WRITER: GREG PAK | ART: ARIO ANINDITO | PUBLISHER: MARVEL | FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
One of the most ambitious and extensive (excessive and overblown?) crossovers in eighties Marvel comics was the remarkably forgettable Atlantis Attacks storyline (in which Atlantis didn’t actually do very much attacking and Prince Namor kept an annoyingly low profile). Now, for its thirtieth anniversary, the name, if not the storyline, is back and Prince Namor and his undersea nation are attacking all over the shop, although they’re mostly focussing on Greg Pak’s new Agents of Atlas.
The Agents of Atlas (a super team of Asian superheroes led by super genius and ex-Hulk Amadeus Cho) are charged with defending the Portal City of Pan, a pan-dimensional smushing together of places from across Asia and the Pacific into one free city, and now Namor and co have developed beef with Pan over its unusual source of portal power.
This comic is a mess. It begins with a hugely detailed backstory (mostly from War of the Realms) being left pointedly untold but then throws the reader into a series of events that require at least light Wikipedia background reading to even make the most minimal amount of sense.
We’ve written before about how Marvel has just discovered that Asia exists and that it’s about time they were given some superheroes and storylines, in return for being a potentially profitable market for comics, and Atlantis Attacks is an apotheosis of that attitude. Now, if that sounds both patronising and cynical, then no doubt that tone is this reviewer’s fault entirely and not Marvel’s. Because what could be less patronising or more not-racist than to combine an entire continent’s worth of nations into just one city with magic portals to bring together Filipinos, Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese etc etc into a single location for ease of representation? And what could be more not-racist than speech bubbles which include lines like “Oh no!*” with the asterisk directing us to the helpful note ‘Translated from the Tagalog’ or ‘Translated from Korean’ to allow us to see just how diverse and representative this Asian supercity really is. If that’s not not-racist, then we sure couldn’t tell you what not-racist is.
Very little happens in Atlantis Attacks issue 1, but it still manages to render that very little as incoherently, overwhelmingly but, most importantly, definitely not-racistly as possible. Oh dear*.
*Translated from the Chinese