“Finding Namor Starts NOW!”
If you read the title of this article and had to ask yourself, “Where the hell is Namor, and why should I care?” then you may be ignoring what could arguably be one of the best, if not most relevant to canon, books that Marvel is producing right now. However, don’t feel too bad, according to sales figures, you are not alone. With that in mind, fair warning, SPOILERS ahead. Seriously, stop reading now if you don’t want to know current happenings…but you know, come back and like this later.
So, where the hell is Namor? Well, in a word: Dead. Squadron Supreme is one of the few books in Marvel’s current library incorporating direct repercussions from events leading up to the universe shattering Secret Wars reboot. More specifically, James Robinson’s plot pulls directly from Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers, wherein Namor takes part in multi-planetary genocide with the Cabal during the incursions. Genocide, Cabal, Incursions…Namor…Jonathan Hickman. It’s complicated. Thanos was there, too. I know. While this line-up sticks to personas that readers will find familiar, these are not the same characters from previous iterations of the Squadron Supreme. Playing off of Hickman’s machinations, Robinson has pulled together a Squadron composed of heroes from the worlds that Namor had a direct hand in destroying.The heroes find themselves to be strangers in a strange land dedicated to one mission, “Protecting the Marvel Universe by any means Necessary.” Uniting under the common banner of revenge, the Squadron destroy Atlantis, inciting a retaliatory battle in which Hyperion beheads the Sub-Mariner. Yep. Off with his head. Game of Thrones style, but with laser eyes. You can find that in issue 1. Putting his love and respect for the Golden Age continuity on full display, Robinson has brought in Jim Hammond, agent of SHIELD and original android Human Torch to investigate the death of his former partner and bring his killers to justice. By issue Thirteen, Hammond has captured Blur and Thundra, Nighthawk has gone missing in action, and Doctor Spectrum and Hyperion have become incorporeal and time traveled back to 10 minutes prior to Namor’s death. It’s at this point where Hyperion, baring witness to his actions, has a bit of an identity crisis. Playing off of Nietzsche’s “He who fights monsters” trope, Robinson walks Hyperion through moral dilemma, accompanied by Doctor Spectrum who is just discovering the parameters and nature of her powers. The duo emerge on the other side of their ethical conundrum with a single conclusion. They have to resurrect Namor. Meanwhile, Nighthawk is not suffering from the same moral resurgence as Hyperion, and has taken steps that will inevitably cause the team to further fracture. Now, go forth and enjoy the issue to find out how Marvel’s first anti-hero is brought back into the world he helped create with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
In a Marvel universe where Bruce Banner is dead, film rights seem to dictate character inclusion, and a particular “first family” is notably absent, its important that Marvel editorial is allowing Robinson and his creative team of Leonard Kirk on Pencils, Paul Neary on Inks, and Chris Sotomayor on colors play with characters like Namor and Jim Hammond. These golden age relics have had a rocky relationship with sales numbers in the past, and with the film rights finally back with Marvel, there is a strong argument for Namor’s importance and relevance in the MCU, and Marvel canon in general.
So many key elements of the Marvel foundation have been in flux in recent years, perhaps Namor’s revival is a sign of canonical stability in the House of Ideas. If so, it couldn’t be in better hands. Robinson is currently also writing Scarlet Witch, brilliantly laying out her ever fluctuating history. While not having the weight of a writer like Bendis, he is with out a doubt creating a long lasting impact on the Marvel comics universe that will be influencing stories for years to come, affecting both the realm of magic and the standard of the more serious and violent vigilantes. Kirk and Neary have developed a style of art that combines chunky cartoon bodies without loosing the very serious tone the book takes, while Sotomayor is no slouch dropping the color bombs, especially in regards to Doctor Spectrum, where his muted pastels give her vibrancy and motion that lines alone would fail to display.