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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neil Gaiman puts Marvel's superheroes 500 years in the past
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...
Published on 16 Nov 2005 by Lawrance M. Bernabo

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange things are stirring in renaissance England...
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...
Published on 9 Oct 2006 by Niall Mc Cann


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neil Gaiman puts Marvel's superheroes 500 years in the past, 16 Nov 2005
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Marvel 1602 TPB (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). I was thinking that he was simply juggling too many characters and that the best stories I have read putting familiar Marvel and DC superheroes in another place and another time have been fairly specific (e.g., Batman appearing in the London of Jack the Ripper). You might put an entire super group like the Fantastic Four into such a story, but in "Marvel 1602" Gaiman works in just about everybody and it would be easier to try and count on one hand the number of original Marvel characters who do not appear in these pages.
But then we learn that Gaiman is going for something more than an alternative history version of the Marvel Universe. There are forces at work that explain why Matthew Murdoch, Carlos Javier, and Peter Parquagh are running around in Merry Olde England and parts of the Continent. This is important because how much you like "Marvel 1602" probably depends on how much you think of the prime cause. Ultimately I think it is an okay idea, especially since it forces Gaiman to skirt the origin issues (so to speak) for most of these characters, and what there is often smacks of necessary convenience. However, if there is one thing we know about Neil Gaiman it is that the best way to appreciate his work is usually to look at it from a mythological perspective.
That perspective is important because ultimately what matters about the time period that Gaiman has picked is not the existence of the Inquisition and the strong parallels that immediately exists between religious persecution back then and the persecution of mutants that has always been a strong undercurrent (if not tsunami) in the world of the X-Men, but rather that this was the beginning of the epoch in human history where the Old World gave way to the new one that was being created in the Americas. That makes Virginia Dare the pivotal character in "Marvel 1602," and the second time through reading it pay attention to the character more as a symbol.
The final irony is that the more I appreciate the symbolism of Virginia Dare, the more I think it undermines the grand conceit of dressing up so many Marvel superheroes in Elizabethan garb. Instead I found myself wanting Gaiman to start over and basically begin with Virginia Dare and Rojhaz sailing on the ship to visit Queen Bess and not involve the other characters. Or, conversely, to leave the pair from Roanoke out of the picture and keep the focus on the Euorpean stage. Granted, each time we read "Marvel 1602" there will be more to unpack from Gaiman's storyline, but while it is quite interesting it does not rise to the heights of "Watchman" (insert your own classic graphic novel standard if you want) and I certainly do not overly interesting in seeing what Greg Pak and Greg Tocchini come up with following in the shoes of Gaiman and Kubert in "1602: New World."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange things are stirring in renaissance England..., 9 Oct 2006
By 
Niall Mc Cann (Dundalk, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Marvel 1602 TPB (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.

Anyway, i forgive it those cons on the basis of its wonderful list of pros. The conversation between Dr Strange and The Watcher is wonderful and bizzarre and beautiful; Peter Parker's place is surprising but fulfilling; The Invisible Woman's measured, rational debate with Donal over the merits of his summoning of a pagan god, is funny, heartbreaking and masterfully written. That's just a handful of the many things that make me love this book... It's flawed, but wonderfully readable.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Through a glass darkly, 8 Oct 2004
This book takes a sideways look at many of the most iconic characters in the Marvel universe, and in doing so gives us a fresh viewpoint on their motivations. The story is set at the end of the Elizabethen period in English history, with the prospect of the Scottish King James becoming the English monarch. Via an admittedly somewhat contrivied device the age of heroes has arrived 400 years early. We see Steven Strange, Nick Fury, Daredevil, the original X-men and others against a backdrop of court intrigue and strange lights in the sky foretelling the end of the world.
This is a well conceived idea with some nice asides thrown in for the long term fan with a knowledge of Marvel history, and a jolly good page-turner to boot!
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guy Fawkes Goes Marvel, 21 Nov 2004
This book is a refreshing and original. Two words that are often difficult to apply to all areas of media, be that film, books or music.
Neil Gaiman has gone back and re-told the emergence of mutant powers, during the Elizabethan times in England, except now they are known as Wtchbreed.
I really enjoyed this book and as someone familiar with the Marvel Universe it brough a smile to my face everytime I picked out the latest charcter to get the 1602 treatment, (Peter Parker/Peter Parquah - Neat, huh?).
This is a page turner - you will find it very hard to put down. I have read it a couple of times now and can honestly say it does stand up to repeated reading, which is quite a rare thing with graphic novels.
An unusual and enjoyable addition for your collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 400 years ago, but still works!, 16 Sep 2006
By 
Robbles (Leicester England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Marvel 1602 TPB (Paperback)
Neil Gaiman is an excellent writer. Anyone who's read Neverwhere, American Gods or Anansi Boys should pretty much agree. He doesn't make things easy, his premises for writing are pretty off the wall, but he's worth the effort.

