Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert, and Richard Isanove

The year is 1602. Elizabeth I is Queen of England, but she is fading fast. King James of Scotland is chomping at the bits to take over when she is finally gone. English colonists have settled at Roanoke in the Americas. Spain is preoccupied with their Inquisition, weeding out those in league with the Devil who would imperil the church and its people. It is a time of great miracles, wonder, and changes. The most unsettling of these changes are the lightning storms. Although nobody is sure exactly what is the cause or the outcome, they are fairly certain it means the end of the world.

There is an object harbored by the Knights Templar, an object of incredible power. This object could be powerful enough to save the world. Head of intelligence Sir Nicholas Fury hires a man, the blind minstrel Matthew Murdoch, to fetch the object for the good side. Count Otto von Doom is trying to steal the object for less noble purposes. Doom also sends three creepy henchmen to kill Queen Elizabeth, Fury, and the young Virginia Dare. Virginia is the first child born in Roanoke. She returned to England with her bodyguard, Nativeman Rojhaz, in order to get English aid for the colony. The strange storms started in the colonies a short time after the colonists arrived...maybe when Virginia was born? Now they have followed across the sea to England.

In other parts of the country, Carlos Javier and his College for the Sons of Gentle Folk serve as a safe harbor for those who are labeled as "witchbreed." The Inquisition, namely Grand Inquisitor Enrique, have been killing as many as they can find...or have they? Once Elizabeth dies, the less-tolerant King James comes after Javier and his students, accusing them of killing the Queen. Fury and Javier have a mutual understanding, and Fury must decide whether to break Javier's trust or commit treason against his new King.

Why are all these Marvel superheroes alive over 300 years before their time? What (Or WHO) sparked the end of the world? Where can a witchbreed go to gain freedom from oppression? Why bother changing Peter Parker's name when you give him the obvious (And horrifying) moniker of Peter Parkquagh?

This was my first real attempt at a graphic novel, if you don't count the graphic novel version of The Baby-Sitters Club. Let's call that training wheels and this the big-girl bike. The mixture of classic superheroes and historical figures was creative and just plain awesome. In a nice touch, the illustrations look like woodcarvings, and I have just enough knowledge to recognize the superheroes (With a little help from the lists in the introduction and at the end of the book). My graphic novel experience was incredibly positive. I will definitely read them again in the near future.

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