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In Marvel 1602, award-winning writer Neil Gaiman presents a unique vision of the Marvel Universe set four hundred years in the past. Classic Marvel icons such as the X-Men, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and Daredevil appear in this intriguing world of 17th-century science and sorcery, instantly familiar to readers, yet subtly different in this new time. Marvel 1602 combines classic Marvel action and adventure with the historically accurate setting of Queen Elizabeth I's reign to create a unique series unlike any other published by Marvel Comics.

Collecting Marvel 1602 #1-8 - penciled by andy Kubert and digitally painted by Richard Isanove, with covers by Scott McKowen.

248 pages, Paperback

First published October 29, 2003

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Neil Gaiman

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5 stars
19,175 (33%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,098 reviews
Profile Image for Anne.
3,924 reviews69.3k followers
July 23, 2019
Bumping it up to 5 stars!

I read this back in 2009 and liked it quite a bit. It felt like a very cool What If kind of thing, the art was pleasant, and I understood most of what I was reading.
However, I simply hadn't read enough comics at that point to fully understand everything. And I'm mentioning that now because I don't think a casual graphic novel reader will enjoy this as much as someone who knows all of the characters.


If you don't already know, the premise is this:
Something happened that caused the superheroes of our time to be born hundreds of years early. So, basically, this is our Marvel characters in 1602.


Of course, their backstories are quite different, but everyone (with a few exceptions) is recognizable pretty much immediately. In my opinion, Neil Gaiman did a great job with this retelling.
I can call it a retelling, right?
It was varied enough to feel fresh, but there were enough familiar elements to the cast that I got to do that geeky little smile/nod thing quite a bit.


This is one that I wouldn't mind looking at again, and I'm definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the spin-offs from this and reading about more of this pocket universe. I'm not saying this will be for everyone, but it's worth a peek for the hardcore Marvel fans out there.

Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
February 24, 2012
Dear Mr. Gaiman and Nameless Marvel Suits:

I’d like to start this mostly favorable review by first dropkicking in the baby maker the marketing wizard who approved the decision NOT to include Wolverine in the story-line.
Remember him…the surly, long-lived, fast-healing anti-hero who’s been your most popular character since “Hey bubbing” the Hulk for the Canadian government back in the 1980’s**. Yes, that guy. Not only was his absence noticed, but his persona would have been PERFECT for the tale. A big, smelly, hairy miss in my opinion.

** As a complete non-sequitur, I came across this gorgeously gory Hulk/Wolverine shot while I was image shopping for this review and could not pass up sharing…

I don’t know where that image came from, but that is a memory. Consider it a bonus and small token of my appreciation for your willingness to read my drivel.
Okay, now we can continue with the flattering fanboy filling portion of this review sandwich before I have to end with a final slice of gripe.


It’s the final months of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in England

The year is…duh….

Neil Gaiman uses this famous historical period as the canvas to create an alternative history that includes most of Marvel’s major players (*ahem* except Wolverine *ahem*) and a number of well placed minor ones. They included Toad for crying out loud...and yet no Wolvie. Stunning!!

Conspiracies are afoot involving rival factions and complicated politics and the search for a powerful relic (rumored to be magic) that is guarded by the remnants of the Knights Templar. Gaiman skillfully unveils and discourses on the necessary back story without losing any plot momentum.

One competing group is led by James of Scotland, whose hatred and prejudice against the “witchbreed” (aka mutants) becomes a central point of tension. Meanwhile, from his technologically advanced nation of Latveria, the powerful and mysterious Otto von Doom is moving various pieces around the board...and permanently removing others.

Who will obtain the relic and assume control of the ultimate power in this Game of Thrones...

Well don’t look at me…read it for yourself.

Ably assisting the Queen are the duo of Sir Nicholas Fury, the Queen’s Intelligencer:
and Dr. Stephen Strange, the Queen’s Physician. Both characters are well drawn and it was nice to see them play such a major role in the tale...

...if only Wolverine could have joined them.

One of the interesting accessories that Gaiman uses to dress his story is the incorporation of the historical Spanish Inquisition but modified to fit the needs of the story. Led by the mysterious Grand Inquisitor, the Inquisition of 1602 is engaged, not just in religious-based slaughter, but all in a massive extermination of all witchkind, whose inhuman abilities clearly were granted by Satan in exchange for nefarious shenanigans.

Of course, a certain non-walking, bald headed telepath named Xavier Javier has created a form of refuge, a school if you will, for these persecuted witchkind…I think you can see where this is going.


Definitely an above-average Marvel story and Gaiman does his usual stellar job of prosing. Politically, Gaiman does an excellent job of marrying history with the changes required to make the narrative work and I really like the way he transported the basic persona of the characters into their 1602 counterpart. They are recognizable, but still unique.

Andy Kubert’s art works extremely well with the story and I thought his medieval take on characters hit the mark almost every time. Two of my favorites were the blind balladeer (secretly Fury’s top agent) Matthew Murdoch and the garrulous Beast:

There are also a few characters that you will need to work at a bit to figure out and I won’t spoil the fun here. Plus a few surprise appearances that are nicely incorporated.

