Skip to content

Consider Marvel 1602, by Neil Gaiman

September 14, 2013

It has been mentioned, on here, that Marvel and DC are to comic books what Republicans and Democrats are to American politics.  They dominate things, and they like you to choose one side or the other.  In the interest of walking the line and avoiding partisanship, it is time to consider a Marvel title, as last week we considered Scalped, a DC title.

Marvel 1602 is only one volume, consisting of eight issues.  This what we we talk about when we talk about graphic novels.  It’s a few hundred pages, with story arcs that are more-or-less resolved within the one book.  This means that, yes, it’s less of a commitment to read this.  You get your hands on it, and you can read the whole thing in two or three sittings.

The cover of Marvel 1602.  Recognize any of those characters?

The cover of Marvel 1602. Recognize any of those characters?

Here is the part that could alienate you, and so I want to get it out in the open right away: Marvel 1602 is about a parallel universe.  Specifically, it’s about a parallel universe where the year is 1602 and a bunch of Marvel superheroes exist in The New World and England.  What superheroes, you ask?  Well, it’s a few you have probably heard of, because they have been showing up in a lot of movies over the last ten years: Spiderman, Magneto, Professor X, Nick Fury, just to name a few.  I won’t tell you all of them, but I will tell you that there are a few good surprises, and it’s worth reading just to see what they’re doing in this different universe (Nick Fury works for the Queen and Magneto works the Spanish Inquisition).  

While this could be the worst idea or the best idea, the reason it’s the best idea is because Neil Gaiman is the person writing it, and he pulls it off magnificently.  The reason I recommend it to you is that it’s a good way to get introduced to a) the Marvel superheroes.  They’re not all here, but a lot of them are  b) Neil Gaiman’s writing.  He’s a great writer, and it’s a really good example of the kind of writing he does, and c) comic books in general.  It’s easy to read, and it’s fun, and it’s a good example of how innovative and interesting comic books can be.

Accessibility: Medium-to-high.  If you have not ever encountered a single Marvel movie (we’re talking Spiderman, The Avengers, X-Men, Iron Man, etc), you could be a little bit confused and alienated.  At the same time, it could be a very good way to learn who a bunch of these people are, if you approach it with an open mind.

The cover of the 4th issue.  I won't give away which character this is.  I'll give you a hint: you probably didn't see the movie he's in.

The cover of the 4th issue. I won’t give away which character this is. I’ll give you a hint: you probably didn’t see the movie he’s in.

Rating if would have it it were a movie: PG-13.  The violence is light and it’s not full of profanity or nudity, like some graphic novels are.

Potential to be adapted into a movie or television show: Very low. While the characters are all showing up in movies left-and-right, I don’t see the studios deciding that it’s worth risking an adaptation in which Samuel L. Jackson and friends are speaking in British accents and sailing on ships.

Intense or light reading: Relatively light.

What About the Art?:  Good.  It’s not going to get framed on the wall, but yeah, it’s good.

Publisher: Marvel, as explained above.

Portrayals of Minorities and Women: Well, it’s set in 1602, so take that into consideration.  But it’s also Neil Gaiman, who probably writes women and minorities more fairly than almost any other contemporary author I can think of.


Television: Marvel 1602 is a reversal of a current trend in television.  Shows like Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Elementary, Sherlock, and Sleepy Hollow take classic, familiar (and general domain) stories and characters from the past and update them into contemporary times. (Fables, a Vertigo series, also does this, which I will discuss in a future post). Marvel 1602 takes contemporary, copyrighted characters from present day and sends them into the past.  As far as I know, no television show has taken this approach yet.  Of course, another obvious pairing is the upcoming Agents of SHIELD.

This guy is not in Marvel 1602.

This guy is not in Marvel 1602.

Film: X-Men: First Class is probably the closest parallel, in terms of idea, in that it’s a superhero movie that is not set in the present day.  Generally speaking, The Avengers and almost all the other Marvel superhero movies are good pairings with Marvel 1602, in terms of mood, theme, characters, etc.

Books: Harry Turtledove’s works are one of the closest examples to this work.  This could be tenuously placed in the general genre of “alternate history fiction.”  Phillip K. Dick and a few author science fiction authors fall into this category from time to time as well.

Final Note

Read this one, for the great storytelling at the very least.  You can never go wrong with Neil Gaiman and, if you find yourself enjoying the characters, know that there are thousands of more stories featuring this crowd.

Did you enjoy this?  Check out Consider Scalped.

  1. This is a fantastic review. Thanks for this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Sports and Pop Culture from Bill Simmons and our rotating cast of writers | Grantland

David Gaughran

Let's Get Digital

Leader Daze

Life, Camp, and Scouting

Dave's Corner of the Universe

Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide

Brain Nation

Illuminating individual and organizational learning

stillness of heart


Bryan on Scouting

The official blog of Scouting magazine, a publication of the Boy Scouts of America.

Race for the Iron Throne

You Win or You Die - Historical and Political Analysis of Game of Thrones by Steven Attewell

Cultural Learnings

Television Reviews and Analysis

The Collective

Geek-centric, nerd-tastic blog for fans of all ships and sizes.

The Postmodern Poetess

a collection of words, written and borrowed

Noah Kuttler's Blog

This is my blog! There are many like it, but this one is mine!

I create worlds. John Brito´s Blog

Behind the scenes of John Brito´s animated and live action (short) films & comics

I Speak Comics

Comics and Games Courtesy of Chabala

Longbox Review

Comic Book Podcast, News, Reviews, & Discussion

Unbound Boxes Limping Gods

The writer gives life to a story, the reader keeps it alive.


What’s good, bad and happening, from pop culture to high culture

Consider the Comic Book

A blog about comic books, for people who don't read comic books.


literary fictions, flashes, fiascos

Jeyna Grace ©

Imagination, the perfect form of escapism.

A Writer's Hail Mary Pass

Shameless self-promotion for an aspiring author

The Reel Voice

thoughts on movies & more

Cool Cosplay

We share news, photos with cosplay fans.


The blog

Claude Walrath


Rankin' Movies by Garrett Rankin

Detailed and informative movie reviews on past/present films.


Rebooting the Golden Age... right in the ass.

Comic Book Grrl's Blog

Just another site

Comic Book Junkie

Calling all comic book readers!

What Should Bale Do?

A blog dedicated to one simple question.

Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger

where writing is a performance art and every post is a show

The Writing of D. F. Lovett

A simple blog for the sharing and promotion of D. F. Lovett's writing.

A tree house design collective dedicated to sustainability and lush community.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: