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NEIL GAIMAN'S 1602 Paperback – 2 Sep 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: PANINI UK LTD / MARVEL (2 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904159435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904159438
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 385,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neil Gaiman is a tour de force of creative talent. He is the bestselling author of Coraline and Stardust, both of which are major motion films. Neil also co-wrote the script for Beowulf starring Anthony Hopkins and Angeline Jolie. He is the creator/writer of the award-winning Sandman comic series and has written several books for children. His latest title, The Graveyard Book, won the Teenage Booktrust Prize 2009. Neil has been immortalised in song by Tori Amos, and is a songwriter himself. His official website now has more than one million unique visitors each month, and his online journal is syndicated to thousands of blog readers every day.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After watching the latest X-Men movie, "Marvel 1602" seemed like a good follow-up to read - it's an Elizabethan re-imagining of the Marvel universe, with a lot of focus on the X-Men.

I picked up the trade paperback, collecting all 8 issues of the comic written by the legendary Neil Gaiman - usually a DC comics writing, so it's nice to see him taking a spin at Marvel.

The plot is exactly what it sounds like - as many Marvel heroes reimagined in Elizabethan style as possible. Sometimes the plot, a nice mystery with political intrigue and spy elements, gets pushed ahead in favour of cameos. This does weaken the story, but as long as you're a Marvel fan you'll still enjoy it - for the re-imaginings, the references and in-jokes, and the plot lines.

The dialogue is strong for a comic book and it fits the period. The period setting is well done, if confusing at points (there are dinosaurs. I have no idea why. Google eventually told me this was a reference to the Marvel 'Savage Lands'). The time period could have been used more blatantly, but it has lots of brilliantly rendered old-fashioned ships so I'll forgive it. It also uses some unexpected plot twists - a few famous Marvel characters appear towards the end that I didn't expect to show up.

The art style is relatively unique - pencils taken immediately into digital colouring, with a lot of the pencil lines still visible to give it a 'scratchboard look'. Skipping the inking stage definitely makes it stand out. But the penciller isn't always that great with faces - characters pull some really jarring, unnatural expressions. It gets less noticeable towards the end, maybe because I was more 'into' the story.
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Format: Paperback
The skies are in upheaval; there are whispers of a growing storm ferocious enough to end the world. Strange creatures (the witchbreed) are stalking the woods and hillsides, and a young girl and her burly native protector are undertaking the long and dangerous voyage from the american colonies back to england, bringing strange, awesome powers and warnings of a terrible fate back to the dying Queen Elizabeth. Against this background, the brilliant, twisted Count Otto Von Doom and the puritanical, mysterious Inquisition pursue their own terrible agendas...

Sound exciting? It is. I really love this book. It's a huge, wonderful "What if..?" story, but one like i'd never read before. The transposition of Marvel Comics' colourful cast of superheroes to Elizabethan england is a crazy, inpired notion that could only have come from Gaiman. The art is beautiful, though Andy Kubert (despite his daddy) is very much of the Jim Lee school of superhero drawing, so it is as limited and gorgeous as that heritage implies.

Why only three stars? It's undeniably flawed. There's far too much in it, so there's a panicky rush to resolution in the last half of the book that leaves several significant characters quite short changed in story terms. It reads magnificently for three-quarters of the page count, and just when you begin to think "there's no way he can resolve this in the space he has left..." certain important plot threads fall away, major characters abruptly take their leave or worse, just disappear into the background not to retake the spotlight again. In a time when comics find themselves stretching stories out beyond their natural or advised lengths, this is one story, at least, that could have stood to be half as long again as it turned out to be.
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Format: Paperback
Admittedly expectations were going to be high when Neil Gaiman was signed to do a Marvel Comic. Gaiman's decision to create a unique vision of the Marvel universe set four hundred years in the past during the last days of the reign of Elizabeth Tudor, which certainly whetted my appetite to read this trade paperback collection of the mini-series. When you see Scott McKowen's scratchboard covers that ups the ante even more, and while there is certainly nothing wrong with Andy Kubert's art it is hard to look at those covers and not imagine the entire series done that way, even if it would take McKowen the rest of this decade to get it done.
So "Marvel 1602" begins in the throne room of Elizabeth, by the Grace of God Queen of England, where Sir Nicholas Fury, the head of her intelligence organization and Stephen Strange, the court physician, are meeting with her Majesty on a stormy night. Something powerful being kept in the city of Jerusalem, a weapon perhaps, has been offered to Strange and he has arranged for it to be transported to England. Something is in the air and while the trio talk lightly about how it might be the end of the world it just might. Meanwhile, in the High Tower of the Palace of the Inquisition in Spain, a familiar mutant awaits execution and on a ship bound for England from colony of Roanoke with the young Virginia Dare and her large bodyguard Rojhaz. These are just the first of the many pieces that Gaiman puts into play.
My initial thought while reading "Marvel 1602" was that he was overplaying his hand with his conceit of putting most of the original roster of Marvel superheroes into the time of Elizabethan England because he was working in a couple of dozen characters (including a couple of extremely familiar first line villains).
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