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Marvel 1602 (Marvel Comics, 2003; #1-8)

I needed some Neil Gaiman to fill the gap between Norse Mythology and the American Gods TV show, so I figured I should finally get around to finishing Marvel 1602.

Gaiman’s mini-series sees Marvel characters begin popping up across Europe and the New World almost four hundred years too early. And they’re just in time for the end of the world. Queen Elizabeth tasks her advisers—Sir Nicholas Fury and Doctor Stephen Strange—with figuring out what is going on and preventing armageddon. That requires them to foil assassination plots, invade sovereign states, stay ahead of double-crosses, and unite disparate factions of heroes and villains.

This is a dense comic. That’s not a bad thing at all. It is stuffed to the brim with reinvented Marvel characters, nods to their past, and American and British history. And it’s a love-letter to discovering new worlds, which Gaiman discusses in is afterword. 1602 isn’t afraid to get dark or weird. It’s a rewarding read, especially if you are already familiar with the more traditional interpretations of the characters it reinterprets.

Kubert and Isanove’s art helps to make Marvel 1602 stand out by giving it a visual style that takes notes from 17th Century art. Isanove’s colors—with clear brushstrokes meant to set it aside from contemporary coloring styles—sell the idea every bit as much as Kubert’s lines.

If you’re getting a late start on reading your daily trade, picking this up is not the best idea. But barring deadlines, Marvel 1602 is a good read. It’s very Neil Gaiman—and maybe the most like his prose of what I have read of his comics work. If you like Elseworlds-style takes on characters, you should pick it up.

Collected in

  • Marvel 1602 (#1-8)


Writer: Neil Gaiman | Artist: Andy Kubert | Colorist: Richard Isanove | Letterer: Todd Klein | Covers: Scott McKowen | Editors: Nick Lowe, Joe Quesada

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