.

This final issue is brilliantly structured with a fantastic pace. As Namor and his allies watch the oncoming storm, there is an overwhelming sense of impending doom. The series has become a war movie in a fantasy setting, and this is the last stronghold. The final battle has a large scale, powerful and exciting in its depiction. There is a circular nature to both the past and present stories that result in feeling complete by the end of the issue. Many aspects from earlier in the miniseries become useful in this final confrontation, with no shell left unturned.

King in Black: Namor #5 jumps between the timelines much more than its predecessors. It has been these moments that link it most to the crossover. There have been times where these segments have felt unnecessary within the series, cutting away from the flashback and distracting the reader. The culmination in the last chapter rectifies that. Not only does it explain what Namor was waiting for, but it also sets up stories that are yet to come. So within these five issues, we have witnessed the past, present, and future. 

Namor shows off much of what makes him a noble and remarkable leader. The thought of his soldiers dying for him sickens him, even more so when he is forbidden to engage himself. Attuma has been one of the best features of the tie-in. While he isn’t as interesting in this issue, his origin was clarified in issue 4, the cruelty and animosity towards Atlantis have now permanently settled within him.

Lady Dorma has been the quietest of the trio, but this was intentional by Busiek. She was still raw to the horrors of battle, the noise of the men alongside her drowning out her voice in places. After the apparent death of her pet and the betrayal of her mentors, she has progressed from distraught to angry. In King and Black: Namor #5 she is the pivotal character, showing real strength and immense power. With this inclusion, it no longer feels like there are parts of the young Atlanteans that hasn’t been explored.

Dewey’s depiction of the underwater world has been exceptional throughout the series, and it concludes in an even more astonishing fashion here. The scale of the battle is huge and violent. As the brilliantly designed Rising Tied make their way through the Atlantean defenses, there are often dismembered arms and legs that have started to float around them. Each individual soldier is unique in their look, and Dewey’s portrayal of medieval Atlantis is stunning. And all of these fights take place underwater, which affects what happens when characters are hit or move to attack someone.

Scharf is able to explore more within the present-day sequence in this issue, showing off his own fabulous art. There is combat in this part too, which is laid out superbly. There are other Marvel characters in the background of these panels as the final battle of King In Black rages. Scharf’s depiction of Namor is a brilliant final word on how that young prince turned out. He is built for war, incredibly ripped and battle-ready. Wonder and awe have been replaced with concern and regret.

The colours are stunning in both time periods. For one of the first times in this series the reader sees the surface, but one that is ravaged by battle. It is smothered by the pink of sunset, beautifully rendered by Farrell. An ocean and decades away, the progression of the Swift Tide is often presented by the colours. The blue and greens of Atlantis represent safety. But with the dark monsters comes a swathe of orange, purples and browns, lit by the flames made by Mountain. This shift in shades and tones increases tension massively, The lettering, as well, is great. The font Caramagne uses has been adapted to fit the cartoony element of Dewey’s art style, perfectly fitting its surroundings.

King in Black: Namor #5 is a fantastic finale to one of the best tie-ins in recent memory. This was a poignant and wonderfully crafted origin story of Marvel’s oldest character, adding details that had yet to be explored. The art style has been terrific and really enriched this underground war movie. Busiek’s scripting of the young Atlanteans has made them an awesome cast that captured the attention. Readers barely even need any understanding of the wider crossover to enjoy this, as this is a brilliant Namor comic first and foremost. 

King in Black: Namor #5 Is available where comics are sold.

King in Black: Namor #5
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TL;DR

King in Black: Namor #5 is a fantastic finale to one of the best tie-ins in recent memory. This was a poignant and wonderfully crafted origin story of Marvel’s oldest character, adding details that had yet to be explored. The art style has been terrific and really enriched this underground war movie. Busiek’s scripting of the young Atlanteans has made them an awesome cast that captured the attention.