In Review: Avengers #9

This is not a Namor to mess with. Fantastic!

The covers: A trio of covers that will have you journeying as deep as the ocean to find. The Regular cover is by David Marquez and Marcio Menyz and is a fantastic image of Namor in the ocean, with the reader looking down upon him. His costume is different, with armor on his shoulders, arms and legs. His chest is fully exposed, as are the bottom of his feet, with his ankle wings visible. He holds a massive trident in his right hand and below him can be seen several wrecks with a variety of sharks swimming about. The colors are primarily blue, save the pale skin of the character and the golden weapon. This looks great! JG Jones’s Variant cover spotlights Marvel Knight Black Widow. A white cover has the a horizontal panel right under the title showing a gigantic Red Skull engulfed in an explosion, helicopters, and soldiers. To the right of his light crimson colored illustration is the Black Widow in color, smiling knowingly at the reader. Below this panel, and slightly intruding onto the Skull’s image, is a full figure of the Widow in her iconic black costume, crouched down, holding a gun at an unseen foe on the right. She looks great. Further to the right is her logo and before that a larger logo of a red X in a circle. I like this, but the Widow is nowhere to be found in this issue. Jong-Ju Kim’s Variant shows a wicked looking Loki creating emerald energy between his two hands. This looks great, with the figure and the colors absolutely dynamic, but the villain is nowhere in this issue. Marvel, what are you attempting to do with these variant covers? Overall grades: Regular A, Jones Variant B+, and Kim Variant B

The story: Tiger Shark is crawling up the side of an ocean liner off the coast of Bahamas demanding it pay a toll for cruising through his favorite waters. Unfortunately for him Stingray is on board taking his first vacation with his wife in three years. The pair end up in the water, slugging away as they drop. That’s when they encounter Namor surrounded by his War Sharks, several great whites that have pieces of metal attached to them with barbed wire. “Stingray. Tiger Shark. A day of reckoning has come. You both face a very simple yet profound choice. Join me. Or leave these oceans. Forever.” Stingray moves to the Emperor of Atlantis telling him “that whole ‘Atlantis Attacks’ thing never ends well for you people.” He offers to talk, but Namor delivers a right, followed by a quick left that shatters the hero’s mask. Even Tiger Shark is shocked by the ferocity of Namor’s violence. Blood is in the water and the sharks begin to swarm in a frenzy. “This man is an invader in my realm. And invaders will no longer be tolerated. The emperor of the deep has spoken. War Sharks, finish him.” And Stingray is killed. Yes, that’s right. Stingray is murdered by Namor. Writer Jason Aaron is relaunching Namor as a villain and only the Avengers can deal with him. Or can they? After Tiger Shark pledges his allegiance to Namor the story moves to a few days earlier when the Avengers went into the water. They are there to talk with Namor about releasing the people he’s taken from the Roxxon ship in the previous issue. The problem is that Namor doesn’t want to talk to air breathers. Each of the Avengers gets a shot at him with them discovering he’s much more powerful than he used to be. After the matter is settled, the final three pages of the book have Namor pronouncing final judgments on some individuals and then introducing his team of enforcers, the Defenders of the Deep. Oh, this is going to be good! It was great to see Namor as a villain again, and justifiably so, but what he’s done to Stingray kicks him up to an entirely new level of bad. And what he does to the strongest Avengers doesn’t bode well for future conflicts. This was outstanding. Overall grade: A

The art: David Marquez’s art is fantastic. The large panel on the opening page that shows Tiger Shark crawling up the side of the ship is a terrific introduction for the villain. Stingray’s arrival with his cape spread wide is a perfect hero entrance. Namor’s reveal on the second page is awesome. He looks regal, sexy, and absolutely badass. Having him surrounded by the War Sharks makes him look even more dangerous. Namor’s punches to Stingray’s face are brutal and the shock on Tiger Shark will mirror the reader’s. The beaten condition of Stingray is fully revealed on Page 4 and it’s brutal. The final panel on the same page is terrifying, while the first panel on the following page will have readers stunned. I pitied Tiger Shark with his final appearance on 5. The Avengers’ entrance on 6 is good, but I’m not buying Ghost Rider driving his car underwater. It comes off as just silly looking, and that’s from a man reading a book with a millionaire in a suit of iron flying underwater. The battle on the next two pages is okay, but is very difficult to make out due to the overuse of blues. I get it, the Avengers are fighting Atlanteans, but some cheating could have occurred with their colors. Namor commands every panel he’s in, looking like a god taking down the heroes one by one. One of my favorite encounters was with Captain Marvel. And though I’m not a fan of Ghost Rider underwater, the visual atop 15 was excellent. The panels that wholly focus on Namor on 18 and 19 are fantastic, being absolute equals to what he’s thinking and speaking. What happens in New Mexico is as disturbing as what happened to Stingray. The final page is a full-paged splash showing Namor and the Defenders of the Deep. I’m hoping Marquez makes them look just as good next issue. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Justin Ponsor does an outstanding job dulling familiar characters’ costumes when underwater, giving the visuals a strengthened reality. I’m impressed with what he also does with characters’ flesh tones, especially on Namor, with the close-ups on him phenomenal. The red mist that accompanies Stingray’s beating and death is horrible to look upon. When the Atlanteans attack the team they are just way too blue. They blend in too easily with the underwater environment, which has the art become a blob. Captain Marvel is practically invisible in the panel that spotlights her. Ghost Rider stands out due to the flames he and his vehicle emit, but even the body of the car melds too easily with the villains. Captain America stands out at least because he’s wearing a helmet with a light built into it. The reveal on 16 needed brighter colors, because, again, those that are used has this item blending in too much with the background. I’m hoping things brighten up in the next issue. Overall grade: B-

The letters: VC’s Cory Petit is responsible for this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, weakened speech, a scream, transmissions, Asgardian speech, sounds, and signage. I like how all the transmissions in the book that are carried electronically (including those of Tony Stark’s more famous persona) are italicized to make them different from normal speech. The scene settings are big, bold block letters that one wishes all comics employed. The sounds are appropriate for the visuals, making the action bigger. Petit is doing a solid job. Overall grade: A 

The final line: This is not a Namor to mess with. He’s angry, he’s stronger, and he’s not going to tolerate anyone in his oceans. A fantastic relaunch of the character showing what he’s capable of. Giving him his own version of the Avengers is a terrific twist. The visuals on this are great, with Namor looking like a god. I’m eager to see where this is heading! Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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