Comic of the Week: Invaders #4 and Namor’s secret history

Invaders #4  is out now.

Invaders #4 is out now.

By d. emerson eddy — Since his surprise heel turn in the most recent volume of The Avengers, Namor has been a difficult character to pin down. This has been true of his motivations and actions lately through the stories in that series, as well as in the Defenders: The Best Defense crossover, and here in the new Invaders series, too. His erratic mood swings, as he went back and forth seemingly indiscriminately between hero and villain, were once explained by an “oxygen imbalance” in his blood, but we were told earlier in this series that this isn't the case now. With all that in mind, this issue begins to explain Namor's hidden history and how it might feed into why he’s lashing out again.

Over the past few years, Chip Zdarsky has established himself as one of Marvel's best writers, creating enthralling stories that mine history. His work often builds upon what's gone before while finding a way to explore the depth and complexity of Marvel’s rich characters. He's managed to write some of the most heartfelt Spider-Man stories in decades, shown the real pain that Reed Richards caused following Secret Wars, and is currently showing a new side to Daredevil that many would probably have deemed unthinkable.

He's doing the same now with Namor, developing a fracture in his mind that hasn't healed after a loss in World War II. That fracture has now become worse due to other tampering as well as a push from a surprising source that thought he was helping. It's impressive to see Namor's history, back from the war era through his re-emergence in The Fantastic Four and beyond, woven together to give us a new perspective. There's still a lot of questions, but it's a mystery that's begging the audience to follow along. The same with the intrigue and espionage elements in the present tying together the rest of the Invaders team.

All of this is wonderfully brought to life in this comic by the art of Carlos Magno, Butch Guice, and Alex Guimares. Magno handles the present sequences, capturing a nice amount of detail in the complexity of the bomb device that the American military is building to destroy Atlantis. The lion's share of this issue, though, is the flashback sequence illustrated by Guice, detailing Namor's history. There's a nice kind of faded haze that he and Guimares provide for the scenes that give it an out of time feel. Travis Lanham does a great job with his lettering, adding a nice bit of drop shadow for the narration boxes during the flashbacks. This reminds us that this is a story being told by someone else, second hand at that. It makes me wonder if the idea of an unreliable narrator is going to come in to play at all for this new bit of Namor's history.

Overall, Invaders has been a captivating series, and this issue from Zdarsky, Magno, Guice, Guimares, and Lanham elevates it further as it develops more story from some of Marvel's oldest heroes. If you're a Namor fan, you owe it to yourself to pick this up, but I also highly recommended it for readers who enjoy in-depth character building and enthralling intrigue.

Invaders #4
Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Carlos Magno & Butch Guice
Colorist: Alex Giumaraes
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

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d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.