Overall, a very good story that could have been one of the best if not for my final gripe.

I was seriously disappointed with the tie-in to the Marvel Universe. It’s not that it wasn’t well done or interesting in its own right, it was. However, I would have much preferred if the book would have remained an alternative history “what if” as opposed to a “let’s tie this in to the continuum." I don’t want to give the specifics away but I was left thinking of this as more or less a typical Marvel story-line.

I still enjoyed it and the quality is there, but I can’t deny that I was bummed by how the story played out. It could have been so much more.

Oh well…

4.0 stars. Highly Recommended (despite my gripes).
Profile Image for Sr3yas.
223 reviews997 followers
March 17, 2018
T'was the year of our Lord 1602 when the universe was facing an untimely demise in the hands of paradoxical laws, and unless the odd bard who goes by the name Neil Gaiman perform a grand tale with the help of the Marvels, all will face the doom.

Not Victor Von Doom, but actually doom.

In Marvel 1602, the classic Marvel heroes and villains are re-imagined as 17th-century characters, rearranged appropriately to take upon new roles, and relocated to the heart of Victorian-era Europe. Of course, the history is also re-pyramided to suit the story, but Gaiman masterfully utilizes famous events, like Spanish Inquisition, witch trials, the new world, Queen's death and the accession of James in England and entwine these to his own version of history.

Summarizing Marvel 1602 is a tough job, as the beast Gaiman created here has so many moving parts and way too many tricks up its sleeves to count. To be honest, the first time I read the story, I almost lost my head.

You and me both, doc.

It was only when I read the story the second time I understood the whole mess, knowing certain plot twists beforehand. There are a lot of subtle throwbacks to original Marvel characters, sly foreshadowing, and amusing exchanges to die for.

As for the characters, Gaiman's Nick Fury steals the show with excellent style and control, whereas Doc Strange untangles a lot of the mess surrounding the story. The X-Men are lot fun too, but Magneto once again kills it with his pure awesomeness!

Neil Gaiman's writing here is really complex, and early on he creates a lot of misdirection and confusion regarding the direction of the story. One of my minor complaints here is that Gaiman waited too long to show his hand, and then he dumped way too much information in last chapters of the story. This turned the middle chapters into a tiresome act, as there were way too many things happening without any sense of direction.

Nevertheless, Marvel 1602 is a unique story that dares to shoot for the moon. Even though the Marvel characters in these pages were known to us, Gaiman essentially created a brand new universe, reintroduced over two dozen major characters, and juggled multiple complex plots, all within limited pages. On the top of everything, Gaiman was still able to surprise me with the last act and with his devious connections.

That, my friend, is no easy feat.

Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,130 reviews3,554 followers
June 14, 2017
Imagination flourishes at Elizabethan Era of Marvel Universe!

This TPB collects “Marvel 1602” #1-8.

Creative Team:

Writer: Neil Gaiman

Illustrator: Andy Kubert

Digital Coloring: Richard Isanove

Covers: Scott McKowen

Lettering: Todd Klein (best letterer in the business!)


Nowadays the universe of Marvel 1602 is managed as a parallel dimension in the Marvel Comics Universe, BUT

…a key factor when the story was originally published is that it was considered the Earth-616, that for non-Marvel fans, it’s the official classification of the primary Earth in the multiverse of Marvel, but…

…if so, how is that so many known Marvel characters are born “again” but in that past?

Ah, my fellow readers!

That’s the mystery to read in this book!

Why characters that they were supposed to begin to exist until the 1960’s New York City of Marvel Comics are rising in the distant past of 1602´s Elizabethan England?

And as if that wasn’t enough, the sky is red (that in Marvel Universe NEVER is good sign) and the end of the world seems nigh, but if this “new” universe is truly Earth 616…

…what would happen to the “present” if this seemingly impossible past would be no more?

Certain events, in certain realities, are so powerful, so meaningful, so crutial, so fateful, that when something meses with that kind of events…

…curious things happens!

And nature finds ways to defend itself.


The sky is read and Queen Elizabeth I calls for her most trusted advisors…

…Sir Nicholas Fury, head of England’s Intelligence, and Dr. Stephen Strange, Queen’s head physician.

The end of the world seems to be imminent.

Meanwhile certain kind of weapon is transported from Jerusalem that it was being guarded by Templar Knights and it may be crutial to avoid world’s end.

So, it’s imperative to provide enough security to this, so a secret agent without fear and the most dangerous lady in Europe are called to the task. And certainly the precautions are wise since the powerful Count Otto Von Doom is desiring to put his armored gloves on that mysterious weapon.

Also, the first British girl born in the new world (America) is traveling, along with her trusted bodyguard, to England to ask for help to the colony of Roanoke. However, this girl is more than meets the eye and her role in all this mess is still unknown.

And as if you hadn’t enough…

…the Grand Inquisitor is highly interested in certain school at England leaded by Carlos Javier, since it’s suspected that his students are witchbreed!

And many other Marvel characters will rise in the least suspected moments!

This isn’t the usual 1602 of your history books!

Anything goes!

Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 47 books128k followers
December 21, 2010
I'm a sucker for anything renaissance, so this was SO much fun for me. I loved the idea of integrating and re-inventing the Marvel characters in Elizabethan Europe. The parallels were really clever between the mutants and the Inquisition etc. Despite some confusing panel art, I read this whole graphic novel in one sitting, and definitely want more in this universe!

I <3 you Neil Gaiman :)
Profile Image for Char.
1,638 reviews1,489 followers
August 9, 2017
This was tongue in cheek fun and it was beautifully illustrated. I am beginning to believe that Neil Gaiman can do anything.

I'm not very familiar with the Marvel universe as I'm still relatively new to comics and graphic novels and superheroes really aren't my thing. But you don't need to know all of that stuff to enjoy this. I knew enough to recognize most of the characters by their real names and that was all I needed to know. So if you're thinking about giving this a try, I say go for it.

If you check out this review on my blog, there are a few pages from this book on it that I think give a pretty good representation of the artwork within.

Profile Image for Jaya.
436 reviews222 followers
June 12, 2017
Quintessential Gaiman where we have a story within a story. Full 5 stars for the sheer ingenuity of taking the Marvel characters to circa 1602 where the mutants are known as witchbreed. There's enough intrigue, mystery, treason and action going on to keep you guessin' what the hell is goin' on?"
So basically

The artwork!! ❤ ❤ ❤
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,646 reviews5,110 followers
April 12, 2012
in elizabeth england - and across the world - mysterious and sinister events are taking place that threaten existence itself. a varied cast of heroes and villains seek to understand and perhaps even control this threat. of course, the heroes and villains in question are a gallery of classic Marvel characters, including Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Doctor Doom, and Nick Fury.

Neil Gaiman is known for his striking reinventions of classic and even mythic characters; in Marvel 1602 he turns his eye to the Marvel canon, with mixed results. the language and the plotting are quite accomplished, with all of the verve and polish and depth one comes to expect from a writer of Gaiman's calibre. the plot is rather marvelous - complicated and dense, yet with a clear internal logic and a genuinely thrilling ending. and there is a real kick in seeing characters like Nick Fury and Doctor Strange reconfigured as, respectively, Queen Elizabeth's Spymaster and Royal Physician.

the only issue i have - and it is a major one - is that by using Marvel characters, Gaiman is using characters with their own internal logic. these are characters who resonate on many levels, and unfortunately their use in this story is sometimes painfully at odds with established characterization that has been literally decades in the making.

Magneto is a good example of this often irritating disconnect. this character is an olympian figure, capable of much harm but with an overriding need to protect the mutant race. in this version, he still retains some of those traits, but they also come and go as Gaiman sees fit. watching Magneto plot to burn alive one of his fellow mutants was really too much to swallow.

overall the art was quite lovely. especially the beautiful scratchboard covers.
Profile Image for Brett C(urrently overseas again).
784 reviews167 followers
November 11, 2022
This was a neat blend of historical context and Marvel characters. I don't typically read Marvel comics, graphic novels, and I don't watch Marvel/DC movies. This was different and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the story, the artwork, the coloring, and the appeal. I'd recommend this to someone who is a fan of Marvel universe and comic books. Thanks!
Profile Image for Donovan.
698 reviews65 followers
March 15, 2018
Time travel! Apocalypse! Which Marvel book am I talking about? While these themes are old hat for Marvel, Gaiman does a good job writing this otherworld story called 1602.

So it makes old themes interesting. But they're still old themes. And the stories are what usually bore me in Marvel comics. While DC has its share of time travel and apocalypse-themed stories, it seems like too many Marvel comics are about this. So be forewarned, while the story is very different and unique, its themes are not.

However, it's the details, the individual lives of the characters that make this come alive. As you may have guessed, I'm not a Marvel fan in this universe. In this universe I'm a DC fan. There's no way around it. So I have a lukewarm interest in Marvel. But Gaiman, in the context of very early 17th century England under the ruling Queen Elizabeth I, writes fascinating versions of these characters that I was excited to read about.

Andy Kubert illustrates. I don't know if his style is adapted to the story set 400 years ago, rough and dark and scratchy, antique, almost to imitate artwork found in Elizabethan literature. I don't know if he was limited by Gaiman's direction of numerous tiny panels and rare splash pages, muted colors, and thin lines. But I didn't enjoy the artwork. Some was okay, some greatly detailed with incredible humanity and uniqueness. But most of the time it was busy, dark and fuzzy. Which is funny, because I feel like comics like this present a rare opportunity to immortalize and stylize a time which is hardly written about in comics, let alone superhero comics. Time and the Batman, for instance, has some incredible artwork when Batman appears in prehistory and early America. Opportunity missed, I suppose.

So the themes are old, characterization is great, the artwork is okay, but let me tell you, the writing is prosaic. For only being 248 pages it took me some time to read, because Gaiman writes wordy and maximum exposition here. Seriously, like paragraphs on each page. In his defense there's a lot of story, and maybe the book should have been stretched out another two hundred pages. It feels like an epic 400 page book. But it's very wordy, much like Claremont’s X-Men. It's not a deal breaker, it's a deep story, I just wish it was a little cleaner exposition-wise.

