Namor: Conquered Shores #1 Review: The Sub-Mariner in His Purest Form

On the pages of Marvel Comics, Namor the Sub-Mariner has a long, rich history. One of its oldest characters, Namor has been both hero and antagonist, member of numerous teams, and both the cause of conflict and the bringer of resolution for decades, but even at that there is one thing about Namor that has always been consistent: his complicated relationship with the surface world. It's that relationship that is at the center of Namor: Conquered Shores, a new Marvel miniseries from writer Christopher Cantwell and artist Pasqual Ferry and if the first issue is any indication, this series may be not only the best exploration of Namor as a multifaceted character to date, but one that opens up plenty of questions about the human condition itself.

Set more than 100 years in the future, Namor: Conquered Shores #1 finds the Earth—or at least its surface—nearly uninhabitable due to environmental collapse, caused by both humanity's abuse of the environment and the actions of the Kree who capitalized upon the scenario. This Earth is one that is nearly entirely submerged with Namor having ruled the seas—and thus the world—for decades. But now, Namor is older, a bit more reflective, perhaps a bit wiser and as Atlantis thrives, he's also seeing the suffering of the humans who have survived and with that change in perspective comes a change in purpose.

While the comic has been compared to "Old Man Logan," that's really not accurate nor does it do the comic justice. This is both a classic Namor story and something entirely new that just so happens to feature an aged version of a classic Marvel character – one who is much more thoughtful. In the writing aspect of this issue, Cantwell has not only done quite a bit of solid world building in the creation of this wrecked setting that feels both authentic to our reality and to that of comics history as well. 

Cantwell has also tapped into the core of the character. It's obvious, both in how he structures Namor's perspective and actions in this first issue that he has a rich understanding of the character and his history. This is the brash, egotistical, and powerful Namor readers first met decades ago, only tempered and weathered and wise. Cantwell's writing affords this same quality to the other characters we encounter within the issue, giving a particular edge to the appearance of Luke Cage, all while carefully layering tension – both in terms of the situation and the personalities of the characters along with their histories.

Layered on top of this—or perhaps even in support of this—is Ferry's art. Ferry's art has a very specific quality to it, one that feels at times almost unfinished or rough which is an excellent representation of not just this world but the general passage of time. Yet it simultaneously harkens back to some of Namor's earliest appearances. The character's pointy ears are at their pointiest, his ankle wings are diminutive, and all the angles between are evocative of those earliest appearances. Ferry also manages to give this ruined world soulfulness and does the same for Atlantis below. To put it simply, the art does a fantastic job showing what Cantwell is telling, making for a comic book where each page feels balanced and authentic while driving the story forward.

Namor: Conquered Shores #1 reads like the start of an incredible story and is easily one of the best Namor stories so far in a long history. By honoring the character's history and roots, Cantwell and Ferry are bringing this beloved character to life in a manner that is accessible and thoughtful all in the furtherance of a story possessing real questions about the human condition, reflection, and compassion. To put it briefly, Ferry and Cantwell are giving readers Namor in his purest form – and this first issue is an absolute gem.

Published by Marvel Comics

On October 12, 2022

Written by Christopher Cantwell

Art by Pasqual Ferry

Colors by Matt Hollingsworth

Letters by Joe Caramagna

Cover by Pasqual Ferry and Matt Hollingsworth