Namor the Sub-Mariner: Conquered Shores #1 is the first issue of a new series published by Marvel Comics, written by Christopher Cantwell, art by Pasqual Ferry, colours by Matt Hollingsworth and letters by Joe Caramagna. In an alternate future where a Kree weapon ruined the air above the water, Atlantis is now supreme. Years have passed and Namor is no longer king, now spending much of his life trying to help the surface world.
This is a new world, and the plot within it is superb. The concept of the dystopian world is interesting in its perspective, as Atlantis has effectively blossomed and the land has withered. This isn’t an exploration of the event itself but the aftermath. The exposition is unveiled brilliantly.
The initial inciting incident is explained and the removal of many of Earth’s. What is important to the basic premise of the story is laid out first, with other details laced in afterwards. Everything else happens in the present, not the past, meaning that the story is unfolding as we are reading it. And with it comes a potent atmosphere of gloom and overall sadness. Cantwell brilliant conveys this fatalistic tone. There is this glimmer of hope by the end of the issue that is brutally shattered, displaying a powerful emotional depth. The last half of the comic denoted a maturity to the storytelling as I instantly sensed an influence from Children of Men. My heart was breaking so early, with some of the weight of the dialogue taking time to hit. When it does, it is like a ton of bricks.
At the core of this comic is Namor, a figure who has always been assertive and domineering. In the main timeline, he is king, noble and assertive as a leader. But the protagonist in Namor the Sub-Mariner: Conquered Shores #1 has some differences. That attachment to the surface world he has always possessed continues to drag him away from the ocean floor. But that arrogance that he is infamous for seeps out of his captions, celebrating his own brilliance.
That pride stands tall even when the Atlantean is knocked to the floor, sometimes being used to defend his actions. Namor demands respect and gratitude. Other characters have been the focal point in these dystopian stories, such as Wolverine in Old Man Logan. Namor is a perfect choice as he hasn’t really been explored in this way, but he has developed enough relationships for his place in society to be tested. There are other heroes involved, all with saddening new twists. The last inclusion may be the most surprising and devastating of them all, completely obliterating any expectations of what appearing in this series could entail.
The art is an excellent storyteller. The passage of time is largely shown through the characters. Ferry’s designs are haunting and affectionate, making old heroes look older with some creative looks. Namor still looks devilishly handsome with some adjustments displaying his age. He is still ripped and angular but his black hair has been cut into with betraying lines. The landscape and the cities are fantastic. On Earth, the desolation is clear as small details reveal a lot.
Then down below is the weird and wonderful Atlantis, with the dimensions and shapes cleverly played with. The only potential negative might have been intentional as one minor character looks hideous and terrifying. This might have been done to demonstrate mutations but their humanity had certainly been lost. The pages that reveal what happened in the past is dramatic and intense. So much is revealed through an intelligent montage.
The colours are simply stunning. This is most prevalent in the open pages as the sunset illuminates the decimated surface world. The ripples in the water and light breaking through is mind-boggling in their application. Many of the shades a truly gorgeous and pivotal towards creating an atmosphere. Intense tones raise the pressure of situations and increase the danger the characters are in. It is gloomy whilst still beautiful. Many of the textures are truly beautiful, and it is often the colours that help provide the panels with perspective and scale. The lettering is very easy to read.
Namor the Sub-Mariner Conquered Shores #1 is a mature and solemn exploration of a destroyed world. Cantwell is terrifically emotive in his writing, able to brilliantly convey the bleakness of the situation. Namor’s inner turmoil is beautifully explored as he should be happy considering the success of his home kingdom, but the suffering faced by his other home seems to weigh heavily on him. And the comic is simultaneously achingly pretty and utterly gut-wrenching.
Namor the Sub-Mariner: Conquered Shores #1 is available where comics are sold.
Namor the Sub-Mariner: Conquered Shores #1
Namor the Sub-Mariner Conquered Shores #1 is a mature and solemn exploration of a destroyed world. Cantwell is terrifically emotive in his writing, able to brilliantly convey the bleakness of the situation.