And what does all this add up to? It was pretty cool. I liked the story and characters. The historical context was really cool. I didn't love it, I won't buy it, but I'm not the target audience. I'm lukewarm on Gaiman and Marvel. So considering that, I think fans of Gaiman or Marvel would probably really enjoy this.
Profile Image for Knjigoholičarka.
151 reviews8 followers
June 13, 2015
Moji su drugovi biseri rasuti po celom svetu, što za posledicu, osim inspiracije za Bajagu, ima i to da nam ti isti drugovi s vremena na vreme nakratko svrate u domovinu, te nama smrtnicima koji živimo ovde, donesu stvarčice kakvih, obično, ovde nema. Avaj, u većini slučajeva su u pitanju grozne bombonjere sa još gadnijim punjenjem od šećerne paste, kojekakvi keramički ukrasi koji stoje po policama i skupljaju prašinu, majice sa natpisima "my friend was in ____ and all I got is this lousy T-shirt" (lousy indeed, budući da je većina njih mešavina poliestera)... Međutim, ima nas srećnika koji imamo drugare gastarbajtere koji nam se vrate iz dalekijeh zemalja s naramkom poklona koji kao da su maznuti iz Alibabine pećine. I tako ja, pored "Orlanda" Virdžinije Vulf i teglice iranskog đumbira u prahu, dobih i ovaj strip.

Elem, Neil Gaiman i ja imamo neki love-hate relationship svih ovih godina. Volim ga kao autora knjiga za klince (mlađe i starije) i ludo ga volim kao strip-scenaristu, dok me kao autor romana "za odrasle" nepopravljivo i žalosno smara. Nevertheless, kad god mi se ukaže prilika, neću propustiti da mu dam šansu, budući da je u pitanju jedan od onih old-school pripovedača koji čvrsto veruje u moć i važnost priče i pričanja, kao i njenog uticaja na oblikovanje sveta oko nas.

Elizabetinska Engleska je jedan od omiljenih Gaimanovih istorijskih perioda, što je i pokazao u priči "San letnje noći", za koju je dobio grdilo prestižnih nagrada za fantastiku (v. Sandman 3). Stoga, kad je u pitanju istorijska potkovanost, kao i preplitanje stvarnih istorijskih događaja sa maštom, nije moglo biti većeg zicera od Gaimana.

Postavilo se samo pitanje opravdanosti smeštanja Marvelovih junaka u 1602-gu godinu. Da li nam je to zaista potrebno? Mislim, zaaaistaa? Zašto to raditi? Odgovor je krajnje jasan: a što da ne?

Anyway, nikad nisam bila naročit poznavalac, samim tim ni fan Marvelovih junaka, te sam ponesena cunamijem (malo je reći talasom) filmova iz njihove (hiper)produkcije donekle postala upoznata sa tim ko tu koga čime i zašto. Čitajući sagu "Infinity Gauntlet" samo me zabolela glava - previše svega. Međutim, i pored skeptično podignute obrve, zaronila sam u čitanje nemajući šta da izgubim, naprosto očekujući kostimiranu zabavu sa previše svega. But soft! Iako je u stripu zaista mnogo likova, priča ni u jednom trenutku ne prestaje da funkcioniše i zabavlja! Pronašavši svakom od likova iz Marvelovog univerzuma odgovarajuće mesto u godini 1602-goj, Gaiman je postavio odličan okvir za istorijsku priču u kojoj se smenjuju vladavina kraljice Elizabete i kralja Džejmsa, surovost Inkvizicije, nezadrživ napredak otkrivanja tajni prirode i nauke nasuprot uvreženom sujeverju i strahu od nepoznatog, u to vešto uplićući stvarni istorijski događaj (borba za opstanak engleske kolonije Roanoke u Novom Svetu i poseta prvorođenog koloniste na novom tlu, devojčice Virdžinije Der, kraljici Elizabeti) u mističnu avanturu sa iznenađujućim plot twistom na kraju.

I tako, sve ono što mi kod Gaimanovih romana škripi - obrt negde pred četvrtinu završetka priče, rasplet koji se obično zgura na poslednjih 3 posto - u ovom stripu funkcionisalo mi je besprekorno, u kombinaciji sa apsolutno prelepim crtežom Andyja Kuberta i koloriste Richarda Isanove, koji su savršeno sproveli Gaimanovu zamisao u delo.

Presuda: kad bih morala da opišem ovaj strip sa svega tri reči, one bi glasile: So. Much. FUN! A ako meni ne verujete, evo šta je Gaiman u pogovoru stripu svojeručno napisao:

I just re-read "1602", for proofreading purposes, this afternoon, in a small boat, drifting across a lake on a sunny day, and I found, to my relief, it was very much the kind of comic I had wanted to write: something for summer, to be read under a porch or in a treehouse; or up on a roof; or in a small field, a long time ago, beside the bulrush patch.

