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Curse of the Mutants

Thursday Q&A: Stuart Moore

The King of Atlantis and his new writer battle bizarre creatures in NAMOR: THE FIRST MUTANTS

By Kevin Mahadeo

The high seas get a little bit rockier this August as writer Stuart Moore and artist Ariel Olivetti launch the new ongoing series NAMOR: THE FIRST MUTANT on August 25; the opening arc turns the water red by pitting the titular King of Atlantis against the vampires of the deep.

Half-man, half-Atlantean, the Sub-Mariner recently joined the X-Men during Norman Osborn's Dark Reign. Since then, the short-tempered king has battled alongside his new team to help preserve the existence of all his people: his mutant brethren on land as well as his Atlantean family under the sea.

The character has long played a major role in Marvel continuity, from teaming with Captain America and The Human Torch as a member of the original Invaders to helping found the secretive Illuminati, whose actions shaped the course of Marvel history for years. The initial storyline of NAMOR ties directly into the current events of X-MEN, which sees the mutants attempting to repel a newly united vampire front and stop the spread of an infection threatening to turn the entire population-mutant, human or otherwise-into blood-sucking undead.

In between his travels on land and sea, Moore took some time to talk about the upcoming series, and to share his thoughts on one of the most arrogant characters in the Marvel Universe, Atlantean society and, of course, Speedos.


NAMOR: THE FIRST MUTANT #1 cover by Jae Lee
Marvel.com: This first arc of NAMOR: THE FIRST MUTANT ties into the DEATH OF DRACULA one-shot and the new X-MEN ongoing series. What can you tell us about how NAMOR plays into those events?

Stuart Moore: Without giving too much away, Namor undergoes a mission for the X-Men, uniquely suited to his abilities, which may or may not be in the best interests of his own people, but he understands the X-Men's goals and what they need done. So that mission basically ignites a threat and stirs up a problem that's been buried under the ocean floor for decades, with what turns out to be catastrophic repercussions for Atlanteans all over the world. The Atlanteans right now are scattered. Atlantis has been destroyed. Namor is in the process of building a new Atlantis, a new colony, around the pillar, the area below the X-Men's island [Utopia] just off the coast of San Francisco. So, the new Atlantis colony is forming there, but slowly. With the Atlanteans scattered all around the world, they're kind of easy pickings for all the underwater vampires.

Marvel.com: These underwater vampires were introduced in the DEATH OF DRACULA, which is interesting because that title formed the idea of these different sects of vampires in the Marvel Universe. Depending on where they're from, they look different and have different powers and so forth. In that regard, what can you say about the Atlantean vampires? They don't sparkle in sunlight, do they?

Stuart Moore: [Laughs] No, they never see sunlight most of the time. They're stronger in some ways. They draw nourishment directly from the sea. In some ways, they're harder to kill. Also, as we'll see in the first issue of NAMOR, they're based very, very deep down on the ocean floor where there's not much light and there's not much blood-rich prey. The other thing about them that will come out gradually is that they may not all be Atlanteans. They may be an older sort of creature that has been living down in the deepest parts of the ocean and even beneath the ocean

NAMOR: THE FIRST MUTANT #1 preview art by Ariel Olivetti
floor, possibly for longer than even mankind has existed.

Marvel.com: On the idea of vampires, are you a fan of that genre?

Stuart Moore: Oh, definitely. It's hard to keep up with it now because there's so much, but yeah. One thing I've tried to do, especially with the underwater vampires-and this will come out most strongly when we see their actual lair-is that I've tried to throw in a bit of H.P. Lovecraft: ancient cities buried beneath the Earth that may hold terrors and knowledge that humanity can't even deal with. They are a deeper and older strain than we may initially realize.

Marvel.com: Is the title of the story going to be "At the Underwater Mountains of Madness" or the "Seas of Sadness?"

Stuart Moore: [Laughs] I actually did just re-read that one. [NAMOR is] not Lovecraft in storytelling style, but it's more of the feel of a modern thriller, horror film. [There's] this sense that there are forces you cannot fully comprehend down there and by descending to the bottom of the ocean and stirring things up, Namor has really crossed the line and the repercussions of that will play out for a while.