My girlfriend, god love her, bought me this as I was reading his books, and I love comics. I was unsure whether he could tranlate the suspense of his novels into comic-book format, but I have to say he's done it.

The artwork is of a high quality, not always as varied as I would like, but it is visually enticing, and compliments the story very well.

It is a good story too. The characters are almost seamlessly inter-woven with history, and readers of his novels will totally appreciate where his ideas are set. The marvelverse characters depicted are stereotyped into a legitimate role in the story, cleverly using the facets of characters like Dr Strange, Nick Fury, and the X-Men to full effect. There's plenty more people to read of here, and they are manipulated to fit in with an enticing plot and clever storyline.

My one very slight criticism, which doesn't apply to me but may to others, is that you aren't familiar with history, Gaiman, or marvel, is that it may seem confusing, even trite. It is only when you appreciate the writer, the setting and the characters that this graphic novel is shown for the excellent piece of work that it is. Well worth a read if not, but background knowledge is what transforms this book from another story into a fascinating concept.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvel Does "Elseworlds", 12 July 2005
By 
DocBhoy (Invercargill , New Zealand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Marvel 1602 TPB (Paperback)
Anyone familiar with DC "Elseworlds" comic line will understand that this series , here collected in trade paperback , is Neil Gaiman's alternate take on the Marvel universe if it had existed four hundred years ago .
All of Marvel's familiar characters are to be found in this tour-de-force , and Gaiman's previous reputation as a master storyteller is maintained through a number of twists and turns in this book . The art is also impeccable .
This book is recommended to those who are familiar with Gaiman's other work , those interested in the "Elseworlds" series in DC comics , and anyone with any interest in Marvel lines .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, 10 May 2014
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Great quality and fast shipping. I got it for my boyfriend and he loves it! He collects comics and this was a fabulous new addition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Elizabethan Marvel is awesome., 18 Jan 2014
This book is awesome. Neil Gaiman did a "fantastick" job of reimagining the Marvel Universe in a 17th-century setting. His take on the characters was greatly enjoyable, and the weirdness of the plot, the "mad history madness" as the author himself describes it, and the amazing art make 1602 a true classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW, 16 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Marvel 1602 TPB (Paperback)
Excellent story kept me enthralled from beginning to end. Great twists on existing characters brilliant for comic fans or casual readers
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic story, well worth having!, 4 Feb 2010
Marvel 1602 has, as I have read from other reviews, seems to have been approached as a "What If...?" story.
Those unfamiliar with the "What If...?" tales, these are worlds in which something occurred differently; one example of a tale was a tale in which peter parkers aunt may died, instead of uncle Ben, then the issue would recount the resulting effects.
This book is not one of those tales. "Marvel 1602" is a fantastic world unto it's own, much like Marvels "Ultimate" universe.
The characters have depth, and the story is not about the novelty of marvel heroes being in existence 400 years early, the story is well thought out, and well executed, with multiple layers.
The story opens to 17th century England, where strange storms are becoming quite frequent, and are believed to signal the end of the world.
From this we (without wanting to give any spoilers away) follow Stephen Strange, the queens physician, who is trying to find the cause of these storms, and is also having a special weapon, brought to England for safe keeping. Charged with the weapons safety in transport to England is Sir Nicholas Fury, who arranges for an agent of his (Blind Bard, Mathew Murdoch) to meet the guard and secure the weapon.
We also meet Virginia Dare, and her native American body guard Rohjaz, who, in meeting the queen, Virginia is attacked, but saved by Rohjaz.
From here the story gets going, I am not going to go through it all (there is a lot to this story!) but rest assured it is a highly enjoyable read, perhaps one of the best marvel comics I have read to date.
The story is complex, it is not action orientated, so if you are looking for big face offs between heroes and villains, you may be disappointed.
If you're looking for an interesting read, and wanting to read an intelligent self contained story, then look no further, I highly recommend this book.
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Marvel 1602 TPB (New Printing) (Graphic Novel Pb)
Marvel 1602 TPB (New Printing) (Graphic Novel Pb) by Neil Gaiman (Paperback - 24 Feb 2010)
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