Captain America & Namor #635.1
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Will Conrad
Colors by Cris Peter
Review by Joey Braccino
It’s World War II! Captain America and Namor team-up to battle members of Adolf Hitler’s Thule Society and their reanimated Atlantean corpse wearing a mystically powered, ancient Lemurian Kraken helmet! Well, actually Captain America kind of runs into Namor while on another mission entirely, and then the good Captain decides to help Namor out (sort of). This POINT ONE issue actually spends more time with the Prince of Atlantis and his interactions with a shadowy Covenant in a [Location Unknown] castle. The Covenant consists of the semi-recognizable monster-hunter, Ulysses Bloodstone, and a set of new, Mystery Men/League of Extraordinary Men-esque characters. At least they’re new according to Google and Wikipedia my intensive research. This shady assemblage has gathered together–despite their political differences–in their castle-on-a-cliff to combat threats to the universe that the average person couldn’t even begin to comprehend!
It all sounds like it could produce something exciting, but the actual action in Captain America & Namor #635.1 is disappointingly pedestrian. Now, I’m sure that Cullen Bunn is a good comics writer. Despite his fairly accomplished résumé writing horror/noir comics over at Oni Press, but his work at Marvel lacks any real style or verve. This may stem from the fact that he’s won the unenviable task of following and/or “co-writing” (a.k.a – writing dialogue for the busier, regular writer) Mr. Ed “Comics Extraordinaire” Brubaker on both Captain America titles during his brief tenure at the House of Ideas. Bunn’s current turn as co-writer on the primary Captain America title lacks any of the engaging, genre-crossing action that the rest of Brubaker’s run on the character executed so well. Bunn also took over the Captain America & #### team-up title after Brubaker’s critically lauded Captain America & Bucky storyline ended. Both were tough acts to follow, and it seems as though Bunn isn’t allowed to do as much innovating and creating as he would like to. The strongest aspects of this issue are the new Covenant characters (Who wouldn’t be interested in a character named “Murderous Lion!?”) and Namor’s voice. Bunn’s Captain America, however, is flat and lifeless, as evidenced by an oft-used pre-paratrooper-jump scene featuring Captain America and some nervous soldiers that comes across as hackneyed and awkward. It’s even more awkward considering that Cap abandons the soldiers in favor of accompanying Namor; the soldiers are shown dead in the mud in a single panel toward the end of the issue.
Will Conrad’s artwork, however, is stunning. Paired with Cris Peter’s perfect inks, Conrad’s linework is reminiscent of Mike Deodato’s moody, shady character designs and layouts. The fact that Deodato drew last week’s New Avengers issue that featured Namor and Captain America sets up this visual comparison. Conrad’s paneling and staging capture both the kinetic, overwhelming action of the World War II sequences and the Thule Society’s other-worldly machinations perfectly. Much like Bunn’s writing, Conrad’s artwork favors Namor moreso than Captain America; Conrad’s Namor is strong, regal, and sensual. Also, there are a lot of onomatopoeic sound effects in this comic, which I personally admire.
Sub-Mariner fans might want to check this issue out, but otherwise skip it. Though I was pleasantly surprised with Will Conrad’s spectacular artwork on this issue, I’m still not impressed with Cullen Bunn’s writing. There are elements in this issue—the new Covenant characters in particular—that suggest that Bunn is a very capable world-maker in the realm of superheroic comics, and I hope that he has the opportunity to do more creative storytelling (like in his Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe) than “co-writing” and second-fiddling to popular writers like Ed Brubaker and Rick Remender. Nevertheless, I am excited for Francesco Francavilla’s return to the series for a Black Widow/Captain America team-up next month. I can’t really tell if I’m more excited for Francavilla’s beautiful artwork or a Black Widow storyline, though.