This book, and all of the characters contained within, are owned by Jeff Parker. Not literally, mind you, but Parker writes these characters with astonishing fluidity. The fact that I'm writing a review for a book featuring six characters that were forgotten (at best) six issues into the series which follows a Parker-written miniseries speaks volumes of Parker's ability. It also helps that he's been ably assisted by some pretty kick-ass artists along the way.
This issue is rendered into color from the pencils of Gabriel Hardman, and given that the entire issue occurs under sea (with some exception) the style is well-suited. Hardman's storytelling, pacing, panel work, and exposition make this book a spectacle to enjoy. Look no farther than Namor's debut in this issue. Hardman renders all of the characters evenly, making favorites of no one and everyone. He also stands to be commended for drawing Gorilla Man to actually look like a gorilla instead of a refugee from the Geico commercials. Schirmer's contribution to the issue is noteworthy, as well. In grayscale, this book would be murky and indistinguishable, but Schirmer exhibits a touch for punching up the right parts (not to mention a knack for toning down the stark depths) of Hardman's art to make the two of them shine together.
This story begins a two-part tale wherein the Agents of Atlas are trying to get information or assistance from Namor. They hope that Namor's ties to his family -– specifically Namora -– spur him on to offer inroads in their quest against Norman Osborn, with whom Namor is in a tenuous alliance.
Parker continues to integrate the Agents of Atlas into the Marvel Universe in this issue as they go searching for Namor and find him. The expanding canvas of the Marvel Universe allows Parker to bring more characters under his pen. To his benefit, Parker delivers a viable and believable Namor, even if some of his choices are. . . questionable.
This book continues to blaze a path through the Marvel Universe, existing as a book completely unlike any other. That said, this issue offers quite a bit for fans to enjoy, from talking gorillas to undersea leviathans to classic Marvel heroes and burgeoning new civilizations. The chaos on the cover is not completely indicative of the story within, but it's not that far off. This is a title that fits a niche most people don't realize they're missing. Between this title and "Guardians of the Galaxy", Marvel is providing a blueprint for how to care for and make your readers care about some of the more obtuse characters in the comics universe.
As long as Parker keeps pressing his vision onto the adventures of the Agents of Atlas, and is accompanied by fabulous artists like Gabriel Hardman, this book is going to be well suited to be a great book in need of more readers. Maybe a sample of the fabulous art, will inspire you to check out this issue. To get a peek, you can click onto our preview or the interview Dave Richards conducted with Jeff Parker.