Marvel.com: I wanted to talk about the character of Namor. He certainly has been around the Marvel Universe for a while and he isn't exactly the nicest character. He's got a bit of arrogance to him and is a bit of a jerk. How are you personally approaching that aspect of his character and is that something you actually like about him?

NAMOR: THE FIRST MUTANT #1 preview art by Ariel Olivetti
Stuart Moore: He is a bit of a jerk and that's what great about him. To me, everything about him comes down to his pride; everything good that he accomplishes and everything bad is in one way or another because of his pride. People who have that kind of arrogance and confidence in themselves can accomplish amazing things, but they can also have incredible missteps and be responsible for the fall of civilizations. And that's Namor. He's the guy who will charge right into any situation. But he's thoughtful. He's not arrogant like a kid, but once he makes a decision, it's made, whether it's right or wrong. One thing we'll see in this story is that over the years Namor has made a lot of decisions on behalf of his people, including scattering them to the four corners of the Earth, and not all of them fully trust him anymore. He's still their king, he's still their monarch, but some of them are a little hesitant to follow his orders. Atlantis isn't quite the rigid military society it once was. That's another thing I want to get into actually as this goes on. We're going to do a mixture of stories based on land and underwater, but it's very important for us to show different kinds of Atlanteans than we've seen before. They're not just all soldiers carrying trident weapons. There's an entire civilization. There's entire [castes] of people there. We'll get into that right away, actually.

Marvel.com: I just imagine as an Atlantean baby is born they just give them a tiny trident and enlist them in the army.

Stuart Moore: Here's your helmet and here's your station. [Laughs]

Marvel.com: You mentioned you wanted to go into more about Atlantis as the series goes on, and in that regard, what can you say about what we'll be seeing beyond this first arc?

Stuart Moore: Well, I just finished up the X-Men Summit and we've been

NAMOR: THE FIRST MUTANT #1 preview art by Ariel Olivetti
talking about this because Namor will continue to be aligned with the X-Men. The second storyline I can't talk too much about yet but it basically involves a threat from Atlantis that takes place largely on the surface. So, it's a mix of Namor's two worlds. After that, we'll probably line with the X-Men again. The important thing for me was to set in motion a series of circumstances that gives me stories to tell about Namor himself. We want him with the X-Men. He's got several reasons to be with the X-Men. He's a mutant. He has a strategic alignment with them, which will be tested in both directions. And also he has a past with Emma Frost. And they're just a lot of fun to write together.

Marvel.com: What about the other X-Men and what will his interactions be like with them?

Stuart Moore: His relationship with Emma is fun because they're both so arrogant and prideful. They both really think they're hot stuff. So, when they get together it's kind of this aggressive flirting that's really fun to write. Touching on a little bit on what happens in UNCANNY X-MEN, there's going to be a little more tension with Emma and Cyclops and Namor. That'll play out a bit as it goes on. I think they're a really fun triangle because Cyclops is just so straight forward and they're both alpha males in their own way. Emma is very strong-willed and capable of making her own decisions. Historically she hasn't tied herself down much until now. And while what she has with Cyclops is very, very strong, as we [have seen] with Sue Richards, Namor is a formidable presence to throw into the mix.

Marvel.com: You know, you mention how Namor thinks he's hot stuff and really I guess you have to think that of yourself to wear just a Speedo. Speaking of that, what is that situation in your series? Is Namor in the Speedo or pants?

Stuart Moore: It's the way he's been dressing in X-Men. He's not in the Speedo. But you know, I imagine there are times when he's going to want to strip down and want the old Speedo. We think he looks a more regal with actual clothes on though.


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      Tantalizing hints of things to come! Can't wait. BUT, I have to disagree. Supreme confidence = regal, and it takes just that to wear a speedo in a room full of characters wearing body socks. Come, Marvel! Play fair. No one puts actual clothes on female characters like Emma Frost or Psylocke or Shanna or Tigra, so don't put them on Namor.