Tako da znate šta možete da očekujete. :)
Profile Image for Lashaan Balasingam.
1,361 reviews4,621 followers
February 1, 2021

You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

Retellings offer writers the chance to explore the core personality of heroes and villains as they pursue their lives in never-before-seen settings. Often, this allows readers to ponder questions that reshape their own understanding of life, faith, hope, and beliefs. What does destiny have in store for us? Will our decision-making process remain intact, favouring good or evil based on who we once were? Rediscovering the characters under different lights remains nonetheless revealing in ways that no one can see coming and this is the case with the beloved 2005 Quill Award winning graphic novel. Teamed up with illustrator Andy Kubert and digital painter Richard Isanove, award-winning writer Neil Gaiman presents fans with a stunning, thoroughly-researched, and historically-accurate origin story reimagining the faiths of beloved heroes and villains with the universe threatened to collapse.

What is Marvel 1602 about? Set during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, the story presents classic Marvel icons in the midst of an apocalyptic event. The Queen’s court magician, Doctor Stephen Strange, speculates that powerful beings might be responsible for the environmental turmoil, forcing the Queen to ask Sir Nicholas Fury, her head of intelligence, to safely bring a secret treasure of the Knights Templar to Europe while it remains overseen by Stephen Strange. As they partake on their respective duties, they find themselves pulled into a web of conspiracy and treachery that will require them to find help where they least expect it. As the story unfolds, renown heroes and villains surge from the shadows to fight for their most profound causes while avoiding death from those who see them as anomalies.

Drawing upon his passion for mythology, writer Neil Gaiman explores the foundation of Marvel’s iconic superheroes as he establishes them in a Elizabethan historical era with a supernatural narrative twist where magic and mayhem go hand in hand. The story evolves in a gracious and folkloric pace that evokes prophecies and dreams, while continuously introducing beloved heroes and villains in unexpected roles and disguises. The clever twists in their respective personas make for an addictive and compelling adventure as each piece fits into the larger, more mysterious puzzle as readers hold onto the promise of a breathtaking climax. Whilst juggling many classic heroes at the same time, writer Neil Gaiman does accomplish a surreal job in delving into each of their most troubling existential dilemmas, whether it be moral responsibility or absolute justice. While well-versed readers will draw immense pleasure in identifying iconic events retold in this story, new readers will just as well appreciate the complexity of each subplot introduced and explored here.

Accompanied by Andy Kubert’s rough and archaic artistic style, the story takes on a life of its own, one that alludes to legends and fables. Traditional white gutters (the space between and around panels) is substituted for an absorbing black to take over, easily allowing the story to embrace its darker and dreadful atmosphere. Richard Isanove’s digital paint also magically fills the pages with a unique tone that conveys a time where sorcery and mysticism where commonplace. While fluidity in movement is not the priority in terms of panel transition, the artwork rather focuses on capturing the gravitas of key events in the narrative, evolving and steering the plot towards its resolution. Leave it to writer Neil Gaiman to also surprise readers with the reveal of beloved characters with unique designs, whether it may be the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, or Daredevil. It’s safe to say that he succeeded in establishing this graphic novel among the best Marvel stories out there for new and old fans to discover.

Marvel 1602 is a compelling and telltale reimagining of the Marvel Universe as heroes and villains engage in a historical battle bound to shape their lives forever.

Yours truly,

Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer
Official blog: https://bookidote.com/
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,944 reviews158 followers
February 6, 2017
1602 was a very well written and a very fresh outlook on the Marvel universe by Niel Gaiman. I must, for the sake of spoilers, keep my description of the story brief.

In essence, it is a Marvel tale told in the setting of 1602. James is about to become King of England and he bears no tolerance for the "Witchbreed" (mutants) that having been plaguing Christendom. Queen Elizabeth, the previous monarch, used her Spymaster- Sir Fury to keep close tabs on these events. We also meet the Spaniard Carlos Xavier and his motley group of students. Many other marvel characters make an appearance in this series, but I leave it up to you to figure out how they have been interpreted by Mr Gaiman. That is what is so enjoyable about this story- it's indeed unique and original (kudos Mr. Gaiman) there is so much that is similar.

Apparently 15 years prior a rift in space deposited a traveler to that universe. This is causing terrible ripple effects. Dr. Strange, who plays the part of Dr. Dee of Elizabethan fame, realizes that this events, if left unchecked, will cause the destruction of this universe. What follows is a tale that has very common elements- from the plight of the Witchbreed at the hands of the Inquisition to the political upheaval of the coming of James to be crowned as King of England. But there are cosmic elements as well- from the subtle hints about the Phoenix Force to the Watcher's plans. That is all I am willing to say about this plot.

The best part is the vision of Mr. Gaiman who transforms the "ordinary" superheroes we all know and transforms them into very creditable and realistic 1600's versions. The broad base of knowledge and his meticulous research shows in the dialogue and historical tidbits scattered throughout this tale. This was a pleasure to read. While many comic book writers are quite talented, there is a certain graceful lyrical quality to Gaiman's prose and descriptions. His wonderful versions of common heroes and villains works extremely well- from the Irish man Murdoch to von Doom. A truly original and fresh perspective on telling a marvel tale.

The artwork was good, though not amazing. For the story being told and the time period- the artwork complements the story. Were I to quantify my liking of it (it's hard to quantify art itself, I can only quantify my enjoyment of it) I'd give it a 4/5. It works well in the context of the story and never hinders it.

