Writer: Jason Aaron / Artist: David Marquez / Marvel Comics

Sub-Mariner is not having it today. Avengers #9 showcases King Namor as the Avenger’s antagonist in the book’s second arc. What works for this book are the socio-political parallels and the morally complex drivings of our “villain”. A Roxxon ship kills two of Sub-Mariner’s Atlantean subjects and hangs the bodies over the side of the hull. Atlantean children try to find refuge from their destitute homes on the surface only to suffer neglectful deaths. The King decides to declare war on the surface. Same ‘ol song and dance, right? Not quite. Instead of taking the classic Fantastic Four story route of tidal waves and sea monsters attacking the mainland, Namor deems the oceans off-limits to the terrestrial world.

The Avengers confront the angry monarch, finding him stronger than ever. He easily repels attacks from the team’s heavy hitters She-Hulk, Thor, and Captain Marvel. Captain America finally negotiates an end to the immediate fight but Namor’s resolve is not quelled and they are warned to stay away (I bet they don’t).

Jason Aaron and David Marquez tell this story well. It starts incredibly light-hearted. A couple C-list characters have a squabble. We learn that Stingray is married to Tiger Shark’s sister. Humor is quickly vacated from the plot as Namor enters the stage. The backdrop is an inner monologue through Namor’s perspective along the themes tragedy and cataclysm as they relate to his own history and that of Atlantis. Marquez keeps up the quality with some really impressive underwater battle scenes. The dark, blue hue of the deep sea doesn’t mute the brilliant colors and detail put into the book. Structurally, this is some top-notch comic book creation.

The heart of this book is definitely a social commentary about environmentalism, refugees, and diplomacy. Where the Dark Celestials were a simple, punchable threat Namor provides a problem needing a scalpel rather than a hammer (to be fair, though, Thor definitely tries to hit him with his hammer). The book parallels the tricky landscape of providing assistance to people from a country hostile to your aid for good reason. How the Avengers navigate this daunting task promises to challenge their and the readers global world view.

9 “War Sharks” out of 10

Reading Avengers? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.

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