With just five issues out thus far, Namor: The First Mutant has already established a track record of keeping close ties with the Sub-Mariner’s teammates in the X-Men. The first arc dealt with vampires — concurrent to “Curse of the Mutants” over in X-Men — and with #6, in stores today, “Namor Goes to Hell,” much like Wolverine’s recent excursion to the underworld in the pages of the Jason Aaron-written Wolverine comic.
Newsarama caught up with series writer Stuart Moore via e-mail to glean some insight about the upcoming three-part storyline, in what ways it’s related to the just-wrapped Wolverine arc, the work of series artist Ariel Olivetti and what exactly Hell is to a guy like Namor. (Hint: think hot, dry.)Newsarama: Stuart — this story's called "Namor Goes to Hell," at the same time we have a "Wolverine Goes to Hell" story wrapping up over on Jason Aaron's book. I can't imagine that's just a coincidence, so I'm wondering, how did that come about? And does your story tie into that one at all — maybe even just vaguely, thematically?
Stuart Moore: We're trying to maintain ties to the X-Men titles, and this came up as a suggestion: Could we tie into the Wolverine story in a meaningful way? The answer was: Not in the usual way, because the timing of the storylines just didn't line up. But the more I thought about it, there was a real opportunity here to delve into Namor's psyche and examine his role as king of Atlantis. So yes, there's a thematic link and a slight plot connection to the Wolverine storyline — but Namor's Hell is a very different place, and he's down there for very different reasons.
It also turned out to be useful to have Namor absent from New Atlantis for a little while. While the king's away...Nrama: And of course, one wonders — what brings Namor to Hell, anyway? What's been revealed so far involves old Kings of Atlantis-es escaping and, as can happen, dragging Namor back down with them.
Moore: Yes, that's right. The Kings of Old Atlantis are all down there, and they have their reasons for pulling Namor down there with them. Those reasons unfold over the course of the three issues.
Nrama: Hell is a setting that obviously varies in its depictions — what is it like here? What does Namor encounter while there? It looks like it's a whole lot of desert, which makes sense for someone who spends most of his time underwater.
Moore: That's exactly it. You and I would have a hard time, obviously, living in an environment without air. For Namor, the worst thing that can happen is that he's stranded without water — so that's his Hell. But that's only the first, surface level of the story. Underlying that desert landscape is a whole universe of sin and doubt.
Nrama: There have been stories set in Hell, clearly — what were you taking inspirational cues from when crafting this story?
Moore: In Wolverine, Jason Aaron’s created a very specific landscape for Logan's Hell… rivers of blood, caverns rising on all sides. I wanted something completely different: an open, barren landscape, without life or people. Carrion buzzards circling overhead; bleached skulls on the sand.
Aside from that, the big question is: Why is Namor there, and how can he get out? Hell isn't a place with fixed landmarks — you can't just check the satellite feed and then perform an extraction, like you would from Afghanistan or someplace. Hell is an inner world as well as an outer one, and Namor has to figure out exactly what's gotten him down here before he can escape.Nrama: Looking ahead in the solicitations a bit, it looks like Dr. Doom's showing up in this story — to whatever extent you can answer at this point, what role does he play?
Moore: Doom just wants to help. He's a sweet guy, really. He heard his pal was in trouble and he just rushed over there with a big grin on his scary, scarry face.
OK, it's a little more complicated than that. Namor and Doom have a longstanding relationship: sometimes they're friends, sometimes rivals, sometimes bitter enemies, and sometimes all three at once. They both understand the burden of being a king; that's what binds them together. But Doom, in particular, is a manipulator first and foremost.
Nrama: Recent issues of Namor have established Loa as a major supporting character. Does she show up in this arc at all?
Moore: Yes, Loa plays a crucial role. She's our identification character, and she's got a sense of humor that's crucial to puncturing Namor's ego from time to time. Keep an eye on that amulet of hers, from issues #4 and 5.
Nrama: And I imagine with Namor busy in Hell, it'll give Krang ample opportunity to continue his rise to prominence in Atlantis, huh?
Moore: That's a good bet. Krang defended the city of Atlantis in the big vampire siege, in X-Men #5, while Namor was off dealing with the vamps in their secret underwater city. The people of Atlantis are now very divided in their loyalties. That tension builds while Namor's busy down in Hell, and it explodes in the next storyline, “The Fire Down Below” (issues #9-11).
Nrama: Ariel Olivetti is back on art for this arc —it's a big change of scenery for Namor, how has Ariel been handling depicting this version of Hell?
Moore: It's gorgeous. Ariel is a master of environments; he's made New Atlantis come alive, and his Hell is a wonderful change from that — you can feel the glaring sunlight burning down on everything. It's really nice work.
And with the next storyline, we have the extremely versatile Antonio Fuso joining us as regular artist. Antonio's been doing great work at Vertigo lately, and he's about to dive deep for “The Fire Down Below.” I can't wait.