But this is a tale you read for the story. Wonderful characters, unique settings, detailed historical research of customs and colloquialisms and a truly fresh take on the oft done "time travel/universe-is ending" marvel tale. Highly recommend to any Marvel fan, comic fan and Mr. Gaiman fan.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,135 followers
March 26, 2020
Elizabethan court intrigue, Templar conspiracy and Roanoke colony mystery, all wrapped up together with a Marvel bow and written by Neil Gaiman? Yes, please.

Strange storm clouds have been hovering over Europe. Queen Elizabeth’s health is declining, and she is worried. Her “magician”, Doctor Stephen Strange, tries to figure out what this unusual weather is all about – meanwhile, spymaster, Sir Nicholas Fury wants to secure the possession of an artifact imported from Jerusalem – the kind of artefact that could mean dire consequences should it fall into the wrong hands, of course.

The adaptation of the famous Marvel characters into the 17th-century version of themselves was simply delightful for this history nerd. Leave it to my darling Neil to reinvent classic characters like Thor, Captain America and Magneto, drop them in a completely different setting and weave together a strong, fun, pulpy story! I was worried that there were a few too many characters to juggle, but the plot resolves itself in a solid way, and the art work is gorgeous!

4 and a half stars, rounded up.

This book was recommended to me by Laurent, who is my greatest reference for cerebral, weird graphic novels to read, and I am so grateful for his recommendations.
Profile Image for Jim Ef.
313 reviews59 followers
March 10, 2022

Very interesting concept and well executed. It's no secret that Gaiman is a good writer.
The story is good and the way he uses the characters and the role they play is clever. The art is good and Isonove's colouring is perfect.
Profile Image for Brandon.
903 reviews233 followers
August 4, 2013
Sudden strange disturbances in weather have provoked panic all over Europe. With Queen Elizabeth on her deathbed, political maneuvering has begun in an effort to slide the “witchbreed” (mutants) hating James VI of Scotland into a ruling position. Before her passing, the Queen instructs Sir Nicolas Fury to arrange for the safe passage of an unknown item making its way to England under the protection of the Knights Templar. Why weren’t the Knights Templar protection enough? Well, there are many powerful men and women who seek the item and will stop at nothing to claim ownership.

Neil Gaiman asks the question – what if the Marvel universe began 400 years earlier? He tries his best to give you an answer.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite care for this.

The whole story felt overly gimmicky rather than creative and original. Switching up the names certainly made sense based on the era in which Gaiman was setting the story but I found them hokey and distracting. Charles Xavier as Carlos Javier? Peter Parker as Peter Parquagh? Meh. Daredevil was another lost cause. While he had a pretty strong presence in the story, he came across as annoying.

I’ll give Gaiman some points for taking a unique approach to the Marvel universe but I just couldn’t get behind this. I can usually breeze through trades in a night, two nights tops but this here collection took me much, much longer. I felt myself constantly drifting, struggling to pay attention. The writing would often grab me if I stumbled across a memorable scene or exchange between two characters but it was few and far between.

I don’t think this was really for me. Clearly people love it. It’s won numerous awards including a Quill for Best Graphic Novel in 2005. I just had so much trouble getting into it. I suppose I was just bored.

Cross Posted @ Every Read Thing
Profile Image for Trevor.
66 reviews8 followers
April 28, 2017
I feel like I will need way more time to truly digest this story. In typical Gaiman fashion, he crafted something far more epic than what is at first revealed.

The heroes here are not exact mimics of their universe-616 counterparts; they have subtle changes in personality if not powers. I especially liked Daredevil and Nick Fury's portrayals. Also, the much talked about twist was as satisfying and unexpected as I hoped it would be.

It's been a while since I've gotten lost in a good graphic novel, and 1602 has rekindled my passion for the medium.
Profile Image for Shannon.
891 reviews225 followers
September 27, 2016
Gaiman's take on Marvel super heroes focuses on Britain in 1602 as a friendly Queen Elizabeth is likely to die soon and news comes of something worse than eradicating super heroes . . . the end of the world.

Some really interesting idea combos. It helps if you know the Marvel world already to get some of the references.

Profile Image for Jeannette.
665 reviews138 followers
January 13, 2016
Read on the WondrousBooks blog.

Never heard of it? Have no idea what it is? No problem. You are missing just one of the most fantastic things in pop culture. Now let me explain:

Imagine if all of the coolest Marvel heroes were born in Elizabethan England, Nick Fury was the queen's chief guardian, Doctor Strange was her personal physician, the Maximoff twins were working for the Inquisition, Professor X was gathering the prosecuted mutants, who everyone thinks are witchbreed.

And all of that written by Neil Gaiman.

Did you imagine it?
It is fantastic, right?

When I read Gaiman I sometimes experience a little bit of disappointment, but since this is the first graphic novel of his that I read, I think that this is also his forte and I really want to find Sandman now.

It was absolutely amazing to follow the characters, see how their identities are revealed, most of all Captain America. Though I also really disliked him, to be honest.

The entire book was very interesting, witty and full of twists and turns and little surprises and entirely too pleasing for a fan of the abovementioned superheroes. I'm also not disappointed I found  Marvel 1602 so late, because if I hadn't developed such love for these characters, I might not have appreciated it as much.

