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Surfing the Seas with Namor: An Interview with Stuart Moore

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Marvel's latest ongoing series is bound to make some waves. Prince Namor is hitting the shelves every month in Namor: The First Mutant.  Alantis' favorite anti-hero began his third ongoing series as part of the X-Men's “Curse of the Mutants” crossover, and we discovered that the undead roam the seas as well as the land.  Broken Frontier spoke with series writer Stuart Moore about Namor's history, aquatic vampires, tentacle-porn, and what the future holds for the prince of Atlantis.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Namor is one of Marvel's oldest superheroes. What was it like taking on such a classic character? Did you research the character's long history much?

STUART MOORE: I've been reading and rereading Namor's past appearances, particularly the '60s - '70s and '90s series. But the important thing about Namor isn't any weight of accumulated history or supporting characters. What's important about him is who he is: the noble, proud, often rash king of the seas. He's one of Marvel's oldest characters, and at heart he's a very basic, primal figure. So yes, I was already familiar with a lot of past Namor stories, and I'm certainly trying not to trip over any continuity traps. But we're very much looking forward with this series.

BF: Namor: The First Mutant references several old legends (Merfolk, Atlantis, Vampires). Why do you think people still find these myths attractive to this day?

SM: Because they embody very primal fears and beliefs. Atlantis is like Camelot: the beautiful, lost city, brought down by some combination of human failure, natural forces, and cruel gods. Vampires tap into the idea that your lover or best friend might become a monster, so easily; and that even those closest to you drain your life-force. And the sea itself is an eternal source of fascination.

I'm trying to tap into all that, and infuse it with a dose of Lovecraft -- he's the dude who invented tentacle porn. (Really, look it up.) The idea here is: You've seen the Atlanteans, fierce warriors who've survived the centuries through a life of combat and discipline. Now meet the monsters that haunt THEIR dreams.

BF: Which Namor ongoing and miniseries from the past have been an influence on your interpretation of the character?

SM: All of them to some degree, but I keep going back to the very first Bill Everett stories. Namor's like a force of nature there; when he decides the surface world has offended his people, he just marches up on land and starts knocking over buildings. He's grown into a wiser character since then, of course. But his pride is still the basis of everything he does, good and bad.

BF: In the last Sub-Mariner miniseries, Atlantis was destroyed. Will The First Mutant eventually address the destruction of the underwater metropolis and the fallout of that event?

SM: We see the wreckage of Old Atlantis briefly in issue #1. After that, we're following the lead of Uncanny X-Men and establishing the colony underneath Utopia, the X-Men's island, as New Atlantis. This is crucial to Namor's grand ambition, which is to create a new type of city and a new way of life for his people. They can't just be warrior/barbarians forever -- like everyone else, they have to join the 21st century.

BF: Both Namor and the Aqueos vampire villains of The First Mutant could be considered to have a dual nature. Do you think that this makes them good adversaries?

SM: Yes, and they have more in common than you think. I can't say more yet.

BF: The first issue is a “Curse of the Mutants” tie-in. What are the challenges of starting an ongoing series in the midst of a crossover?

SM: From a creative standpoint, it was pretty easy. Marvel handed me the underwater vampires and a mission Namor had to fulfill in the first issue, and that was about it. I created a whole mythical backstory for the vamps -- the Aqueos -- that set them apart from surface vampires, and tied them in with Namor and Atlantis in a variety of ways. Issues #2-4 are one front in the larger "Curse of the Mutants" war, but our book also goes its own way. As I've said: This is not just an X-Men tie-in. In every possible way, it's a Namor story.

BF: In the past, Namor has been characterized as a petulant anti-hero and even somewhat unlikable. How can the character escape this stereotype, while still staying true to his historic character?

SM: That's definitely the trick, and it's very much on my mind as I've been polishing up the script to #5, which deals explicitly with the different sides of Namor's character. There are a lot of popular antiheroes around right now, though, ranging from The Punisher to Don Draper; and Namor fits into that. Yes, he's prideful, arrogant, and sometimes cruel. But he's also loyal to a fault, and his pride leads him to perform great actions. He's a wonderfully rich character.

BF: Ariel Olivetti's art is a really good match for the underwater environs of Namor, I was particularly impressed with the deep water fish from the first issue. Did you find his artwork to be a good fit from the start of the project?

SM: Absolutely, and it only gets better. In issue #2, he makes New Atlantis come alive as a growing, thriving colony. And in #3, we see the Aqueos's hidden city, which is also breathtaking. He draws great monsters, too.

BF: What can you share with us about the future of The First Mutant? What direction will Namor go after the end of “Curse of the Mutants”?

SM: The book will maintain its ties with the X-Men books. But our first concern is Namor's struggle to build something new, something different from his ancestors' Atlantis. His loyalties are divided between the X-Men and his people, but he's confident enough to believe he can make it all work -- or arrogant enough. We'll see.

Namor: The First Mutant issue #2 hits stores Wednesday, September 29.

 

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