Picture This: The Sub-Mariner, Fantastic Four, and Dr. Doom

To Free Atlantis hews closely to sacred Marvel scripture. This will surely delight lifelong members of F.O.O.M. Unfortunately the text is undermined by the illustrations that begin each of the 10 chapters. Let’s take a look. First drawing: Prince Namor rules Atlantis with a wave of his hand. Second drawing: The monarch of the sea is held captive as a carnival freak. Third drawing: Sue Richards nurses Namor back to health. Fourth drawing: Some crusty dude from Atlantis. Fifth drawing: Reed Richards speaks to an assembled audience at the United Nations. Sixth drawing: The Fantastic Four and the Sub-Mariner fight an army of mermen underwater. Seventh drawing: The Human Torch scorches a bunch of mermen on dry land. Eighth drawing: Dr. Doom and the Thing confront a giant sea creature. Ninth drawing: The Sub-Mariner slugs Dr. Doom in the gut. Tenth drawing: Prince Namor rules Atlantis with a wave of his hand (while the Fantastic Four look on).

Yup, that pretty much sums up the entire story. Readers (who don’t like to read) can simply flip through the book and look at all the pictures. What they’ll miss, however, is the humor and quirky nature of Nancy A. Collins’ writing. Give her credit; it’s probably not very easy to knock out a novel about the Sub-Mariner. He’s arguably the first anti-hero in comics, predating his moody progeny by twentysomething years. By turns he’s strident, odious, and a raging nut job. Collins has done her best to recast an often-insufferable bore into a compelling and sympathetic hero. For what it’s worth, the illustrations by Paul Ryan are nice too.

[Fantastic Four: To Free Atlantis / By Nancy A. Collins / First Paperback Edition: December 1995 / ISBN: 1572970545]

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