Thanks to the Twilight novels, vampires are all the rage in popular culture. In 2010, the X-Men spent some times fighting off the bloodsuckers, so it’s no surprise that X-ally Namor would wind up fighting underwater vampires in the first four issues of Namor The First Mutant.
In recent years, living in Atlantis has been pretty rough. The fabled underwater kingdom was destroyed and its residents now live under the X-Men mutants-only island of Utopia. Now they have to deal with a vampire invasion. Great.
It’s up to Namor to gather up the Atlantean forces to fight them off. Not only does he have to recover some ancient relic from the vampires, but it turns out his long missing (and extremely loathsome) grandfather Tha-Korr is not only one of them but their highlord.
Writer Stuart Moore did an exemplary job with this, as he put together a whole mythology for Atlantis that wasn’t ever shown before. I’m sure the vampire business was an editorial mandate and he made it work. Art wise, Ariel Olivetti’s work is mind-blowing as usual. There are some fill-in pages by Andres Guinaldo, though well rendered, are so stylistically different from Olivetti that kind of break up the flow of the book. It’s not a negative against Guinaldo, they just juxtapose too much.
Both artists do deserve a lot of credit for finding interesting ways to depict the characters moving in the ocean. I can imagine it must be pretty hard, as you have to think spatially how characters would relate to each other under water, as there is no up or down. There’s just space. Olivetti and Guinaldo not only understand that, but that everything is perpetually moving by undercurrents. It’s much harder to show ebbs and flows on the comics page, then say an animated film like The Little Mermaid. But they succeed as you can clearly tell that everything is under the water.
If you read this in its trade paperback format, there’s also a great account of the life and times of Namor, as recounted by his cousin Namora. If you want to read more about the character’s life and personal history, this does a great job of summing up about seventy years of back story.