The drawings were also great but what I enjoyed the most out of them were Scott McKowen's covers, which are absolutely amazing and I loved reading the afterword about his techniques.

Overall, Marvel 1602 is a must-read for all fanboys and fangirls, don't miss it.
Profile Image for Andrew✌️.
255 reviews24 followers
May 6, 2020
In recent years, I haven’t followed so many comics, with all of these reboots, alternative histories and cycles. But, the name of Neil Gaiman attracted me to this book that, for my part, I can define a true masterpiece. The story is set in the year 1602, in England, at the end of the reign of Elizabeth I, with the threat of James VI as the next king and the Spanish Inquisition to its full power. The major Marvel characters such as Nick Fury, the X-Man and Spiderman, are inserted in this context, creating a thrilling story which fuses history, magic and even a little of science fiction. I don’t say much about the plot, for avoid making spoiler, but in the course of the story will make their appearance, after some real twists, many unforgettable characters.

I recommend it to all fans of Gaiman and comics in general.
Profile Image for Himanshu Karmacharya.
899 reviews104 followers
May 16, 2020
An adventure involving our favorite marvel characters, but set in an alternate timeline.

There are tons of stuffs going on in this book, ranging from royal conspiracies to the end of the world. Gaiman has certainly done his best with the characters, and given *almost* every one of them, the time to shine. The artwork with pencils by Andy Kubert, and the digital painting by Richard Isanove is spectacular to look at. The artwork does gives off an 'Elizabethean Era' vibe.

The problem with the book is that it's not 'new readers friendly'. Readers who are new to Marvel Universe will not appreciate a lot of references and events occuring in the book, and are likely to be confused at times.

Marvel 1602 is an enjoyable book, and if you are a Marvel fan, then you should definitely read it. But one should not expect anything ground-breaking from this book.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,862 reviews5,010 followers
July 24, 2008
A temporal anomaly causes many Marvel mutants to be born hundreds of years earlier (so they are actually inhabitants of the Elizabethan era, not time-travellers). They must save the world (natch) despite the Inquisition, political intrigues, and supervillains. The suppositions "Church = bad, Queen Elizabeth = good and enlightened" kind of annoyed me with their lame ahistoricism (suuuure Eliz I was against torture)but overall the setting was well done and interesting.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,440 reviews829 followers
March 26, 2019
I thought the concept better than the actual story, possibly because I haven’t had much to do with the contemporary x men, so the cleverness of the concept was slightly beyond me. I chose this more for the historical context, and with the first scenes set in Hampton Court,I was really excited to get started, but unfortunately my enthusiasm waned as the story went on.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,738 reviews649 followers
October 14, 2017
“We are a boatful of monsters and miracles, hoping that, somehow, we can survive a world in which all hands are against us. A world which, by all evidence, will end extremely soon. Yet I posit we are in a universe which favors stories. If we are in such a universe, as I hope, then we may have a chance…”
“…Reed…you spoke of transmutations. Can you restore to me my humanity? I have been a monster too long.”
“In truth, I do not know, my friend. The natural sciences say, YES, a cure is possible. But the laws of story would suggest that no cure can last for very long, Benjamin. For in the end, alas, you are so much more interesting and satisfying as you are.”

As you know, if you read my review of Norse Mythology (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), I consider Neil Gaiman a master storyteller. I found 1602 hard to resist, since Marvel gives Neil Gaiman all the encouragement and support he needs to reimagine the Marvel Universe in the reign of England’s Elizabeth the First.
Good Queen Bess is at risk and she has both Nicolas Fury and Dr. Stephen Strange to defend her. The Spanish inquisition is in full stride and there is a world-wide search for the spawn of witches (mutants) who are being protected by some including Javier (Xavier of the X-Men). There are a lot of familiar characters in uncharacteristic roles that add to the fun, intrigue and desperation. (This is an aside, but I found it very interesting reading this in 2017 that Gaiman’s King James demands one thing above all else, loyalty. Though this was written several years ago, how little some things change.)

We have a version of Dr. Doom alongside a selection of Europe’s royalty. We have treasures and objects of power. Gaiman entertains us with his weaving of the elements of that era’s history juxtaposed against the Marvel characters that we have come to know so well.

The illustrations are up to the task, particularly in reflecting those early 17th Century venues. If the ending didn’t come with all the usual bang associated with Marvel’s creations, it was adequate and the journey was certainly entertaining.
Profile Image for Jonathan Terrington.
593 reviews559 followers
October 12, 2011
I once had a teacher remark how lowly they thought of graphic novels. And yet I believe that graphic novels are one of the more creative methods of generating stories for modern audiences myself. As such I am an avid fan of many of DC and Marvel's more brilliant story line arcs.

