Marvel Comics is known for relatively few things when you think about it. The movies in recent years, the awful movies from not so recent years, and the same few characters we see movies about. Spiderman, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Strange, The X-Men, and a few more. Knowing their writing staff needed some fresh blood to replace the dust in Stan Lee’s veins, and the ectoplasm in Jack Kirby’s ghost veins, hence asking Neil Gaiman to write a story for them. For those who don’t know who Neil Gaiman is, he is the mastermind behind Sandman (the best comic series ever), Coraline (that creepy doll people movie), and the Books of Magic. Neil spends much of his time in the weird mystical side of DC comics, so it’s not strange he would write a story about the 1600’s and the new world for Marvel.
There isn’t a really great way to start a review to something so perfect as Marvel 1602, but with all things, there must be a beginning. Marvel 1602 sets the stage for the Marvel universe as a whole, showing the transition from the Elizabethan era to the Jacobean era, and the struggles many of our favorite Marvel characters faced during those times. The United Kingdom was under much turmoil as these events transpired, as Queen Elizabeth was on death’s door, and the people of England awaited their new, non catholic king to take rule.
The story follows the adventures of Virginia Dare, and her blonde haired, blue eyed native American guardian and her quest to receive money from the queen for her colony in the New World (The USA of America). Much like any good metafiction, many characters come together to give the story more depth. Some of these characters include, Peter Parquagh (peter Parker AKA Spiderman), the fantastik four (fantastic four), Count Otto Von Doom of Latvia (Dr. Doom), Matthew Murdoch (Matt Murdock AKA daredevil), most of the original X-men, black widow, and so many more.
The artwork is really something to write home about. Very detailed and vivid, but much like Neil Gaiman’s other works, subtly gloomy and sad. Each of the characters has a design that honors the original character, and strays just enough to get the point across that they are from the 1600s. Whether that be Dr. Doom and his green cloak and cool armor, and newly disfigured face, or a better example of Daredevil being a blind traveling singer and being dressed in red. The artwork pays homage to classic marvel, new marvel, and does it well.
The characters are much like their Marvel counterparts, but more akin to the comics published before 1969, like Daredevil being witty like his pre gritty serious modern iderations. Each character grows and provides new layers of depth that keep the reader interested. The story often drops easter eggs in for the more knowledgeable readers, but anyone can pick up the story and enjoy it.
Finally, I would recommend this book to anyone with eyes and the ability to read, or look at pictures. Marvel 1602 is easily one of the best things I have ever read, and that is why i’m giving it a pre X-Force Deadpool out of 10.