The regular readers of this blog will know that graphic novels/comics are not exactly the first genre we go for, but hey, you can always make an exception for Neil Gaiman, can’t you?
So, here’s the deal with Marvel 1602: On the good side, we have Sir Nicholas Fury and Dr. Stephen Strange, working for Good Queen Bess as her intelligence head and court magician respectively. Sir Nicholas sends a blind bard, Matthew Murdoch, to meet a Templar and bring the treasure of Templars safely across the channel.
On the bad side, Count Otto von Doom, ruler of Latvia is after the treasure. High Inquisitor Enrique will collaborate with anybody, including James VI of Scotland to get his hands on Carlos Javier and his students in “College for the Sons of Gentlefolk”. While James mistrusts the so-called “witchbreed”, and would rather get rid of them after he succeeds in getting to the throne of England, Enrique has been hunting the witchbreed across Europe for his own purposes.
At the center of this political intrigue, steps Virginia Dare, a child from New World arriving at the Elizabeth’s court. She has strange powers, and a stranger companion-bodyguard, Rojhaz. But what is important is that she may hold the key to the strange storms and happenings going around in the world.
Now all these heroes have to figure out the reason for the disturbances before they destroy the world. But in the meantime, rulers will fall; new alliances need to be forged while old alliances and loyalties crumble, and daring rescues and magical powers lead the way back to the New World, where the fate of not just the world, universe but the entire multiverse rests.
As you must have guessed, many of the Marvel characters are present in the story (is it just me or was there a single panel of Hulk in there?). Of course, not all are present in their familiar guises, or are at the age as in “normal” timeline. So Peter Parquagh is a young boy, interested in spiders, working as page/assistant for Sir Nicholas (he won’t “come into” his powers till almost the end). Also, you will need to be hardcore comic fans to break the disguise of a character or two (doesn’t take away anything from the story, believe you me).
And as for the costumes, to quote Neil Gaiman, everybody is in costume, since it is Elizabethan era. So, you won’t see anybody wearing skintight leather costumes. But yes, if you see closely, the clothes display very familiar color combinations for each character.
One of the main things in this series is that it is not a time-travel story. The characters are products of 16th century, and completely merge in the “normal” life at that time. So, you don’t get any anachronistic incidents or things roaming around. Ok, let me amend that, you don’t get any anachronistic happenings because of the “superheroes” living in 1602. The whole heroes being born in a different era situation is handled perfectly.
In fact, I am still wondering whether the whole “John” Grey thing is a comment on the status of women at the time or just quirky storytelling.
All in all, this is a perfect story arc (just 8 issues) if you are not a huge comic fan, but want to read a nice graphic novel without caring about the whole backstory of “superheroes” (indeed, the heroes are completely human, even more than is norm for Marvel). And if you are a fan, you just can’t miss this.
Quote of The Day:
History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.
– Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), Pro Publio Sestio