Sub-Mariner 70th Anniversary Special #1A comic review article by: Dan Hill
If you cast your minds back to last week, you may recall that I reviewed the Captain America 70th Anniversary Special. In said review I expounded that Marcos Martin was a large part of why I loved that book. I bring it up because a similar notion applies here. Mitch Breitweiser's art on the main story in this issue is fantastic. He has a great knack for drawing figures and expressions in a naturalistic manner. Like Alex Ross before him, he makes the fantastic seem and look plausible. From the neon red glow of a submarine interior to the cold winter air of a concentration camp, Breitweiser is ably assisted by his wife Elizabeth on colours who helps give the art a painted look.
Roy Thomas, of course, is no stranger to comic book readers; the man is undoubtedly a legend within the industry. Here he returns to the character of Namor... and straight away he has a handle on the Prince's voice, that nobility tinged with a touch of arrogance that a lot of writers have trouble with.
The story itself concerns Namor having something of an emotional crisis - unsure as to which side he should be fighting for (the tale is firmly set in World War II), or whether he should even be fighting in this "surface war" at all. Similar to last week's Cap Special this story goes back to the start of the character's adventures and adds something new to it, but something that helps define that character a little bit more.
It has always been apparent that Namor, despite his human heritage, has no love for the people dwelling on the surface. This story goes some way to explain why he bothered getting involved in the war when all signs pointed to apathy. Ultimately, it boils down to Namor's simple morals and ethics. It's something of a simplistic rationale, a little black and white, but one that rings absolutely true with the character. Even with his arrogance and emotional distance, Namor is still a man of honour.
The way in which Thomas writes the characters and story is distinctly "old school," but this really does dovetail nicely with the period setting and the story that is being told. Overall, it's not as good as last week's Cap Special but is still a great Namor story - and worth it due to the art alone.
As if that's not enough, the issue also includes an additional two (yes two!) stories. The second strip is another World War II-era tale, with Mark Schultz on script and Al Williamson on the art. This is a "Golden Age" style romp involving a secret Nazi base, squid/submarine battles and Hitler cursing Namor's name as his plans go astray. It is very much of the old story telling tradition and revels in it. Art and story are both great, and there's even a nice dedication to Bill Everett at the end.
Which is a nice segue way to the third story, "The Sub Mariner" from Marvel Comics #1 with art and script by Bill Everett from October 1939. It's nice to see this included and the art really is something to behold, so different from anything seen today - Everett's rendering of the Atlanteans being a particular highlight.
Whilst this issue's writing won't blow you away, what you are getting is still good value with some gorgeous artwork to behold in all three tales.