Marvel 1602 is an amazing 8-part graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman, penciled by Andy Kubert and painted by Richard Isanove. It was published in 2003 by Marvel Comics (obviously). The series was recommended to me by my cousin, and I can say with certainty this was his best recommendation so far (you know it was, cousin dear).
Marvel 1602 is set in 17th century Europe, where real history and fictitious Marvel universe merge into an incredibly intriguing story in which classic Marvel heroes such as Nick Fury, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four fight to save the Earth, as well as the universe (all of them, actually) from destruction by an unknown force that messes with the time-space continuum, which is never a good thing. Not only that, but there’s an ever-present danger that is Doctor Doom, and that pathetic crybaby which can’t deal with rejection, what was his name… oh yes, Magneto. Oh, and there’s even the Toad!
I will not write the full plot here, which I usually do, because, honestly, the story is so good that I do not wish to spoil it to anybody, not even all three of my occasional readers. I will say, though, that it has been a long time since a comic book amazed me so much. It’s not surprising – we’re talking Neil fucking Gaiman here, folks. His ingenuity shows in every aspect of the series, from simple jokes (Peter Parquagh, I’m thinking of your name here!) all the way to some quite profound insights by Reed Richards:
I also like how perfectly he adapted the characters to the Elizabethan period. The Beast, for example, with his eloquent speech, or Carlos Javier serving the holy mass with his witchbreed (medieval version of mutants) pupils of the College for the Sons of Gentlefolk. Or Daredevil, portrayed here as a blind bard (yes, a bard – also, an adventurer for hire) Matthew Murdoch.
And not to forget the evil count that lives in a foreboding castle in the mountains, and calls himself “the Handsome”. Who might THAT man be, you ask?
The art is also remarkable, if you haven’t noticed by now, so much so that I made so many screenshots to use as my smartphone background image that there is simply no way to decide which one is actually going to be my smartphone background image. It fits the story so perfectly, both in giving it that medieval feel that is absolutely necessary for a piece like this, and in providing the reader with some real eye-candy.
Verdict: This is, without much thought, one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. The story and the art are so good that I will definitely re-read it at least a dozen times (I will re-read it more than a dozen times). 10/10