Many of you will already know Neil Gaiman, if only from the recent success of the film adaptation of Stardust. He is however also a major graphic novel storywriter; his most popular series being The Sandman. A few years ago Gaiman was approached to work on a Marvel project which eventually evolved into Marvel 1602.
In this 8 issue limited series, some of the superheroes from popular Marvel comics, like Spider-man, the Fantastic Four or X-men, are put into the Elizabethan era. They have to ensure the safety of the world and themselves from villains like Otto von Doom and the Inquisition. Queen Elizabeth I. is the current monarch and in her employ are Dr. Stephen Strange and Sir Nicholas Fury. The throne is challenged by James IV of Scotland and his hate for magically inclined people endangers the “witchbreed” in the whole of Great Britain. When the Queen is assassinated, Fury and his assistant Peter Parquagh help Carlos Javier and his school of witchbreed to escape execution by James’s men. While Fury investigates the murder of Queen Elizabeth, Dr. Strange learns that the universe is at stake. Years before a being from the future intruded into their world and thereby doomed to whole multiverse. If you want to know whether Sir Fury and the other heroes are successful in saving the world, you should pick up Marvel 1602 (preferably in the very exquisite hardcover edition).
First off all let me say that the whole premise of this graphic novel is pure genius in my eyes. The reading was through and through interesting, especially because you always try to figure out who the modern counterpart to the different characters might be. 1602 was also well received amongst critics, winning the Quill Book Award for Graphic Novels in 2005 and even spawning two sequels: 1602: New World and Marvel 1602: Fantastick Four.
Now what can I say about the art? Andy Kubert’s drawings are extraordinary and his “enhanced pencils” technique gives the work an extremely detailed and original look. He also manages to capture the time setting quite well. The way the different costumes are created, to both fit the times and still include enough of the modern counterparts’ outfits is just amazing. All in all, a job well done.
Every Marvel fan should at least read the first issue of the miniseries, to see what can be done with this incredibly rich universe of characters. I for one am surely going to read the two sequels, as soon as I get the opportunity.
Reread Value 8
Overall rating 8/10
And finally, big thanks to the guy who lend me Marvel 1602!