From the August 31 Syracuse Post Standard:
1602 No. 1
**** (out of 4)
Marvel Comics; $3.50.
If you’re really serious about nostalgia, you can’t go back further than the 17th century. Well, I suppose you could, but then you’d miss Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert’s event mini-series, “1602.”
Playing out like a “What-If” story, the series takes us to Elizabethan England, where familiar names and places are popping up where they shouldn’t.
Doctor Strange (known in today’s century as the Master of the Mystic Arts) is the master of the Queen’s medicines, while Sir Nicholas Fury (today head of the covert operations group known as S.H.I.E.L.D.) is instrumental to Her Majesty’s secret service. Witchbreed (who look a lot like today’s X-Men) are rampant, and the Scarlet Witch has become a nun.
Something odd is happening. Something that is causing modern events to happen in medieval times.
And there’s the twist. While a DC Elseworld story would be content to have versions of their heroes in the time of the Spanish Inquisition, it would be a tale totally separate from current continuity. In “1602” events are happening that will have a direct consequence for the Marvel Universe of today. Or so they say. We’ll have to see how the story unfolds.
The true joy in reading this first chapter is discovering the details. Oh, the Nick Fury and Dr. Strange analogs are easy to spot, and one can just imagine what fate has in store for young Peter Parquart. The American Indian warrior Rohjaz eluded me on the first reading, but then I slapped myself upside the head as I remembered that Captain America’s alter-ego is Steve Rogers.
I don’t think I have to praise award-winning fantasy author Gaiman any more than he has been already.
Suffice to say that he’s crafted an ingenious tale of a major temporal anomaly. Artist Andy Kubert treads the line between modern superheroics and historical accuracy quite nicely.
If they don’t drop the ball over the next couple of issues, this series could become one of the classics of Comics, right up there with “Watchmen” and “The Dark Knight Returns.”
Only time will tell.