by Jeff Parker (writer), Gabriel Hardman (art), Jana Schirmer (colors), and Nate Piekos (letters)

The Story: A devastating secret comes out about Namor and Namora’s budding relationship.  Will Atlas lose one of its own?  And in a back-up story, Mr. Lao does battle with a genie.

What’s Good: I’ve really loved this two-part Atlantis arc.  After the Cap and Avengers issues, it’s good to see this series regaining its voice, which is a retro, weird one with a unique set of lovable characters.

In this issue, it’s nice to see Parker trying to add to Marvel continuity by messing about with Namor’s history.  While Atlas continues to be a series unlike any other at Marvel, I’m glad Parker managed to make it more than a fringe series with little impact.

That said, Namor continues to be a great fit for the series and, unlike Captain America, does not seem out of place.  Thus, this issue manages to feel important without losing its voice.  I loved Namor in this issue, speaking to Jimmy Woo from one leader to another.  Not only is Namor a good fit for this comic, but this exchange also gives Atlas and Jimmy some Marvel Universe credibility that feels natural and not at all forced.  The best part of Namor’s advice?  He basically tells Jimmy to distance the comic from Dark Reign.

Beyond that, it’s hard to say much more other than that this issue/arc of Agents of Atlas is nothing but pure fun.

No Agents of Atlas review would be complete without some raving about Gabriel Hardman’s artwork.  Marvel has a real star on its hands here and I hope they know it.  The artist hits a high point with this issue, completly capturing the weird, retro sci-fi feel of Atlas, while lending the comic a pulpy, 60s B-movie tone that is nothing short of magnificent.  Every frame looks like a painted cover from a pulp novel.  In fact, Hardman almost makes you feel like the comic you’re holding is something you found in the bowels of a used bookstore, some long forgotten piece of your father’s (or grandfather’s) childhood.  Considering what Atlas is about, that’s just what this comic needs.

What’s Not-So-Good: Gorilla Man feels a little off this issue.  Don’t get me wrong, most of everything he says is comedy gold, but it just doesn’t quite sound like Gorilla Man.  Fun yes, but it feels just a bit too modern or culturally aware.  Somehow, I just don’t buy Gorilla Man saying “I’d hit that.”

I also think that the Mr. Lao back-up is a little lacking.  Other than the last page, showing how Lao ended up with Atlas, a lot of things are left  hanging.  What is Lao’s plan?  Why did he want to take human form?  We never find out and I doubt we ever will.  The battle with the genie could’ve been a bit more drawn out as well.  It just feels like it’s a bit crippled by the page count restriction.

Conclusion: A team comic unlike any other at Marvel, it’s another solid book for Atlas.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans