Namor goes to Ouvdrou, the only Atlantean to have fought the underwater vampires and escaped, to find out where he might find the Aqueos, Atlantean vampires. In his quest, Namor makes some uneasy allies, including the offspring of a general with ties to Namor’s past.
Namor is set upon the task of reclaiming the severed head of Dracula. This is a task Namor accepted from the X-Men, but all the same it earns Namor quite a bit of contempt from his undersea allies. The quest also introduces Namor to a new cast of characters to float around with, including the Tridents (Namor’s allies) to the Aqueos (Namor’s enemies). Moore writes Namor with all the grandiose self-righteousness that has become synonymous with the character over the years. It works well to establish who Namor is and how he treats others, but it also makes the character a one-note wonder in these pages where no captions or thought boxes are provided to illuminate Namor’s inner thoughts.
Olivetti’s figure work is wonderful and expressive. The characters are muscular and exude strength, but for the most part are standing in front of construction paper backgrounds. Many of the backgrounds have a faint gradient applied to imply depth without detail. Other panels have photographs dropped in for the backgrounds. No photo-tracing here, just photos straight up. It’s an unsettling combination of imagery, as Olivetti’s art is not quite photo perfect, certainly not photo perfect enough to simply blend in with an actual photo. The unsettling turned to distraction about ten pages in.
I realize that vampires are all the rage right now, but having the X-Men, and by extension Namor, fight vampires as a blatant sales grab rings hollow to me. The Marvel Universe is filled with worthy adversaries for these characters to battle against. Throwing a collective of vampires at these characters seems unimaginative, as though the story is written (or strongly suggested) by marketing at the expense of creative.
Aside from Namor vanquishing a vampire squid -- you read that right -- by ripping off one of its tentacles, this issue meanders about, showing Namor as an oafish brat. His strength, nobility, and character are never put on display, and the story suffers for their lack. Moore and Olivetti attempt to infuse some of the wonder and diversity from the ocean’s depths, but that gets muddied up by vampires and paper-thin plotting. I had pinned my hopes high that this time Namor might stand a better chance to thrive in a title of his own, especially given the sales boost the X-emblem Namor wears would provide. Unfortunately, my hopes were quickly dashed beneath the surface of this book. Maybe I’ll track down the stories mentioned in the “Namor Files” at the back of this issue to find some satisfactory tales of Imperious Rex!