Having, with my typical flair, discussed my particularly good reasons for reading graphic novels, I shall now briefly review in particular Marvel 1602. Millions of readers, film viewers and pop culture observers know of and many love the famous characters of Marvel. They recognise Spiderman, Thor, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men: I could list more. Now what has occurred within the pages of this brilliant feast for the eyes and soul is that those famous icons have been relocated to the year 1602.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love historical events. For Neil Gaiman and the creative crew behind him to take those characters; characters of fantasy and science fiction; and translate them to a past era so effectively simply staggers the imagination. I tip my hat to the beautifully rendered story that is Marvel 1602.
Profile Image for Amanda.
282 reviews315 followers
April 10, 2009
I could say a lot here, but I won't. Why I loved it: Neil Gaiman, really inventive premise, beautiful artwork, and a lot of fun matching up the Elizabethan superheroes to their modern day counterparts. This is what a good comic book should be--draws you in and won't leave you alone until you've finished it, all the while reading with a ridiculously big, childlike smile on your face. Loved it.
Profile Image for Lexie.
159 reviews128 followers
July 6, 2021
I love historical fiction. I love superheroes. AND Neil Gaiman is the author? I went in to 1602 expecting to love it.

So disappointing.

I have a ton of problems with this 8-issue series, but most of them boil down to WEIRD fucking character choices.

First and foremost, I refuse to believe that Steve Rogers would go back in time and CHOOSE TO PRESENT HIMSELF AS AN INDIGENOUS MAN. Rojhaz??? What in the bullshit 'noble savage' trope is that???


*deep breath*

If I squint, I can see the logic. But just barely. Captain America is meant to represent the spirit of the American people, and most of the people living in America in 1602 were Native American. Okay. But if his whole goal was to "be a guiding light for the American people from the very beginning," what on earth is the logic behind choosing to live as a member of a marginalized group that eventually gets bulldozed by colonizers? Wouldn't he have more sway as a colonialist? Participate in the revolution? Get involved in early American politics and introduce your progressive ideas that way? Maybe speak up for the Native American population and try to prevent their genocide instead of appropriating their culture? Use your white privilege for good, Steve!!

Also, Steve would NEVER choose to stay in the past if it meant the literal destruction of the ENTIRE MULTIVERSE. Nick Fury literally having to knock him out and yeet him back to the future?? The fuck? Steve Rogers isn't perfect, but he's not a fucking idiot either. Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, making Holocaust survivor Magneto into the HEAD OF THE SPANISH INQUISITION was certainly A CHOICE. I get he was using it as a tool to gather mutants, or 'witchbreed' as they're known in this series, but he was still fucking torching the non-human presenting ones?? So much for homo superior, Erik.

And can we also talk about reducing Natasha to a backstabbing "whore"?? (Susan Storm's words, not mine). I get she's a little more morally grey than some other characters in the Marvel Universe, but she's literally only there to betray Matt Murdoch and later show up half naked in Otto Von Doom's bed. Of course. Of fucking course.

Also, I hate to be that guy, but I really didn't like the art in this series. The covers for all the issues were beautiful, but the quality of the art otherwise was sooo inconsistent. The wider shots were mostly fine, and it certainly had a mood to it that set the tone for the story, but 75% of the time when there was a closeup on a character, it's like the artist forgot how to draw faces (ESPECIALLY for the women). The derpy expressions got to be kind of immersion-breaking after a while, which is a shame.

Also - dinosaurs???

2/5 Fun idea, bad execution.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,576 reviews259 followers
December 17, 2021
Marvel 1602 was pretty cool. Neil Gaiman did a great job of putting these characters into this time period and setting. I liked seeing the parallels and how they connect to history. I especially enjoyed following Fury and Strange leading the way. It didn't quite manage to stick the landing and at times it was tough to keep track of who's who, but overall it's well worth checking out.
Profile Image for Carol Rodríguez.
369 reviews25 followers
August 17, 2018
Quería leer este cómic desde hacía mucho tiempo porque, en fin, Neil Gaiman, Marvel, ¡Doctor Strange! No me resultó fácil encontrarlo: en español está descatalogado y en inglés no es que sea barato, pero al fin lo conseguí. ¡Y me ha gustado mucho!

La historia transcurre en el año 1602: Elizabeht I es la reina de Ingaterra, anciana ya (moriría un año después) y con la presión de James VI de Escocia sobre sus hombros; en España la Inquisición está en su punto álgido; en América colonos y nativos tratan de salir adelante entre disputas sangrientas e inclemencias climáticas... y en medio de todo esto, una serie de personas con poderes extraños pululan a sus anchas por el mundo que, por cierto, está a punto de acabar, arrastrando consigo a todo el universo.

Esos seres son los héroes y villanos de Marvel que conocemos de toda la vida, pero en esta historia escrita por Neil Gaiman, se ubican cuatrocientos años atrás en el tiempo, adaptados a los roles y problemas de aquella época. Me ha gustado mucho su papel en la trama y cómo algunos van revelando su personalidad (unos de forma más obvia que otros). La forma de plasmar las ideas queda muy realista en algunos puntos (todo lo realista que el Universo Marvel puede ser, entiéndase). Por ejemplo, los X-Men son perseguidos y juzgados por la Inquisición acusados de brujería, me pareció un puntazo. Además, la ambientación, el dibujo y la intriga en general me gustaron mucho, aunque debo decir que el comienzo se me hizo un poco lento, pero superado el primer capítulo ya no me pude despegar de sus páginas.
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